IRS http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/262/all en-US What Every Retirement Saver Should Know About Required Minimum Distributions http://www.wisebread.com/what-every-retirement-saver-should-know-about-required-minimum-distributions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-every-retirement-saver-should-know-about-required-minimum-distributions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/money_and_time_background.jpg" alt="Money and Time Background" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You may be aware of the fact that contributing money to a tax-deferred retirement account, like a traditional IRA or a 401(k), means you get to put money aside before it is taxed. This reduces your current tax burden and gives you a great incentive to save for retirement.</p> <p>Unfortunately, Uncle Sam will eventually want his cut of that money. That's where required minimum distributions (RMDs) come in.</p> <p>The good news is that you have until age 70&frac12; before you have to worry about RMDs. But it's still important to understand how RMDs work and what to expect before you get to that age milestone.</p> <h2>What is a required minimum distribution?</h2> <p>Deferring taxes is great for the taxpayer, but the IRS can't afford for taxpayers to defer their taxes indefinitely. Individuals with tax-deferred retirement accounts have to actually withdraw money &mdash; and thereby pay taxes &mdash; or else those taxes will never get paid.</p> <p>Everyone holding a 401(k) or IRA account (with the exception of Roth IRAs) must begin withdrawing money from those accounts during the year they reach age 70&frac12;. This ensures that account holders have enough time to allow their money to grow without permanently sheltering their money from federal taxes.</p> <p>The IRS has established minimums that you must withdraw each year after reaching age 70&frac12;. If you fail to withdraw the proper RMD, you face a stiff penalty: The IRS will take 50 percent of the amount you should have withdrawn.</p> <h2>Calculating your RMD</h2> <p>It's also important to note that you are responsible for calculating and withdrawing the correct RMD each year &mdash; and the calculations aren't necessarily easy. Even if the custodian of your IRA or 401(k) does the math and paperwork for you, you are the responsible party in the IRS's eyes.</p> <p>So how do you figure out your RMD? You need to start with three pieces of information:</p> <ol> <li> <p>Your date of birth.</p> </li> <li> <p>The balance of each tax-deferred account as of Dec. 31 of the year <em>before </em>the year in which you turn 70&frac12;.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/uniform_rmd_wksht.pdf" target="_blank">The IRS distribution table</a>.</p> </li> </ol> <p>This IRS distribution table calculates your life expectancy based on your age. The table gives you a number that corresponds to the number of years the IRS expects you to live.</p> <p>For instance, let's say a retiree was born on February 4, 1948, and will turn 70 in the first half of 2018. This retiree has a single IRA, with a balance of $250,000 at the end of 2017 (the calendar year before the year in which she turns 70&frac12;). To calculate her RMD, she'd look up her age (70) on the IRS distribution table to find the distribution period, which in this case is 27.4. She would then divide her IRA balance by the distribution period for her 2018 RMD:</p> <p style="text-align: center;">IRA balance / Distribution Period = RMD</p> <p style="text-align: center;">$250,000 / 27.4 = $9,214</p> <p>To keep on the right side of Uncle Sam, she will need to withdraw a minimum of $9,214 from her $250,000 IRA in 2018. But remember, the operative word is &quot;minimum.&quot; Account holders can always take more than their RMD if they choose to do so.</p> <h2>Why am I celebrating my 70&frac12; birthday?</h2> <p>While 70&frac12; may seem like an arbitrary number, there is a lot of thought put into this milestone age. The IRS makes a distinction between people born in the first half of the year, and those born in the second half. If your birthday falls between July 1 and Dec. 31, you don't officially have to take an RMD until the year you turn 71.</p> <p>This means that those with birthdays in the first half of the year take their first RMD the year they turn 70, and those with the later birthday take their first RMD the year they turn 71 &mdash; which averages out to 70&frac12;. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-age-milestones-that-impact-your-retirement?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Age Milestones That Impact Your Retirement</a>)</p> <h2>Required beginning dates</h2> <p>To offer retirees a little more time to get their ducks in a row, the IRS does not require account holders to take their first RMD until April 1 of the year <em>following</em> the one in which you reach age 70&frac12;. That April 1 deadline is known as the required beginning date. The year in which that date falls depends on whether you have a birthday in the first or second half of the year.</p> <p>So, our Aquarian born Feb. 4, 1948 will turn 70&frac12; on Aug. 4, 2018. But remember, those born in the first half of the year calculate their RMD based on the year <em>before </em>they turn 70. So while she can wait to take her first RMD until April 1, 2019, at that point she'll calculate that RMD based on her age of 70 (which was her age as of Dec. 31, 2017), as well as her account balance as of Dec. 31, 2017.</p> <p>The first year following the year in which you reach 70&frac12; you will usually have <em>two </em>required distribution dates. Besides the April 1 date we just discussed, you'll also have to take another withdrawal by Dec. 31 of that same year. For our Aquarian, that means she will have to take a second RMD by Dec. 31, 2019. This RMD will be calculated based on her 2019 age of 71 and her account balance as of Dec. 31, 2018. This distribution catches her up on her requirements, and during all subsequent years, she is only required to take one RMD.</p> <p>The required beginning date is similar for anyone with later birthdays. Let's say you're a Virgo with an Aug. 31, 1948 birthday. You'll turn 70&frac12; on Feb. 28, 2019, which means you won't have to take your first RMD until April 1, 2020, and you'll calculate the amount based on your age of 71 (which is your age as of Dec. 31, 2018) as well as your account balance as of Dec. 31, 2018 &mdash; the year before you turned 70&frac12;. In addition to the April 1, 2020 distribution you will also have to take your 2020 RMD by Dec. 31, 2020, which you will calculate based on your age then of 72, and your account balance on Dec. 31, 2019.</p> <h2>Figuring out your required beginning date</h2> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p><strong>If your birthday falls between Jan. 1 and June 30</strong></p> </td> <td> <p><strong>If your birthday falls between July 1 and Dec. 31</strong></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Your required beginning date is April 1 of the calendar year you turn 71.</p> </td> <td> <p>Your required beginning date is April 1 of the calendar year you turn 72.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>You will use the age of 70 to calculate your first RMD amount.</p> </td> <td> <p>You will use the age of 71 to calculate your first RMD amount.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Your second RMD is due by Dec. 31 of the calendar year you turn 71.</p> </td> <td> <p>Your second RMD is due by Dec. 31 of the calendar year you turn 72.</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2>How your RMDs are taxed</h2> <p>Since the entire exercise of taking RMDs is about making sure you pay the income taxes you owe, it's important to understand how your distributions will be taxed.</p> <p>Your RMDs will be taxed as regular income at your applicable federal tax rate for the tax year for which you are making the withdrawal. This, in fact, may be the easiest-to-understand aspect of RMDs.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhat-every-retirement-saver-should-know-about-required-minimum-distributions&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhat%2520Every%2520Retirement%2520Saver%2520Should%2520Know%2520About%2520Required%2520Minimum%2520Distributions.jpg&amp;description=What%20Every%20Retirement%20Saver%20Should%20Know%20About%20Required%20Minimum%20Distributions"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;<img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/What%20Every%20Retirement%20Saver%20Should%20Know%20About%20Required%20Minimum%20Distributions.jpg" alt="What Every Retirement Saver Should Know About Required Minimum Distributions" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-every-retirement-saver-should-know-about-required-minimum-distributions">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-age-milestones-that-impact-your-retirement">6 Age Milestones That Impact Your Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-tax-day-is-april-15-and-other-weird-financial-deadlines">Why Tax Day Is April 15 and Other Weird Financial Deadlines</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-penalty-free-way-to-withdraw-retirement-money-early">The Penalty-Free Way to Withdraw Retirement Money Early</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-you-want-your-401k-to-grow-stop-doing-these-6-things">If You Want Your 401K to Grow, Stop Doing These 6 Things</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-common-retirement-regrets-you-can-avoid">3 Common Retirement Regrets You Can Avoid</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401(k) age 70 ½ IRA IRS penalties required minimum distributions rmds taxes Wed, 10 Jan 2018 09:30:11 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2084542 at http://www.wisebread.com The Cost of Finding a Treasure Chest Full of Gold http://www.wisebread.com/the-cost-of-finding-a-treasure-chest-full-of-gold <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-cost-of-finding-a-treasure-chest-full-of-gold" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/open_treasure_chest_on_the_beach.jpg" alt="Open treasure chest on the beach" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most of us have had the fantasy of discovering hidden treasure. Maybe it's digging in the backyard and unearthing a chest of gold, or it washes up on the beach. However it happens in your mind, finding treasure and living happily ever after is the end of the story. But what about the costs and legalities involved? How much of that treasure would you actually get to keep?</p> <h2>First, can you legally keep the treasure?</h2> <p>&quot;Finders keepers, losers weepers.&quot; Is that an accurate description of the law when it comes to treasure, or finding anything of value? Well, yes and no. United States common law dictates that a treasure trove belongs to the finder. However, there are discrepancies to this in some states.</p> <p>For example, Texas does not recognize the common law regarding treasure troves. In Louisiana, found treasure must be split between the finder and the property owner. In Tennessee and Idaho, the treasure belongs to the landowner.</p> <p>In other states, you are required to make a reasonable effort to return found treasure to the rightful owner, which includes first taking it to the local police. If no one claims the find after a certain time period, it's yours. If you find treasure and do <em>not</em> report it or make efforts to return it to a rightful owner, you can be found guilty of theft. What's more, if the gold you find was due to criminal activity, it could well be claimed by the state if the rightful owner cannot be found.</p> <p>So, make sure you are free and clear in the eyes of the law before you think of spending a cent from that chest of gold.</p> <h2>How much of the treasure will be yours to own?</h2> <p>Again, this is going to vary depending on what you found and where you found it. Look at the example of the Schmitt family and the <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/300-year-old-treasure-gold-found-schmitt-family-off-coast-florida/" target="_blank">treasure chest they found on a shipwreck</a> in 2015.</p> <p>Filled with gold and coins valued at over $1 million, it would seem they hit the jackpot. However, the haul was discovered on a wreck off the coast of Florida. By law, the state collected 20 percent of that $1 million, and as the wreck was owned by a company called Queens Jewels, LLC, the remaining gold had to be split 50-50 between that company and the Schmitts. That reduced their $1 million find to $400,000.</p> <p>You may get lucky and find your treasure on a piece of land not owned by anyone, and live in a state that abides by the treasure trove law. But guess what? You still have to pay Uncle Sam ...</p> <h2>That treasure chest's value must be reported to the IRS</h2> <p>Taxes: It's a dirty word at the best of times, but it can really cast a dark cloud over your haul. IRS code section 61 states that &quot;gross income means all income from whatever source derived.&quot; While the tax code does not specifically call out buried treasure, it has been left broad enough to collect taxes on whatever the IRS deems to be income. And you can bet a find of valuable gold coins or jewels will make the IRS sit up and take notice. You can look for legal deductions to reduce your tax burden, but don't avoid paying it altogether. If you are living a Champagne lifestyle on a beer budget, the IRS will become suspicious. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-bizarre-things-you-can-be-taxed-on?ref=seealso" target="_blank">35 Bizarre Things You Can Be Taxed On</a>)</p> <h2>Know what you're selling, and how to sell it</h2> <p>So, you've gone through all the steps, and the treasure chest is yours. It's time to sell the gold and pocket the cash, and you know you will have to report that money to the IRS. What are your options?</p> <p>For a start, you need to know exactly what it is that you're selling. Not all gold coins and jewelry are made alike. In some instances, you may have a very valuable artifact that has historical significance, or was made by a highly-prized designer. In that case, the object will be worth much more than the going rate for an ounce of gold. If you have these items appraised, and they are indeed collector's pieces, you will most likely have to put the object up for auction. In that case, the auction house will take a percentage of the final value.</p> <p>If, on the other hand, it's simply a bunch of gold that is worth the going market price, you should find legitimate sales avenues. The first place to go is a reputable jeweler in your area. Their main source of income comes from selling jewels, not trading in gold, and they will be less likely to rip you off. Avoid those &quot;cash for gold&quot; places; they will try to give you the least possible amount of money for your trade. The same is true of pawn stores. The owners aren't knowledgeable in what you have, and just want to buy low and sell high. Also, do your homework. What kind of gold do you have? If it's 24 carat gold, it will get the highest value.</p> <p>A box of treasure is a lucky find however you slice it &mdash; but you will not get to keep the whole amount unless you're intent on breaking the law and accepting the consequences.