Author Archives: Steve Patterson

Tax Tips: I Do Declare

Did you know that there are hundreds of little things that you should be declaring on your tax returns? Here are some of the most important items that must be declared on your federal and state tax return.

All Sources of Income
The tax code of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that all income earned or received must be reported on your income tax returns. The categories of income recognized by the IRS include the following:

•    Wages, salaries and tips
•    Interest on bank accounts, certificates of deposit, bonds and other investments
•    Capital gains
•    Business income
•    Alimony
•    Income from bartering
•    Dividends
•    Annuities, pensions and lump-sum distributions
•    Rental revenues
•    Gambling income
•    Earnings from agriculture and fishing
•    401(k)
•    Unemployment benefits

Each of these types of income must be declared on your income tax return. In some cases, losses in a particular category can be used to offset income earned in that category.

Certain Gifts

Depending on the amount of the gift and the identity of the recipient, you may need to report gifts to others on your income tax return and may be required to pay taxes on these transactions. Unlike donations to charitable organizations, which are generally tax-exempt, gifts directly to someone else are subject to an annual gift limit. The limit is currently set at $13,000. Couples can make gifts of up to $26,000 without incurring tax liabilities for these gifts. Certain types of gifts are not subject to the gift limit; these include the following:

•    Payments directly to universities for college tuition
•    Direct payments to hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities for medical procedures
•    Gifts to one’s spouse
•    Political contributions

Individuals and couples can choose to exclude additional amounts from the gift tax requirements by taking advantage of the Unified Credit. Currently capped at $1,772,800, the Unified Credit allows a greater degree of flexibility when giving gifts to your network of friends and family.

Itemizing Deductions

If you are required to declare gifts on your federal tax return, you must typically itemize your deductions as well. Itemized deduction categories include the following:

•    Mortgage points and interest
•    Medical and dental fees
•    Interest expenses
•    Contributions to charities
•    Business and education expenses
•    Depreciation of cars, trucks and other vehicles used in the course of business
•    Losses due to accidents, disasters, thefts and other critical events

The standard deduction amount may actually provide greater tax savings for your particular situation. Nonetheless, if you are declaring gifts on your tax return, you should usually itemize your deductions as well. This process can be challenging and typically requires the help of a skilled and knowledgeable tax preparer for optimal results. Some studies suggest that itemizing deductions can also increase the chances of an audit. Your tax preparer can assist in your defense if an audit does occur.

Declaring all sources of income and all sizable gifts is required by the tax code. Maintaining compliance with these legal requirements is your best defense against audits, penalties and other consequences that may arise from failure to incorporate these items into your tax return.

 

Comparison between the Cost of TurboTax 2014 and other Online Tax Services

It is finally the right period of the year for tax filing, and therefore time for individuals to decide how they want their taxes filed. A person who prefers to prepare their tax return rather than use an accountant or a tax preparation chain like H&R have most likely come across TurboTax 2014. This is among the most desirable online tax services so definitely many users will be using TurboTax2014 software. But how does its prices compare to those of other online tax services?

TurboTax 2014
Whether a customer wants to file a 1040EZ or is interested in something more complex or to file for their little businesses, TurboTax 2014 has a solution. It offers free federal tax preparation for simple returns and three other additional packages. Those other packages are the deluxe, premier and home and business at $29.99, $49.99 and $74.99 respectively. In addition to this, their customers also get free online and phone chat.

As much as TurboTax 2014 and 2013 Taxes deluxe version costs slightly more than twice compared to similar services by their competitors, they offer a refund bonus for customers to make up for the extra cost. They offer the customers an option to get all or part of their refund back on an amazon gift card.

TaxACT
TaxACT undercuts TurboTax by at least half in terms of the software prices. A person using TaxACT will not pay nearly as much as one using TurboTax if they have to file an additional state. TurboTax costs $36.99 per state while for TaxACT only $5 is paid for an extra state is added. Although TurboTax is better if an individual is expecting the amazon gift card bonus and also if they want a large return, if the deductions are calculated in the beginning of the year so that they have to pay a little then TaxACT will certainly save them a significant amount of money. It also has applications on Google play store and apple app store that help check the status of the returns.

TaxSlayer
TaxSlayer is much cheaper than TurboTax and offers two paid services namely the classic edition and the premium edition at $12.95 and $32.95 respectively. With the most expensive choice, a customer is able to receive live tax advice but all the other services inclusive of the free edition offer free phone support. As much as TaxSlayer is cheaper than the TurboTax service, it is slightly more expensive than TaxACT at $14.95. It does not have a policy that gives back additional money.

