US Tax Court

Does tax software prepare your returns?

I believe that if you go through the software’s interview process then the software is preparing your return.

However remember that the software is preparing your return based on what you told it. Therefore it’s important to review returns before you send them out just as you would if some tax professional was preparing your returns.

From what I’ve seen from IRS audits the software’s artificial intelligence is not the same as the intelligence of a thinking human being. For example it keeps on asking you questions and you keep on entering the same amounts at different places until the IRS finds them for you. That’s why it’s important to look over the tax return before you send it out or e-file it.

The Tax Court still looks at errors in self prepared returns as (GIGO) garbage in, garbage out. I believe however that as artificial intelligence evolves, in time, software developers will have to take the moral and ethical responsibilities for what they’re doing. You’re seeing this already with self driving cars and drones and robotics.

Even if eventually tax software developers will be penalized as preparers nevertheless you as a taxpayer still remain responsible for any taxes and penalties and interest.

It’s more than just a Snickers bar!

This is the kickoff blog for my new website and what better way to start it than with something fun and informing.

The SNICKERS® Write-Off has been getting a lot of viewing on YouTube lately, because of something apparently Mars put out.

Hopefully somewhat tongue-in-cheek, they state that “In 2005, an Arizona woman tried to write off a Snickers bar and her tax return was denied. This short documentary exposes that injustice to the world.”

In CVANCARA v. COMMISSIONER, T.C. Memo. 2013-20, all the memorandum opinion says regarding this is that “We find that the Mars Snickers bar is personal.”  This short sentence wound up to be a 3 minute and 17 second YouTube video.

However, there are other personal items that the Court found , which are listed separately in the notes to the table, and which altogether total $113.53, including the two dollar Snickers bar.

  • children’s medicine
  • drinks
  • coffee and water
  • candy, drinks, and medicine
  • coffee
  • coffee
  • coffee
  • coffee
  • infant formula and cookies
  • coffee and the coffee cake
  • chocolate
  • backpack and the soda
  • infant bottle
  • mocha drink
  • shampoo
  • gum and chocolate
  • the Sunday paper
  • coffee
  • medicine

In that same table, the Court allowed $1,308.79 as business expenses. Apparently, her tax return was not denied. Whether this constitutes injustice to the world depends, I guess, on how one defines injustice, and how much you like chocolate!

Mars does their part, by the way, in tackling social injustice.