Saturday, September 6, 2014

Unfair To Knock Romney For Getting An Extension

Originally Published on on April 16th,2012
robably every day is a holiday somewhere, but yesterday was rather special.  In Massachusetts, it was Patriot’s Day (“One if by land and two if by sea, and I on the opposite shore will be.”)  This used to create a peculiarity in tax season, since it extended the due date for people who mailed their return to the IRS Service Center in Andover.  In the District of Columbia, it was Emancipation Day, which commemorates the signing by Abraham Lincoln of the Compensated Emancipation Act on April 16, 1862. So April 15th fell on a Sunday this year making the due date the following Monday.  Monday is a holiday in the District of Columbia, which being the nation’s capital gives us all an extra day.  Most states are following the lead of the federal government on this.  So the due date is today April 17th.  You can get a six month extension of time to file your return (You will still owe interest if you don’t have enough money in, though.)  Should you get an extension ?
Some people have an abhorrence of extensions.  Others do them as a matter of course. I doubt many people use this standard, but I will note that our President did not extend his return this year.  His likely challenger did. Since we call the President’s spouse the First Lady (I don’t know what we’ll do when the President is herself a lady) and the President’s dog the First Dogand his airplane Air Force One, I figure that makes Michael Solheim who signed the President’s return the “First Accountant”.  Extending that thought further Daniel Feheley is the likely Republican candidate for “First Accountant”.
As I noted Michael Solheim keeps a pretty low profile and Mr. Feheley is similar in that regard. Mr. Feheley’s  firm does not, however, have a low profile.  As a matter of fact if you have heard of only one CPA firm, PWC (formerly known as Price Waterhouse) is probably it.  Why is that you ask ? The envelope please:

Mr. Feheley has been recognized by PWC as a “thought leader” in the private equity field.  He made his $450 in political donations through the Pricewaterhousecoopers PAC in 2011. He works out of the Boston office of PWC at 125 High Street. His Massachusetts CPA license was issued in 1991.  Want to know more ?  Find yourself an investigative reporter, I’m just a tax blogger.
Much as I relish the idea of the Presidential race being decided by the candidates having their respective accountants engage in a 1040 smackdown, the fact that the Romneys extended and the Obamas did not does not reflect on either of the accountants.  I don’t know who I would root for in the smackdown anyway.  You’ve got big firm vs small firm and Boston vs Chicago.  Presumably, Romney’s extension is not due to the fact that his return is much, much harder than Obama’s.  It would probably have been better for Romney to not extend.  The actual return will probably get done around October 15th which is probably not the point at which he wants to remind everybody that he makes more in a year than 10 normal people make in their entire lives.  PWC certainly has the resources to finish the return if it were possible.
The reason it is not possible is because Mr. Romney is a partner in several partnerships.  Likely those partnerships are partners in other partnerships, some of which are also partners in partnerships.  Big fleas have little fleas.  Partnership returns are due at the same time as individual returns.  Even if Romney had the juice to force the partnerships that he is a partner in to not extend they could not comply because of the tiers below them.
So if your tax preparer is telling you that it might be a good idea to extend, don’t hold it against him too much.  Also don’t think that filing an extension is some sort of moral failure or not doing it should allow you to feel superior.  On the other hand, if you are taking your dog for a ride, follow your President’s example and let him ride in the car.
You can follow me on twitter @peterreillycpa.

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