A Free Edition Of TurboTax

Over nine hundred million dollars in tax refund money went unclaimed in one year. The Internal Revenue Service reported this notable statistic, and you may wonder how this could happen. There are two main circumstances that lead to unclaimed tax refunds.

You may end up creating an unclaimed tax refund situation if you have taxes withheld from your pay but earn less than needed for filing a refund. You will end up adding to the unclaimed refund pool if you choose not to file a tax refund. You should verify whether you qualify for an Earned Income Tax Credit, and the www.turbotax.com free edition can help you determine your eligibility.

The second reason for most cases of unclaimed tax refunds involves mailing errors. You may not receive tax filing confirmation if you have moved, changed your name, gotten divorced, or been effected by errors that originated with your post office or postal carrier.

There is no monetary penalty to pay if you do decide to claim your tax refund, but there is a time limit on how long you can wait prior to filing your tax return. You have a time limit of three years from when your tax refund was originally due, so you would have to request your 2011 tax refund by April 15th, 2014.

You can avoid an unclaimed refund scenario by filing your return on time. Filing as early as possible may be helpful as well.

Direct deposit is an ideal way to avoid an unclaimed refund scenario. Electronic deposits eliminate the potential for postal delivery errors, and you may get your refund if you choose direct deposit.

Filing your income tax return is an important financial activity. TurboTax has helped millions of people file their taxes, and you can learn about tax refunds by visiting www.turbotax.com.

Form 990 Redesign for Tax Year 2008 (Filed in 2009)

On December 20, 2007, the IRS released a redesigned Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, for tax year 2008 (to be filed in 2009 and later years). The new form incorporates comments and suggestions from the over 650 e-mails and letters received during the comment period, which closed on September 14, 2007.

The redesign of Form 990 is based on three guiding principles: enhancing transparency, promoting tax compliance, and minimizing the burden on the filing organization.

Additional information:

  • Press release (IR-2007-204)
  • Overview of Form 990 redesign
  • Background paper on Form 990 redesign
  • Form 990 Redesign Forms and Highlights
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Discussion Draft (June 14, 2007)

Tax Accountant Vs Tax Software

Tax Software

You are one of 50,000,000 Americans who must fill out an income tax return by March 15th … file yours early. (Photo credit: Keijo Knutas)

Why choose a tax accountant over tax software?

Preparing and filing taxes are rarely activities most people look forward to. Whether you need to prepare an individual or business tax return, you may be looking for an easier way to simplify this process. While one option available is for you to prepare your tax return on your own, the fact is that many people will find the process easier to complete when they use either tax software or the services of an accountant. While both options are preferred by many over completing a tax return on your own, there are clear benefits associated with using the services of a tax accountant.

Finding All Deductions
For most individuals and businesses, it is not enough to simply prepare and file a return. The goal also is to minimise the amount of taxes owed and even to maximize a refund. Tax software is designed to help taxpayers identify common tax deductions, but the fact is that you may qualify for additional deductions that are less common. In some cases, you may not be clear about if you qualify for certain deductions or not. Tax software may help you to identify some of these deductions, but you simply cannot beat the benefit associating with having a live professional assist you with the identification of deductions.

Getting Questions Answered
Most tax software programs are designed to be user-friendly, and they have a helpful hints or frequently asked questions section that may assist you if you have questions. However, many questions that taxpayers have are unique. They may fall into what can be perceived as a gray area, or the situation may be unusual and may require expert assistance. The fact is that you need to file your return accurately to avoid penalties. Therefore, working with a live tax expert can be useful to you.

A Look Toward the Future
Furthermore, a tax accountant can help you to plan for the future. When a tax accountant reviews your finances now, he or she may be able to identify different steps that you can take to minimize your tax liability next year or for several years in the future. You may be planning to purchase a new home, to buy office equipment or to make some other change, and there may be tax consequences associated with this. By working with a tax accountant, you will be able to better plan for the future and avoid paying more than necessary on your tax return.

As tax day approaches, one of the best steps that you can take to ensure that your tax return is filed accurately and on time and to ensure that your tax liability is minimized is to work with a professional tax accountant. The best tax accountant to use is one who is experienced and knowledgeable and who has the desire to communicate openly with you about your taxes. Take time today to locate a tax accountant to work with, and you can rest easy knowing that your tax return will receive the personal attention it deserves.

