Tax help Feed

Like helping people? You can extend your volunteer penchant beyond the holidays and into the coming tax season by becoming a volunteer with an Internal Revenue Service-approved free tax help site. Don't worry. You'll get, like the folks pictured here, the tax training needed to help others fulfill their tax tasks. (Screenshot from IRS video) The holidays are here. Yeah, I'm not ready either, but … In this season of giving, many folks donate to charities. This year, much of the focus in on helping nonprofits that assist folks who've suffered through natural disasters, notably the deadly wildfires still burning... Read more →


UPDATE, Oct. 15: Additional areas in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia now receive tax relief in connection with Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Details below. Monday, Oct. 15 is a big tax day for millions. The Internal Revenue Service says more than 14 million taxpayers requested added time to complete their 2017 tax returns. While not all of them put off that tax task until the very last minute, it's a safe bet that a lot did. If' you're among that group of uber-procrastinators, I wish you well in getting the job done by tomorrow. The tax and... Read more →


Did you get an extension back in April to wait until Oct. 15 to file your 2017 tax return? Guess what? That's Monday. Like this coming Monday. Like three days from now! Sorry. That means no weekend fun for you. You need to spend your weekend, or at least part of it, working on your 2017 Form 1040. I feel for all y'all ultimate procrastinators. I've been there, but not this year, thank goodness. The hubby and I still got an extension, joining more than 14 million other taxpayers who sidestepped the April 18 deadline, but we filed our return... Read more →


Port St. Joe on Florida's Panhandle was hard hit by Hurricane Michael. Residents of this small Gulf County, Florida, town now are eligible for special tax relief. (Photo courtesy Florida National Guard via Facebook) As expected, the Internal Revenue Service is giving Hurricane Michael victims extra time to take care of tax tasks that the deadly storm interrupted. The eligible taxpayers now have until Feb. 28, 2019, to file returns, pay taxes and perform certain other time-sensitive acts that had original or extended deadlines between Oct. 7 and the new filing due date next year. Extension deadline considerations: The IRS'... Read more →


Hurricane Michael is bearing down on the panhandle of Florida. It's expected to make landfall It made landfall this afternoon, possibly as category 4 strength (or stronger; wind instruments blew away before getting final readings), a speed at which it's been churning up the Gulf of Mexico for almost half a day. It's too late to evacuate, so I hope folks have found secure places to hunker down. And while I know no one is thinking about taxes when a hurricane is heading their way. The Internal Revenue Service was far from the hubby's and my minds back in 2004... Read more →


Old-school passbook savings accounts are safe, but have been paying minuscule interest over the last few years. The White House might be unhappy, but all of us with money in safer assets like certificates of deposit (CDs) or plain-old savings accounts are sending the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, aka the Fed, a big fat thank you. The Fed's decision yesterday (Wednesday, Sept. 26) to raise rates to a range between 2 percent and 2.25 percent means we'll be seeing few more pennies of earnings in our accounts. And it is just pennies. Those of us old enough to remember... Read more →


When you hire a tax professional, you want someone you can trust. In Paul Manafort's case, that apparently meant someone he trusted to file fraudulent returns. The accountant for former Donald J. Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort told jurors hearing the bank fraud and tax evasion charges against the long-time political operative that she helped backdate documents and falsify financial records. Cynthia Laporta, who has been given limited immunity for her testimony, said the accounting maneuvers suggested by Manafort and his longtime business associate Rick Gates, who's also working with the prosecution and expected to eventually testify in the case,... Read more →


Since its appearance in 2003, around 50 million taxpayers have used Free File. As the name indicates, this partnership of the Internal Revenue Service and tax software manufacturers known as the Free File Alliance gives most taxpayers the opportunity to do their taxes on their computers and then e-file them at no cost. But, notes Pro Publica in an article co-published with Quartz, the number of Free Filing taxpayers comes to just around 3 percent of eligible households. That, according to the article by Tik Root, means that folks have spent around $1 billion on tax prep and filing fees... Read more →


Kilauea lava flow from U.S. Geological Survey via Giphy.com Hawaiians got some relatively good news this week in connection with the continuing lava flow from Mount Kilauea. The volcano is continuing to spew potentially deadly gases and pour flaming lava across a growing southeastern section of the 50th state's Big Island. The eruption, which started May 3, also is still producing explosions and earthquakes. Now, however, the catastrophe has been declared a major disaster by the White House. That is good tax news for affected residents, which is everyone on the state's largest island, also named Hawaii, as is the... Read more →


Insightful high school seniors' essays offer valuable lessons about life, finances and, yes, taxes. As I get closer to retirement, I've begun to think what I'll do with the free time that transition is supposed to provide. One option I've considered is volunteering at tax help sites, like those offered by Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) locations. That's why as I was thumbing through the paper this morning, the story about college essays caught my eye. Ron Lieber, who writes The New York Times' "Your Money" column that runs each Saturday, this weekend... Read more →


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 →