filing taxes http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7879/all en-US Turn Last Year's Taxes Into This Year's Financial Spring Cleaning http://www.wisebread.com/turn-last-years-taxes-into-this-years-financial-spring-cleaning <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/turn-last-years-taxes-into-this-years-financial-spring-cleaning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/finances-466009147.jpg" alt="finances" title="finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's tax time again, the time of year when Americans sift through the pile of papers on or near (and sometimes in) their filing cabinets in search of those elusive tax documents. Where'd the W-2s go? What happened to the 1099 from the bank?</p> <p>It's also the time of year we promise to do a better job sorting and filing for next year's taxes. Make this year the year you keep that promise. Or take it a step further and make tax time an opportunity to look ahead, financially speaking, rather than only look back at last year. After all, you probably have a clearer picture of your current financial situation right after doing your taxes than at any other time.</p> <p>Let's start with the tax documents, and then let's look at what else we can tidy up.</p> <h2>Wrangle Your Tax Documents</h2> <p>All that stuff you spent the day tracking down? Keep it in one place for next year. Include a <a href="http://www.irs.com/articles/tax-form-checklist">checklist</a> so you can keep track of documents as you receive them &mdash; or to know what to go looking for if you haven't. Also include on your checklist some personal info: Names, Dates of Birth, Social Security numbers for you, your spouse or partner, and every dependent you claim. These details will be handy for all sorts of other purposes, too.</p> <h3>Make a Simple Two Folder System for the Key Documents</h3> <p>Make one folder for all of your income documents such as W-2s from employers, 1099s for contract work, for interest income, gambling winnings, income from investment sales, rental income, whatever. Refer to your checklist!</p> <p>Make a second folder for your income adjustments and credits. Mortgage interest is the big one here, but there are lots &mdash; IRA contributions, charitable contributions, education expenses. As you receive receipts and statements for these, just drop them in your folder. Next March or April you'll be ready to go, and probably feeling proud of your sensible filing.</p> <h3>Consider Digital Files</h3> <p>Lots of financial institutions give us the option to receive digital copies of our statements and tax documents &mdash; various 1099s for instance, or the 1098 for interest paid on student loan debt. It's cheaper for them, and it cuts down on paper waste. As you receive these, save them in specific folders on your computer (say, &quot;Income&quot; and &quot;Credits&quot;). They'll be waiting for you at tax time next year.</p> <p>Every year when I'm doing my taxes I have to run out to the garage to take a look at annual car registration fees paid for each of our two cars. This year I've taken snapshots of the renewal documents with my smartphone and uploaded them to Evernote. (I could have just added them to my &quot;Income Adjustments&quot; folder, too.) Next year I won't have to run out to the car. I've done the same with my property tax bills. You can do this for any paper receipts you receive and would like to keep for tax purposes.</p> <p><strong>Note:</strong> Many institutions will charge a fee to access older statements. Check with your bank or lender. If you need to keep copies of these records for your taxes or for retention, be sure to download them and store them safely (whether digitally or as print outs) &mdash; and don't forget to back them up.</p> <h3>Reconsider Your Withholding</h3> <p>Most personal finance gurus advise against too much income withholding. Despite that, on average, <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/10/pf/taxes/tax_refund/">Americans withhold an extra $3,000</a> in income tax every year &mdash; $250 a month. While it's nice to get a $3000 check every spring, it's not the smartest use of <em>your</em> money. It's not even the smartest way to get a $3000 &quot;bonus&quot; every year.</p> <p>With the details fresh in your mind after finishing your taxes, visit the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/IRS-Withholding-Calculator">IRS' Withholding Calculator </a>and figure out how much you should be sending the government out of every paycheck to bring that refund closer to $500. When you ask HR to make the change, also ask that they redirect the same amount into a savings account. You won't notice much, if any, change on your paystub, but you will have a growing savings account &mdash; one that's earning interest.</p> <h2>Create a Basic File System</h2> <p>I've outlined a simple two-folder file system for your taxes above. If you don't already have a file system for the rest of your Important Documents, consider setting one up.</p> <p>In addition to my two tax folders, I keep several folders for my freelance work as a writer and editor (basically income and expense), and for the household I keep folders for:</p> <ul> <li>insurance policies (life, homeowner's, auto, earthquake, flood [beach living!])<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>home maintenance receipts for repairs and supplies, as well as for major appliances<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>bills paid<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>bank and credit card statements (only recently went paperless)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>mortgage documents<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>passports and Other Important Stuff like SS cards, birth certificates, diplomas, etc.</li> </ul> <h2>Start Budgeting</h2> <p>You have all the details on your income. And some of the details on your spending. Why not expend a little more effort <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-a-better-budget-in-5-minutes-flat">to create a budget</a>? Most banks now offer robust online tools for tracking spending on credit cards and to monitor income and spending made through checking, and savings accounts. That's a good start. You can take it a step further by using a service such as <a href="https://www.manilla.com/">Manilla</a> to consolidate and monitor all your bills and help you track your spending.</p> <h2>Evaluate Your Retirement Savings</h2> <p>Can you save more? Can you make a contribution now, before you file, and repay your savings or checking account with your refund? You'll get a break on your taxes, and you will have done something nice for your future self.</p> <p>Now is also a good time to rebalance your funding allocation between riskier stocks and safer bonds. Depending on the performance of your portfolio over the last year, gains (or losses) have changed the balance of your investment, most likely toward riskier stocks, which may or may not be in alignment with your investment goals and risk tolerance.