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthe-cost-of-finding-a-treasure-chest-full-of-gold&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThe%2520Cost%2520of%2520Finding%2520a%2520Treasure%2520Chest%2520Full%2520of%2520Gold.jpg&amp;description=The%20Cost%20of%20Finding%20a%20Treasure%20Chest%20Full%20of%20Gold"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/The%20Cost%20of%20Finding%20a%20Treasure%20Chest%20Full%20of%20Gold.jpg" alt="The Cost of Finding a Treasure Chest Full of Gold" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-cost-of-finding-a-treasure-chest-full-of-gold">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-can-you-do-if-you-cannot-afford-to-pay-your-taxes">What can you do if you cannot afford to pay your taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cross-your-fingers-and-hope-you-re-not-caught-by-alternative-minimum-tax-amt-this-year">Cross your fingers and hope you’re not caught by Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) this year.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-expats-can-maintain-their-credit-scores">9 Ways Expats Can Maintain Their Credit Scores</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-celebrities-with-shockingly-low-net-worths">6 Celebrities With Shockingly Low Net Worths</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/optimize-your-ira-and-401k">Optimize Your IRA and 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Entertainment buried treasure common law gold hidden costs IRS taxes treasure chest valuables Tue, 28 Nov 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Paul Michael 2057737 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Get Audited! How Your Side Gig Needs to Handle Taxes http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-audited-how-your-side-gig-needs-to-handle-taxes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-get-audited-how-your-side-gig-needs-to-handle-taxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/going_on_a_family_vacation.jpg" alt="Going on a family vacation" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The gig economy is booming. In 2016, a TIME poll found that 45 million Americans offered some kind of good or service through an online platform, whether it was running errands, renting out their homes, or offering rides in their cars. With so many people earning extra income this way, you can bet that Uncle Sam wants its fair share of those earnings. Understanding some basic rules about taxes in the gig economy can help you avoid frustration and penalties.</p> <h2>Renting out your home</h2> <p>At $924 per month, Airbnb hosts command the highest average monthly income out of all others taking part in the sharing economy. Here are some key things to keep in mind if you rent your space. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-things-i-learned-from-renting-out-my-home-on-airbnb?ref=seealso" target="_blank">13 Things I Learned From Renting Out My Home on Airbnb</a>)</p> <h3>1. The 14-day rule</h3> <p>According to the IRS, if your rental property also serves as your residence, and you rent out the space for no more than 14 days during the year, you don't have to report those earnings as income. Note that you also cannot claim any deductions from rental expenses if you rent for fewer than 14 days per year.</p> <p>Airbnb and similar companies will still report your earnings even if you're under the two-week threshold. But as long as you provide documentation that you meet the 14-day rule, you don't have to include rental income on your federal return. If you do have to report income, use Schedule C or E of Form 1040.</p> <h3>2. Deductible expenses</h3> <p>The IRS allows you to deduct a long list of applicable costs for your rental operation, including advertising, cleaning and maintenance services, utilities, property insurance, and property taxes. Check the rental section on <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p527/ch01.html#en_US_2016_publink1000218979" target="_blank">IRS Publication 527</a> for a full list of eligible expenses.</p> <p>You can deduct 100 percent of direct rental expenses such as fees to Airbnb and rental insurance, and allocate a portion of general expenses such as mortgage interest and utilities. If you only rent out a room that is one-sixth of the size of your home, you can only allocate one-sixth of a general expense.</p> <h3>3. Form 1099-K</h3> <p>When you earn over $20,000 and make over 200 transactions in a calendar year, Airbnb will issue you a Form 1099-K. Airbnb will mail you this form and keep an electronic copy under &quot;Payout Preferences.&quot; This form is an IRS information return used to report certain payment transactions, which improves your voluntary tax compliance.</p> <h3>4. Pay attention to local occupancy taxes</h3> <p>On top of the IRS, you should also keep an eye on state and local government agencies. For example, throughout 2017 the House Finance Committee of Hawaii is evaluating an &quot;Airbnb bill&quot; to collect hotel room and general excise taxes from Hawaii-based short-term and vacation rentals.</p> <h3>5. Report rental losses</h3> <p>In the event that your rental operation goes sour, you can deduct losses up to applicable limits. Let's imagine that you own a $400,000 home and that you spent $400 to get a room ready for rental. However, nobody took you up on your offer. Per the IRS at-risk rule (for property placed in service after 1986), you can write off up to $400,000 in rental losses. So, you can deduct the $400 as a rental loss on your return.</p> <h2>Driving people in your car</h2> <p>Lyft and <a href="https://uber.7eer.net/c/27771/207645/3437?sharedid=000_wisebread.com">Uber drivers</a> make an average $377 and $364 per month, respectively. Here are some tax-related pointers to keep in mind when declaring that income. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-more-money-as-an-uber-driver?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Get a High Rating and Make More Money as an Uber Driver</a>)</p> <h3>1. Keep track of all 1099s</h3> <p>Unlike a full-time employer, Uber and Lyft won't issue you a W-2. Instead, these and other ride-sharing companies issue two types of 1099 forms to most drivers.</p> <ul> <li> <p>Form 1099-K: Includes all payments that you received from customers directly related to driving.</p> </li> <li> <p>Form 1099-MISC: Keeps track of all other non-driving income, such as payments for referrals and other types of bonuses.</p> </li> </ul> <p>While companies aren't required to issue a 1099-K unless you process 200 transactions or more (and make at least $20,000), and they're not required to issue a 1099-MISC unless you make at least $600, Uber and Lyft generally will issue those forms anyway just to remind you to report your income made through ride-sharing.</p> <p>On Uber, access your tax documents by logging in to partners.uber.com and clicking &quot;Tax Information.&quot; On Lyft, look for tax documents in the &quot;Tax Info'&quot; tab of the &quot;Driver Dashboard&quot; of your Lyft app.</p> <h3>2. Deduct applicable expenses</h3> <p>You'll quickly notice in Box 1a of your 1099-K that the reported amount is actually greater than what you received. The reason is that the reported amount in that box includes Uber's commission and other fees. On your Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business (Form 1040), you can deduct those fees and other applicable expenses. Some examples are:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Bottled water and snacks for your passengers.</p> </li> <li> <p>Business taxes and license costs.</p> </li> <li> <p>Highway tolls.</p> </li> <li> <p>Car cleaning expenses.</p> </li> <li> <p>Car maintenance costs.</p> </li> <li> <p>Gas.</p> </li> </ul> <p>It's a best practice to keep a copy of all receipts so that you can back up your claims. One great way to do so is to open a bank account or credit card and use it solely for driving-related expenses. That way, your monthly statement becomes your monthly expense report. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-you-should-get-a-business-credit-card-over-a-consumer-card?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">When You Should Get a Business Credit Card Over a Consumer Card</a>)</p> <h3>3. Include mileage in your return</h3> <p>Within your 1099s, you'll also receive a summary for &quot;On-Trip&quot; mileage. For all business miles driven in 2017, you can deduct 53.5 cents per mile. So, if you were to drive 2,000 miles, you would deduct $1,070 (2,000 x $0.535) on your return.</p> <p>You may also deduct additional miles that Uber and Lyft didn't report as long as those miles are directly related to your gig. Some examples are miles that you drove before a ride was canceled or on your way to meet an Uber or Lyft inspector. Keep a detailed log of those miles and include date, time, initial mileage, and final mileage.</p> <h3>4. Consider getting a separate smartphone</h3> <p>An internet-enabled smartphone is a key part of your operation. To make it easier for the IRS to identify what mobile phone expenses are related to your driving, get a new phone and use it exclusively for Uber or Lyft. This way you'll be able to deduct 100 percent of all phone costs, including cost of the phone, monthly charges for voice and data, and any essential accessory (chargers or mounts) from your driving income.</p> <h2>Tips for all side giggers</h2> <p>Whatever your gig, be sure you're keeping up with your taxes.</p> <h3>1. Report all income</h3> <p>From assembling furniture through TaskRabbit to delivering business supplies with Postmates, there are plenty of other ways to make money through the sharing economy. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-ways-to-make-money-online-that-arent-scams?ref=seealso" target="_blank">13 Ways to Make Money Online That Aren't Scams</a>).</p> <p>All companies have to issue you a 1099-MISC once you make $600. Even when you don't hit that threshold and don't receive a form, report the income on your return. The IRS charges a 25 percent inaccuracy penalty on top of applicable taxes and interest for late payments.</p> <p>If you happen to complete additional tasks or services for a client that aren't tracked on an app or website, it's a good idea to still include them in your income. When you're making the bulk of your income through the gig economy, your federal tax return becomes a key document to prove how much you make per year. This can be useful when applying for a credit card or other form of credit.</p> <h3>2. Make estimated federal and state tax payments</h3> <p>Lessen the tax blow by submitting estimated tax payments throughout the year. Use Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals to submit tax payments up to four times per year. For tax year 2017, you can submit payments on April 18, June 15, September 15, and January 16, 2018.</p> <p>Most states also allow side-giggers and freelancers to submit estimated tax payments. To learn more about your state tax obligations, contact your local <a href="https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/government-sites" target="_blank">state tax office</a>.</p> <h3>3. Adjust withholding from your day job</h3> <p>Don't pay more taxes than you have to. If a full-time employer is already withholding taxes from your paycheck, use the <a href="https://apps.irs.gov/app/withholdingcalculator/" target="_blank">IRS Withholding Calculator</a> to adjust how much is taken out. It has been estimated that 75 percent of Americans pay too much in taxes throughout the year. The calculator will provide you suggestions to adjust your withholding so that you meet your tax liability and keep the most out of your day job paychecks.</p> <h3>4. Hire an accountant</h3> <p>Using Schedule C from Form 1040 is a great way to reduce your taxable income, but is also a way to increase your chances of receiving an audit from the IRS. Individuals using Schedule C are more likely than corporations to get an audit. If you're planning to include a very long list of deductions, paying a professional will be worth your while to hedge against a potential audit. You can deduct what your accountant charges you as a business expense, after all.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Dont%20Get%20Audited%21%20How%20Your%20Side%20Gig%20Needs%20to%20Handle%20Taxes.jpg" alt="Don't Get Audited! How Your Side Gig Needs to Handle Taxes" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-audited-how-your-side-gig-needs-to-handle-taxes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-plan-for-saving-up-a-2000-fun-fund">A Simple Plan for Saving Up a $2000 Fun Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-lessons-from-tax-day-to-remember-for-next-year">7 Lessons From Tax Day to Remember for Next Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-easy-ways-retirees-can-earn-extra-income">9 Easy Ways Retirees Can Earn Extra Income</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered">The 7 Most Common Tax Questions for Beginners, Answered</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-earn-extra-money-with-your-car">7 Ways to Earn Extra Money With Your Car</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Income Taxes AirBnb audits deductions earnings expenses freelance gig economy income IRS lyft sharing economy side jobs Uber Thu, 26 Oct 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Damian Davila 2038890 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Ways Expats Can Maintain Their Credit Scores http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-expats-can-maintain-their-credit-scores <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-ways-expats-can-maintain-their-credit-scores" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends_vacation_travel_528477676.jpg" alt="Expats learning how to maintain their credit scores" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Moving abroad can feel like the ultimate fresh start. But one element of American life you should never jettison is your good credit. Your U.S. credit score may not mean much in a foreign land, but assuming that you are not relocating for the rest of your life, you'll need that credit score someday when you come back. Rather than letting your credit score fall out of good graces, here's how you can maintain it while living abroad:</p> <h2>1. Don't run away from debts or financial obligations</h2> <p>At the end of college, my boyfriend and I landed exciting jobs in Beijing. The only problem was that we had a yearlong lease on our college apartment with nine more months left on it. When we couldn't find a subletter, we ditched and hoped for the best.</p> <p>Bad idea. When the landlord stopped receiving rent checks, he threatened to report us to a collections agency and to the credit bureaus. We ended up negotiating a partial payment, and we learned a valuable lesson: You can't run away from what you owe.</p> <h2>2. Keep your credit cards open</h2> <p>You're off to live in the jungles of <em>Tropicanaland</em>, where the only currency accepted is the cowrie shell. So why would you need those plastic credit cards that have to be paid in U.S. dollars?</p> <p>Keep them &mdash; especially the ones you've held longest &mdash; because <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-the-age-of-your-credit-history-matters" target="_blank">the age of your credit accounts</a> is a factor in your credit rating. Imagine you had just one credit card. If you have had that card for 12 years, close it when moving abroad for three years, then come home and have to open a new account, your average account age just went from 12 to zero. That will hurt your credit score. If you keep it open while you're gone, you'll instead come home to an average account age of 15.