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How To Organize Your Tax Records

How To Organize Your Tax Records

Learning how to organize your tax records can save you stress and time when it is time to file your taxes.  Start the year with an organization system so you know where all of your records are when it is time to file your taxes.  If you aren’t sure what records you need, here is a general guide that is suitable for most people.

Income

Your employer will issue a W-2 with your income and tax information for the year.  You should also include interest statements from investment accounts and any 1099s that you may receive for work done the previous year.

English: Same as :File:2010 Receipts & Expendi...

English: Same as :File:2010 Receipts & Expenditures.PNG, but slightly improved. Bar chart comparing estimates for United States federal government total receipts and expenditures in fiscal year 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Medical Expenses

File receipts for all medical expenses and your out-of-pocket health expenses.

Donations

Keep all receipts for cash donations made from the previous year.  You can also deduct non-cash donations made to a charitable organization.

Real Estate

If you own your home or other real estate, keep all interest statements and tax assessments.

Child Care

If your children are in day care for all or part of the year, keep a copy of your receipts for payment.

Student Loans

The interest you pay monthly on a federal student loans is tax deductible.

Letters from the IRS

If you receive any letters from the IRS, keep these in your file.

Previous Tax Forms

Keep all previous tax forms for future years.

Other Receipts

Keep all receipts that you may need for a deduction.  You may not need them, but it is better to have them in case you do. If you plan on itemizing your deductions, keep all receipts for taxes you paid, medical expenses, interest you paid, charitable donations, loss due to theft, job expenses and other receipts you think may qualify for a deduction.

If you plan to itemize your deductions, it will be a lot easier for you if you keep these receipts organized throughout the year.

If you do not have a lot of paperwork each year, you can store them in one file.  However, if you have a lot of receipts or other tax papers, you should organize them by type to make your free tax filing 2012 easier and quicker.

For most people, a simple paper organizer that holds several files is sufficient to organize tax information.  Use a separate file for each type of paperwork, and file receipts and information as soon as you get them.  Keeping paperwork organized and not letting it pile up is important to stay organized, so file your paperwork as soon as your get it or once a month as needed.

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How To Free File Online Using The IRS Website

How To Free File Online Using The IRS Website

Many taxpayers are using free file online programs that are based on popular tax software programs like the TurboTax 2013 programs. The free file online program is offered directly by the IRS on their website. It is available to all taxpayers, but different taxpayers can access different portions of the program based on their income and other factors.

The IRS free file online program connects taxpayers with participating software companies like TurboTax 2013. Taxpayers can choose between a range of software programs including the TurboTax 2013 Freedom edition. Once the taxpayer has selected a software company, they can get started on their returns.

English: YOU ARE FREE TO USE THIS FILE

English: YOU ARE FREE TO USE THIS FILE (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Taxpayers who have an adjusted gross income of $57,000 or less can file using the free program. Taxpayers who earn more than that amount cannot use the free software programs. However, they can download free file online forms. These forms are primarily for people who enjoy doing their own taxes. Using these forms, these taxpayers can prepare and file their own taxes online. However, these taxpayers do not get the extra assistance that is offered to people who can take advantage of programs like the TurboTax 2013 software programs.

Before they get started with the program, taxpayers need to prepare themselves. They will need to have copies of their last year’s tax return, copies of their W-2s, 1099s, and any other information that they will need for their taxes. For instance, taxpayers who plan to itemize their deductions may want copies of their charitable deductions or information on how much interest they have paid to their mortgage company throughout the year.

Before starting, taxpayers should also estimate their adjusted gross income. If you have not had any significant changes to your income over the last year, you should be able to estimate your adjustable gross income using last year’s tax return. Once you have determined whether or not your adjusted gross income is more or less than $57,000, you will know which program you are allowed to use. About 70% of all taxpayers have adjusted gross incomes of less than $57,000 so the chances are high that you will qualify to file free online.