</p> <h2>Evaluate Your Debt</h2> <p>If you're like most Americans, you're carrying at least a little credit card debt. Maybe a lot. Do you know how much interest you're paying? Do you have a plan for paying that balance off?</p> <p>Get a handle on those details and start figuring out how to get away from that debt. A good first step is to commit some of your refund to those balances.</p> <h2>Check Your Credit Report</h2> <p>Speaking of credit. You're entitled to one free look at your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every year. Don't visit one of those services that advertise on TV with the catchy jingles (they'll try to sell you some other services you may not need). Just go to the only <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action">annual credit report website</a> authorized by <a href="http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports">federal government</a> to provide consumers with reports from the leading bureaus. Find anything amiss? Learn how to correct <a href="http://www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/313/what-should-i-look-for-in-my-credit-report-what-are-a-few-of-the-common-credit-report-errors.html">credit reporting errors</a>.</p> <p>For more tips on<em> </em>Financial Spring Cleaning, join me and our Senior Editor, Meg Favreau, as well as Kristen Chase of Cool Mom Picks and Marc Karasu of Manilla on <strong>Wednesday, March 26 at 3:30pm ET</strong> for a <a href="https://plus.google.com/events/c3f26hh8k3dsmi44tg54f1ns8lg">Google+ Hangout</a>. The Hangout will answer questions about how to de-clutter and organize your financial life this spring. Whether you&rsquo;re trying to get your financial paperwork in order to prepare your taxes, or want to do some financial spring cleaning in order to simplify your life, the conversation will provide participants with helpful tips, tricks and digital tools to be more productive, get control of your money, and start spring on a fresh financial note.</p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em><a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289|10&amp;k3=logo&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.citi.com%2Fmobile"><img src="http://vc.cdn.fm/video_conversationalist/system/published/opportunity/8758310/Citi_Logo_125x125.jpg" alt="" /></a></em></p> <p><em>This post is brought to you by Citi. Learn more about the tools Citi offers to help simplify your financial life at <a rel="nofollow" href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289%7C10&amp;k3=disclaimer&amp;k4=&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fatwww.citi.com%2Fmobile">www.citi.com/mobile</a>.&nbsp;</em></p> <p><em>This content is not provided or commissioned by Citi. Opinions expressed here are author&rsquo;s alone, not those of Citi, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Citi.</em></p> <p><img width="0" height="0" src="http://r1.fmpub.net/?k1=cmx-metric&amp;k2=289|10&amp;k3=&amp;k4=&amp;img=true" alt="" /><img width="0" height="0" src="http://ap.lijit.com/www/delivery/retarget.php?p=FMC&amp;add_c87583=1&amp;add_s289=1&amp;add_n101=1" alt="" /><img width="0" height="0" src="http://pixel.mathtag.com/event/img?mt_id=336069&amp;mt_adid=115091&amp;v2=s289&amp;v3=n101&amp;s1=c87583" alt="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lars-peterson">Lars Peterson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/turn-last-years-taxes-into-this-years-financial-spring-cleaning">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/what-if-i-skip-my-taxes-this-year">What If I Skip My Taxes This 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/five-easy-steps-to-keeping-track-of-expenses-for-the-self-employed">Five Easy Steps to Keeping Track of Expenses for the Self-Employed</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/surprise-5-reasons-you-might-not-get-your-tax-refund">Surprise! 5 Reasons You Might Not Get Your Tax Refund</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/how-to-survive-a-tax-audit">How to Survive 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/irs-delays-start-of-tax-filing-for-some-taxpayers-in-2011">IRS Delays Start of Tax Filing for Some Taxpayers in 2011</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes federal taxes files filing taxes financial planning Tue, 18 Mar 2014 10:24:11 +0000 Lars Peterson 1131591 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask the Readers: Have You Ever Been Audited by the IRS? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-have-you-ever-been-audited-by-the-irs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-have-you-ever-been-audited-by-the-irs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/stress-finances-small.jpg" alt="finances" title="finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's Note: Congratulations to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-have-you-ever-been-audited-by-the-irs#comment-741830">Jason</a>, Christie, and Allison for winning this week's contest!</em></p> <p>Tax season opened this year on January 31st, and like every year before it, we're all <em>very</em> careful about getting our tax returns right. Right?</p> <p><strong>Have you ever been audited by the IRS?</strong> What did you have to do to set things straight? If you've never received the dreaded audit notice, do you take any extra steps just in case you <em>are</em> audited?</p> <p>Tell us whether you have ever been audited by the IRS and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</p> <h2>Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards</h2> <p>We're doing three giveaways &mdash; here's how you can win!</p> <h3>Mandatory Entry:</h3> <ul> <li>Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</li> </ul> <h3>For extra entries:</h3> <ul> <li>You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:</li> </ul> <p><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79857d78/" class="rafl" id="rc-79857d78">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a></p> <script src="//d12vno17mo87cx.cloudfront.net/embed/rafl/cptr.js"></script></p> <p><strong>If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</strong></p> <h4>Giveaway Rules:</h4> <ul> <li>Contest ends Monday, February 24th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after February 24th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.</li> <li>You can enter all three drawings &mdash; once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.</li> <li>This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.</li> <li>You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Good Luck!</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tell us whether you have ever been audited by the IRS and we&#039;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-have-you-ever-been-audited-by-the-irs">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/ask-the-readers-how-did-you-spend-your-first-paycheck">Ask the Readers: How Did You Spend Your First Paycheck?