</p> <p>Another way that keeping your credit cards open benefits your credit score: It improves your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score" target="_blank">credit utilization ratio</a>, which calculates the percent of available credit that you're using. The higher this ratio, the more negatively it will impact your credit score. If your cards are paid off, and you leave them open, the amount of available credit you have increases &mdash; raising your credit score.</p> <h2>3. Find a way to use your credit cards periodically</h2> <p>The largest single factor for your credit score is whether you make payments on time. If you're not using your credit, you have no opportunity to demonstrate that you pay on time, which could hurt your score. Not only that, but a card issuer may close an account that sits dormant for years. There's no hard rule on when that might happen, but if you're going to be overseas for a very long time, it's a risk. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-getting-your-credit-card-canceled?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Avoid Getting Your Credit Card Canceled</a>)</p> <p>To keep your payment track record going and to prevent an account from being considered inactive, find some regular expenses to set up on autopay. Maybe you still belong to a U.S. professional organization that you pay dues to, or want to support your favorite charity with an annual gift.</p> <p>In many, even most, countries, you could use your U.S. credit cards on local purchases. However, you might be paying foreign transaction fees or losing money due to the exchange rate. Also, if most of your income is earned abroad, it might be hard for you to pay for a lot of ongoing charges in U.S. dollars. Consult the card issuing bank and consider the exchange rate implications before deciding to use your credit cards abroad long term. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/follow-these-5-credit-card-rules-when-traveling-abroad?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Follow These 5 Credit Card Rules When Traveling Abroad</a>)</p> <p>Of course, in order to pay for these charges, you'll probably also need to keep a U.S. checking account open and funded.</p> <h2>4. Establish online accounts</h2> <p>When I lived abroad, I had to rely on my mother to open my mail and make sure any charges got paid. This could get embarrassing, like the time my mom asked why I was spending hundreds at a place called &quot;Casino.&quot; I had to explain that this was really, truly the name of a French grocery store.</p> <p>Nowadays, if you are living in a location with unfettered internet access, you may be able to handle your business without stateside help. Before you go overseas, establish online access to your checking and credit accounts. This should allow you to not only pay your bills remotely, but also monitor your accounts for fees, fraud, and overdrafts &mdash; other potential causes of credit score damage. You can even choose to have your credit card bill paid out of your checking account automatically, if you're confident that the funds there will cover the bills.</p> <h2>5. Touch base with your banks and credit accounts before you move</h2> <p>It's always a good idea to inform banks and creditors when you're traveling, but even more so if you are moving away long term. They may have special hotlines for contacting them if you need help overseas. And knowing where you live could help your card issuer catch fraud more easily.</p> <h2>6. Maintain a U.S. address</h2> <p>Seasoned expats advise this for a number of credit-related reasons. Some banks, credit cards, and investment accounts might not be set up to do business with a foreign address. If for some reason you want to open a new account, you'll need a domestic address to do so.</p> <p>You can use a friend or relative's address or a mailbox service. Either way, make sure you are able to actually read any correspondence you get in a timely manner. That way, if a bank or credit account sends you a warning notice, you'll know right away and avoid credit-damaging mistakes. Fortunately, there are now services that will open and scan all mail for you, in case you don't have anyone you trust at home to do this.</p> <h2>7. Pay your taxes</h2> <p>If you don't pay money you owe to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, you could end up with a tax lien sitting on your credit report for the next seven to 10 years &mdash; and good luck getting any credit in the U.S. while that is sitting there stinking things up.</p> <p>You may or may not owe taxes while you are living and working abroad, but you should still look into&nbsp;<a href="https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/irs-tax-return/does-everyone-need-to-file-an-income-tax-return/L7pluHkoW" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/irs-tax-return/does-everyone-need-to-file-an-income-tax-return/L7pluHkoW&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1514074683386000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGERu7j_5a_3kBuVCza9HsJjRGCvw">whether you need to file a tax return</a>. You can claim a credit for any taxes you pay to a foreign government, which may eliminate your tax burden to the IRS. However, you'll still owe for any taxable U.S. investment gains or income such as rent payments on a U.S. property you own. It's especially important to report foreign bank and investment accounts to the IRS. Some expats advise hiring an accountant who specializes in Americans living abroad to file your tax return.</p> <h2>8. Expect to spend time shoring up credit when you return</h2> <p>If your only use of credit during a decade overseas was credit cards, you may have saved your credit profile from oblivion, but it still won't be as great as it might have been if you'd stayed home. That's because about 10 percent of your credit score is based on having a healthy mix of credit types: not just &quot;revolving accounts&quot; like credit cards, but also installment loans such as a car loan or a mortgage.</p> <p>Get back on the credit horse when you get home, and after making a series of on-time installment loan payments, you should see your score improve.</p> <h2>9. Be vigilant against identity theft</h2> <p>Being far away might make it easier to miss the warning signs of identity theft, such as bills arriving at your home addressed to someone else. So monitor those online statements and check your credit report regularly. You might even consider paying for a credit monitoring service. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Don't Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/9%20Ways%20Expats%20Can%20Maintain%20Their%20Credit%20Scores.jpg" alt="9 Ways Expats Can Maintain Their Credit Scores" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-expats-can-maintain-their-credit-scores">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debunking-8-common-credit-score-myths">Debunking 8 Common Credit Score Myths</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-travel-rewards-points-were-stolen-now-what">Your Travel Rewards Points Were Stolen. Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-countries-where-you-can-retire-for-1000-a-month">5 Countries Where You Can Retire for $1,000 a Month</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-after-losing-your-social-security-card">What to Do After Losing Your Social Security Card</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-cost-of-finding-a-treasure-chest-full-of-gold">The Cost of Finding a Treasure Chest Full of Gold</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Travel abroad accounts americans credit age credit history credit scores debt expatriates expats identity theft IRS payment history taxes Mon, 18 Sep 2017 08:30:10 +0000 Carrie Kirby 2021975 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do After Losing Your Social Security Card http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-after-losing-your-social-security-card <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-after-losing-your-social-security-card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/identity_theft.jpg" alt="Identity Theft" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You lost your Social Security card. Any time personal information goes missing, it can be unnerving. How big of a problem is this, exactly?</p> <p>The card itself is not much of one. Replacing a lost Social Security card is free and relatively simple. The bigger worry is what happens if your Social Security <em>number</em> falls into the wrong hands, and criminals use it to steal your identity. Then, you have a problem.</p> <p>You can reduce the odds of trouble by acting quickly. Follow this fast plan if you've lost your Social Security card.</p> <h2>Protecting your identity</h2> <p>To understand whether someone has stolen your Social Security number, keep a close watch on your credit reports. Thieves could use your Social Security number to apply for new credit cards in your name, racking up debt without you even realizing. This could send your credit score tumbling. You might also start receiving calls from angry creditors wondering why you haven't paid your bills.</p> <p>The best way to determine if someone is illegally using your Social Security number is to order copies of your credit reports from <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action" target="_blank">AnnualCreditReport.com</a>. You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus &mdash; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion &mdash; each year. Once you have your reports, study them carefully. Look for new lines of credit taken out in your name that you know you never applied for.</p> <p>If you do suspect someone is using your Social Security number illegally, visit <a href="http://www.identitytheft.gov" target="_blank">IdentityTheft.gov</a>, a website run by the Federal Trade Commission, to report the theft. You can also file an online complaint with the <a href="https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx" target="_blank">Internet Crime Complaint Center</a>.</p> <p>It's important to also report the theft to either <a href="https://www.alerts.equifax.com/AutoFraud_Online/jsp/fraudAlert.jsp?_ga=1.38645931.963795184.1492791088" target="_blank">Equifax</a>, <a href="https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html" target="_blank">Experian</a>, or&nbsp;<a href="https://fraud.transunion.com/fa/fraudAlert/landingPage.jsp" target="_blank">TransUnion</a>. The credit bureau will place a fraud alert on your credit report, and will also notify the other two bureaus so that they will do the same.</p> <p>Next, <a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/identity-protection" target="_blank">contact the IRS</a>. This will keep identity thieves from filing a tax return in your name and then collecting a refund that is owed to you.</p> <h2>A simple fix if there's no evidence of identity theft</h2> <p>If you want a new Social Security card, you may be able to apply for a replacement on the <a href="https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/" target="_blank">Social Security Administration's website</a>. Replacements are free. First, you'll need to create a mySocialSecurity account. You must be a U.S. citizen who is 18 or older with a U.S. mailing address. You must also have a driver's license or state-issued ID from one of the following 18 places: Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin.</p> <p>If you don't meet the criteria for an online application, you can submit an <a href="https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf" target="_blank">application for a replacement card</a> in person or by mail to your local Social Security office. You'll need to provide your U.S. driver's license, state-issued nondriver identification card, or U.S. passport.</p> <p>You can apply for a maximum of three new Social Security cards a year, and a maximum of 10 during your lifetime.</p> <h2>What if you're a victim of identity theft?</h2> <p>If you have evidence that someone else is using your Social Security number, you can request a new Social Security number from the Social Security Administration. Just be sure you can actually prove that someone is using your number and that this use is harming you. If you can't provide evidence of this, you won't be given a new Social Security number.</p> <p>For example, your evidence could be a credit report listing several credit cards that you've never applied for. Or, evidence could be a letter from the IRS informing you that your income tax filings were rejected because someone else already filed them.</p> <p>If you suspect someone is using your number, call the Social Security Administration fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271.</p> <p>To prevent your Social Security number from falling into the wrong hands, don't carry your card with you. There is absolutely no reason to keep your Social Security card in your wallet. Instead, keep it in a safe-deposit box, at home, or in another secure location. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-to-never-keep-in-your-wallet?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Things to Never Keep in Your Wallet</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-after-losing-your-social-security-card">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-is-it-okay-to-share-your-social-security-number">When Is It Okay to Share Your Social Security Number?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-expats-can-maintain-their-credit-scores">9 Ways Expats Can Maintain Their Credit Scores</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-travel-rewards-points-were-stolen-now-what">Your Travel Rewards Points Were Stolen. Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit reports credit unions identity theft IRS lost missing replacements social security card social security number ssa ssn Wed, 31 May 2017 09:00:11 +0000 Dan Rafter 1955703 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: What to Do if You Get an IRS Notice http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-what-to-do-if-you-get-an-irs-notice <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-what-to-do-if-you-get-an-irs-notice" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_worried_letter_459036917.jpg" alt="Woman wondering what to do when she gets an IRS notice" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found articles on what to do if you get an IRS notice, things that are proven to make you happier, and ways to invest in yourself without spending a lot of money.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="https://www.fool.com/taxes/2017/04/26/what-to-do-if-you-get-an-irs-notice.aspx">What to Do if You Get an IRS Notice</a> &mdash; There's no need to panic if you get mail from the IRS. Here are some of the common notices that the agency sends out and how to respond to them. [The Motley Fool]</p> <p><a href="https://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Things-Make-You-Happy-43456598">10 Things Proven to Make You Happier</a> &mdash; Meditating for as little as a few minutes a day can have a positive impact on your life. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="https://www.fivecentnickel.com/invest-in-yourself-without-spending-money/">How to Invest in Yourself (Without Spending a Lot of Money)</a> &mdash; Find a creative outlet that can help you balance stress and improve your overall wellbeing. You may even be able use your creative skills for a side hustle. [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="https://www.officialcouponcode.com/places-that-offer-senior-discounts/">79 Places that Offer Senior Discounts</a> &mdash; Many restaurants, retailers, and service providers offer discounts to seniors. For example, seniors 62 and over receive a 15 percent discount on Amtrak fares. [Official Coupon Code]</p> <p><a href="http://www.northerncheapskate.com/5-financial-goals-to-strive-for-sooner-the-better/">5 Financial Goals to Strive For (Sooner the Better)</a> &mdash; If you aren't contributing to a retirement account, start now. Give it an extra boost by increasing your contributions each year. [Northern Cheapskate]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Tax-VOX/2017/0419/Americans-think-their-income-tax-share-is-fair-according-to-polls">Americans think their income-tax share is fair, according to polls</a> &mdash; According to a survey by Gallup, 61 percent of Americans think the amount of income tax they're paying is fair. [The Christian Science Monitor]</p> <p><a href="http://www.frugalvillage.com/2017/04/24/save-money-and-energy-by-insulating-your-pipes/">Save Money and Energy by Insulating Your Pipes</a> &mdash; Insulated hot water pipes can minimize heat loss throughout the entire system. [Frugal Village]</p> <p><a href="http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/personalfinance/prioritize-plan-ponder-practical-stop-out-of-control-spending">Prioritize, Plan and Ponder: Practical Ways to Stop Out of Control Spending</a> &mdash; If your spending is out of control, here are a few practical changes you may want to make. [The Frugal Toad]</p> <p><a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T064-C032-S014-make-charitable-giving-a-wealth-plan-win-win.html">Make Charitable Giving a Win-Win Part Of Your Wealth Plan</a> &mdash; There are ways to give to your favorite charities and still provide for your heirs. [Kiplinger]</p> <p><a href="https://www.i-millennial.com/10-investment-options-young-professionals/">10 Investment Options for Young Professionals</a> &mdash; It's a smart move to invest in building personal and professional relationships. These connections can help you advance your career and improve your personal life. [iMillennial]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-what-to-do-if-you-get-an-irs-notice">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-the-tax-season-rush-with-these-early-prep-steps">Avoid the Tax Season Rush With These Early Prep Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-audited-how-your-side-gig-needs-to-handle-taxes">Don&#039;t Get Audited! How Your Side Gig Needs to Handle Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cant-pay-your-taxes-heres-what-to-do">Can&#039;t Pay Your Taxes? Here&#039;s What to Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-if-you-dont-pay-your-taxes">Here&#039;s What Happens If You Don&#039;t Pay Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes best money tips IRS Thu, 27 Apr 2017 08:30:09 +0000 Amy Lu 1935488 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Lessons From Tax Day to Remember for Next Year http://www.wisebread.com/7-lessons-from-tax-day-to-remember-for-next-year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-lessons-from-tax-day-to-remember-for-next-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-546177866.jpg" alt="Woman learning tax lessons she should&#039;ve learned this week" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Cue the sigh of relief: Another tax season has come and gone. Before you kick back and relax, though, take a little moment of self-reflection. Did Tax Day make your stress levels soar?</p> <p>If the answer is yes, it's time to brush up on a few key lessons to take with you into the 2017 tax year. We guarantee you'll be breathing a little easier come next April.</p> <h2>1. Keep track of all your income</h2> <p>Specifically, don't forget about taxes you'll need to pay on any income you earn during the year outside of a full-time job. This includes money from freelance work or self-employment, dividends on investments, interest payments, and even gambling winnings. Be sure to track all of this income so that you're not surprised by a tax bill later.</p> <h2>2. Save all of your paperwork</h2> <p>Make sure you keep careful track of any forms and paperwork necessary to file your taxes. This includes your W-2 or any 1099s, as well as documents from banks, investment firms, and your mortgage company. These forms are usually sent out in February.</p> <p>More immediately, if you make any contributions to charity, you'll need the documentation. If you own a small business, you'll need receipts for all expenses you plan to deduct. If you plan to seek deductions for any unreimbursed medical expenses, you'll need a bill from your health care provider. All of these are important in order to enter accurate information on your tax return. As you gather them throughout the year, set them aside in a file or box that you keep in a safe place.</p> <h2>3. Deductions and credits are your friends</h2> <p>A credit is a straight reduction in your tax bill. A deduction means you reduce the amount of your income that is taxable. Either way, these tax breaks should not be overlooked.</p> <p>You can get a tax credit for having a kid. You can get a tax deduction if you pay interest on your mortgage. You can get a tax deduction for charitable donations. There are even deductions and credits for using energy-efficient appliances or driving a hybrid car. The list of possible deductions and tax credits is massive, and chances are, you qualify for at least a few. Most tax preparers and tax preparation programs will walk you through these deductions and credits to make sure you're getting the maximum benefit. If you haven't paid much attention to potential tax deductions or credits in the past, however, make sure you start this year. It could save you significant money.</p> <h2>4. Understand how tax-advantaged investment accounts differ</h2> <p>In addition to claiming tax credits and deductions, you can reduce your tax bill in advance simply by saving for retirement. If you use a 401(k), traditional IRA, or Roth IRA to build your nest egg, there are considerable tax advantages, and you need to understand the main differences.</p> <p>With a 401(k) and traditional IRA, any money you contribute to your account throughout the year will be deducted from your taxable income now. In some cases, this could move you into a lower tax bracket and save you considerable money on this year's tax bill. With a Roth IRA, money you contribute is taxed now, but you will not have to pay taxes on any investment gains when you withdraw the money at retirement.</p> <h2>5. If you are getting a big return, that's not a good thing</h2> <p>Getting money back on your taxes is certainly better than owing so much to the IRS that you pay a penalty. But if you are getting a considerable amount back after filing your return, you may have had too much taken out of your paycheck and overpaid taxes throughout the year. So in a sense, the government has been holding onto your money interest-free for no reason when you could have been using it for yourself. To make sure this doesn't happen again, ask your employer for a new W-4 and increase the number of exemptions you claim.</p> <h2>6. If you make a mistake, you can amend your return</h2> <p>Tax time can be nerve wracking because people are petrified of making a mistake and having the IRS come after them. But the actual chances of the government knocking on your door are quite low. The IRS simply does not have the staff to audit many individuals, and when they do, they usually target either very wealthy people or people with very complicated tax returns.</p> <p>If you do discover that you made a mistake, you can file an amended return without much hassle. Simply file Form 1040X, Amended Tax Return, along with the corrected (or missing) documents you did not originally file with your return. This happened to me once when I forgot to report some dividend income, and I never had the taxman knock on my door. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-easiest-way-to-avoid-a-tax-audit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Easiest Way to Avoid a Tax Audit</a>)</p> <h2>7. Use your taxes as a learning opportunity</h2> <p>Even with all these lessons under your belt, tax time can still be a tedious and stressful time of year. When all else fails, change your perspective. I personally find the process of doing taxes to be fairly educational. You can see a clear picture of how much money you actually took in during the year, and how much the government takes. The process of finding deductions can be a learning experience as well. If you approach doing your taxes with an attitude of curiosity, you may find the whole process to be less painful.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-lessons-from-tax-day-to-remember-for-next-year">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-audited-how-your-side-gig-needs-to-handle-taxes">Don&#039;t Get Audited! How Your Side Gig Needs to Handle Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered">The 7 Most Common Tax Questions for Beginners, Answered</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-common-tax-mistakes-we-need-to-stop-making">5 Common Tax Mistakes We Need to Stop Making</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-easiest-way-to-avoid-a-tax-audit">The Easiest Way to Avoid a Tax Audit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-the-tax-season-rush-with-these-early-prep-steps">Avoid the Tax Season Rush With These Early Prep Steps</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes advice audits credits deductions forms income investing IRS tax lessons tax returns w-2 Fri, 21 Apr 2017 08:00:10 +0000 Tim Lemke 1931721 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do If You Have a Tax Lien On Your House http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-have-a-tax-lien-on-your-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-if-you-have-a-tax-lien-on-your-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-523154492_0.jpg" alt="Woman learning what to do with a tax lien on her house" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The government doesn't play around with taxpayers who skip out on what they owe. When you ignore your federal, state, or property tax bills &mdash; and you don't make any attempts to pay the balance &mdash; the government can place a tax lien on your house.</p> <p>A tax lien is a legal claim on property for failure to pay taxes owed. It gives the tax authority (also known as the lienholder) first rights to your property over other creditors.</p> <p>A lien differs from a levy in that the government doesn't seize your house or other property. Keep in mind that a lien can become a levy at some point if you never pay your taxes or never make arrangements to satisfy the debt. The tax authority decides when to impose a levy. You'll receive written notice of the levy at least 30 days before it takes place.</p> <p>A lien is a serious matter because it can negatively affect your credit. Unpaid tax liens can remain on credit reports indefinitely, whereas paid tax liens can remain for up to seven years from the date filed.</p> <p>Of course, the best way to handle a tax lien is to avoid one in the first place. But if the damage is done, here's how to put this ugly mark behind you.</p> <h2>1. Dispute a filing error</h2> <p>It's not uncommon for mistakes to appear on credit reports. In fact, according to recent data from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, 76 percent of the 185,700 credit-reporting complaints they've received since 2011 are related to errors &mdash; including state or federal tax liens that mistakenly appeared on credit reports.</p> <p>If you check your credit report and find a lien reported in error, don't ignore this mistake. This can lower your credit score. Contact the IRS or your state tax office to file a dispute. If a review of your account proves that you don't owe the debt, the government withdraws the tax lien (as if it never happened). A withdrawal also removes the lien from your credit report.</p> <p>Thankfully, the number of tax liens reported in error should be dropping. In response to criticisms by the CFPB, the top consumer reporting agencies &mdash; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion &mdash; issued a new provision. As of July 1, 2017, tax lien and civil judgment data will <a href="http://www.nasdaq.com/article/clearing-misconceptions-about-new-consumer-data-laws-cm772651" target="_blank">only be included on credit reports</a> if they contain three pieces of information: the person's name, address, and Social Security number or date of birth. This information must be current according to court records as of the last 90 days.</p> <p>The association representing the credit bureaus expects half of the consumers with tax liens on their credit reports will see them removed.</p> <h2>2. Pay your tax bill in full</h2> <p>Parting with your hard-earned money isn't easy, but paying your tax bill in full is one of the fastest ways to get the government off your back and move on with your life.</p> <p>Typically, the government releases tax liens within 30 days of full payment of an outstanding debt (including penalties and interest). A release removes the lien from the property.</p> <p>Unfortunately, paid tax liens can still remain on your credit report for up to seven years. However, under the IRS's Fresh Start Program, after paying your balance in full, you can submit a request to have a federal tax lien withdrawn from your credit report before the seven-year mark. Some states also give taxpayers the option of requesting an early withdrawal of a state tax lien from their credit report once they've paid their debt in full.</p> <h2>3. Set up an installment plan</h2> <p>If you can't pay what you owe in full, set up an installment plan with the government. This lets you pay off your tax debt over time. The tax authority releases the lien once you've set up a payment plan.</p> <p>In the case of federal debt, the IRS allows individual taxpayers to set up monthly direct debit payments on debt amounts up to $50,000 for up to six years. Go to IRS.gov and apply for installment payments through the online payment system. If you owe more than $50,000, or require longer repayment terms, request installment payments by completing and mailing Collection Information Statement Form 433-A or Form 433-F.</p> <p>Taxpayers who owe less than $25,000 and who've made at least three consecutive direct debit installment payments also can request to have the lien withdrawn from their credit report. However, defaulting on an installment agreement can trigger a new tax lien.</p> <p>Some states also allow installment plans to repay a tax debt, though the criteria for these plans varies by state.</p> <h2>4. Sell the property</h2> <p>If you don't have money to pay an outstanding tax debt in full, and you can't afford an installment plan, another option is selling the property and satisfying the debt with proceeds from the sale. However, this method only works if the sale price is high enough to pay off the lien and any existing mortgages on the property. If the sale won't generate enough proceeds to pay off attached liens, you can't sell the property. If you're able to sell the home, the company handling your escrow account forwards payment to the lienholder after closing.</p> <p>Keep in mind that you'll need to contact the lienholder before closing to request a lien release. In the case of federal taxes, this involves requesting a Certificate of Discharge from the IRS. If the request is approved, this document releases (or removes) the lien from the asset being sold (though it stays in place in every other way), and allows the property to transfer to the new owner lien-free.