The tax world was roiling late last week over some fraud detected from within TurboTax.

Here is the story:

Essentially, the makers of the software detected a level of fraud occurring in state tax return submissions that made them decide to completely shut down submission of those returns for a period of time. Eventually, they determined that the apparent source of the fraud was outside of their system, and have resumed filing state tax returns. It does seem that TurboTax did everything by the book, and should be (relatively) safe to use.

What is the takeaway for taxpayers? Perhaps trusting your most sensitive (and financially-important) interaction with the state and federal government to a software, rather than a real person (who will sign their name on your return and shoulder the burden with you) should give you … pause.

Again, TurboTax seems to have handled this fairly well, all things considered. But when there’s a problem or question — would you rather sit on hold with the IRS, deal with online chat help, navigate through instructional videos, etc. etc. — or deal with a human who knows you?

Worth pondering.

Now … all that said, we’re pretty darn good at navigating the labyrinth of our tax system around here. But we may not be the most authoritative source on All Things Valentine.

That doesn’t prevent me from chiming in on it this week though, with a little penny-pinching twist, if you will. That, after all, is what we tax pros are GREAT at (finding ways to save!).

And just because it’s tax season doesn’t mean I won’t offer dating advice.

A Tax Pro’s Valentine
“Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Abraham Lincoln

Look — whatever your particular financial situation, wouldn’t it be great to create romance “magic” without spending an arm and two legs? So, instead of the tired old “flowers, candy and chocolate” [boring!], here are a few of my favorite modest (and occasionally tongue-in-cheek) suggestions for a sizzling Valentine’s … one that won’t torch your wallet!

Make a Video: You can use the video setting on your phone or digital camera, and create a heartfelt message of love for your sweetie. Then, post it to YouTube, Vimeo or another online video-sharing site and send it on! Um, just be sure to make that video setting to “private” unless you want to share with the world your undying love for your honey (hopefully with clothes on!).

Learn a Romantic Song and Sing it to Your Sweetheart: Well, I’m no singer, so I can’t say I’ve tried this … but I hear it works well. Even better, if you can’t sing, your valentine will give you kudos for the effort! You could step it up by writing an original song and then sing it. Or, for the slightly-less courageous, you could pull a page out of John Cusack’s book in Say Anything and hold a boombox (or iPod) above your head and blare Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”. That seemed to work.

Not a singer? More of a writer? Or artist? For the otherwise artistically inclined:
– You could pen a poem on nice paper
– or even paint it
– You can paint a picture of your honey. Just be sure it looks good.

The “Mix Tape” (or Playlist): This is an old standby of high school kids everywhere. Except these days, the “tape” part is a bit less convenient. Instead, make a CD or mp3 playlist of Sweet Love Songs and make a cover list / liner notes on the memories of you and your honey from the songs. And you can make a Personalized Photo Album using Shutterfly or a service like it.

Romantic Picnic: Surprise your love with a ‘picnic’ in the park, at the beach, or any other outdoor nature spot. If the weather isn’t ideal for outdoors, you could bring the outdoors inside — find a fake palm tree, flowers, sand, beach umbrella, radio, towels (borrow them). Nothing says “I love you” like fake palm trees!

Write a Message To Be “Stumbled Upon”: Well, perhaps not *literally* stumbled upon (nor am I referring to the website), but try a nice outdoor surprise. With snow outside, you could stomp out the message and fill in the letters with spray paint or flower petals or rocks. Without snow, you can use sidewalk chalk to write a message to your sweetie.

Now — who said tax professionals weren’t good for anything other than your finances? Oh … hmm. That would be Abraham Lincoln (see my opening quote below the title).

Perhaps we should keep our advice restricted to things financial. Ah well.

Happy Valentine’s Day, regardless!

And please feel free to call [(502) 426-0000] or email me and my staff with any questions: (just no dating questions, please!).

To a loving — and financially sound — February …


Kevin Roberts
(502) 426-0000

Roberts CPA