Tag Archives: tax return

Higher Cigarette Tax Keeps Teens From Smoking

It has been shown that increasing the cigarette tax is a very effective way to get young adults and youths to reduce or stop smoking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that increasing the cigarette tax is less common with states at the present time compared to the past.

In 2009, 15 states increased the tax on cigarettes, but in 2010 and 2011, the number of states doing the same was only eight. The state of New Hampshire actually lowered the excise tax. The CDC has found that when excise taxes are increased on cigarettes, the overall sales of cigarettes declines and fewer teens start the smoking habit. Just recently the Surgeon General surprisingly discovered that 20% of teenagers smoke. The rate of smoking among teens is declining, but the decline is slowing at the present time. For this reason, it is puzzling that state taxes on cigarettes are being kept low.

Why have states changed direction on this issue? In the 1990s and the first part of the 2000s, states increased the cigarette tax while also increasing funding for comprehensive programs against smoking. Now they are doing the opposite.

The poor economic conditions may be partly responsible for the states shying away from increasing the cigarette tax at this time. Dr. Tim McAfee, of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, disagrees. “These programs work to reduce smoking and the states will benefit from making the investment. From the economic perspective, you have to wonder why the states do not wish to reap the full benefit of the cigarette tax,” he said.

Reduced Tax Assessments Sought By North Jersey Homeowners

Last year, Nora and Pat Sfarra were in the unenviable position of watching the market value of their eighty two year old home in Teaneck decrease, while their property taxes simultaneously increased.

Assisted by a tax appeal firm, the Sfarras managed to put this right and got the assessed value of their home decreased from $351,000 to $310,000. This gave them the benefit of saving $1,000 worth of tax, which is a real gain when you are paying in excess of $8,000 in tax. Nora Sfarra was happy that she “got something off” in any event.

Dorothy Monoopli was in a similar scenario and had to appeal as the Sfarras did on how much her condo in Hackensack was assessed for. She ended up saving $30,000 as a result of her lower tax assessment.

Both Ms Monoopli and the Sfarras are among many thousands of North Jersey residents who have contested tax assessments on the real estate that they own, a necessity with the drop in the value of homes in recent years. And it is a scramble for these people to get their paperwork in order for the April 2 deadline.

The town budgets are being adversely affected by the sheer scale of these appeals for lower tax assessments. The League of Municipalities’ executive director, William Dressel, has admitted that problems are being caused for communities statewide.

The problems stem from these appeals reducing the amount of property tax revenue the towns would otherwise get, which has an impact on the quality of service that they provide. So it looks as though either a higher tax rate or cuts to those services will be introduced.

One method of responding to the surge in appeals has been for towns to perform their own reassessments to ensure that valuations are in step with the market, giving homeowners little leeway in disputing assessments. After all, they can dispute a property assessment, but not a tax bill. Hackensack based lawyer Martin Sharit puts it bluntly that thinking you pay too much in tax is not sufficient grounds to appeal, as “we all pay too much in taxes.”

While regional house prices have dipped twenty percent since the home price run-up this will not make your tax appeal a certainty. After all, towns change values with a ratio that takes into account the change in house price due to the economy after a revaluation. You can divide your assessed figure by the ratio to see what your real home value is, and find the ratio itself at state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/lpt/lptvalue.shtml.

For instance, Teaneck’s ratio is 104 percent, which would mean that a property with an assessed value of $350,000 is now actually valued at $336,500. It is clear that the town is aware that the assessment is much higher than the real value of the property.

The Pros and Cons of Filing Your Tax Return Early

Some people can’t wait to file their tax returns. They are the lucky ones, who anticipate a refund. Others dread tax season every year, and want to put off the knowledge of how much they owe the IRS for as long as possible. In these contrasting situations, it is easy to see why some people would want to file their tax returns early, and why others would want to wait. But are there advantages to filing early, in general? Or are there drawbacks? If you find yourself considering the possibilities of both, then these pros and cons of filing your tax returns early should help.


Faster refunds. As previously mentioned, people expecting refunds may want to file early. Why? Because a faster refund means having access to much-needed (or wanted) cash earlier. That’s simple enough.

Getting the monkey off the back. Even if you expect a refund, actually gathering the documentation and filling out the paperwork can be a source of apprehension. Getting it over and out of the way can ease your tax season tension, pronto.

Finding tax professionals. Because many people choose to wait until the last minute to file their taxes (and because many employers get 1099s and W-2s out at the last minute) it is a good idea to file early if you are prepared to. This way, you can avoid clamoring for the attention and services of a tax preparer when then clock is ticking down.

If you owe money. Filing early means you know exactly what you owe the IRS even sooner. This allows you more time to prepare for that big payment, or to make arrangements to pay it over time. When it comes to paying bills, the general consensus is that the more time we have to pay them, the better. Right?


Missing amendments. Some amendments to tax law come out late in the tax season. Therefore, if you file early, you may miss out on pertinent changes that could alter your tax returns, which may require that you file extra forms to amend your taxes.

Parting with your money sooner, rather than later. If you are one who is considering filing early to pay your tax burden early, then you might want to reconsider. Think about what that money could be doing for you if you held on to it a little bit longer, as opposed to handing it over to the IRS.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider when it comes to filing your taxes early. Is it for you? Read over these pros and cons and decide for yourself.