TurboTax And The Earned Income Tax Credit

Individuals who wish to use a tax service may wish to try TurboTax 2013. This is the option that they may need to easily pay their taxes, and be able to get the tax help they can use. One of the items that the individuals can take advantage of is that they can use an earned income credit when they are filing their taxes. An earned income credit allows individual to get money back from child care expenses they may have paid over time. The Earned Income Tax Credit was designed to help low to moderate income people get a refund of some of the expenses they may have paid over the course of the year.

You can use TurboTax 2013 to try to get an EITC that will help to get the refund that may be needed. Make sure to get this program as part of a plan to get the tax credits that you may need. TurboTax 2013 is an option individuals can take advantage of and use.
Some of the Things to know about this credit

Earned Income Tax Credit

Earned Income Tax Credit (Photo credit: LendingMemo)

Make sure that you understand the factors concerning the EITC. The IRS has guidelines set up to help taxpayers determine if they are eligible for the EITC credit. Those who have a qualifying child are likely to be eligible for the credit. The child in question needs to meet certain qualifications. They must be under age 19, be a full time student under age 24, or be permanently disabled. Your son or daughter, or qualifying foster child must pass the residency test.

Other things to be aware of when qualifying for the EITC credit is that you must have a valid social security number in order to file. You must also make sure that the spouse signs off on the credit if you are filing a joint return. Taxpayers must also fall between the ages of 25 and 65 in order to be Earned Income Tax Credit eligible. Income must be generally be earned from working for someone else, you may also be eligible for the credit if you have a small business or run a farm. It is also necessary to have lived in the United States for at least 6 months. Turbotax 2013 can help individuals figure their Earned Income Tax Credit. The alternative would be to have the IRS figure the credit when filing. Make sure you the individual, can find the help that is needed from TurboTax2013 to get the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Experts Say Charitable Tax Deduction is Safe from Congress

According to experts from the nonprofit sector, charitable tax deduction laws will likely remain unscathed from Congress in the near future. However lawmakers are still dealing with several charitable tax break issues that expired in 2013 and there is uncertainty on whether such tax breaks for charities will continue to exist.

President Barack Obama has consistently tried to limit the amount of tax savings the rich get for itemized deductions and will likely mention this issue is his upcoming proposed budget. However individual adjustments in tax policy typically don’t stand a chance in getting passed unless they’re grouped together

Charitable Tax Deduction

Ron Wyden and Nancy Bass Wyden by David Shankbone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

with other tax items. Experts say creating such a large tax bill likely won’t happen before midterm election in November.

Adding to the difficulty of altering charitable tax deduction policy is the probable change in Congress. Democrat of Montana and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus, is soon leaving Washington to become the ambassador to China and his likely replacement, Sen. Ron Wyden, is a strong supporter of charitable deduction. Baucus was expected to pass a broad tax overhaul before his retirement at the end of the year, but now people think it’s unlikely to happen because Wyden is expected to work at a slower pace.

According to Andrew Schulz, executive vice president of Foundation Source (a group that advises private foundations), “There’s zero percent chance any significant tax reform will happen this year.” Others who work with charities and nonprofits feel the same way.

Steve Tyler, senior vice president for public policy at United Way Worldwide, says 1,000 United Way leaders will be “vigilant” when talking with lawmakers if charitable tax deductions are discussed when they’re in Washington in May.

Documenting Donations for 2014

As long as proper documentation is provided, both individuals and businesses can deduct donations from taxable income. It is always best to check with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you’re wondering what documentation is required. The IRS has strict guidelines for submitting charitable contributions as a write-off, which is an expense that gets deducted from your taxable income. You can learn more about tax smart contributions here.

If you want a donation to be seen by the IRS as a write-off, you’ll need proper documentation. This can be a cancelled check, credit card statement, bank records, or a receipt. The receipt must have the charity’s name on it as well as the amount you donated.

If you plan on donating to a charity and wish to submit it to the IRS as a tax write-off, you need to make sure the charity you’re supporting is approved by the IRS. Charities approved by the IRS are usually those that offer some kind of relief or are associated with religious and educational organizations. In a lot of cases local volunteer organizations such as animal rescue groups are approved by the IRS.

However don’t assume you’ll receive a tax break from the IRS without checking to see if the charity is approved. Just because the IRS’ list of approved charities is long doesn’t mean the organization you’re donating to will be on it.