Gay Marriage Makes Filing Federal Tax Returns A Labyrinth

Filing Federal Tax Returns

Filing Federal Tax Returns

There are many difficulties inherent in filing federal tax returns for same sex couples.  Even in states where gay marriage has been legalized, issues abound.  Because of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) even when a state legalizes gay marriage, it isn’t recognized on a federal level.  As a result, filing taxes jointly, like most married couples around the country do, is not possible for a same-sex couple.  Many same-sex couples go to tax agencies to make sense out of the complicated mess that their taxes have become.  These tax agencies often offer free federal tax filing and give couples a sense of surety that they are getting the most out of their tax return that they possibly can.

Since the legalization of gay marriage, many couples have tried to do their own taxes, because it is basically free federal tax filing.  Some have even succeeded.  Unfortunately, for many, it is too confusing to do properly and they end up getting shorted or worse, making mistakes that will cost them money later.  Filing jointly is not an option but head of household may be, as long as one partner makes more than half the cost of the household’s upkeep and has a “qualifying” person living with them (such as a child or elderly relative).  It only gets more complicated from there, as gay marriage defines more than 130,000 couples in the US, from all classes and economic backgrounds.

Free Tax Filing Information And Resources

Free Tax Filing Information

Most federal highway use tax returns are due, with the due date falling on the 31st Aug 2012. Now the use revenue collector, the IRS or internal revenue service is reminding owners of highway vehicles truckers regarding the need to file their taxes. Aug 31st is a deadline when forms such as the tax form 2290 will need to be filed with the IRS as well as payment of the relevant taxes for this particular financial year. This applies to those using the roads on or before July 2012. There is free tax filing information available to tax payers online.

This taxation feature applies to vehicles using the highways that have a gross weight of 55000 pounds or more. Such vehicles include tractors, trucks as well as buses and all others. Vehicles such as vans and pick ups do not fall into this category basically because they have tare weight that’s below 55000 pounds. The cost is usually $550 per vehicle depending on the weight of the vehicle. There are some rules that govern the administration of this tax feature.

Many tax payers are advised to submit their tax returns via the internet. There are electronic forms that need to be filled for this purpose even though the option of filing form 2290 still exists. Tax payers are advised of a public holiday weekend from August 31st to September 4st 2012. As such, they are advised to file their tax returns early. Free tax filing options can now be offered to interested tax payers.

Self Employed? – Here’s 5 Reasons Why You Need An Accountant

For the self-employed, tax time can be an entirely different experience than for those who are either employed by another company or own their own business. Being self-employed means that you are technically both an employer and an employee, and are at times responsible for paying taxes on issues that affect both.

Taxes are already complex enough for the average individual, but that situation is exacerbated by your current status. As a result, it may be wise to talk to an accountant, as they can not only find special deductions and benefits, but save you the time and anxiety of having to figure out your tax status.

1. Special Rules

In the United States, every working individual is responsible for paying tax for Social Security and Medicare. However, the amount of tax paid is typically split between the employer and employee, whereas with a self-employed person they are responsible for both. This is just one of a number of different rules and forms that change as a result being self-employed. Having a certified accountant will help you sort through the brambles and not have to worry about an audit.

2. Loopholes and Tricks

Regardless of what type of situation you are in, it’s never a bad idea to consult an accountant as they are far more educated on how to maximize your tax return. Every year the government passes legislation or makes changes to the tax code that affects businesses of all types. Special credits and other tax friendly programs may also be introduced but not publicized to the general public.

Accountants are paid to keep abreast of such situations and how they apply to their various clients. In fact, many of the special tax benefits and tricks apply specifically to those who own a business, and having an accountant experienced with the self-employed may end up saving you far more than the cost of the hiring one.

3. Time

Even if you are willing to sift through the morass of new forms, rules and special deductions and exemptions, the one thing you will inevitably lose is time. Paying an accountant to do your taxes will save you time to concentrate on running your business. Depending on how much income you can generate with that time, it may be that it’s more cost effective to earn money to pay for an accountant than do your taxes for free.

