Updated Documents Posted

We posted two updated documents today.

  1. Massachusetts TaxSlayer Worksheet TY2018.  [Found in the Reference Material tab]  This is a tool with three purposes: serve as a Massachusetts Intake Sheet, ensure preparers make the required Massachusetts manual entries, and track the Massachusetts taxability of the taxpayer’s IRA distributions.  It’s useful to fill this out for each taxpayer, then use the Worksheet to complete the Massachusetts return and do the required quality review. It should be included in the taxpayer’s envelope with the other tax documents.  Please note that once we see the final version of Massachusetts 2018 software, we might need to make additional changes.
  2. Massachusetts Training Workbook Answer Key (TSO2017).  [Found in the Volunteers Only tab]  The answer key for the Burns and Hudson problems was corrected to move the MA Bank Interest entry, form 1, line 5a, from Burns to Hudson. This was a typo and the answer was entered in the wrong column of the spreadsheet.

If you have any comments on the Worksheet, training practice problems, or answer key – please let us know. Note that we are drafting an errata and clarification sheet for the practice problems.  You can always reach up by commenting on this post (comments are not published) or via the contact us tab.

New Information Available

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue recently published the 2018 Draft Form 1 instructions.  We’ve added a link on the Reference Material page.  The instructions include information about the impact of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – so that’s useful for everyone to read.

Tax-Aide has posted its Tax-Aide Scope Manual for Tax Year 2018. Volunteers can find this in the volunteer portal library. Note that this is subject to update. All Tax-Aide sites should have a copy of the Scope Manual available (hardcopy or electronic).

TaxSlayer has been updating its software as additional forms are approved by the IRS. Please remember to check their blog frequently for information about these updates and any associated issues.


IRS Form 6744 – VITA/TCE Volunteer Assistor’s Test/Retest

The IRS issued a correction/clarification for Advanced Scenario 8, Roberta Wilson.  Please make the following pen and ink changes to page 87 of your document or print this corrected page 87 and replace the original.

Product Alert:

Purpose: Notify employees, partners, and volunteers of errors identified with Advanced test, Scenario 8 – Roberta Wilson.

Issue: The following changes were made to the Interview Notes in the Advanced test, Scenario 8 – Roberta Wilson.

Changed from: Roberta claimed EIC for Jacob 2 years ago, but he only lived with her for two months and the credit was disallowed.

Changed to: Roberta claimed EIC for Jacob on her 2015 tax return, but he only lived with her for two months and the credit was disallowed.

Changed from: Roberta had wage income of $45,000 in 2018.

Changed to: Roberta had wage income of $35,000 in 2018.

Use the updated information in order to respond accurately to the test questions for this scenario. Corrections are already reflected in the Link & Learn certification test.

IRS E-File System

The IRS announced their annual Modernized e-file system shut down to enable them to perform maintenance and reprogram the system for the upcoming tax-season.  See the release here.  The system will be shut down for all e-filing on 17 Nov 2018.

If you need to e-file any returns (tax years 2017, 2016, or 2015) – the taxpayer must paper file them after 17 Nov 2018 until the system is re-opened (no date announced).

TaxSlayer 2018

TaxSlayer released software for 2018 Federal returns on Practice Lab in early November. Different Tax-Aide groups and TaxSlayer itself have identified the following as not yet available:

  • The 20% provision of Qualified Business Income (QBI) is not calculated
  • The Additional Child Tax Credit is not included, nor are the backup forms and Form 8812
  • The non-refundable qualified dependent credit may not be included for some dependents
  • The Sales Tax Worksheet is not calculating properly
  • The General Sales Tax worksheet is not calculating properly

There are also two formatting/display issues:

  • The 1040 preview displays the old 1040, with the new information overprinted.  If you create a PDF, you can see the new Form 1040 and with its associated schedules.
  • If the return has more than 2 dependents, the dependent information appears on a back-up page, not on page 1 of the 1040.

2018 TaxSlayer software is a work-in progress. You can use the 2018 software to get some early insight into the impact of the new Federal tax laws on typical returns we prepare, but the final refund or amounts owed may not be correct because of the issues outline above.

Practice Lab 2018

TaxSlayer activated Practice Lab 2018 this morning. When you open Practice Lab, it defaults to tax year 2018 — so if you didn’t notice the “2018” in the upper left, you might think that all your practice returns disappeared. Not at all….you just need to switch the year to 2017. To toggle between Tax Years 2017 and 2018, click on the words “Change Tax Year” in the upper right of the screen, next to Logout.

Please note that the software is not yet fully functional so any ongoing training should continue with Practice Lab 2017. State software is not yet available.and the new Form 1040 and accompanying schedules have not been approved by the IRS so do not yet display or print correctly.

Late October Update

Preparations for the upcoming season are really ramping up.

  1.  Local Coordinators – when ordering Intake Booklets on the portal — they are packaged in quantities of 50. So if you need 200, please order 4 packages.
  2. The IRS recently posted a new document, Publication 5307, Tax Reform Basics for Individuals and Families (Tax Year 2018).  It’s an overview of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and its impact on people’s tax returns.  If you haven’t been following the new tax laws in detail, this might be a good overview of what we’ll see this season.
  3. The state training team has updated and published the MA Training Workbook on our website at https://mataxaide.org/volunteers-only/ .  It contains 33 problems, divided into four categories: basic, intermediate, comprehensive, and special topics. Please note that this page is password protected — the password was distributed to your district coordinators at our recent meeting — please contact your district or local coordinator for access.