Once you have completed the tax preparation work, you can submit your return electronically with the click of a few buttons. If you qualify for a tax refund, you can elect to have it mailed to you in a paper check, or you can have it electronically deposited into your bank account. Electronic deposits are typically the fastest way to get your returns, and you may see your refund within three weeks or less of your filing date. If you owe taxes, you can also make your payments electronically.

The free file online program is perfect for many taxpayers. However, taxpayers with unique situations may simply want to use some of the low cost software offered by a company like TurboTax 2013. This is especially true for people who own their own businesses or who need to file an extension.

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Free Online Options To File Your Taxes

Free Online Options To File Your Taxes

Filing your taxes on time can be a very long and time consuming process if you do not have a clue of what you are doing. However, you can make this process as easy as possible by simply choosing to file online with TurboTax or TaxAct. If neither of these tax filing options is ideal based on your personal needs, you should consider using H&R Block Home edition which also receives good reviews.

TaxACT Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is important that you consider your free online options to file your taxes prior to deciding which would be able to best meet your needs. There is no one solution that is going to work for every person, you may find one service to be very useful, but your brother may enjoy the layout of another service. Typically, this decision is very much about personal preference and the company that you are most comfortable with. However, they are very different when it comes to guiding you through the process of filing. TurboTax makes the tax filing process easy by guiding your every step through a return, they make the steps easy by providing simple explanations that you can understand. As a result of this approach, TurboTax is great for those that want to save time, it is a quick solution that can help you get your taxes completed easily.

When it comes to time involved with filing your taxes, the H&R Block solution would be the slowest. There are no in depth explanations and this can mean that you would spend a lot more time to get through the filing process. The TaxAct solution is going to fall in the middle, it will save you money and make your taxes easier to do while limiting your stress.

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Businesses and Phil Mickelson Consider Bailing On California

Phil Mickelson State Taxes

Thanks to California’s new state income tax, there are a lot of high earning citizens who are considering moving to a new state. One such citizen is Phil Mickelson, a top-ranked golfer. This week he suggested that the new state taxes may force him to move out of the state. Later Phil Mickelson went on to say that he shouldn’t have spoken out as he did but there are others who are saying the same thing.

Leader Phil Mickelson teeing off on the 18th h...

Leader Phil Mickelson teeing off on the 18th hole at TPC at Sawgrass during the final round of the 2007 Players Championship. Mickelson bogeyed the hole but still won the title by two shots. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many of those who will be taxed feel as though it will be excessive. They are also feeling that California is slowly becoming unfriendly to businesses. This is seemingly something that has been going on for quite a while and thus they are starting to think that there will be no end to it. In fact, some of them have even said that this can be traced as far back as Proposition 30, saying this is what changed everyone’s mindset.

Most of the wealthy businessmen who are thinking of relocating are merely thinking and talking about it right now. However, tax analysts expect that they will see the occurrence by 2014. It will take the wealthy this long to figure out how to relocate to avoid paying state taxes without actually moving out of the state. Some of these people are thinking of moving to Texas where the personal income-tax rate is zero, whereas it’s 13.3% in California. Of course, this is just one of the many states to which they may relocate as there are others who also don’t charge individual taxes.

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States Consider Alternative To State Income Tax

Alternative To State Income Tax

A trend in tax filing is already taking place in some Republican led Southern and Midwest states. Other states are considering a similar plan to eliminate their state income taxes and replace it with a higher sales tax to make up for loss of revenue. Legislative watchdogs and tax reform experts can only speculate to the success of these new tax reform campaigns.

The Push for State Tax Reform

English: Map of US states by state tax as a pe...

English: Map of US states by state tax as a percentage of average income per capita, 2007. Legend: 5%-5.5% 5.5%-6% 6%-6.5% 6.5%-7% 7%-7.5% 7.5%-8% 8%-8.5% >8.5% (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since there is little hope for any more changes with the federal tax system, many states are making plans to spur economic growth within their own region from changes in tax law. Reform activist agree that any major tax changes for this year will have to take place at the state level. However, they do not agree that states will be successful, or that this strategy is the answer to the reform problem. The states of Texas and Florida have no individual income tax which makes them attractive to residents and businesses.

