Does Filing Taxes Tax Your Brain As Well As Your Wallet?

If you are excited at the prospect of doing your taxes, you are one of the few lucky ones. For most of us mere mortals, our taxes are an incredibly intimidating and complex beast.

Needless to say, the U.S. tax code does not make for a light read. Nonetheless, you are still obliged to file and pay your taxes, no matter how daunting the task may be. Fortunately, help may just be a phone call away.

This article will discuss various methods you can use to make filing your taxes as stress-free as possible.

Using professional tax preparation tools (people and software)

What is the most important benefit to having a tax professional prepare your tax return? Not having to prepare your tax return yourself.

It is as simple as that; preparing and filing your own tax return will take up a lot of your valuable time, and could end up causing you a huge amount of stress and annoyance in your life. And no matter what, it is bound to be a perplexing and confusing process. Using a tax professional will take away most of your tax related stress (but not all of the stress, unfortunately you will still have to wait for your tax bill).

You will also have the added benefit of knowing that will be able to rest easy with the knowledge that someone who actually understands the U.S. tax code is preparing your taxes. This is especially important if your tax situations is particularly complex, or if you want to plan an aggressive tax strategy as part of a larger financial plan.

What professional solution is right for you?

You have two main professional solution choices: people or software. If your tax situation is especially complex, or if you are a small business owner, than you should consider getting either an Enrolled Agent (EA) or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to prepare your income taxes.

The advantage of using either of these professionals is that you will avail yourself of the services of someone who has been certified to prepare people's taxes, by either the state for CPAs or the IRS for EAs. This is important if you have a complex tax situation and you need to know that it is being handled properly.

If you just cannot take any risks, then hiring a professional is the way to go. If you face a more straightforward tax situation, you could probably get by using one of the many walk in services that fill the airways with advertising come tax time. As a final alternative, if you are more confident in your skills you should considering using tax filing software to finish your taxes off yourself.

With most software, it will just involve answering a series of questions; you will not just be left with an electronic version of the long form to fill out from scratch! And if your adjusted gross income is $52,000 or less, you will be able to find a software package to file your taxes for free under the government's Free File program.

In the end, no matter what option you select, just be sure to plan ahead and file on time!

Ways Helps to In Filing Your Tax Return Smoothly

With the ever changing tax laws, which are difficult to understand, we have put together 9 helpful hints to help you to be better organized and make your tax filing run more smoothly.

1. Don't procrastinate:

You will want to gather your information and began reviewing it as soon as possible. Also, by reviewing last year’s return for changes in things such as; deductions, dependant's status, and income. In doing this step it will refresh your memory, so that important deduction are not forgotten on this year’s return.

2. Gathering your deductions:

You want to review your current year's expenses and gather anything you might consider to be a deduction. Also, going through your checkbook, credit card statements, and receipts will help you better locate those all important deductions. Let’s face it the more deductions you have the better. Here are some examples of expenses to look for that you may have: Medical expenses, Mortgage interest, Real estate taxes, donations, work related expenses, union dues, personal property taxes and any other items that you think might be deductible.

3. Income Documentation:

Gather all the income documents you have received during the year such as: Form W-2 (Statement of Wages), Form W-2 F (Gambling winnings), Form 1099-B ( Stocks and Bonds), Form 1099-R (Distributions from pensions, Annuities, Retirement or profit-sharing plans, IRAs, and Insurance contracts), Form 1099 (Interest, dividends, royalties), Form 1099-G ( State and Local income tax refunds), Form 1099-B and Brokerage statements (Sales of securities), and K-1s (Income and Deductions from Partnerships, S Corporations, Trusts, Estates). Review all these documents to make sure they are correct. If you notice any discrepancies contact the issuer of the form immediately to get a correct form. If you are unable to get the correction made you will be required to attach a letter of explanation with your return.

4. Non Taxable Income:

When gathering your above income information do not forget your non taxable income. Here are a few examples of these: Child Support payments, Welfare benefits, Life Insurance proceeds received due to the death of an individual.

5. Personal information:

You will need to gather some personal information that will be required to file your return such as; security numbers and birth dates for any dependents you will be claiming.

6. Children's income:

While gathering your information to file your tax return, take a moment to review this information for your children to see if they have any filing requirements.

7. Scheduling your appointment:

You will want to schedule your appointment with your tax preparer as soon as possible to allow ample time for any corrections or documents you will need to track down before the filing deadline and to avoid the last minute rush of filers.

8. Making tax payments:

When making payments to the IRS you will want to make sure that your payment is properly identified with the following information: Your name, Address, Social Security Number or your business ID number. Also, include what the payment is for including what tax year. Make individual payments; do not combine more than one payment in the same check.

9. Keeping records:

It is recommended that should keep your records including bank statements, canceled checks, income and deductions for at least 3 years from the date of filing your return. That is the statute of limitation set by the IRS for audits. By doing so that will help you be better prepared in the event that your return is selected for an audit.

2008 Tax Filing - Helpful News About Taxes.

The Tax Save 2008 Open Enrollment period beqins on October 1, 2007 and ends on October 31, 2007. TaxSave Opero Enrollment is y'our opportunity to save tax dollars in the 2008 tax year with the Premium Option Plan and the two Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) - the Unreimbursed Medical Spending Account and the Dependent Care Spending Account

Enrollment in the Premiun Option Plan component of TaxSave is automatic every year. The Flexible Spending Accounts require active enrollment each year. There are a variety ot easy ways to enroll.
You may enroll over the phone by calling Horizon BCBSNJ's automated voice response system at 1-800-2244426 (October 1 - October 31, 2007).
You may enroll overthe Internet during the same time period at: www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions/taxsave.htm and follow the link to the Horizon BCBSNJ Web site.
You ean enroll by obtaining an enrollment kit from your benetits administrator. These forms must ba postmarked by October 31 , 2007, in order to enroll for the 2008 plan year.

