The path to correctly answering accounting questions starts with developing skill at recognizing key factors. This requires dismissing unusual elements that are interesting but irrelevant. Consequently, the best CPA review course aids in achieving this manner of analytical assessment in addition to providing information about specific subjects.
Any saga of accounting details is instructive for learning to focus precisely on pertinent data while ignoring superfluous items. Regardless of the issues addressed in sample CPA exam questions, answering them should always enhance proficiency in discriminative thinking. The more complex situations are superior exercises because of the multiple features presented for consideration.
Ideally illustrating the process of figuring out an accounting problem containing substantial complications is the tax case of Guillermo Arguello. He was employed by a corporation called Guggenheim Investments and arranged with an entity known as Netrostar to share customer lists and provide financing. Netrostar was expected to conduct web development for various organizations owned by Guggenheim.
When Netrostar ran into financial difficulty, Arguello stepped up to rescue the operation. This is where the particulars of the case are suitable for a fascinatingly odd diversion from common example scenarios in CPA study materials. One of Arguello’s bailout maneuvers for Netrostar was the purchase of a used Alfa Romeo. Arguello paid $24,000 for the automobile and then sold it to Netrostar by taking a promissory note from the company. Another step by Arguello was cosigning on $35,000 of credit card debt for Netrostar.
After some payments by Netrostar to Arguello on the promissory note, he was still owed $21,000 at the end of 2007. A restructuring of the financing ensued. Analysis of this matter for CPA study calls for highly focused concentration. In exchange for payment by Netrostar of $2,000 plus release of Arguello as cosigner on the credit card debt, he agreed to forgive the remaining $19,000 balance on the note. Arguello then claimed the $19,000 as a worthless debt deduction on his 2007 tax return. The IRS denied the deduction.
Arguello went to Tax Court over the issue. He pointed out that taxpayers are allowed to deduct bad debts that become worthless during the tax year. The trouble for Arguello, which arises for many individuals in his position, is that no specific standard is applied when determining if a debt is worthless. However, objective facts and circumstances must establish reasonable grounds for abandoning any expectation of recovery.
The Tax Court concurred with the IRS that Arguello’s note from Netrostar did not become worthless during 2007 because the debt was forgiven in exchange for release from the credit card liability rather than because of Netrostar’s inability to pay. The lesson here is found in slicing through the irrelevancies and reaching the root of the situation. That is, no deduction is allowed for worthless debt when a creditor receives valuable consideration to voluntarily release a solvent debtor from liability.
A tax deduction for extinguished debt is only possible when it becomes “worthless” due to the debtor’s inability to pay. This proves once again the importance of specific words in CPA review material and the requirement to apply their meaning without distraction from unimportant factors.
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