Tax help Feed

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 →


Mother Nature got a jump on the 2016 storm calendar, creating Hurricane Alex back in January and Tropical Storm Bonnie four days before today's official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. Seasonal forecast for the Atlantic Hurricane Season from Colorado State University (CSU), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and The Weather Channel. The forecast from CSU includes Hurricane Alex and Tropical Storm Bonnie. The Weather Channel and the NOAA forecasts include Hurricane Alex. Does that mean we'll have more storms this year than the dozen or so that are predicted? Maybe. Maybe not. Weather prognostications from a variety... Read more →


Federal drug officials are considering removing marijuana's Schedule 1 classification, reports USA Today. A DEA agent carries confiscated marijuana plants to be destroyed. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) decision, which is expected this summer, would make it easier for researchers to work with the plant. Currently, weed is in the same legal category as heroin, LSD and bath salts. As a Schedule 1 drug, marijuana is deemed to have "no currently accepted medical treatment use." Residents and lawmakers in 24 states and the District of Columbia disagree; they permit some form of medical marijuana use. Recreational weed and taxes: Colorado,... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service and millions of taxpayers are breathing easier. Overall, the 2016 filing season went pretty smoothly. A big reason for that was this year's improved taxpayer telephone service. Highways England via Flickr "So far this filing season the telephone level of service is nearly 75 percent, which is a vast improvement over last year," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee during an April 19 hearing to assess the just-completed filing season. The commish is right about the dramatically better phone help. Twice as good: In 2015, the IRS telephone tax help... Read more →


If you work in the world's oldest profession, finances can be problematic. First, your job is illegal, so you don't want to do anything to draw unwanted attention to your line of work. Neither do your clients. So escorts, prostitutes and other types of sex workers tend to operate on a cash basis. That, however, raises the question of what to do with all those loose dollars. Even with today's minuscule interest rates, you don't want to keep cash under a mattress. Tracing cash transactions: Banks, despite all their problems, are generally safer than having a lot of dollars stashed... Read more →


What's the biggest hassle, aside from complex tax laws, that you face in trying to do your taxes? The National Taxpayer Advocate believes it's the Internal Revenue Service's increasing efforts to make most taxpayer interaction interactive. National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson is required by law to include in her Annual Report to Congress a summary of at least 20 of the most serious problems that taxpayers face. Given how taxpayer troubles have increased over the years, be they from inappropriate or inept IRS actions or because the agency is understaffed and underfunded, it's no surprise that in her 2015 report,... Read more →


H&R Block explores virtual tax preparation

H&R Block sees about 13 million people a year in its retail offices across the country. But there is a physical limit for everything. So H&R Block is, once again, looking into virtual reality as a way to reach more taxpayers. H&R Block revealed its foray into virtual tax offices to CNBC's Jane Wells, who reported that a couple of weeks ago in a room in Los Angeles, "three women put on Oculus virtual reality headsets (and so did this reporter) in order to experience what the new office might look like." John, the virtual tax pro: The testers found... Read more →


The U.S. economy finally appears to be on an upward track. That's good news for the millions of folks who took serious financial hits during the persistent recession that began in 2008. Things were so bad back then that even the Internal Revenue Service decided to lend a helping hand. In 2009, the IRS showed its more compassionate side to taxpayers facing financial challenges, which included having difficulty paying their tax-due balances. The IRS committed to being more flexible in working with taxpayers having trouble paying Uncle Sam because of factors related to the weak economy. Thus began the Fresh... Read more →


If you're not at your office this Presidents Day holiday, chances are you are working on your taxes. This three-day February weekend typically marks the beginning of the busiest time of the annual tax filing season. By now, the 1099s and W2s and other statements needed to fill out returns are in most taxpayers hands. And when folks start workings on their 1040s, even with software help, they tend to have questions. That's why this week, according to the Internal Revenue Service, also is one of the busiest times for the IRS' telephone lines. Operators at work at a telephone... Read more →


The only thing worse than messing up your own taxes is paying someone who can't do the job. If you're looking for professional tax help, once you figure out which type of tax preparer to use, then you must sure that person is competent. Here are five quick tips to help you check out your tax pro. 1. Inspect Internal Revenue Service ID: Make sure the preparer has an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN. This ID number is required by Uncle Sam of folks who file returns for others for a fee. Note, however, that a valid PTIN... Read more →


Attention smartphone addicted taxpayers, the 2015 version of the Internal Revenue Service's app is now available. That's good news for taxpayers who want the handheld option to find out just where in the IRS system their 2014 refunds are. As in the past, you enter your Social Security number, your filing status, and the amount you're expecting back and hit enter. If you're concerned about plugging in your nine-digit tax ID number, the IRS says don't be. The agency assures us that the number will be masked and encrypted for security purposes. Finding help: While refund tracking is likely to... Read more →


If you can afford to hire a tax professional to help you file your returns, good for you. A lot of folks, however, are not able to come up with the money for a paid preparer. Free File can be a big help, allowing anyone with adjusted gross income of $60,000 or less to use the no-cost online tax preparation and e-filing service. But if you want a more personal tax help touch, you've got options, too. Free tax help from trained volunteers: There are more than 12,000 free tax preparation sites -- those numerous tax help locations earn this... Read more →


Tax filing season 2015 is here

Do you hear that? It's the rustle of tens of thousands of taxpayers sending in their 2014 tax returns. That's what must have awoken me at the unusually early, for me, hour of 6:20 a.m. That's OK. I understand the excitement. Tax filing season begins today, Jan. 20. OK, maybe you're not as happy as this Zach Galifianakis character, but c'mon. It's tax season 2015! Ready. Set. File. Wait: As I type, the Internal Revenue Service is now accepting both snail mailed paper tax forms and 1040s filed electronically. Speaking of electronic taxes, folks eligible to use Free File got... Read more →


Remember the warning from the Internal Revenue Service that we taxpayers shouldn't expect much help from the agency this filing season? Budget cuts, said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, mean fewer staff to answer phone callers questions. Well, the same is true for tax professionals. On Friday, the IRS alerted tax pros that the agency's e-Help Desk hotline is cutting back its hours. The same budget woes that could, according to the most recent National Taxpayer Advocate report, lead to less than half of individual taxpayer calls being answered, also are being blamed for the end of the e-Help Desk's extended... Read more →


Ready to file your 2014 tax return? Have adjusted gross income of $60,000 or less? Then check out Free File tomorrow. That's right. The Internal Revenue Service's free online tax preparation and e-filing option opens for business Friday, Jan. 16. That's four days before the IRS starts accepting and processing all other 2014 returns, be they e-filed with commercial tax software or submitted on paper. The free online filing partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance is back for its 13th tax-filing service. It was started in 2003 as a way to get more people to e-file. It... Read more →