</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/ask-the-readers-200-giveaway-what-is-your-top-question-about-personal-finance">Ask the Readers $200 Giveaway: What is Your Top Question About Personal Finance?</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/ask-the-readers-share-your-favorite-frugal-holiday-tradition">Ask the Readers: Share Your Favorite Frugal Holiday Tradition</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/ask-the-readers-what-is-your-new-years-resolution">Ask the Readers: What Is Your New Year&#039;s Resolution?</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/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-watch-your-movies">Ask the Readers: How Do You Watch Your Movies?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Giveaways Ask the Readers filing taxes tax audits Tue, 18 Feb 2014 11:37:00 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1125942 at http://www.wisebread.com What If I Skip My Taxes This Year? http://www.wisebread.com/what-if-i-skip-my-taxes-this-year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-if-i-skip-my-taxes-this-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5520716864_443fb3acf7_z.jpg" alt="tax form crane" title="tax form crane" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For many people, filing and paying their taxes can be a major source of anxiety every spring. On top of all the other things you're already juggling in your daily life, you've got those pesky tax stubs, the federal and state returns, and standing in line at the post office. And while many taxpayers are expecting a nice refund, there are plenty of folks out there who owe money to the IRS this year.</p> <p>So what if you just don't do it? What really happens to the people who ignore the whole thing and say, the heck with all of this, I'm skipping tax season?</p> <p>Well, here's the surprising news: not much. At least, not much happens to you at the beginning, and your chances of getting nabbed by the IRS &mdash; and having to pay up &mdash; differ significantly depending on the kind of income you've earned over the year. (See also: <a title="15 Surprising Facts About Income Tax" href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-surprising-facts-about-income-tax">15 Surprising Facts About Income Tax</a>)</p> <h3>Which Is Worse &mdash; Filing Late or Paying Late?</h3> <p>Let's back up a second. The law requires taxpayers to both file a tax return and pay any taxes due. And there are separate penalties associated with each of your legal obligations every year.</p> <p>But, contrary to what a lot of people think, the &quot;failure to file&quot; penalty is actually <em>worse</em> than the &quot;failure to pay&quot; penalty. And yes, the Code is way harsh and adds interest to the penalties as well as to the principal. Also, keep in mind &mdash; you're slapped with both the failure to file <em>and</em> the failure to pay penalties if you blow off doing both of them.</p> <p>That's why, if you are facing a <a title="Don't Have Enough To Pay Your Taxes?" href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-have-enough-to-pay-your-taxes">bill that you can't afford</a>, tax professionals always tell their clients to at least <em>file</em> on time so they can avoid all of the late filing penalties and interest. And lawyers will advise you to pay any part of your liability if you possibly can, since the IRS accepts partial payments &mdash; and something is always better than nothing when it comes to your taxes.</p> <h3>Who Is Most Likely to Be Caught?</h3> <p>So who does the IRS catch up with the most? It's simple. People who've had a third-party report earnings to the IRS for that tax year.</p> <p>For example, most of our employers are required to provide information to the IRS before they pay us. Brokers generally have to report gain on stock or bond sales. Even a casino will ask you to fill out paperwork before you take home a large jackpot.</p> <p>And that's just the beginning. If you received unemployment, pension income, or pulled money from your IRA in 2011, you've left a paper trail that will lead the IRS straight to you.</p> <p>The people who have the best chance of flying under the radar for the longest amount of time? Freelancers and those who are self-employed or earn most of their income from consulting or odd jobs, because the IRS has the hardest time tracking unreported money. At the end of the day, someone who works for herself is usually the only one who reports it, and therefore, the odds of getting busted are much lower than a full-time employee at a more traditional company.</p> <p>But while it may take years for the IRS to hunt you down, and you may get lulled into a sense of complacency thinking the IRS has forgotten about this tax year, you're better off paying the piper sooner rather than later.</p> <h3>What Is the Best Way to Deal With IRS Problems?</h3> <p>In all the cases I've seen, the government has been more willing to work out a compromise or a payment plan with an individual when the person came forward on their own.</p> <p>Sure, some Americans will get away with not paying the government a dime this year. But if and when they do come down on you, the IRS can be like a three-ton gorilla. I've watched people's wages garnished, their assets seized, and their lives turned upside down until their tax debt is paid in full.</p> <p>So if you find yourself thinking, &quot;Hey, maybe I'll forget about my taxes this year,&quot; make sure you're ready to gamble on one of the most powerful agencies in the country. And you can sleep at night knowing all those penalties and interest are out there, accruing on your account.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><em>Jacoba Urist is a tax and estate attorney from New York. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and is writing a book &quot;The Happiest Parent&quot; about preparing the best possible future for every child. Follow her on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/TheHappiestPare">@TheHappiestPare</a>.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jacoba-urist">Jacoba Urist</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-if-i-skip-my-taxes-this-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-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/surprise-5-reasons-you-might-not-get-your-tax-refund">Surprise! 5 Reasons You Might Not Get Your Tax Refund</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/five-easy-steps-to-keeping-track-of-expenses-for-the-self-employed">Five Easy Steps to Keeping Track of Expenses for the Self-Employed</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-survive-a-tax-audit">How to Survive a Tax Audit</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/turn-last-years-taxes-into-this-years-financial-spring-cleaning">Turn Last Year&#039;s Taxes Into This Year&#039;s Financial Spring Cleaning</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/irs-delays-start-of-tax-filing-for-some-taxpayers-in-2011">IRS Delays Start of Tax Filing for Some Taxpayers in 2011</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes filing taxes tax law tax penalty Thu, 05 Apr 2012 10:36:07 +0000 Jacoba Urist 915138 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask the Readers: Have You Filed Your Taxes Yet? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-have-you-filed-your-taxes-yet <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-have-you-filed-your-taxes-yet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4105756012_db89e4be50_z-1_0.jpg" alt="Have You Filed Your Taxes Yet?" title="Have You Filed Your Taxes Yet?" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's Note: Congratulations to </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-have-you-filed-your-taxes-yet#comment-528974"><em>Guest</em></a><em>, </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-have-you-filed-your-taxes-yet#comment-529058"><em>Jacqueline</em></a><em>, and </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-have-you-filed-your-taxes-yet#comment-528501"><em>renee</em></a><em> for winning this week's contest!</em></p> <p>Tax season is upon us again! The joys of getting confused by tax code and sending your money off to the IRS tends to make this time of year not so fun for everyone. The filing deadline this year is April 17th since April 15th is a Sunday and April 16th is Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Have you filed your taxes yet?</b><span style="font-weight:normal">&nbsp;Did you (or will you) use a tax professional to do your taxes? If you get a refund, how will you spend it?</span></p> <p>Tell us if you've filed your taxes and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</p> <h2>Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards</h2> <p>We're doing three giveaways &mdash; one for random comments, one for random Facebook &quot;Likes&quot;, and another one for random tweets.</p> <h3>Mandatory Entry:&nbsp;</h3> <ul> <li>Post your answer in the comments below&nbsp;</li> </ul> <h3>For extra entries (1 per action):</h3> <ul> <li>Go to our <a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wise-Bread/26830741467?ref=ts">Facebook page</a>, &quot;Like&quot; us, and leave a comment on this article telling us you did, or</li> <li><a href="http://www.twitter.com/">Tweet</a> your answer. You have to be a follower of our <a href="http://twitter.com/wisebread">@wisebread account</a>. Include both &quot;@wisebread&quot; and &quot;#WBAsk&quot; in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.</li> </ul> <p><strong>If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</strong></p> <h4>Giveaway Rules:</h4> <ul> <li>Contest ends Monday, March 19th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after March 19th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.</li> <li>You can enter all three drawings &mdash; once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.</li> <li>This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.</li> <li>You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Good Luck!</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tell us if you&#039;ve filed your taxes and we&#039;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-have-you-filed-your-taxes-yet">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/turbotax-new-features-and-a-chance-to-win-a-copy">TurboTax: New features, and a chance to win a copy</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/ask-the-readers-do-you-look-forward-to-tax-time-your-chance-to-win-20">Ask the Readers: Do You Look Forward to Tax Time? (Your Chance to win $20!)</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/ask-the-readers-how-did-you-spend-your-first-paycheck">Ask the Readers: How Did You Spend Your First Paycheck?</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/ask-the-readers-200-giveaway-what-is-your-top-question-about-personal-finance">Ask the Readers $200 Giveaway: What is Your Top Question About Personal Finance?</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/ask-the-readers-share-your-favorite-frugal-holiday-tradition">Ask the Readers: Share Your Favorite Frugal Holiday Tradition</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Giveaways Ask the Readers filing taxes taxes Tue, 13 Mar 2012 10:36:20 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 909865 at http://www.wisebread.com Surprise! 5 Reasons You Might Not Get Your Tax Refund http://www.wisebread.com/surprise-5-reasons-you-might-not-get-your-tax-refund <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/surprise-5-reasons-you-might-not-get-your-tax-refund" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2544106090_0e76dfbda1_z.jpg" alt="man looking into mailbox" title="man looking into mailbox" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The one big upside to filing your tax return that everybody can agree on is getting money back from the government. How good does it feel to see that <em>positive</em> amount on the bottom of your return? For some families their refund goes right into that college savings account, to pay off their credit card, to take that long-awaited vacation, or simply to make ends meet in these tougher economic times. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-smart-things-to-do-with-your-tax-refund">8 Smart Things to Do Wity Your Tax Refund</a>)</p> <p>But did you know, every year, there are tens of millions of dollars the IRS <em>won't</em> be refunding taxpayers &mdash; even if they might be expecting that nice chunk of change this spring?</p> <p>Before you count on the check from Uncle Sam (and work the expected boost into your household budget), make sure you don't fall into one of these categories...or the IRS might be holding onto your refund or giving it to someone else after all.</p> <h3>1. There are errors on your return</h3> <p>Every spring, people make the same, relatively straightforward mistakes on their tax returns that prevent the IRS from processing their refund on time. Common errors include: putting down the wrong filing status, an incorrect social security number, or missing information that's required for certain credits and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-tax-deductions-you-can-never-take">deductions</a>.</p> <p>Advice for all filers &mdash; double and triple check your return before you mail or submit it, paying particular attention to anywhere you have to fill in names, numbers or addresses. Try to give yourself as much time as possible. Doing your return at 2 a.m. the day it's due doesn't leave you much room to catch any mistakes.</p> <p>If you're preparing your own return, without the help of a tax professional, be careful that you've done your math correctly and you actually <em>are</em> due money back. Too often, I see people who run out and spend a phantom refund, only to have the rug ripped out from under them when they find out their calculations were off, and they really <em>shouldn't</em> be getting anything from the government this year.</p> <p>Better safe than sorry. Don't spend your tax refund until you can either physically hold the check in your hand or see the amount in your bank account.