About the Author: Bernetta Ladden finds tax time to be stressful. After she meets with her accountant she enjoys relaxing with the oolong tea blend she loves. In her spare time she can be found searching goldenmoontea.com for another great blend.

How To Get The Most From Turbo Tax

People are wondering for 2012 tax season how they can get the most tax refund. The filing deadline is April 17. Even though, we are a few months away from submitting returns, getting yearly spending together might be haunting the mind.

Turbo tax is the best-selling tax software that offers a step-by-step guide on how to file your tax return to get the maximum refund at a low price.  Do not pay a high price to the tax office and still wonder if your savings were maximized.

To receive the highest refund, we should choose the cheapest and best option when filing tax returns.

The tax office has done our tax returns at least once in our lives. Savings needs have increased and turbo tax is a cheap, fast, and easy way to file tax returns.

Turbo tax editions are simple to use and offer a step by step guide on how to fill out forms. If another tax preparation method offers you a bigger refund, turbo tax guarantees your money back.

I have compiled the most common turbo tax software for you to browse and find which category fits you. You can make a decision which one you should choose to file your taxes.

The free edition is for singles, with no investments and only one source of income. Free technical phone assistance, free e-filing and the 1040EZ form is included. To save time, the prior year’s return can be imported. It costs $27.95 to file your state return

5 Reasons You Should Hire a CPA This Tax Season

Are you one of those do-it-yourselfers who believes it is always better to know than it is to pay someone else who knows? If so, it is likely that you also feel that you should be doing your own taxes. After all, how hard can it be? Millions of people do their own taxes. There are even easy-to-use software programs to help them through it. Well, while you may be right that you can do your taxes yourself, what you might not have considered are the reasons for why you might want to pass this job off to a professional. Here are five reasons you should hire a CPA this tax season:

Good advice. When you take your tax documents into a CPA’s office, you can expect to get much more than a completed tax form in return. CPAs can give you very valuable advice for how to save on next year’s returns, which can snowball into literally thousands of dollars in subsequent years. That’s because once a CPA sits down to examine your tax-related habits over the course of the previous year, it is easy to identify what you can do differently for a better outcome next year.

Education. Sure, you can buy a computer program and plug in some numbers, but that doesn’t mean you know all about tax code. Unfortunately, what you don’t know might hurt your pocketbook. CPAs are required to stay abreast of the latest code changes, and are privy to potentially money-saving information that you just don’t have.

Liability. If there is a mistake on your tax returns and you aren’t responsible for it, then guess who is responsible. That’s right, the person who prepared the returns. This can save you major headaches down the line, if you are ever audited.

Higher returns. When you hire a CPA, it is likely you will be asked questions about deductibles you’d never even heard of. Having a CPA’s knowledge at your disposal can equate to considerably higher tax return refunds – must more than what a CPA’s services might cost you.

Your questions. When you use a computer program, who answers your questions? What if you don’t know how to account for your home office, or if your housekeeper counts as an employee? Who will tell you? A CPA.

It’s great that you like to do things yourself, but it’s not always necessary . . . and sometimes it’s downright unadvisable. Do yourself a huge favor and skip the stress this tax season by hiring a CPA to do the dirty work.

About the Author: Angelena Chernosky completed her phlebotomist training program in 2011 and plans to work with a CPA to determine how her educational expenses will affect her filing. She was once unemployed but now works in a local hospital and hopes to continue her education so that she can become a registered nurse. Visit http://www.associationphlebotomytraining.com/ for mroe information on how you can enter the field of phlebotomy or healthcare in general.

What’s New In TurboTax

As the tax season approaches, it’s time learn about all of the new features included in the #1 tax preparation software, TurboTax 2011. Whether you have real estate investments, rental properties, mutual funds or just a simple tax return; TurboTax has a version to fit your needs.

What’s new with TurboTax 2011?
New features include, but are not limited to, expert advice via online chat or by phone. They also include a guide to take you step by step through your return, and make it easy to navigate to any section.

Two more features that can make your return much easier, especially if you used TurboTax in the past is the ability to easily import last year’s data, and secondly if you work for a participating company, you can simply import your 1099 and W2 information.

Deduction Finder
TurboTax covers all available deductions and the TurboTax Premier, Deluxe and Home & Business versions will guide you through every potential deduction for your return, so you will not have to worry about missing something.

Audit Risk Meter
TurboTax offers an Audit Risk Meter beginning with the Deluxe version, that will let you know if you are a high risk and makes suggestions for changes you can make to reduce your risk of being audited.

Free E-File
Included in the cost of its software, turbo Tax has free federal e-filing which makes filing your return fast and you could have your refund in as little as eight days. Many consumers have their refund directly deposited into a checking account or you can choose to have TurboTax deposit your return to a prepaid Visa.

Investments & TurboTax Premier Edition
If you have bought and/or sold a good many investments in 2011 or own rental properties, The Premier Edition includes some helpful features for you that could be worth the extra money, especially if you own rental property. It can also guide you through all of the tax implications and the depreciation calculations can be indispensable.