4. Advice and Audits

Accountants can also be relied upon for advice as to how to avoid certain tax penalties or qualify for specific deductions or exemptions. For example, as you can deduct equipment purchases over a single year or over a extended period of time, you can consult them on which deduction works best for your business. If you are by chance audited, a qualified professional can assist you with the process.

5. Online Alternatives

For some self-employed individuals, it can be very difficult to pay for an accountant given their limited financial resources. Relying on an accountant, however, doesn’t necessarily mean relying on a living person. Accounting software can be just as adept at finding the best deductions provided you give it the information they require.

As a result online software is best reserved for those that have relatively simple situations, especially self-employed individuals who will likely be using the standard deduction for much of their taxes.

John Hill writes on behalf of Public Liability Insurance dot org an online resource for business insurance including childrens liability insurance.

Discharging Tax Debt Through Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy can be an effective way to get out of debt and get started rebuilding your financial life. While bankruptcy can provide quicker relief than other options such as debt settlement or credit counseling, some debts are ineligible for discharge. When dealing with tax debt, it can be difficult to get a discharge for it through bankruptcy. While it is possible, you’ll have to make sure that you meet certain standards. Otherwise, your tax debts may remain even after you file for bankruptcy.

Tax debts are subject to specific rules that must be met before they can be discharged in any kind of bankruptcy. The tax debt in question must be at least 36 months old in order to be eligible. When you need to discharge a tax debt, the return associated with that debt must have been filed at least 24 months ago as well. In addition to filing the return more than 24 months ago, you also have to make sure that the tax assessment is at least eight months old. The tax return that you file also has to be legitimate and cannot be fraudulent. You also cannot simply file for bankruptcy so that you can get out of paying taxes. This is considered tax evasion and is against the law.

If you want to qualify for bankruptcy discharge with your tax debt, you also have to prove that you have filed your last previous four tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. Without having proof of filing those returns, you will not be eligible to have the debt discharged through the bankruptcy process.

While it is possible to get your tax debt discharged in bankruptcy, it is not very likely. In order to get part of your tax debt discharged, you have to prove that it is at least three years old. In most cases, the Internal Revenue Service will start contacting you almost immediately after your tax debt is not paid. The chances of you being able to hold out for more than three years without having anything done by the IRS are not good. The Internal Revenue Service has many ways that they can try to get you to pay your tax debt. For example, the IRS can file a tax lien on your property and make it difficult to sell any of your property without paying back the debt. In some cases, the IRS also has the right to seize your property such as your house, your vehicle, jewelry, securities and money from your bank account. If you do not pay the debt in the appropriate amount of time, the IRS will start trying to collect this money from you.

If you are having trouble repaying your tax debt, you may want to explore some other options besides trying to wait out the three year period for filing bankruptcy. For example, you could try to set up an installment agreement with the IRS or use an offer in compromise to settle your tax debt for less than you owe. The IRS will evaluate your proposal and decide if it is worth accepting.

There’s an App for That: Taxes from Your Phone

We do pretty much everything from our phones these days, turns out, taxes are no different. Accountants and techies are combining forces as new ways develop for those who choose to file from their phone. From an easier way to track and report expenses to hand-held glossaries and customer service, exploring ways to file from your phone will change the way taxes get done.

Tracking Expenses

Deducting expenses is essential for businesses owners or the self-employed. Keeping track of those expenses however can be incredibly cumbersome. Travel, meals, supplies, and mileage really add up and the ability to immediately input related data and transfer that information to taxes can keep things clear and easy when the time comes to report.

  • iXpenseIt offers password protected expense tracking which can be programmed and stored in customizable categories.
  • ShoeBoxed integrates snap technology and expense reporting into one package. The app allows users to snap photos of receipts and upload them into an organizationally customizable online platform.
  • TripCubby provides the ability to track and record mileage and other travel data. The data collected can be exported into Excel using email or automatically added into deduction categories in the app itself.

Estimates

Mobile devices are especially handy for retrieving pertinent information for those who need an estimated income tax return but lack the actual W-2. Tax Caster by TurboTax doesn’t require exact figures to calculate return estimates which enable users to fulfill tax-based qualifications or anticipate amounts of returns without having to retrieve the actual tax information this includes more in-depth tax issues such as deductions related to family size, properties, alimony, and vehicles.