States Considering Lower state income Taxes

Louisiana and North Carolina are two states who have made recent announcements with similar plans. Kansas cut those taxes last year and are talking of more reductions for the coming year. Oklahoma wasn’t successful in their attempts last year and may push another attempt through this year. Alaska eliminated their state income tax but were able to replace the lost revenue with income from the oil industry.

An Example of Republican Economics

This type of reform is an example of “trick-down” economics that was adopted by many in the Republican party 30 years ago. Eliminating the state individual tax filing would give citizens more money in their pocket and initiate consumer spending. Taxing consumers products and services would replace the lost revenue.

The Effect on Socioeconomic Class

The lower and middle socioeconomic classes would be hit the hardest with the change. Many consumers who didn’t pay the state any taxes on their income previously, would now be paying more for necessary items. Additionally, people who would normally receive a refund would no longer qualify for that income assistance.

Many states are making plans to reform their tax laws and alter their state income taxes. As the year progresses, it will be interesting to see other creative economic plans take shape.

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Processing of Tax Returns to Begin on January 30

Processing of Tax Returns

Earlier this week, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that electronic filing of tax payments for the year 2013 will commence on January 30.  As a result, individual income tax returns will not be processed before then.

Electronic tax filing had been originally scheduled to begin on January 22. The nine-day extension is a result of the changes in tax law which took effect on January 1. The American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) was the result of the “fiscal cliff” tie between the president and the house.

IRS Form W-2

IRS Form W-2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The IRS is getting set for the year’s activities by upgrading its systems to suit the new tax payment procedure. IRS is now updating their forms and setting new programs to make this successful. According to the IRS, the updates should be ready to serve Americans from January 30. Other documents for treating cases such as residential energy credit claims, general business credits and depreciation of property will be available towards the end of February when their updates should be completed.

The acting commissioner of IRS, Steven T. Miller further reassured the public that this year’s tax electronic filing will soon kick off. The shift in date is to make sure that everything is properly done.

This year, IRS hopes to process all tax returns electronically. Last year, they processed more than 80% tax returns electronically. Even the paper type will not begin until after January 29.

Miller concluded by saying that electronic filling of tax returns is the most convenient for tax payers.

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President Obama And The Fiscal Cliff Deal

President Obama has left out certain important aspects of the fiscal cliff deal, in a video broadcast on the Web. This could give a wrong impression of the deal’s impact on the deficit and taxpayers –

President Obama seems to be boasting that families coming under the middle-class category will not be paying more than $2000 extra as taxes during the year. This is correct for taxes on income; however, the President fails to mention, that there is allowance in the deal for the cut on payroll taxes to expire. More taxes will be paid this year by 77% taxpayers, which is almost $1200 extra by those who earn $75,000 to $100,000, and this income range falls into the middle class, as defined by Obama.

English: United States President Barack Obama ...

English: United States President Barack Obama signs into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 as Vice President Joe Biden looks on. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

President Obama says the deal is going to reduce the deficit. However, there is going to be an increase in deficit by around $4 trillion during the next decade, as there are extensions to the tax cuts provided by the Bush administration, which comprises of one percent top taxpayers. There will be a “deficit reduction” by the deal, only in comparison to a situation, if the Bush cut on taxes were extended to everybody.

All the talk by President Obama of preserving tax cuts for the middle class in the deal to prevent the fiscal cliff seems to create the impression of people paying same amount in taxes for the year, except people who are wealthy. However, that is quite incorrect. Obama has left out in his analysis that temporary reduction of couple years payroll taxes of Social Security has been permitted to expire. This will result in many people paying more taxes in the year.

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