</p> <h3>2. You owe back taxes</h3> <p>Nobody likes to hear this one, but the IRS is like the friend who holds a grudge for a long time and never lets go. If you owe federal or state taxes from previous years, the government can just yank the amount you're expecting back this year and apply it as an &quot;overpayment&quot; towards the taxes you haven't paid yet. And it's bye-bye refunds until the entire debt is gone.</p> <h3>3. You haven't paid child support</h3> <p>While it might take a little while for the right federal and state agencies to catch up with the problem, the government can place a levy on your tax refund to pay any outstanding child support you owe &mdash; even after your kid is 18 (and no additional support is legally due).</p> <h3>4. You defaulted on your student loans</h3> <p>Recent data has shown that people are defaulting on their <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/escape-student-loan-debt-slowly">student loans</a> in record numbers. And with the job market the way it is, it's no surprise more and more students are having trouble keeping up with their payments after school.</p> <p>Be aware &mdash; the IRS can (and does) turn your refund over to the Department of Education to pay down loans you've defaulted on. The agencies do &quot;talk&quot; to one another, and while it may not happen right away, chances are they will catch up with you.</p> <h3>5. They just can't find you</h3> <p>By the same token, hard as it may be to believe in the world of Facebook, Google Maps, and Twitter, the IRS is holding onto $153 million dollars right now in refunds it just can't seem to deliver.</p> <p>Why? Because they have an incorrect mailing address for you, and can't locate your residence to mail you a check. And currently, the IRS won't try to contact taxpayers by email or phone, so you might have no idea that they're holding on to your money in the first place.</p> <p>Best thing to do? Always choose to have your refund deposited directly into your bank account if you can (and triple check those numbers to make sure they're right!), especially if you know you're moving soon. Also, if you suspect you fall into this category, check in with the IRS on their website or call their hotline to make sure there aren't any old refunds lurking around out there that you deserve.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><em>Jacoba Urist is a tax and estate attorney from New York. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and is writing a book &quot;The Happiest Parent&quot; about preparing the best possible future for every child. Follow her on Twitter at </em><a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/TheHappiestPare"><em>@TheHappiestPare</em></a><em>.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jacoba-urist">Jacoba Urist</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surprise-5-reasons-you-might-not-get-your-tax-refund">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/five-easy-steps-to-keeping-track-of-expenses-for-the-self-employed">Five Easy Steps to Keeping Track of Expenses for the Self-Employed</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-if-i-skip-my-taxes-this-year">What If I Skip My Taxes 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/3-tax-deductions-you-can-never-take">3 Tax Deductions You Can Never Take</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/10-smart-ways-im-spending-my-tax-refund">10 Smart Ways I&#039;m Spending My Tax Refund</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/bigger-paycheck-or-bigger-tax-refund-which-should-you-pick">Bigger Paycheck or Bigger Tax Refund — Which Should You Pick?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes accounting filing taxes tax deduction tax refund tax return Thu, 16 Feb 2012 11:36:30 +0000 Jacoba Urist 898351 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Survive a Tax Audit http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-survive-a-tax-audit <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-survive-a-tax-audit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000006064047Smallc.jpg" alt="woman checking finances" title="woman checking finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Imagine walking up to your mailbox today and finding a letter from the IRS. You filed your taxes nice and early and have eagerly been awaiting your refund check. Could this be it? Nope, it's a notice of an income tax audit. Your eyes bug out. Audit?! Isn't that only for crooks?</p> <p>About 1% of all people are audited and there are some things you may have done to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-10-red-flags-that-trigger-irs-audits">trigger the audit</a>. But don't worry just yet. While scary at first, it's probably not as bad as you think and there are actions you can take do to prepare for the audit. Here is a list of ways to survive your tax audit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</a>)</p> <h3>1. Take a Deep Breath</h3> <p>Unless you've knowingly deceived the IRS, you probably won't be in big trouble. The IRS is likely looking for clarification of a specific portion of your audit and the possible scenarios probably aren't as bad as you're imagining. The mostly likely bad scenario is that you'll have to pay a little more in taxes for income that accidentally went unreported or an expense that you don't have the proper documentation for. Two thirds of audits are conducted entirely by mail, so even if you're audited, you'll likely still be able to take care of this without feeling like you're on trial.</p> <h3>2. Read the Document Carefully</h3> <p>What type of audit is this? There are <a href="http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=136857,00.html">three types of audits</a>, the simplest being a <strong>correspondence audit</strong>, which simply asks for clarification of some portion of your tax return (possibly the forms you submitted don't match up with what you employer or bank submitted). These can be solved over the phone or by mail.</p> <p>An <strong>office audit</strong> is a bit more involved, but is still usually restricted to a specific item on your return. You'll have to go in and show proof of your numbers, but in most cases, you can do the proper research beforehand.</p> <p>A <strong>field audit</strong> is conducted at the home or office and are generally only done for complicated tax filings that involve business operations. It's definitely the most invasive, but if you're not hiding anything, it can be beneficial to clear you of any wrongdoing.</p> <p>Typically, only a portion of your tax return will be examined in more detail. Finding out what they are looking for will help you determine how much work you need to do and which documentation you'll need to find.</p> <h3>3. Respond Promptly</h3> <p>If you don't respond to your audit notice within 30 days, you'll lose the opportunity to defend yourself to the IRS. Then the agent will send you a bill for the amount they think you owe, and your non-response is the equivalent of agreeing with their assessment. You can get an extension, but responding to their request is a must.