Tax help Feed

Federal, and most state, tax returns are due in less than a week. Don't panic! You still have time to finish your return (or get an extension). But don't be in such a rush that you make a costly mistake. Yes, errors on 1040s still happen, even though most of use tax preparation software that catches errors on our annual returns. Here are a dozen common tax mistakes that millions of taxpayers make every year. Some are directly from the Internal Revenue Service. Others are based on my and other filers' experiences. 1. Missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers: This... Read more →


Most U.S. taxpayers get refunds. But the time it takes to get that over-withheld money seems to get longer every filing season, at least according to the emails I've received and comments on my refund-related blog posts. Part of the reason is the annual mandated hold until mid-February of refunds associated with returns that included Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit claims. Realistically, that money doesn't show up in many affected filers' hands until the end of February. Then earlier this year, Congress decided to renew some tax breaks after the filing season had already been... Read more →


Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) and fellow Ways and Means member Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) have offered a bill to revamp the IRS. Remember the kinder, gentler Internal Revenue Service? That was the goal of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, which sought to ease up on the tax agency's aggressive collection actions back then. Now two Ways and Means Committee members are looking to remake the IRS into a modern, more efficient agency that provides taxpayers a better experience. I'm pretty sure that modernizing and refining processes for better efficiency can eventually be accomplished. As for the improved... Read more →


Image courtesy SimpsonsWorld via Giphy.com The Tuesday after Presidents Day generally is the busiest day of the year for calls to the Internal Revenue Service's toll-free help line. That also means that callers find themselves on hold. Such waiting, compounded by being forced to listen to tunes that would never ever make your Spotify playlist, is common throughout the filing season. That then leads to taxpayer frustration, which often prompts filers to try different avenues to get answers to their questions. Don't, however, just randomly call any IRS phone number seeking tax help, cautions the IRS. And definitely don't call... Read more →


Most taxpayers now are focusing on completing their annual tax returns. But if we have to deal with the Internal Revenue Service to finish that Form 1040, or if the agency subsequently has some questions about it, Uncle Sam's tax collector wants us to know we have some inalienable tax rights. The 10 components of Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) are this week's By the Numbers figure. Here they are: 1. The Right to Be Informed: Taxpayers have the right to know what they need to do to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of... Read more →


Beavis (sans Butt-head) offers callers, uh, help? (Image via Giphy.com) Looking for tax filing help from the Internal Revenue Service? Prepare beforehand. Tax identity theft concerns mean you'll have to prove to the IRS that you are you if you call the agency's tax hotline. And if you want face-to-face help at your local Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC), you'll have to make an appointment. Telephone tax ID issues: I know. You're already unhappy with the IRS phone hotline. The IRS knows, too. Every filing season answering taxpayers' questions telephonically is on the agency's to-improve list. Last year, it even opened... Read more →


Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November. All the rest have 31, Except for February, Which has 28 to put to use doing your taxes. OK, I took some liberties with the traditional poem. But it is true that despite its reduced days, February still provides plenty of time to make some key tax moves. Here, since it is a short month, are three. Collect your tax statements: Most of the tax statements that you need to fill out your Form 1040 should be arriving by early this month. They were supposed to be to you or at least... Read more →


Free tax-preparation and filing help, like that shown here at a Rutherford Country, Tennessee, VITA office, is available at thousands of sites across the country. You need help with your taxes but you can't afford a professional. A couple of community-based, Internal Revenue Service endorsed and, best of all, free tax filing help options may just be the answer. If you earn around $54,000 or less, have a disability, are elderly or speak limited English, you may qualify for free tax help from IRS-certified volunteers at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) locations nationwide.... Read more →


Free File, the no-cost online tax return preparation and e-filing option, is now open for business. Although there's been no official announcement by the IRS and its Free File Alliance tax software partners, a click on the Free File page at IRS.gov invites eligible taxpayers to, "Click the Start Free File Now button to file your FREE federal return." UPDATE: The IRS has now made Free File official! You can read the announcement, but I'd appreciate it if you'd keep reading here. Those who can click the Free File button this year are taxpayers with adjusted gross income (AGI) of... Read more →


Welcome 2018 tax year. We know you are going to be crazy, but we are ready for whatever you plan to throw at us. And it will be a lot. In addition to starting out with the usual filing season tasks that focus on getting our 2017 tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service, there also are the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes to the tax code that will affect our 2018 tax bills. The Daily Tax Tip feature is here to help you accomplish both your 2017 filing and planning for 2018, regardless of whether you're confident enough... Read more →