Much like expense reporting for businesses, keeping track of personal donations and other charitable activities is essential. A group of accountants created the iDonatedIt app which generates an itemized list of donated items, values and the date and location at which they were dropped off. Additionally, the app supports snapped photos of the donations which can be uploaded via email.

Questions and Support

Taxes can get confusing, particularly for those with more tax materials than the basic W-2. H&R Block has created the Tax Answers app which allows for a chat-based Q&A with their representatives. The app also provides FAQ categories and checklists as well as a handy glossary.

  • Internal Revenue Code (IRC) app by LawToGo.net is aimed at professionals or filers with complex returns and contains a searchable database of the various codes determined by the IRS.
  • TaxMama is an app which generates a costume tax calendar to suit various filing needs for those with different tax forms which carry different deadlines.
  • IRS2Go, produced by the IRS allows users to check the status of their filed tax return and refund while also providing information on pertinent updates.
  • MyTaxRefund by TurboTax can also track tax refund status, determine whether the return was accepted or rejected by the IRS and produce the expected date of refund arrival.

Filing

Phones have turned actual filing into a snap. Particularly with SnapTax which fills out the 1040EZ form using a snapped photo of a W-2. The information is filled automatically and can be filed after review. However, SnapTax is currently available only for Californian 1040EZ filers.

Katei Cranford is a freelance writer and tech lover who insists on filing taxes properly and helping others do the same.

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Little Deductions You May Miss

You need to know what deductions may be possible even when you hire someone else to do your taxes. A quick look over the tax codes on the IRS.gov website will help you determine all of the deductions you need to be considering.

Top Deductions that are Missed

1.     Expenses that are NOT reimbursable by the company. Any expenses that are incurred during the tax year and that are considered ordinary and necessary for your industry can be used as a deduction on your taxes (at least a portion).

a.     Depreciation on work computers

b.     Dues paid to professional societies

c.     Chamber of commerce membership

d.     License fees for your business or occupation

e.     Tools and supplies used in work

f.      Work related education

g.     Union dues or other related expenses

2.     Most people overlook the potential of the deducting expenses associated with working at home. The Business Use of Home deduction can be applicable when your home is your principle place of business or when the space is used EXCLUSIVELY for business purposes. A portion of home expenses can be deducted when these criteria are met. The amount deductible will be determined by the percentage of home space used for business purposes.

a.     Real estate taxes

b.     Deductible mortgage interest

c.     Utilities

d.     Insurance

e.     Repairs

3.     Mileage on a vehicle can be deducted for a number of different reasons. The amount that is allowed will be determined by the activities, but the numbers can add up to substantial savings. Be sure to keep a written record of all mileage you intend to claim on your taxes.

a.      Business mileage – keep up with the trips you take for meetings, events or supply runs. Any time that you use your vehicle for business related purposes you can add that mileage to your totals. The business mileage has the highest allotment by the IRS.

b.      Charitable mileage would be those miles you put on your vehicle when driving in the service of a charitable organization.

c.      Medical mileage would be those miles put on the vehicle when visiting the doctor, dentist or other medical specialist.

4.     Casualty, disaster and theft losses may be overlooked by many people when it comes to taxes. The amounts you can claim on your taxes are only those above any payments made by insurance companies. You will along be able to claim a portion of those totals. These loses are generally deductible for the year they occurred. Property located in a federally declared disaster area may meet different guidelines.

Knowing all that you can about the tax code will help you find even little deductions that you might be missing. A tax professional can make it easier to weed through all of the tax code. Some of the deductions seem little until you begin to add them all up. Counting a penny here and a penny there will help you save big money in the long run.

The key to making the most of your tax deductions is documentation. Keep well organized records of your actions and activities (for your business as well as your personal activities). It will be easier for you to sort through the records when they are in order. Good documentation will help you discover any of those little deductions you may have otherwise missed. The more deductions you uncover the lower you will be able to push your tax bill.

 

Nick Maddux has been in the finance industry for 3 years; he contributes to blogs that deal with insurance deductions and where to get a free credit score report.