</p> <h2>5. Refinance the property</h2> <p>Then again, maybe you don't want to sell your home. There's also the option of refinancing and borrowing cash from your home equity to satisfy a state or federal tax lien on the property. Since refinancing replaces an existing mortgage with a new loan, mortgage lenders will not approve your loan application unless they have first lien position on the title. This puts the lender in priority position to benefit from liquidation if the property goes into default. For this to happen, you'll have to request a lien subordination from the IRS or your state tax office before applying for the loan.</p> <p>Subordination doesn't eliminate a tax lien &mdash; rather, the lien becomes secondary to a lender's lien on the property. And with the lender's security interest first, you're more likely to acquire a new mortgage.</p> <p>Be aware that your ability to refinance depends on how the tax lien impacted your credit. A tax lien will reduce your credit score, and to refinance, you'll have to meet a lender's income and credit score requirements. You need a minimum credit score of 620 for a conventional loan and a minimum credit score between 500 and 580 for an FHA loan.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-have-a-tax-lien-on-your-house">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-if-you-dont-pay-your-taxes">Here&#039;s What Happens If You Don&#039;t Pay Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016">Top Three Tax Facts to Know for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-money-sooner-by-starting-2016-tax-prep-now">Get Your Money Sooner by Starting 2016 Tax Prep Now</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-can-you-do-if-you-cannot-afford-to-pay-your-taxes">What can you do if you cannot afford to pay your taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-your-credit-cards-are-paid-off">9 Money Moves to Make the Moment Your Credit Cards Are Paid Off</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Taxes credit report credit score federal filing errors government IRS payment plans property refinancing state tax bills tax liens taxpayers Mon, 17 Apr 2017 08:30:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1928274 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do When Your Tax Preparer Makes a Mistake http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-your-tax-preparer-makes-a-mistake <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-when-your-tax-preparer-makes-a-mistake" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-501391448.jpg" alt="Man learning what to do when a tax preparer makes a mistake" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You might think that hiring a tax preparer to file your income taxes will guarantee a mistake-free return. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong.</p> <p>In 2015, the National Consumer Law Center used mystery shoppers to test the work of 29 tax preparers. The results were surprising: Only two of the returns compiled by these preparers came in error-free. That's bad news for a lot of people. USA Today reported in February that almost <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2017/02/06/should-you-do-your-taxes-yourself-hire-tax-preparer/97198816/" target="_blank">79 million e-filed tax returns</a> were completed last year by professional tax preparers.</p> <p>And here's even more bad news: The IRS says that if your tax preparer makes a mistake resulting in you having to pay additional taxes, interest, or penalties, <em>you</em> are responsible for paying these fees &mdash; not your tax preparer.</p> <p>If your tax preparer does make a mistake on your return, what can you do? Here are five suggestions.</p> <h2>1. Contact your preparer</h2> <p>If the IRS sends you a letter claiming that there are mistakes on your taxes, call your tax preparer for an explanation. Tax preparers who do make mistakes might offer to pay any fees, penalties, or interest charges for you. This might not restore your confidence in their abilities, but it will help save your budget.</p> <h2>2. Pay the penalties</h2> <p>If the IRS is charging you a penalty for a tax mistake, even if that mistake was made by your preparer, pay it. You might be battling it out with your tax preparer in the hope of getting this professional to pay the penalty on your behalf, but the IRS doesn't care. If it doesn't receive its payment, you are the one who will face additional financial penalties.</p> <p>If your tax preparer refuses to pay for its mistake, send a check to the IRS. Then continue your fight against the preparer.</p> <h2>3. Know your rights</h2> <p>Check any contract you signed with your tax preparer. There might be language in the contract stating what your tax preparer will do in the event of a mistake. Some tax preparers will pay the interest and penalties that result from a mistake, but not any extra taxes you might owe.</p> <p>Some tax preparation firms, especially the big ones, might offer insurance that you can purchase for an extra fee. If you've bought this insurance, your tax preparer might be obligated to pay any interest, fees, or extra taxes you owe because of their mistakes.</p> <p>Be aware that tax preparers won't pay any penalties on your behalf, even if you've purchased extra insurance, if the mistakes they've made are because you provided them with inaccurate information.</p> <h2>4. Check the statute of limitations</h2> <p>If your tax preparer made a mistake that caused you to overpay on your taxes, you have three years to request a refund from the IRS. You must provide documentation to back up your claim that you overpaid.</p> <p>This statute of limitations works in reverse, too. If you underpaid your taxes because of a preparer mistake, the IRS has three years in which they can come after you for the money you owe. If your tax preparer made a substantial error, however (such as omitting 25 percent or more of your gross income), the IRS can go back up to six years. It's recommended to keep your records for at least this long. Be aware there is no statute of limitations for those who knowingly file fraudulent returns, evade taxes, or fail to file altogether.</p> <h2>5. File a complaint</h2> <p>If you discover that your preparer made an intentional mistake, perhaps to boost your return, make an official complaint with the Office of Responsibility at the IRS. If your preparer is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, National Association of Enrolled Agents, or a state law association, you can also file a complaint with these organizations. Such complaints could cause tax preparers to face fines or lose their licenses.</p> <h2>Reduce the odds of a mistake by hiring the right professional</h2> <p>Sometimes you can prevent a future mistake by hiring the right tax professional upfront. The truth is, anyone can work as a tax preparer. Preparers must apply for a Preparer Tax Identification Number from the IRS. But getting this number is easy: It costs $50, and the IRS says that applying takes just 15 minutes.</p> <p>If you're searching for a tax professional, it's best to work with either a certified public accountant with experience completing tax returns, or what is known as an Enrolled Agent. To become an Enrolled Agent, tax preparers must first pass a three-part test given by the IRS that covers the ins and outs of individual and business tax returns. Some certified public accountants will also be Enrolled Agents.</p> <p>Ask any tax preparer for the phone numbers of past clients. Then call these clients to ask about the work the tax preparer turned in. The IRS also recommends that consumers only work with tax preparers who charge a flat fee. Preparers who charge a percentage of your tax refund might be tempted to fudge the numbers to boost your return.</p> <p>Finally, make sure that you provide all the proper documents and numbers. The tax preparer may or may not double check your numbers. Maybe you forgot about the antique you sold on eBay. Maybe you transposed a number when adding up your home office deductions. You can't depend on the tax preparer to notice that something is off or verify your numbers. The best professionals will ask you a lot of questions to ensure you've provided all the information. But others may just take your documents and enter the numbers.</p> <p>The bottom line is if the IRS audits you and discovers that the preparer made mistakes &mdash; intentional or accidental &mdash; you'll have to pay any penalties and fees.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-your-tax-preparer-makes-a-mistake">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-if-you-dont-pay-your-taxes">Here&#039;s What Happens If You Don&#039;t Pay Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cant-pay-your-taxes-heres-what-to-do">Can&#039;t Pay Your Taxes? Here&#039;s What to Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016">5 Important Tax Changes for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered">The 7 Most Common Tax Questions for Beginners, Answered</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes accountants complaints cpa enrollment agents errors fees IRS Mistakes penalties statute of limitations tax filing tax returns Thu, 13 Apr 2017 08:00:10 +0000 Dan Rafter 1925856 at http://www.wisebread.com Most Popular Ways Americans Spend Their Tax Refunds http://www.wisebread.com/most-popular-ways-americans-spend-their-tax-refunds <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/most-popular-ways-americans-spend-their-tax-refunds" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-492675012.jpg" alt="Here are the most popular ways Americans spend their refunds" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>According to the IRS, the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/filing-season-statistics-for-week-ending-feb-26-2016" target="_blank">average tax refund in 2016</a> was $3,053. While we here at Wise Bread generally advise against giving the government a free loan all year, there's no arguing that a tax refund can go to good financial use. But how, exactly do most Americans spend their newfound chunk of change?</p> <h2>What do most people spend on?</h2> <p>Fortunately, the majority of people use their tax refund to pay down debt, save, or invest. In a poll conducted by GoBankingRates, 41 percent of people deposited the money into their savings account and 38 percent used it to pay off debt.</p> <p>More than half of millennials plan to use their refunds for savings and debt repayment. This is a major change from previous years, when the tendency for this age group was to spend on splurge purchases (clothes, video games, new shoes, etc.). Gen Xers are the second group behind millennials most likely to use their refund for debt repayment, and younger Gen Xers (35&ndash;44) are the second most likely behind boomers to fund a vacation. While baby boomers age 65+ are less likely to receive a refund, they are currently more likely to spend it on a vacation or splurge purchase than other generations. Despite more boomers spending on themselves, 42 percent still allocate their refund to savings.</p> <h2>Smart ways to use your refund</h2> <p>If you're getting a tax refund this year, you might be tempted to splurge. While there's nothing wrong with treating yourself once in awhile, your money would be better spent in these smart ways.</p> <h3>Boost your emergency fund</h3> <p>You should have three to six months' worth of expenses saved for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund?ref=internal" target="_blank">financial emergency</a>. If your savings account could use some padding, this is the perfect time to save without feeling the burn. Your future self will be grateful for your savviness. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-smart-things-to-do-with-your-tax-refund?ref=seealso" target="_blank">50 Smart Things to Do With Your Tax Refund</a>)</p> <h3>Pay down debt</h3> <p>According to a GoBankingRates survey, the top source of financial stress for Americans is paying off debt. Fortunately, your tax refund can help ease that stress. Consider using the money to make an extra mortgage or student loan payment, or help tackle your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">high-interest credit card debt</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Fastest Way to Pay off $10K in Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h3>Invest it</h3> <p>If you already have an emergency fund to fall back on, then consider using your refund to pad your retirement accounts or other investments. You can also begin diversifying your portfolio to mitigate risk and potentially increase your returns.</p> <h3>Invest in yourself</h3> <p>If you've considered taking classes, focusing on your hobbies, getting in shape, or starting a small business, then it might be worth using your refund to fund these ventures. By investing in yourself, you'll continue benefiting from the refund over time.</p> <h3>Make small home improvements</h3> <p>Have you been putting of small fixes around the house? It's time to tackle them now before they turn into a bigger problem. Simple upgrades are not expensive, and can result in a higher resale value and future tax benefits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-20-or-less?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $20 or Less</a>)</p> <h3>Donate it</h3> <p>If you're feeling financially secure in your own life, consider paying the funds forward. Donating your refund to a worthwhile charity ensures that the money is going to great use. It can also reduce your taxable income for the next tax season. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-i-write-it-off-as-charity?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Can I Write It Off as Charity?</a>)</p> <h3>Treat it like a paycheck</h3> <p>Figure out how much of your paycheck you allocate to certain expenses each month (food, mortgage, gas, etc.) and treat your tax refund the same. Don't forget to include any debt payments. Just like a typical paycheck, you might even have a small amount leftover to use for something fun.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/most-popular-ways-americans-spend-their-tax-refunds">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-things-you-should-know-about-the-new-tax-law">12 Things You Should Know About the New Tax Law</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-the-tax-season-rush-with-these-early-prep-steps">Avoid the Tax Season Rush With These Early Prep Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-if-you-dont-pay-your-taxes">Here&#039;s What Happens If You Don&#039;t Pay Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes debt repayment investments IRS saving money spending habits splurges tax refunds Mon, 03 Apr 2017 08:30:18 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1917304 at http://www.wisebread.com Why Tax Day Is April 15 and Other Weird Financial Deadlines http://www.wisebread.com/why-tax-day-is-april-15-and-other-weird-financial-deadlines <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-tax-day-is-april-15-and-other-weird-financial-deadlines" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-175261184.jpg" alt="Learning why Tax Day is on April 15" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>April is one of the finest months of the year. The sun breaks through the clouds, the cherry blossoms bloom, and the promise of warm weather beckons.</p> <p>So of course, the IRS, in its infinite wisdom, decided to place Tax Day right smack dab in the middle of all of this riotous spring beauty.</p> <p>Though I have always believed that the placement of Tax Day in mid-April is proof of the federal government's grim sense of humor, there is actually some method to their madness &mdash; both for this, and all other seemingly arbitrary financial dates and deadlines.