</p> <h3>4. Gather Your Documents</h3> <p>If they are going to question you about your deductions, you're going to need to explain how you got to a certain number and for proof of how you got there. Saying you spent about $200 in gas plus another $500 in airfare won't cut it. Get out those receipts, print those email confirmations, and build your case around irrefutable evidence. If you can't prove it, they won't accept it and you'll be left paying taxes on an extra $700 you thought you could deduct.</p> <h3>5. Know Your Rights</h3> <p>Don't go in blindly hoping for the best. <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1.pdf">Know your rights</a>, because taking advantage of them could save you a lot of time and stress. For example, did you know you can take a sound recording of any meetings (provided you let them know in writing 10 days beforehand) and that you have a right to ask that the examination take place at a reasonable time and place that is convenient for all parties? You don't have to go running to them just to have them try and take money away from you!</p> <h3>6. Don't Be Afraid to Get Help</h3> <p>You don't have to go about this alone. If the issue isn't a simple error than you can easily fix yourself, consider hiring a tax professional with audit experience. Not only can audits cost you what the IRS feels you owe, they can also be very time consuming, so the combination sometimes means it's often better to pay someone who can give unbiased help and build a solid case for you.</p> <p>While the process certainly won't be fun, the outlook probably isn't as bad as it may seem at first. As long as you're not intentionally fudging your numbers (and possibly if you are), the penalty will likely be minimal. Follow these tips and your scary experience will be a lot less nerve-wracking!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/daniel-packer">Daniel Packer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-survive-a-tax-audit">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/10-reasons-you-should-really-fear-an-irs-audit">10 Reasons You Should Really Fear an IRS Audit</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-are-your-chances-of-getting-audited-by-the-irs-your-guess-is-probably-wrong">What are your chances of getting audited by the IRS? Your guess is probably wrong</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/ring-ring-ka-ching-lying-about-your-telephone-tax">Ring. Ring. Ka-ching! Lying About Your Telephone Tax</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/worried-about-an-audit-six-irs-red-flags">Worried About an Audit? Six IRS Red Flags</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/get-your-money-sooner-by-starting-2016-tax-prep-now">Get Your Money Sooner by Starting 2016 Tax Prep Now</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes audit filing taxes IRS Mon, 28 Mar 2011 10:00:05 +0000 Daniel Packer 511977 at http://www.wisebread.com IRS Delays Start of Tax Filing for Some Taxpayers in 2011 http://www.wisebread.com/irs-delays-start-of-tax-filing-for-some-taxpayers-in-2011 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/irs-delays-start-of-tax-filing-for-some-taxpayers-in-2011" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000007769414XSmall.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>2010 is coming to a close and soon we will be gathering our documents and filing taxes again. The <a href="http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=233449,00.html">IRS announced recently</a> that a certain group of taxpayers will have to wait until middle to late February 2011 to turn in their tax returns.</p> <p>This delay is due to the fact that the IRS had to reprogram their computer systems to comply with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-will-the-obama-tax-cut-deal-affect-you">recent tax law changes</a> passed on December 17th, 2010. This does not change the fact that the tax deadline is April 15th. However, the affected taxpayers should not expect to get proper refunds until the IRS systems are in sync with the latest laws.</p> <p>The biggest group of taxpayers that should wait to file are those who itemize their deductions such as state and local taxes, mortgage interest, and charitable contributions. Additionally, this affects those who are taking the $4000 deduction for college tuition and fees and also teachers who are taking a $250 deduction for out of pocket classroom expenses. The majority of taxpayers will not be affected because they take the standard deduction, which is $11,400 for a married couple filing jointly and $5,700 for an individual in 2010.</p> <p>Personally I always wait until at least February to file my taxes so this does not affect me much. If you are a taxpayer that want to take the deductions mentioned, then hopefully you are not expecting to pay for your holiday purchases with a refund check in January. Your refund will be delayed.</p> <p><em>Will you be affected by this delay? When do you usually file your taxes?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/irs-delays-start-of-tax-filing-for-some-taxpayers-in-2011">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/20-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</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-if-i-skip-my-taxes-this-year">What If I Skip My Taxes 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/101-tax-deductions-for-bloggers-and-freelancers">101 Tax deductions for bloggers and freelancers</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/15-surprising-facts-about-income-tax">15 Surprising Facts About Income Tax</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/surprise-5-reasons-you-might-not-get-your-tax-refund">Surprise! 5 Reasons You Might Not Get Your Tax Refund</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Financial News Taxes filing taxes income taxes taxes Wed, 29 Dec 2010 13:00:10 +0000 Xin Lu 417999 at http://www.wisebread.com TurboTax: New features, and a chance to win a copy http://www.wisebread.com/turbotax-new-features-and-a-chance-to-win-a-copy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/turbotax-new-features-and-a-chance-to-win-a-copy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/turbo-tax-box.jpg" alt="TurboTax Box" title="TurboTax Box" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="313" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The kind folks at Intuit have given us ten free copies of <a href="http://turbotax.intuit.com/">TurboTax</a> to share with our readers.&nbsp; We'll be giving two copies away per week for the next five weeks in a <a href="/forums/personal-finance/turbotax-giveaway-post-here-win-free-copy-986.html#post9464">forum contest</a>.&nbsp; To enter, simply <a href="/forums/personal-finance/turbotax-giveaway-post-here-win-free-copy-986.html#post9464">leave a comment in our forums</a>.</p> <p>I snagged one that I'm going to use to do my taxes, and once I'm done, I'll post a review and tell you how it worked for me. In the meantime, here's a brief rundown of the latest features.