Tax pros are feeling all "Mean Girls" Gretchen Wieners right now thanks to the new tax law. (via Giphy.com) When people ask what I do, I say I'm the most popular person in the world until April 16. After a few seconds of quizzical looks, I explain. I write about taxes. Yep, everyone wants to be my best friend until they finish their tax returns. After the April filing deadline, though, it's "please, Kay, no more tax talk!" But the Republican tax bill, originally known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and set to take effect on Jan. 1,... Read more →


A driver pulled over in La Conchita, California, the evening of Dec. 6 to save a rabbit he spotted scurrying amid flames from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County. Click image to watch full video posted on YouTube by RMG News/Reuters/NJ.com. California is on fire. Literally. Again. Just two months after the northern part of the Golden State was ablaze, deadly wildfires are raging across Southern California. And while residents right now are simply trying to stay safe and, if possible, save as much of their personal possessions as they can, in a few weeks or months, they'll be trying... Read more →


Have a problem with the Internal Revenue Service that you just can't solve? The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) might be able to help. And for some folks, that help will be in person. Generally, TAS can assist taxpayers — at no cost — if: Your problem is causing financial difficulties for you, your family or your business. You or your business are facing an immediate threat of adverse action. You've tried repeatedly to contact the IRS but no one has responded or the IRS hasn't responded by the date promised. You believe an IRS system or procedure isn't working as... Read more →


"Dear IRS, …" — If you have a question about how a tax law or regulation affects your particular set of circumstances, you can ask, in writing, for the Internal Revenue Service to weigh in. But be prepared to pay for the advice and, effective Aug. 15, pay electronically. Taxes are complex. That’s why it’s often wise to get professional help. In some cases, however, even tax pros need some guidance. This is particularly true when taxpayer circumstances are such that the individuals and their advisers feel the need for further interpretation as to how tax laws or administrative rules... Read more →


Happy World Emoji Day! It's held on July 17 each year as a way to promote the use of emojis — like we need to do that! — and, according to Emojipedia (really!), spread the enjoyment that the colorful icons bring. The enjoyment goal got me thinking of how emojis might make one of our worst tax tasks more pleasant. I'm talking, of course, about our annual filing of returns. Most of us already use tax software. Surely it wouldn't be that difficult to incorporate the option of adding emojis to the lines we fill electronically complete. Dressing up your... Read more →


No maybe about it. Taxpayers will be calling the Internal Revenue Service this weekend as the April 18 tax return filing deadline looms. Taxpayers will be taking Carly Rae Jepsen's advice and calling the IRS in a filing season last-minute rush to complete their returns. Click image to watch her song's video. Or you can check out IRS videos for tax help. The first two weeks of April usually are the busiest times of the year for IRS employees who staff the agency's toll-free telephone help lines. And since this is an unusually slow filing season — the IRS reports... Read more →


You know there's Free File, but you'd really feel more comfortable getting some face-to-face help filling out your taxes. The problem is you don't have a lot of money to pay for accredited tax assistance. Good news. You might qualify for free, in-person tax help. Free tax-preparation and filing help, like that shown here at a Rutherford Country, Tennessee, VITA office, is available at thousands of sites across the country. No-cost tax return preparation and e-filing is available at nearly 12,000 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites across the United States. These filing-season... Read more →


Ah, youth. The excitement. The energy. The illusion of immortality. The first-ever filing of a tax return. Boom. Taxes often are the first indication of young adulthood. And apparently it's a grown-up responsibility that many millennials are turning over to other grownups, specifically their parents. Real mom-and-pop tax help: More than a third (37 percent) of millennials relies on their parents at least in part for tax help, according to a new study released by TaxAct. The survey, conducted by ORC International earlier this year on behalf of the tax software company, also found that young men are more likely... Read more →


Working on your taxes this Presidents Day? You are most definitely not alone. The day following what officially is still just a celebration of Washington's Birthday is typically the busiest day of the year for Internal Revenue Service phone reps. They usually field thousands of calls per hour on the third Tuesday of every February. You can find lots of tax help and filing options on your computer and smartphone. To help ease some of tomorrow's expected call crunch, the IRS phone help line is open today, Monday, Feb. 20, even though it's a federal holiday. IRS representatives will be... Read more →


One of the things I always suggest to folks who are having tax trouble, be it with filling out a return or dealing with Internal Revenue Service questions about an already filed 1040, is to consult a tax professional. By tax professional, I mean a qualified, reputable person who's up to date on the tax laws and who will help clients comply with them in a legal way that also produces the lowest possible tax liability. Every tax pro I know personally falls into this category. So do, based on what I've read by and digitally discussed with them over... Read more →