Tax help Feed

Photo courtesy MoneyBogNewz via Flickr CC This weekend many businesses and their tax advisers are still trying to sort out the complexities of Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program. It's part of the $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package, officially known as the CARES Act, that became law on March 27. The Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, was created to get cash relatively quickly to small business owners whose operations have taken hits due to the pandemic and efforts to stem it, such as forced closures. It's supposed to have less red tape than the existing SBA loan programs and... Read more →


Thank you, Internal Revenue Service. The tax agency has confirmed that 2019 tax year contributions to individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) can be made as late July 15. These accounts are among the very few areas where a tax break doesn't have a Dec. 31 deadline. In normal tax seasons, contributions to an IRA or HSA can be made and claimed for the prior tax year as late as April 15, which is the usual tax filing deadline. However, this year, as everyone already knows, the chaotic convergence of COVID-19 and taxes prompted the IRS to... Read more →


Retailers aren't the only ones closing their doors to customers during the coronavirus crisis. So is the Internal Revenue Service and other tax-related operations. As cases of COVID-19 increased, the IRS has acted to protect not only taxpayers but its employees. The goal is the new global mantra — to flatten the curve of the potentially deadly virus' transmission. IRS in-person actions curtailed: "We're taking several immediate steps to protect employees while still delivering on the mission-critical functions," said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, in a message to his staff that also is posted on the tax agency's website. These virus-affected... Read more →


Volunteer tax preparers help Florida taxpayers complete and file their taxes. (Photo courtesy United Way of the Big Bend) You checked out Free File, but you're just not comfortable relying on the tax software alone. But when you looked into hiring a tax preparer, the fees put too much pressure on your already stretched budget. Good news! There are tax-savvy volunteers across the United States ready to help lower-income and older taxpayers fulfill their annual filing responsibilities. These folks are at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) locations nationwide. They are members of your... Read more →


Law schools and their students, like these at Georgia State University College of Law, are major contributors to the success of Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics nationwide. (Photo courtesy Philip C. Cook LITC) Sometimes, taxpayers encounter issues more serious that just filing their returns. They discover that the Internal Revenue Service has some questions about a prior return or an appeal of an agency decision isn't going as expected or that the federal tax collector is taking his name to heart and initiating collection procedures. What to do? Specifically, what to do if you don't have much money? Find your nearest Low-Income... Read more →


(Pixabay via Pexels) When you're in the military, taxes are likely far down on your list of concerns. Members of the military, however, bear the same tax responsibility as do all U.S. citizens. The one bit of good tax news here is that the tax code and Internal Revenue Service take into account the special circumstances that armed services personnel face. Here are some tax highlights for military taxpayers. Affected armed forces: Military tax benefits typically apply to active duty or reserve members of the armed forces. The eligible forces are: United States Army (including Army Reserve and Army National... Read more →


Taxpayer Advocacy Panel members provide information on how to improve the IRS at the agency's annual Tax Forums. (Photo courtesy TAP News) How many times, perhaps times per day, have you said, "If I were in charge, I'd do things differently." Now's your chance to follow up on that, at least when it comes to how U.S. taxpayers interact with our tax system and the agency that administers it. Become a member of the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, or TAP as it's called, and improve the Internal Revenue Service. My personal TAP dance: I can hear the skepticism coming through the... Read more →


Millions of us file taxes every year. And millions of us, even those who get refunds, dread it. Why? We worry that we'll make a mistake. That's a legitimate concern. Despite lawmakers' perpetual promises to make our tax lives easier, they somehow seem to screw up that political pledge. Yes, I am looking at you Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), with your new forms and confusing tax breaks even when they provide some relief. Thanks, Congress! But sometimes, we filers have to bear some of the blame. We make things worse by making easily avoidable mistakes when we fill... Read more →


If this filing season is anything like previous ones, millions of taxpayers have already sent their 1040s to the Internal Revenue Service. One of the perennial questions is how many filers use tax software, specifically the options offered by the IRS-tax software industry partnership known as Free File. Again, if the 2020 filing season is like most before it, the news isn't likely to be good. Despite efforts by the IRS over the years, the Free File program is just not that popular with taxpayers. And making things worse for the program is a just-released report that says more than... Read more →


The shortest month of the year is a little longer in 2020. It's a Leap Year. What will we do with that extra day, Feb. 29? Of course, we're going to devote those additional 24 hours to our taxes. OK, maybe not. For many, this first full week of February is getting off to a slow part, thanks to the annual Super Bowl Sunday hangover. Others simply aren't ready to think taxes yet. It's not their fault. They, and that includes me, are still waiting for necessary tax-filing statements. And some eager and on-the-ball taxpayers don't want to think about... Read more →


