Happy New Year – Latest News

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope that everyone’s starting to get ready for the upcoming season….February is right around the corner.

I wanted to go over a few things as we start our final training push.

TaxSlayer.  TaxSlayer has made quite a few changes to both the federal and Massachusetts TY2017 software. You can find more specifics about the Massachusetts changes in Preliminary List of Changes we prepared for early January training. We know of two outstanding issues with the Massachusetts software (both have been reported to TaxSlayer):

  1. 2017 TaxSlayer is using the taxable amount of any 1099-R, not the gross amount when calculating total income for the Circuit Breaker Credit. Until this flaw is fixed, we should note the difference(s) between gross and taxable amounts and manually insert the total as a positive number on the TaxSlayer Circuit Breaker screen at the very bottom on the line labeled: Additions/Adjustments to Pensions and Annuities not Taxed in MA.
  2. Few of our taxpayers agree to pay the use tax or Safe Harbor use tax for purchases made outside Mass or on the Internet. If a taxpayer agrees to this tax, TaxSlayer does not use the Mass Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) to calculate the tax. Instead it uses the Federal AGI, which can be larger than the Mass AGI because it includes income that is not taxable in Mass. Examples include Mass tax-exempt pensions and taxable social security on the Federal return. Until this flaw is fixed, look on the PDF of the Mass return to determine the Mass AGI and use the Form 1 instructions to determine the amount. Enter this amount manually in the State Section, Edit, Enter Myself, Tax. The use tax is entered on the next to the last line that is labelled Enter the amount of Use Tax Due.

Scope. We prepared a scope document for Massachusetts Tax-Aide volunteers to go along with the Tax-Aide Scope Manual. This will be included as section 3 (Scope) of the Massachusetts Resource Guide.

License Activation.  TaxSlayer is sending out activation emails. If you have any questions about what was ordered, please contact your District Coordinator first.

Consent Forms.  We expect to get guidance from National soon on how to handle the Global Carryforward consent forms incorporated into TaxSlayer 2017. Stayed tuned for additional information.

ACA.  Completing the ACA questions and forms (8962 and 8965) is still required. Massachusetts has not yet released their 2017 Lowest Cost Bronze Plan and Second Lowest Cost Silver Plan calculators. We will update those links when the online calculators are available.


NTTC Tax Year 2017 Workbook – Update

TaxSlayer is still working on their TY2017 software and some of the calculations are not working yet. For example, the 2017 state sales tax calculator was recently added, but the amount does not transfer to schedule A yet.

This means that if you are working on the NTTC Workbook problems using 2017 software, your answers may not match the answer key. You can still use 2017 Practice Lab to see what’s new, practice navigating the screens, etc. There is an answer key using 2016 software that is correct if that would better suit your training needs.

Please remember that the answer key is available to Massachusetts Tax-Aide volunteers only and should be requested through your instructor/district coordinator.

NTTC Tax Year 2017 Workbook

The National Tax Training Committee (NTTC) Tax Year 2017 Workbook Answer Key (using Tax Year 2017 software) is now available. We cannot post these online.  If you would like a copy of the answer key, please contact Peter Viles, Massachusetts Training Specialist, directly.  Please note that the answer key is available to Massachusetts Tax-Aide volunteers only.

TaxSlayer 2017 Activation

TaxSlayer started releasing the 2017 license activations this morning.

If you are new to this and/or have not done the Multi-Factor Authentication on your account yet  — we strongly recommend holding off on doing anything until after Christmas when there will be more people to help you. TaxSlayer will be closed from Saturday (23 December) through Tuesday (26 December), reopening Wednesday morning (27 December). Many District Coordinators are away for the holiday. So it’s important to remember that these licenses don’t need to be activated immediately.

For those who are more experienced and who’ve done this before, there are three situations.

  • If you are just continuing an existing EFIN with the same administrator — it’s pretty seamless.  But you will have to go through the Multi-Factor Authentication process.  Look to your district for guidance if necessary.
  • If you’re taking over a license from someone else — you’ll need to contact TaxSlayer and let them know (they have the full list from the IRS to verify). TaxSlayer will send an activation email and the new administrator just needs to fill out his/her information plus some site information.  Be sure to follow the instructions in the email plus those in the “Setup Guide for TaxSlayer Pro Online – TY2017” found on One Support.
  • Any brand new licenses will be activated using the two step process we all used last year (again, detailed in the setup guide).  We don’t know if the new activations have gone out yet.

So — the good news is we got the licenses.  The bad news is…..not the best timing.  But they don’t need to be activated immediately so hold off if you can.

Practice Lab Password Changes

Effective 1 January 2018, Practice Lab will require new, stronger passwords. That means you will be prompted to change your password the first time you log in on/after 1 January. 

Before you change yours, please check with your district and follow their guidance when setting up or updating your Practice Lab accounts.

HSA Test

For those volunteers doing the HSA certification. HSA Scenario 1: Leo Williams. The printed copy of 6744 and online Link & Learn interview notes and question 2 possible answers are slightly different. Link & Learn is correct. You need to read the question carefully before answering.

New Documents Available

Massachusetts released their draft Form 1 instructions (to go along with the previously released draft Form 1 itself).  You can also find this link on the Reference Material page.

National released version 2 of their Tax-Aide Scope Manual TY 2017.  In addition to the previously announced inclusion of Form 8606 part II, donation of a vehicle valued at $500 or less is now in scope and Schedule C line 11 (contract labor) is now OUT OF SCOPE. You can also find the link to this document on the Reference Material page.