</p> <p>Here are the reasons behind some of the most head-scratching financial dates in the United States.</p> <h2>Why is Tax Day on April 15?</h2> <p>Paying federal income taxes is actually a relatively new phenomenon in American history. The first time an income tax was levied on Americans was in 1861 in order to help pay for the Civil War. In 1872, the law surrounding the tax was repealed after opponents successfully argued that federal income tax was unconstitutional.</p> <p>Fast forward to February 3, 1913, when Congress adopted the 16th amendment to the constitution, which allows for federal income tax. Congress also determined the first due date for filing 1913 taxes would be March 1, 1914 &mdash; one year and a couple of weeks later. March 1 offered an easy-to-remember due date that gave citizens just over a full year to get used to being taxpayers, gather up their receipts into the early 20th century version of a shoe box, and file their first returns.</p> <p>Then in 1918, the due date was moved to March 15, for reasons that no one in Congress saw fit to explain or write down.</p> <p>Congress again moved the filing due date in 1955, this time to the now-familiar date of April 15. According to the IRS, the date change helped to spread out the tax season workload for IRS employees.</p> <p>However, there may be a slightly more mercenary reason for the date change: According to Ed McCaffery, a University of Southern California law professor and tax guru, by the mid 1950s, the income tax was applying to increasing numbers of middle class workers, which meant the government had to issue more refunds. &quot;Pushing the deadline back gives the government more time to hold on to the money,&quot; McCaffery claimed in Fortune magazine. And the longer the government holds onto taxes that have been withheld but are destined to be refunded, the more interest it earns on the money.</p> <h3>Okay, so why is Tax Day on April 18 this year?</h3> <p>If you look at an April calendar for 2017, you'll see that April 15 falls on a Saturday this year, which means we get a little extension, since Tax Day can't fall on a weekend. However, you might be confused as to why we get an extension to Tuesday, April 18, instead of Monday, April 17.</p> <p>The reason for our extra day is a Washington, D.C. holiday known as Emancipation Day. Though only Washington, D.C. observes this holiday, a federal statute enacted decades ago states that holidays observed in our nation's capital have a nationwide impact.</p> <h2>Why was 65 chosen as full retirement age for Social Security?</h2> <p>When the Social Security Act was officially adopted in 1935, the age of 65 was chosen as the standard retirement age for beneficiaries. Why was that age chosen as the proper time for full retirement? Why not 63 or 67 or 70?</p> <p>There are a couple of persistent myths out there about this choice, but they are nothing more than misconceptions:</p> <h3>Myth #1: People would die before collecting</h3> <p>The age of 65 was chosen so that people would not live long enough to collect benefits. According to life expectancy actuarial tables from 1930, the average life span was 58 for men and 62 for women, which would make it seem as if Social Security was designed to never make a payout to beneficiaries. However, this myth stems from an unfamiliarity with actuarial tables, which offer an average of <em>all </em>life spans, starting from birth. High infant mortality in the 1930s lowered the overall rate of life expectancy, but anyone who made it to adulthood had a much better chance of reaching age 65 and collecting benefits.</p> <h3>Myth #2: Bismarck was 65</h3> <p>The age of 65 was chosen because Otto von Bismarck &mdash; the author of the world's first old-age social insurance program upon which our Social Security program was partially based &mdash; was 65 when Germany adopted his program. This myth is false on several counts. Bismarck was actually 74 when the German system was adopted, and Germany initially set the retirement age at 70. Germany's retirement age was not lowered to 65 until 1916, at which point Bismarck had been dead for nearly two decades.</p> <h3>The truth behind 65</h3> <p>The actual reason why 65 was chosen as the initial full retirement age for Social Security is pretty boring. The Committee on Economic Security, which Franklin D. Roosevelt created to propose Social Security legislation, conducted a comprehensive analysis of actuarial studies, domestic private pension systems in America, and the social insurance experience in other countries. Based upon that research, the committee recommended 65 as the standard retirement age for Social Security.</p> <h2>Why is 59&frac12; the minimum age to take distributions from tax-deferred retirement accounts?</h2> <p>When it comes to tax-deferred accounts like 401(k)s and traditional IRAs, you are not allowed to take distributions until you have reached the magical age of 59&frac12;. Otherwise, you will owe a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty on the amount you withdraw, in addition to the ordinary income tax you'll owe whenever you take a distribution.</p> <p>So why is the IRS asking you to celebrate half-birthdays when you're nearly 60 years old? Congress used the age of 59&frac12; as the earliest withdrawal age because life insurance actuarial tables consider you to be 60 years old once you have reached the age of 59 and six months &mdash; and at the time that the rules were put in place, 60 was a relatively common age for retirement.</p> <h2>Why must you begin taking required minimum distributions from tax-deferred retirement accounts at age 70&frac12;?</h2> <p>Of course, the IRS is not just about picking random minimum ages for when you <em>can </em>take distributions from tax-deferred retirement accounts &mdash; they also have a random age for when you <em>must </em>take distributions from those accounts.</p> <p>Since the money in your tax-deferred account was placed there before you paid taxes on it, Uncle Sam does want you to eventually pull the money out again so he can get his cut of the money in the form of taxes. That means the IRS requires each account holder to begin withdrawing money during the year that they reach age 70&frac12;. This is called the required minimum distribution (RMD).</p> <p>But unlike the 59&frac12; rule, 70&frac12; does not actually mean your half-birthday. The IRS makes a distinction between those individuals born in the first half of the year and those born in the second half. If your birthday falls between January 1 and June 30, you have to take your first RMD during the calendar year you turn 70. But if your birthday falls between July 1 and December 31, then you don't officially have to take your first RMD until the calendar year you turn 71.</p> <p>Describing this year as being when you are 70&frac12; is actually shorthand, since some folks will be taking their first RMD the year they turn 70, and some will be taking their first RMD the year they turn 71.</p> <h2>Why does Social Security think New Year's babies were born in the previous year?</h2> <p>Unless you happen to have a January 1 birthday, you might not know about this odd piece of Social Security dating. But according to the Social Security Administration, individuals born on the first of the year are considered to have birthdays in the previous year. So Social Security will group someone with a January 1, 1954 birthday with beneficiaries who were born in 1953.</p> <p>This can actually make a big difference when it comes to some Social Security benefits, particularly when those benefits are eliminated. For instance, in 2015 Congress ended the restricted application strategy for any beneficiary born after 1953. The restricted application let applicants specify which Social Security benefits they did <em>not</em> want to apply for, even if they were eligible for all of them. So, for example, beneficiaries who reached full retirement age could claim a spousal benefit while continuing to let their own grow. Beneficiaries who were born on January 1, 1954 were grouped with those with 1953 births &mdash; which means anyone born on January 2, 1954 had rotten luck in terms of using the restricted application.</p> <p>Why does Social Security extend a year 24 hours past the time the rest of us do? This odd birth year dating occurs because the Social Security Administration groups beneficiaries who have birthdays on the first of the month with beneficiaries born in the previous month. This grouping allows first-of-the-month babies to have a little more leeway when it comes to deadlines and other requirements. In order to be completely fair with the first-of-the-month grouping, January 1 babies are then considered to have been born in the previous year.</p> <h2>The government is not entirely lacking in sweet rhyme and pure reason</h2> <p>The financial dates that we all must adhere to may seem like ridiculous and arbitrary decisions, but there was some thought put into them. Those thoughts might only make sense to the people that made the decisions, but at least we know they weren't throwing darts at a calendar.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-tax-day-is-april-15-and-other-weird-financial-deadlines">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-when-you-retire">Here&#039;s How Your Taxes Will Change When You Retire</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/three-of-the-toughest-decisions-youll-face-in-retirement">Three of the Toughest Decisions You&#039;ll Face in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-more-money-in-retirement-might-cost-you">3 Ways More Money in Retirement Might Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-age-milestones-that-impact-your-retirement">6 Age Milestones That Impact Your Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easiest-ways-to-catch-up-on-retirement-savings-later-in-life">7 Easiest Ways to Catch Up on Retirement Savings Later in Life</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement Taxes 401(k) ages benefits dates distributions finance facts full retirement age IRA IRS social security tax day trivia Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:22 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1914689 at http://www.wisebread.com Here's What Happens If You Don't Pay Your Taxes http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-if-you-dont-pay-your-taxes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-what-happens-if-you-dont-pay-your-taxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-153832691.jpg" alt="Woman learning what happens if she doesn&#039;t pay taxes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As Tax Day looms, you may wonder how high the tax man should rank on your list of creditors. Is it better to postpone paying taxes in order to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">pay off credit card debt</a>, or to keep the electricity running?</p> <p>Here's what happens if you're not able to pay everything you owe to the IRS, as soon as you owe it.</p> <h2>1. You'll Pay a Penalty</h2> <p>Assuming that you filed your tax return on time but didn't pay your full tax bill, the IRS will charge you <a href="https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc653.html" target="_blank">0.5% of what you owe</a>, every month until you pay, up to 25% of the debt. So if you still owed $1,000 when you filed your return on April 18, you'll owe an additional $5 a month.</p> <p>It's a very good idea to file your return on time, or file an extension, even if you won't be able to pay right away &mdash; fees increase if you haven't filed a return by Tax Day. Also, filing on time might get you a break: The IRS says that if you file for an extension or file your return, you may <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/things-you-should-know-about-filing-late-and-paying-penalties" target="_blank">not have to pay the penalty</a> if you've paid 90% of what you owe by Tax Day.</p> <h2>2. You'll Pay Interest</h2> <p>The IRS isn't going to lend you that money interest-free. The rate on money you owe to the IRS is <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-news/ir-16-159.pdf" target="_blank">currently 4%</a>.</p> <h2>3. You'll Get a Bill</h2> <p>If you haven't filed your tax return at all, the government will kindly figure out how much you owe for you and send a bill. Actually, not so kindly, because the way they'll calculate your taxes, you'll end up owing more than you would have if you'd done them yourself. The government doesn't have access to all your financial records, so they may not give you <a href="https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/filing-past-due-tax-returns" target="_blank">credit for your deductions</a>.</p> <p>Even if you file your return, if you owe money, eventually you'll start getting mail about it from the IRS.</p> <h2>4. You Could Get a Lien on Your Home</h2> <p>If you don't pay those bills (or show the IRS they're wrong and you don't owe), the next step is putting a lien on your property &mdash; usually your house, if you own one. This tends to happen if you owe $10,000 or more and haven't worked out a plan with the IRS to pay it off.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/understanding-a-federal-tax-lien" target="_blank">federal tax lien</a> is a legal document that says if you sell your property, the proceeds will go toward your debt before you see a dime. This could make it tough or impossible to take out a mortgage on your home, and <a href="http://info.courthousedirect.com/blog/bid/309664/How-Do-Liens-Affect-Real-Estate-Sales" target="_blank">complicate the deal</a> if you try to sell your home.</p> <p>The tax lien will be reported on your credit report and will <a href="http://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/tax-liens-in-your-credit-report/" target="_blank">stay there for seven years</a>, even after you pay the debt. This can make it impossible to get approval for new credit cards or other loans.</p> <h2>5. You Could Lose Your Passport</h2> <p>Thanks to a new law, the State Department can now revoke your passport (or refuse to issue you one) if you owe the IRS <a href="http://transportation.house.gov/uploadedfiles/joint_explanatory_statement.pdf" target="_blank">$50,000 or more in delinquent debt</a>. So if your plan was to skip out on your debt, you won't get far.</p> <h2>6. The Government Could Seize Your Property</h2> <p>It's called a levy, and it means the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/levy" target="_blank">IRS can take your Chevy</a>. Or your Ford, or your RV, or boat, or house. They can even garnish your wages or take what you owe right out of your checking account. If you think owing the mob is bad, try owing the federal government.</p> <p>In the IRS' defense, it doesn't start seizing citizens' property out of the blue. You'll get lots of mail warning that you're in default, telling you that you have the right to a hearing, and explaining that next, they're coming for your stuff. Don't ignore that mail.</p> <h2>7. You Could Pay Larger Penalties</h2> <p>If the IRS determines that your failure to pay in full was due to negligence or fraud, the penalties could <a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/6662" target="_blank">climb to 20%</a> or <a href="https://www.irs.gov/irm/part25/irm_25-001-006.html" target="_blank">even 75%</a>.