TaxSave and Domestic Partners and Dependents Age 23 to 30

State employees are able to add a same-sex domestic partner to their SHBP medical and dental insurance coverage, and New for the 2008 plan year, Chapter 375, PL 2005, permits continued SHBP medical plan coverage for certain dependents unti! their 30th birthday

However, before any premiums that the employee pays for the domestic partner or over-age dependent coverage can be made on a pre-tax basis under the Turbo Tax Save Premium Option Plan, the domestic partner or over-age dependent must be able to qualify as a "tax dependenf' of the employee for federal tax filing purposes - under Internal Revenue Code Section 152.

Similarly, the domestic partner or over-age dependent must qualify as the employee's tax dependent before an out-ofpocket medical expense incurred by the domestic partner or dependent can be reimbursed under the Unreimbursed Medlcal Spendlng Account. See IRS Tax Topie 354 - Dependentsfor addjtional information on the requirements for establishjng dependent status for federal tax purposes.

If the domestic partner or over-age dependent is not a "qualified tax dependent" of the employee, any premium deductions made for the domestic partner's coverage must be made on an after-tax basjs and funds in the Unreimbursed Medical Spending Account cannot be used to cover the domestic partner's medical expenses

The big news about Intuit's TurboTax line this year is the development of specialized versions. In addition to Basic, Deluxe, Premier, and Home & Business, there are now versions for serious investors, retirement planners, and Spanish speakers. All of these programs' features (minus the Spanish version, which is most similar to Basic) appear in Turbo Tax Premier ($59.95 list), which we review here.

A new feature called My Tax History brings more data in from your previous year's return to help save you time (though you still need to review it for accuracy). In the interview mode, you can select a split screen, with the current form showing below. Questions and explanations appear in the main interview window, with fields or check boxes for your responses. FAQs appear in the right pane, and your current tax score (amount of refund or obligation) appears above.

Income Tax Filing Guide

The month of January rolls around and most of America is getting ready to prepare their income tax filing. Every year everyone who made an income are required to report income to the federal and state governments by income tax filing. Taxpayers must file two separate income tax returns. One income tax return goes to the federal government and the other goes to the state government that the taxpayer lives in. Most of taxpaying Americans are able to fill out a Form 1040A: U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. People that do not have any children or qualified dependents are able to file a federal 1040EZ form. This form is also known as the Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents. The 1040EZ is basically a shorter version of the 1040A form; however, taxpayers must meet certain requirements before filing a 1040EZ form.

IRS e-file is fast becoming extremely popular with taxpayers as well. Find everything electronic in one place at irs.gov. This includes tax filing information, how to pay electronically, and more. According to the website of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which is found at irs.gov. Seventy percent of the nation's taxpayers are eligible for free tax preparation software and free electronic filing. See if you are eligible, by visiting their site. Most of taxpayers will have the income tax forms they need mailed to their home address. This option, to have federal income tax forms mailed to a taxpayer is given on the previous year’s tax forms. People who do not wish to receive federal income tax forms but do need them can get the forms from a number of sources. Many paper forms are available for pickup at many local post offices, banks, and libraries. Taxpayers can also visit the website of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which is found at irs.gov. The Internal Revenue Service has a collection of federal income tax forms that can be downloaded and printed at their web-site.
In some states a taxpayer reports their income earned to their state government. They will also have to fill out a separate state tax return form. Each state has their own income tax return forms, and Laws. The form numbers will all be different because they vary from state to state; however, some forms will have the same heading. It is not uncommon for a state income tax form to be known as the Resident Income Tax Return. As with federal income tax returns, the majority of states have a long income tax return form and a short one. Taxpayers who are able to fill out and file a short state income tax return are encouraged to do so because it saves many taxpayers a large amount of tax preparation time. As with most federal income tax forms, state tax return individuals are likely to have a packet of state income tax forms mailed directly to their home. It is also possible for taxpayers to find their state tax forms at their local post office, financial institution, or library. Check your own State Laws for the details.
In addition to the regular taxpaying individual, there are several others who have to report and possibly pay an income tax. All businesses and estate properties of an individual who has passed on are subject to an income tax. A small business owner or the executor of an estate property will have to file different federal and state income tax forms than the traditional taxpayer. These forms can be obtained at the same places where standard federal and state forms are available.

IRS e-file: Secure Online Tax Filing

The IRS e-file system has never had a security breach. In fact, over 400 million returns have been electronically filed since 1986 without a security incident.

FACTS

  • The IRS e-file System is not done over e-mail
  • The IRS e-file System has many built-in security features
  • The IRS e-file System employs multiple firewalls
  • The IRS e-file System uses state of the art virus and worm detection
  • The IRS e-file System meets or exceeds all government security standards
  • The IRS e-file System is constantly tested for weaknesses by penetration testing
  • The IRS e-file System has never had a security breach
  • All Internet transmissions will use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encrypted security measures.

IRS e-file transmissions are very secure because the IRS has been extremely diligent in the design, development, analysis and testing of the current infrastructure and system. IRS e-file meets or exceeds all government security standards and includes multiple firewalls.

Most e-filed online tax returns are transmitted over phone lines from the return preparer to a third-party transmitter. From there, the returns are forwarded over secured lines to the IRS. Intercepting telephone transmissions is quite difficult and requires access to phone company major transmission lines. Also, to transmit data like tax returns over telecommunications lines means that the information gets converted into digital format which could not be easily read even if it were intercepted.

Source: irs.gov