</p> <p>In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that I've been using TurboTax (and before that, its predecessor MacInTax) since 1995. This is the first year that I got a free copy.</p> <p>For Mac users like me, there are a bunch of new Mac-only features in TurboTax. For the past several years, the Mac version has been essentially a straight port of the PC version. This year, though, Intuit decided to build a Mac version from the ground up, letting them use the features in the latest versions of MacOS. (They mentioned that the latest version of Quicken is getting the same treatment.)</p> <p>Cool new stuff, specific to the Mac version:</p> <p><strong>Better access to the actual tax forms</strong> For people who have done their own taxes in the past, the Mac version now has improved access to the actual IRS tax forms. Anytime while TurboTax is walking you through the process, you can click on a button and (via a cool animation of the window flipping around as if to show you the back) see the IRS form and line that the information that you're providing will go on.</p> <p><strong>Download state return software at any time</strong> In the past, the state return came at the end, after the federal return was done. Now you can download the software for your state return at any time and see what the effect on state taxes will be as you're making decisions about how to fill in the forms on your federal taxes.</p> <p><strong>Backup to CD and .Mac--including software!</strong> When you finish your taxes, there's a tool that lets you burn a CD (or save to .Mac) all the data that you provided--plus all the software, including all the updates from Intuit. That means that, if you have to go back to this year's taxes, you won't have to track down the original install disk and repeat the process of getting the updates. (I've still got all the data files from 1995 on, but I doubt if I could actually use them, except maybe the last two or three years worth. This feature will help a lot with that problem.)</p> <p>Cool new stuff for everyone:</p> <p><strong>Life-event questions </strong> Right at the beginning, TurboTax gives you a screen that asks about life-events that can affect your taxes: Did you change jobs? Did you get married or divorced? Did you start a business? By getting that information up front, they can make the process of gathering your data more efficient. They also have a screen of related follow-up questions (if you changed jobs, did you also move?).</p> <p><strong>Enhanced audit support #1--warnings</strong> When you do something that might make an audit more likely--or that might prompt the IRS to ask for documentation--they give you a heads-up about possible issues, and tell you what documentation to keep. For example, if you deduct expenses related to rental property, they remind you that you must not have lived in the property more than 14 days during the year, and remind you to keep receipts for the deductions.</p> <p><strong>Enhanced audit support #2--downloadable tool</strong> If you get a letter from the IRS, you can download this new tool, match the letter that you got to samples that the tool provides, and get a step-by-step process for dealing with it. The tool tells you what documentation you need to track down, what you need to make copies of, and then provides a template letter for you to print with your response to the IRS. If it's going to take more than that, the tool will tell you that, too.</p> <p>My own taxes are going to be quite a bit more complicated this year than in past years. I got a big chunk of severance pay when I left my former employer, plus I started working as a full-time writer. It'll be good to have a tool to help me deal with the new complications.</p> <p>It'll probably be several weeks before I get the last forms I need and plow through them all. Once I do, though, I'll get an article up with a proper review.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/turbotax-new-features-and-a-chance-to-win-a-copy">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/five-easy-steps-to-keeping-track-of-expenses-for-the-self-employed">Five Easy Steps to Keeping Track of Expenses for the Self-Employed</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/ask-the-readers-are-you-getting-your-tax-refund-this-year-answer-to-win-10">Ask The Readers: Are You Getting Your Tax Refund this Year? (Answer to win $10!)</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/ask-the-readers-do-you-look-forward-to-tax-time-your-chance-to-win-20">Ask the Readers: Do You Look Forward to Tax Time? (Your Chance to win $20!)</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/irs-delays-start-of-tax-filing-for-some-taxpayers-in-2011">IRS Delays Start of Tax Filing for Some Taxpayers in 2011</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/new-job-dont-make-these-7-mistakes-with-your-benefits">New Job? Don&#039;t Make These 7 Mistakes With Your Benefits</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Giveaways filing taxes managing taxes taxes turbotax Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:24:45 +0000 Philip Brewer 1672 at http://www.wisebread.com Five Easy Steps to Keeping Track of Expenses for the Self-Employed http://www.wisebread.com/five-easy-steps-to-keeping-track-of-expenses-for-the-self-employed <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/five-easy-steps-to-keeping-track-of-expenses-for-the-self-employed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/receipts.JPG" alt="receipts envelope" title="receipts management" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>I have had as many as five separate businesses at once to keep track of, including proper accounting of expenses for tax purposes. And it takes me no more than 5 minutes per week to do. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>A big hassle for most people I know who are self-employed or in contract positions (especially in creative fields) is the boring necessity to track expenses and receipts for tax purposes. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>There are a few methods I've seen employed that leave a little to be desired:</span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span><strong>The Shoebox Approach.</strong> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>This usually entails a nightly or weekly emptying of the wallet or pockets into a shoebox labelled &quot;taxes&quot;. At the end of the year, one of two things happens: The culprit dedicates long days upon days to &quot;file their taxes&quot;. Really this process is less about the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxes/tax-preparation " title="Wise Bread's Guide to Tax Preparation ">tax preparation</a> itself and more about sifting through piles of receipts, tallying up everything with calculators, and hoping that everything adds up. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>The other option for the shoebox guru is to simply take the unkempt pile of receipts into their accountant or bookkeeper and get them to sort through everything. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> <br /> I see two problems with this strategy: </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>1: The daunting task of taking time off to sift through receipts and prepare taxes makes it one of the dullest and soul-sucking chores around. So consequently throughout the year there is less motivation to save the right receipts since it will just have to be tallied at the end of the year and less receipts to tally means less of a pain in the you-know-what to contend with. It also means less tax dollars saved. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>2: For those that go with the bookkeeper option, you are spending more money paying somebody else to do something that could easily be maintained yourself. For the frugal business owners in us, it's not always a wise expenditure. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span><strong>The Day-timer Approach.</strong> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>You know those expense logs that often come with the reference pages for most day-timers and schedules? Well, I haven't actually seen anybody use them successfully, but they keep coming out every year so I have to assume that somebody uses those pages and likes them. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>My beef with that approach is that there is no proper filing of the receipts which are needed for the actual <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxes/tax-preparation " title="Wise Bread's Guide to Tax Preparation ">tax preparation</a> (which relegates even the Day-timer User to the Shoebox Approach in a manner), and when it comes down to tax time even the expense logs need to be re-categorized and<span> </span>shuffled by hand according to the types of expenses incurred. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Here's what I personally do with my receipts, and it seems to work out quite well for me and is not time consuming at all: </span></p> <p><span><strong>1: </strong>Whenever I incur an expense, I usually <strong>stuff the receipt in my wallet</strong> until I get home, or until there are enough receipts in my wallet that it occurs to me to take them out. (This usually happens about once a week). </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span><strong>2: </strong>Once I've pulled the pile of receipts from my wallet, it's time to deal with them right then and there. I <strong>enter the following information into a spreadsheet</strong>:</span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><em><span>Date</span></em></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><em><span>Vendor</span></em></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span><em>Type of expense for tax purposes</em> (eg: auto, office expenses, advertising, insurance, etc)</span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><em><span>Amount of money spent</span></em></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span><em>Additional notes </em>(eg: that dinner I'm claiming was when I took John Doe out to discuss ABC business, or that auto expense is specifically for gas or repairs.)</span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span><strong>3: </strong>Once entered, I <strong>file the receipts away</strong>. I have a file folder that stores all the receipts for the year, and I clip all the receipts together by expense. For example, within my folder is an &quot;auto&quot; pile held together with a paperclip to which I attach my gas receipts. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>This way if I ever need to reference the original receipts again, I can easily put my hands on that specific receipt since it's already filed according to category and roughly by date as well since I enter and file the receipts regularly.</span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> <br /> That's it for the daily or weekly maintenance. No more than five minutes each week once you get into a system that works for you, I promise! </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>When it comes to tax time, I go through a few additional steps to make things easier on my accountant: </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> <br /> <strong>4: </strong>Since all my receipts are logged in spreadsheet format, all I have to do now is <strong>organize the spreadsheet</strong>. Using data sorts and searches, I create a page for each type of expense and print it out. For example my advertising page itemizes all the expenses I incurred for that category, showing dates, amounts, and special notes. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>This process can be tedious especially if you are still learning how to categorize your expenses or manipulate spreadsheet information. But it gets easier and easier each year, and at the height of my business frenzy, it sill only took me a couple of hours to do. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> <br /> <strong>5: </strong>I take all the printed spreadsheets (along with the original receipts just in case we need to reference them) to my accountant. I <strong>sit there with my accountant as we review the spreadsheets</strong>. If he or she feels that a certain expense is best claimed in another area, then we can easily subtract it from the total on that sheet, and add it to another sheet. It's a great learning experience for me, so the following year I can better manage my receipts and have a greater understanding of how to file taxes to get the best bang for my bucks spent. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Not only is this approach easy and helps me to maintain some semblance of control over my finances, but I also save money even with my accountant, since I've already done a lot of the prep work. All he or she has to do is plug in the numbers and tell me how much money I saved!</span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nora-dunn">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-easy-steps-to-keeping-track-of-expenses-for-the-self-employed">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/surprise-5-reasons-you-might-not-get-your-tax-refund">Surprise! 5 Reasons You Might Not Get Your Tax Refund</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/tax-document-checklist-what-to-gather-before-doing-your-taxes">Tax Document Checklist: What to Gather Before Doing 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/what-if-i-skip-my-taxes-this-year">What If I Skip My Taxes This Year?</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/3-tax-deductions-you-can-never-take">3 Tax Deductions You Can Never Take</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/10-reasons-you-should-really-fear-an-irs-audit">10 Reasons You Should Really Fear an IRS Audit</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Organization Taxes accounting bookeeping filing taxes managing taxes receipts self-employment tax preparation Fri, 28 Sep 2007 04:22:23 +0000 Nora Dunn 1223 at http://www.wisebread.com