</p> <h2>8. You Could End Up in Court</h2> <p>The IRS would rather work with you to get the money. But if you're recalcitrant or showed intent to defraud them, they can charge you with one or more felonies. In 2008, they <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/business/14tax.html?ref=business" target="_blank">charged actor Wesley Snipes</a> with conspiracy to defraud the government for refusing to pay taxes on $38 million in earnings. Snipes had joined a movement of tax deniers who interpret various laws to mean that paying taxes is not required.</p> <h2>9. You Could Go to Prison</h2> <p>Most people who owe the IRS don't do time. But Snipes did. He was convicted of three misdemeanors related to his failure to file tax returns and <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2015/04/10/10-notorious-tax-cheats-wesley-snipes-hired-tax-professionals-but-still-was-jailed/#4edc682341e2" target="_blank">served three years</a>. It could have been worse: Snipes was acquitted for the felonies he had been charged with.</p> <h2>10. Maybe Nothing Will Happen</h2> <p>If the government doesn't have record of your earnings &mdash; for instance, if you work for cash and don't get dividends on investments &mdash; the IRS may never notice if you don't file a tax return and don't pay a dime. But flaking on filing is definitely a bad idea: Not only will you live in fear of all the consequences mentioned above, but if your earnings are modest, you could be missing out on the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/individuals/earned-income-tax-credit" target="_blank">earned income tax credit</a> and other benefits of being on record as a wage earner, like the ability to get a mortgage loan.</p> <p>It's a good idea to keep in touch with the IRS if you owe them money. In fact, if you file your tax return, pay what you can, and then call them up, they may <a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/online-payment-agreement-application" target="_blank">work out a payment plan</a> with you, or even settle for <a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/offer-in-compromise-1" target="_blank">less than the full amount</a> you owe.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-if-you-dont-pay-your-taxes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-your-tax-preparer-makes-a-mistake">What to Do When Your Tax Preparer Makes a Mistake</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-have-a-tax-lien-on-your-house">What to Do If You Have a Tax Lien On Your House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016">5 Important Tax Changes for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered">The 7 Most Common Tax Questions for Beginners, Answered</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes court debt fees IRS jail late payments liens owing money passports payment plans penalties seize property tax day tax returns Fri, 03 Mar 2017 11:00:14 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1898661 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Reasons You Should File Your Taxes as Soon as Possible http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-you-should-file-your-taxes-as-soon-as-possible <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-reasons-you-should-file-your-taxes-as-soon-as-possible" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-610688960.jpg" alt="Learning reasons you should file taxes as soon as possible" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What do we want? A tax refund! When do we want it? Now!</p> <p>Here are eight reasons you should pick up the pace on your tax preparation and file well before this year's April 18 deadline.</p> <h2>1. You'll Get Your Refund Faster</h2> <p>Simple logic, folks: The sooner you file your returns, the faster you'll receive a refund (if you're owed one). The IRS says it issues nine out of 10 refunds within 21 days (sometimes less) with e-file and direct deposit. Use that money to get a head start on spring and summer home improvements, pay off debt sooner than later, or bulk up your emergency savings account.</p> <h2>2. Filing Online Is Easy</h2> <p>If your taxes aren't complicated &mdash; and they shouldn't be if you don't have multiple sources of income &mdash; filing online should be a walk in the park. Using <a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-12747133" target="_blank">TurboTax online</a>, for example, is almost effortless, and it will help you submit an accurate return while also saving you money. Best of all, you can do it on your own time and in the comfort of your own home.</p> <h2>3. You'll Have Extra Time to Pay the Taxes You May Owe<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Filing early doesn't mean you have to pay the taxes you may owe immediately. In fact, it'll give you a decent window to figure out how to cover that cost, especially if you don't readily have it available. If you submit your tax return in February, for example, you still have until the April deadline to come up with payment.</p> <h2>4. Your Accountant Can Spend More Quality Time on Your Return<strong> </strong></h2> <p>I'm an entrepreneur, and I own a business that requires a decent amount of accounting at tax time. Admittedly, this is not something I want to handle on my own, which is why I have a CPA. I usually schedule my annual meeting with him mid- to late-February &mdash; before he's bombarded with his other clients' returns &mdash; so he can give mine the TLC it needs. If you have a lot of components to your own taxes, this is definitely a strategy to consider. You don't want to lose out on refund money because your accountant was in a hurry.</p> <h2>5. You Can Spend More Quality Time on Your Return</h2> <p>Even if you're handling your taxes on your own, it's still wise to give yourself ample time to prepare. A lot of information goes onto a return, and you need to ensure that everything is correct. Tax mistakes can be costly, but they can also be avoided if you plan ahead instead of trying to beat the clock at the last minute. Triple-check your numbers and personal information for accuracy. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-common-tax-mistakes-we-need-to-stop-making?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Common Tax Mistakes We Need to Stop Making</a>)</p> <h2>6. You'll Reduce the Chance of Identity Theft</h2> <p>Identity theft is a major concern with regards to your finances, and even your tax return is at risk. Scammers can file fraudulent returns in unsuspecting taxpayers' names, but the chances of that happening are reduced the earlier you file. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</a>)</p> <h2>7. It'll Make Your Home-Buying Process Easier</h2> <p>I've bought several homes over the years, and it's very stressful. For one, the mortgage company needs every last piece of your financial information that they can get their hands on &mdash; and then some. Your homebuying process will go much smoother this time of year if you've already filed your taxes.</p> <h2>8. You'll Have Time to Help Advise Your Working Dependent Kids<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Your working children can also make mistakes on their own returns, filing as independents when they're clearly still dependents. Have a discussion with your kids about this designation &mdash; especially important to remember if they're away at college and filing on their own &mdash; so you don't miss out on deductions that <em>you </em>deserve.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-you-should-file-your-taxes-as-soon-as-possible">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered">The 7 Most Common Tax Questions for Beginners, Answered</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-money-sooner-by-starting-2016-tax-prep-now">Get Your Money Sooner by Starting 2016 Tax Prep Now</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-if-you-dont-pay-your-taxes">Here&#039;s What Happens If You Don&#039;t Pay Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-your-tax-preparer-makes-a-mistake">What to Do When Your Tax Preparer Makes a Mistake</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes accounting dependents e-file home buying identity theft IRS kids refunds tax returns Tue, 28 Feb 2017 10:00:21 +0000 Mikey Rox 1897587 at http://www.wisebread.com The Easy Way to Do Your Taxes (Without Paying Someone Else) http://www.wisebread.com/the-easy-way-to-do-your-taxes-without-paying-someone-else <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-easy-way-to-do-your-taxes-without-paying-someone-else" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-539979144.jpg" alt="Woman finding an easy way to do her taxes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Like clockwork, Tax Day comes every year. In 2017, it falls on Tuesday, April 18 (Wednesday, April 19 for residents of Maine and Massachusetts). If just the mention of taxes makes you nervous, or even stressed, you're not alone. Since 2007, the <a href="http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/index.aspx?tab=2" target="_blank">American Psychological Association</a> (APA) has been tracking the <a href="http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/index.aspx?tab=2" target="_blank">top causes of stress</a> for Americans and has found that money, including tax preparation, is consistently at the very top of the APA's list.</p> <p>While it may feel tempting to relieve this stress by paying somebody else to file your return, or buying expensive tax prep software, there is a long list of options to have your taxes prepared for free. Let's review what organizations offer free tax preparation services and what you can do to make the whole task&hellip; less taxing.</p> <h2>1. Free File Software From the IRS</h2> <p>Individuals who earned less than $64,000 in 2016 &mdash; 70% of Americans, according to the IRS &mdash; can file their federal taxes for free with <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free" target="_blank">Free File Software</a> from the IRS, a partnership of the IRS with eight software providers, including TaxSlayer, H&amp;R Block, and ezTaxReturn.com.</p> <p>In addition to free federal tax filing, most Free File Software partners offer free state tax filing for residents of states with income tax requirements. Some providers may charge a fee for filing state tax returns.</p> <h2>2. IRS Tax Volunteers</h2> <p>Looking to help the community by preparing taxes free of charge, many Americans receive training by the IRS and then volunteer at approved locations in their communities. IRS-certified tax volunteers participate in two main programs.</p> <h3>Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)</h3> <p>Individuals who make $54,000 or less, have disabilities, or have limited English proficiency have access to free basic income tax return preparation with IRS-certified volunteers through VITA. Qualifying taxpayers have their returns filed electronically.</p> <h3>Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)</h3> <p>IRS-certified volunteers for the TCE program focus on taxpayers who are 60 years of age and older, and specialize in questions about pensions and retirement unique to seniors.</p> <p>Located at neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations throughout the country, VITA and TCE sites can be found online through the <a href="https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/" target="_blank">VITA/TCE Locator Tool</a> or by calling 1-800-906-9887. Since many TCE sites are operated by the AARP's Foundation Tax Aide program between January and April, you can also use the <a href="https://secure.aarp.org/applications/VMISLocator/searchTaxAideLocations.action" target="_blank">AARP Site Locator Tool </a>or call 1-888-227-7669.</p> <h2>3. Free Tax Services at Universities and Colleges</h2> <p>Around the country, many student-run service organizations offer free tax assistance for low- to moderate-income individuals. Generally, these organizations offer free e-file for federal and state tax returns under the supervision of the IRS and CPA certified accounting faculty. Here are some examples:</p> <ul> <li>VITA site from the Accounting Department at <a href="http://accounting.dixie.edu/vita-free-tax-prep/" target="_blank">Dixie State University</a> in Utah;</li> <li>VITA site from <a href="https://www.york.cuny.edu/news/volunteer-income-tax-assistance-vita-program" target="_blank">York College</a> in New York;</li> <li>VITA site from <a href="https://www.stmarytx.edu/outreach/vita/" target="_blank">St. Mary's University</a> in Texas;</li> <li>VITA site from the <a href="http://www.uwest.edu/vita/" target="_blank">University of the West</a> in California;</li> <li>VITA site from the <a href="https://lsbe.d.umn.edu/about/academic-departments/accounting/vita" target="_blank">University of Minnesota Duluth</a>; and</li> <li>VITA site from the <a href="https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/jsp/direction.jsp?id=11406&amp;lng=-82.360613&amp;lat=29.650415" target="_blank">Levin College of Law at the University of Florida</a>.</li> </ul> <p>The majority of student-run organizations offering free tax assistance are also IRS-certified VITA sites. Keep in mind that free tax preparation programs at universities and colleges can only provide tax preparation to individuals making $54,000 or less. Student volunteers will most likely turn away small business owners and self-employed individuals because volunteers are limited to returns with certain types of income, including Wages and Salaries (Form W-2), Interest Income (Form 1099-INT), Dividends Received (Form 1099-DIV), Unemployment Compensation (Form 1099-G), IRA Distributions (Form 1099-R), Pension Income (Form 1099-R, Form RRB-1099), and Social Security Benefits (Form SSA-1099).</p> <p>Student-run tax prep organizations can generally help nonresidents on a student visa (F, J, M, or Q), or a teacher or trainee visa (J or Q), but may turn away those with dual citizenship because these types of individuals require much more complex tax prep.</p> <h2>4. Free Offers From Tax Preparation Companies</h2> <p>Commercial tax preparers and software providers also offer free software access to taxpayers filing certain types of returns. Here are two samples from well-known companies:</p> <ul> <li>H&amp;R Block: <a href="https://www.hrblock.com/online-tax-filing/free-online-tax-filing/" target="_blank">Free tax prep</a> for forms 1040EZ, 1040, 1040 with Schedule A, and some <a href="https://www.hrblock.com/pdf/HRB-Online-State-Forms.pdf" target="_blank">state tax forms</a>.</li> <li>TurboTax Federal Free Edition: <a href="https://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/online/free-edition.jsp" target="_blank">Free prep</a> of forms 1040EZ and 1040A and some state tax forms.</li> </ul> <p>Since no humans are involved when using free tax prep software, you're responsible for figuring out the answer to your questions and responding to audits from the IRS. Also, getting help from a company rep over the phone or via online chat may cost you additional fees.</p> <p>There are many offers available from online and brick-and-mortar providers. Since most of these free tax prep offers involve e-filing, it's a best practice to verify that they're authorized e-file providers by the IRS. Screen offers near you using the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/authorized-irs-e-file-providers-for-individuals" target="_blank">IRS e-file Provider Locator</a>.</p> <h2>5. Free Tax Help From State Governments and Non-Profits</h2> <p>In an effort to help individuals and families with low-to-moderate income levels, many state governments provide free income tax preparation and electronic preparation through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Here are some examples:</p> <ul> <li>The Illinois Department of Human Services offers <a href="http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=64531" target="_blank">free tax help</a> to individuals and families making up to $30,000 and $55,000 respectively per year.