What would you do with an extra $2,504? That's the average amount received by taxpayers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in 2019. Overall, the Internal Revenue Service says that across the country last year, 25 million taxpayers received more than $61 billion from this tax break for lower-and middle-income workers. Every tax year, however, folks who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit don't claim it. Many don't know about the tax break. Others don't realize that changes in their marital, parental or financial status means they now qualify. That's why for more than a decade, the... Read more →


The second filing season under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is about to start. This one will be easier, right? Right? Maybe. At least this year, we and the Internal Revenue Service aren't dealing with the longest federal government shutdown in history. Plus, folks got a good look with their filings last year at how the massive Republican tax reform law affects them, although some areas are still a bit fuzzy. And of course, everyone adjusted their payroll withholding so there won't be a replay of 2019's reduced/no-tax-refund drama. Yeah, I'm rolling my eyes at that statement, too.... Read more →


Before you can file your taxes, you need some tax statements. The key among them for most of us is the W-2. Here's a look at all — and there's a lot — that's on this document. Taxes are all about the numbers. That includes the numerical names of tax documents. For wage earning taxpayers, the most important form is the W-2 they get early (hopefully!) each year. Officially titled Wage and Tax Statement, it has (true to its name) the details on earnings and taxes paid throughout the past tax year. This form is starting point in figuring any... Read more →


Taxpayers got their first experience with new filing forms with last year's 2018 returns. There are more changes to the 1040 for 2019 taxes, too, but the revisions actually could be helpful. Tax season is about to start in a less than two weeks. Jan. 27, in case you forgot. Many of us are already working on our 2019 returns, either by working with a tax preparer or filling out our forms on our own. Doing taxes has never been a fun job for most folks. But filing under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has made that job... Read more →


Ready to file your taxes? Ready to do so for free? The Internal Revenue Service is ready, too. Its Free File tax preparation and electronic filing option is open for business. As usual, the online no-cost way for millions to complete and electronically file their taxes is available before the IRS actually starts accepting and processing returns. That won't happen until Jan 27. But you can still get a jump on your annual tax filing obligation. The Free File program you select will simply hold your return until Jan. 27 and then submit as soon as the IRS officially kicks... Read more →


Image via GotCredit.com The year's first obvious and, for some, painful acknowledgement of taxes is next week. Jan. 15 is the due date for the final estimated tax payment for the 2019 tax year. That upcoming deadline day is this weekend's By the Numbers figure. Generally, if you expect you'll owe more than $1,000 in taxes, then you must pay estimated taxes throughout the year. If you've been paying estimated taxes for a while, you already know that these payments cover earnings that aren't subject to withholding. This includes things like investment earnings that pay out periodically during the year... Read more →


Topher Grace is known by millions of fans as television's Eric Forman. But when he's not acting, he also has a side gig. Side hustles aren't just for struggling wage slaves. From the "what I learned today" files, I literally learned today that actor Topher Grace has a side gig doing projects for Disney. Yes, the man who was Eric Forman in That '70s Show, and a buddy put together, as a lark, a consolidated trailer of all the Star Wars movies. Their unsanctioned YouTube post got a gazillion hits. OK, around 2 million from all the various postings. But... Read more →


Last year, some tax software companies allegedly hid their Free File option on their corporate websites, instead sending otherwise eligible free filers to paid products. That won't happen again, says the IRS, under a new Free File agreement that was just signed and takes effect for the upcoming 2020 tax-filing season. The only thing people like more than getting their annual tax refunds is getting things for free. The IRS says that this coming tax-filing season, its new agreement with tax software companies will help ensure that eligible taxpayers will know that they can combine those loves via Free File.... Read more →


Christmas is next week! So of course you're thinking about filing your 2019 tax return. Maybe not this coming week. But you will soon. And when you do think about it, if you're like most U.S. taxpayers, you'll use tax software. E-filing encouraged: The Internal Revenue Service encourages us — and in the case of most paid tax preparers, requires — to use the tax preparation programs and accompanying electronic filing option. We follow those prompts and pushes. This year, more than 138 million returns were e-filed. That was almost 89 percent of all the 1040s and other annual returns... Read more →


December is, for the most part, a festive month. The holidays and all that accompanies them, from songs to movies to the joy of youngsters and young at heart, bring out the best in most of us. But things aren't quite so bright and jolly for everyone. Despite an economic recovery that's lifted people out of poverty in most areas of the country, poverty increased in at least one county in every state between 2016 and 2018. The poverty rate — defined as the percentage of people in households earning less than the current $25,750 threshold for a family of... Read more →