</li> <li>The Honolulu Community Action Program is offering <a href="http://www.hcapweb.org/income-tax-services/" target="_blank">free tax preparation to Hawaii residents</a> with $55,000 and under in annual income and with a relatively simple return.</li> </ul> <p>Contact your state government for a list of public and private organizations offering free tax preparation services.</p> <h2>Getting Ready for Free Tax Preparation</h2> <p>As you can imagine, any organization offering free tax preparation gets an avalanche of requests from taxpayers. Let's review some strategies to minimize the chances of being turned away or having to spend more time than necessary.</p> <h3>1. Know the Limitations of the Volunteers or Software</h3> <p>Free help is generally limited to more basic returns. For instance, if you're a small-business owner with questions on your Schedule C about how to take a tax deduction for your commercial refrigerator purchase, you're better off hiring a certified tax professional who can handle such complex tax scenarios. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-you-should-splurge-and-hire-a-pro?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Times You Should Splurge and Hire a Pro</a>)</p> <p>Verify that you're eligible for free tax prep under the guidelines of the organization that you're trying to visit. If you have a tax form that you've never seen before, check with the organization whether or not the volunteers can handle it. Many of the organizations on this list post on their websites the forms that they can process.</p> <h3>2. Schedule an Appointment (If Applicable)</h3> <p>Many organizations offering in-person tax consultation and preparation require you to book an appointment in advance. Whenever this is possible, book one so you can have a guaranteed time slot.</p> <h3>3. Show Up Early and Don't Procrastinate</h3> <p>If you can't make an appointment, do your best to show up early. If an organization has a schedule of 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., you'll probably have a better chance of being helped by showing up at 3 p.m. than at 7:20 p.m. Since most of the tax prep options on this list are only open between January and April, try to visit way before Tax Day when volunteers are less likely to be busy.</p> <h3>4. Prepare for Appointment</h3> <p>Make sure you have all the documents you'll need listed below before you attend your appointment. If you do not have all necessary documents, you may be asked to make another appointment, if available.</p> <p>Bring:</p> <ul> <li>At least one form of government-issued ID;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your Social Security card to verify your Social Security Number, as well as the Social Security cards for any children you're claiming as dependents;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>All W-2 forms;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>All eligible 1099 forms, such as 1099-MISC, 1099-INT, SSA-1099, and 1099-DIV;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Affordable Care Act Documents, such as 1095-A, 1095-B, and 1095-C;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Form 1098, if you own real estate;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, if you're a college student;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A copy of your last year's return (not always mandatory, but it helps volunteers a lot);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Documentation proving marriage status when filing jointly (check for more potential requirements because a spouse may or not need to be present, depending on your unique tax situation);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A voided check showing the routing and account numbers for the account that you want to use for direct deposit of your refund, if applicable;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Receipts and supporting documents of any deductions that you plan to take; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Any additional forms that apply to your tax situation.</li> </ul> <p>This is a general list, but you may need additional documents or forms. Contact the tax preparation organization in advance or read the fine print of the software that you're planning to use to cross your T's and dot your I's. Best of luck in this tax season, you got this!</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!&nbsp;</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthe-easy-way-to-do-your-taxes-without-paying-someone-else&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThe%20Easy%20Way%20to%20Do%20Your%20Taxes%20(Without%20Paying%20Someone%20Else).jpg&amp;description=The%20Easy%20Way%20to%20Do%20Your%20Taxes%20(Without%20Paying%20Someone%20Else)" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/The%20Easy%20Way%20to%20Do%20Your%20Taxes%20%28Without%20Paying%20Someone%20Else%29.jpg" alt="The Easy Way to Do Your Taxes (Without Paying Someone Else)" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-easy-way-to-do-your-taxes-without-paying-someone-else">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-have-a-tax-lien-on-your-house">What to Do If You Have a Tax Lien On Your House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-can-you-do-if-you-cannot-afford-to-pay-your-taxes">What can you do if you cannot afford to pay your taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-10-tax-urban-legends-myths-and-rumors">Top 10 Tax Urban Legends, Myths and Rumors.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-the-tax-season-rush-with-these-early-prep-steps">Avoid the Tax Season Rush With These Early Prep Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-if-you-dont-pay-your-taxes">Here&#039;s What Happens If You Don&#039;t Pay Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes aarp federal returns free government H&R Block IRS software state returns tax preparation tce turbo tax vita volunteers Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:00:20 +0000 Damian Davila 1896808 at http://www.wisebread.com The 7 Most Common Tax Questions for Beginners, Answered http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-182251590.jpg" alt="Man learning answers to common tax questions" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's tax season: That joyous time when you look back on what you earned last year and figure out whether you gave enough of it to Uncle Sam. Think of it as Christmas for the government.</p> <p>If you're new to filing a tax return, the process can seem daunting. The forms have cryptic names. Making a mistake can have serious consequences, whether it's inadvertently paying too much, or paying too little and getting audited. A quick lesson in the basics of filing a tax return might help.</p> <p>Before we begin, a reminder: I'm not an accountant. If you have a question about your individual tax situation that you can't answer by consulting the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/" target="_blank">Internal Revenue Service</a>, ask a professional. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</a>)</p> <h2>1. Do I Have to File a Tax Return?</h2> <p>You may be surprised to learn that not all adults are required to fill out a federal tax form every year. According to the Internal Revenue Service, you could be off the hook if you earned less than $10,000, or if certain <a href="https://www.irs.com/articles/who-has-file-federal-income-tax-return" target="_blank">other criteria</a> were met. However, you may still want to file, because you could qualify for a tax credit that puts money back in your pocket. (More on that below.)</p> <h2>2. Do I Need to Hire an Accountant to File?</h2> <p>No. If your tax situation is simple &mdash; for instance, if all your income comes from your full-time job and your earnings are modest &mdash; your filing process should be straightforward. Of course, hiring an accountant could save you time. The IRS estimates that the &quot;short form,&quot; 1040A, takes about <a href="http://www.dontmesswithtaxes.com/2012/03/22-hours-needed-to-complete-form-1040.html" target="_blank">10 hours to file</a>.</p> <p>If you want to do your own taxes but are worried you'll make a mistake, using a tax prep website can be a good compromise. TurboTax, H&amp;R Block, and TaxAct all offer free versions for simple returns. If your taxes are a bit more complicated &mdash; for instance, if you want to search for possible deductions &mdash; you can get both state and federal taxes filed through these sites for between $40 and $100. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-file-your-taxes-for-free-in-2015?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Ways to File Your Taxes for Free</a>)</p> <h2>3. Where Do I Find Tax Forms?</h2> <p>If you file online, you don't need to locate forms &mdash; any of the websites mentioned above will ask you questions and then submit your return online. But if you want to take pencil to paper, you can print out tax forms from the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/" target="_blank">IRS website</a> or pick them up, along with instruction booklets, at a public library or post office.</p> <h2>4. What Money Do I Have to Pay Taxes On?</h2> <p>You have to pay taxes on almost any money you make, whether it's from working, selling something, or even <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-bizarre-things-you-can-be-taxed-on?ref=internal" target="_blank">finding buried treasure</a>. That said, there are plenty of exceptions, such as <a href="https://www.efile.com/tax/estate-gift-tax/" target="_blank">most gifts</a>, <a href="http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/is-your-personal-injury-settlement-taxable.html" target="_blank">compensation for injuries</a>, proceeds from <a href="https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Home-Ownership/Tax-Aspects-of-Home-Ownership--Selling-a-Home/INF12035.html" target="_blank">selling your home</a> (within limits), and investment gains inside certain retirement accounts (you'll pay taxes on the gains inside your IRA eventually, but not now).</p> <p>Getting paid in cash, making money doing something illegal, or working without documentation do not exempt you from paying taxes on the money you make.</p> <h2>5. Will I Get a Refund?</h2> <p>Most employers take money out of your check week after week, all year. Because no one knows exactly how much you're going to owe the IRS until the year ends, this withholding is merely an estimate. Once you work out your taxes, it may happen that the money taken out of your check every week turned out to be too much. If that happens, the IRS will refund the difference.</p> <p>On the other hand, if it turns out that the money withheld was less than your tax liability, you will have to send the IRS a check.</p> <p>Just because you got a refund last year doesn't mean you'll get one this year. Things change; for instance, if you made more money this year, you might have moved to a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tax-brackets-explained?ref=internal" target="_blank">higher tax bracket</a>, causing you to owe more.</p> <p>Moreover, getting a huge tax refund isn't necessarily a great thing. While receiving a fat check is always fun, what this really means is that you gave the government an interest-free loan all year. If you get a large refund this year, you should look into having the amount taken out of each paycheck reduced so that it doesn't happen again next year.</p> <h2>6. What's the Difference Between a Deduction, an Exemption, and a Credit?</h2> <p>All three are ways the tax code allows you to reduce the tax you owe.</p> <p>For the average taxpayer, an exemption and a deduction are practically the same thing: They both reduce the amount of your income that counts toward your taxable total. The most well-known exemption is for your children: For 2016, everyone gets to subtract $4,050 from their income for a dependent child living in the home.</p> <p>We get tax deductions for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-to-deduct-charitable-donations-on-your-taxes?ref=internal" target="_blank">charitable donations</a> we make, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-if-the-mortgage-interest-deduction-went-away?ref=internal" target="_blank">mortgage interest</a>, and for some work-related expenses, among many other things. For example, if you earned $50,000 this year, donated $2,000, and spent $1,000 looking for work, your taxable income would be $47,000 (minus any other exemptions and deductions you have).</p> <p>Tax credits are subtracted directly from your tax bill, not your income. For instance, if your tax bill for the year is $5,000, but you can claim a $4,000 tax credit, you only have to pay $1,000.</p> <p>One of the most important tax credits to know about is the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/individuals/earned-income-tax-credit/eitc-income-limits-maximum-credit-amounts" target="_blank">earned income tax credit</a>, a benefit for working people with low-to-moderate income. Qualifying families can receive between $3,373 and $6,269, depending on their number of qualifying children (or $506 for no qualifying children). The best part is, if your credit is more than you owe on taxes, you'll get the balance back as a &quot;refund.&quot;</p> <p>For instance, say you and your spouse owed $5,000 in taxes in 2016, but you qualified for the maximum credit of $6,269. The IRS would send you a refund check for $1,269 &mdash; plus any taxes that had been withheld from your paychecks. This is why it may be a very good idea to file a tax return even if you didn't earn enough for it to be required.</p> <h2>7. What If I File Late?</h2> <p>If you're not going to be able to submit your tax return and any tax owed by the deadline (in 2017, it's April 18), you should at least <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/filed-an-extension-heres-what-you-need-to-know?ref=internal" target="_blank">file for an extension</a> by that date. If you were expecting a refund, being late on submitting your forms isn't a big deal. But if you end up owing a payment, the IRS will charge late fees every month &mdash; so don't delay.</p> <p>Of course, it's never too late to pay money you owe to the IRS. If you failed to file or to pay what you owed in past years, you can file a &quot;back tax return&quot; now. If less than three years have gone by, you can even <a href="https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/filing-past-due-tax-returns" target="_blank">claim refunds for past years</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-lessons-from-tax-day-to-remember-for-next-year">7 Lessons From Tax Day to Remember for Next Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-money-sooner-by-starting-2016-tax-prep-now">Get Your Money Sooner by Starting 2016 Tax Prep Now</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-audited-how-your-side-gig-needs-to-handle-taxes">Don&#039;t Get Audited! How Your Side Gig Needs to Handle Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016">5 Important Tax Changes for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes beginners deductions earned income tax credit exemptions filing income IRS questions refunds tax returns withholdings Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:00:18 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1890385 at http://www.wisebread.com