web analytics

Tag Archive | "Free File"

Common Errors to Avoid when Filing a Tax Return


 

To ensure they meet their tax obligations, taxpayers should file accurate tax returns. If a taxpayer makes an error on their tax return, it will likely take longer to process and could delay a refund. Taxpayers can avoid many common errors by filing electronically, the most accurate way to file a tax return. All taxpayers can use IRS Free File.

Here are common errors to avoid when preparing a tax return:

  • Missing or inaccurate Social Security Numbers. Be sure to enter each SSN on a tax return exactly as printed on the Social Security card.
  • Misspelled names. Spell all names listed on a tax return exactly as listed on the taxpayers’ Social Security cards.
  • Filing status.  Some taxpayers claim the wrong filing status, such as Head of Household instead of Single. The Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov can help taxpayers choose the correct status. E-file software also helps prevent mistakes.
  • Math mistakes.  Math errors are common, ranging from simple addition and subtraction to more complex items. Figuring the taxable portion of a pension, IRA distribution or Social Security benefits is more difficult and results in more errors. Taxpayers should always double check their math. Better yet, tax preparation software does it automatically.
  • Figuring credits or deductions. Taxpayers can make mistakes figuring their Earned Income Tax Credit, Child and Dependent Care Credit, the standard deduction and other items. Follow the instructions carefully. For example, a taxpayer who’s 65 or older, or blind, should claim the correct, higher standard deduction, if not itemizing. The IRS Interactive Tax Assistant can help determine if a taxpayer is eligible for tax credits or deductions.
  • Incorrect bank account numbers. Taxpayers who are due a refund should choose direct deposit for ease and convenience, but the IRS cautions taxpayers to use the right routing and account numbers on the tax return.
  • Unsigned forms. An unsigned tax return isn’t valid. Both spouses must sign a joint return. Taxpayers can avoid this error by filing their return electronically and digitally signing it before sending it to the IRS. Taxpayers who are using a tax software product for the first time will need their adjusted gross income from their 2016 tax return to file electronically. Taxpayers who are using the same tax software they used last year usually will not need to enter prior-year information to electronically sign their 2017 tax return. 
  • Filing with an expired ITIN. The IRS will process and treat as timely a return filed with an expired Individual Tax Identification Number, but won’t allow any exemptions or credits. Taxpayers will receive a notice explaining that an ITIN must be current before the IRS will pay a refund. Once the taxpayer renews the ITIN, the IRS will process exemptions and credits and pay an allowed refund. ITIN expiration and renewal information is available on IRS.gov.

Posted in Tax TimeComments (0)

Five things to remember about exemptions and dependents 


 

Most taxpayers can claim one personal exemption for themselves and, if married, one for their spouse. This helps reduce their taxable income on their 2017 tax return. They may also be able to claim an exemption for each of their dependents. Each exemption normally allows them to deduct $4,050 on their 2017 tax return. While each is worth the same amount, different rules apply to each type.

Here are five key points for taxpayers to keep in mind on exemptions and dependents when filing their 2017 tax return:

1. Claiming Personal Exemptions. On a joint return, taxpayers can claim one exemption for themselves and one for their spouse. If a married taxpayer files a separate return, they can only claim an exemption for their spouse if their spouse meets all of these requirements. The spouse:

  • Had no gross income.
  • Is not filing a tax return.
  • Was not the dependent of another taxpayer.

2. Claiming Exemptions for Dependents.  A dependent is either a child or a relative who meets a set of tests. Taxpayers can normally claim an exemption for their dependents. Taxpayers should remember to list a Social Security number for each dependent on their tax return.

3. Dependents Cannot Claim Exemption. If a taxpayer claims an exemption for their dependent, the dependent cannot claim a personal exemption on their own tax return. This is true even if the taxpayer does not claim the dependent’s exemption on their tax return.

4. Dependents May Have to File a Tax Return. This depends on certain factors like total income, whether they are married, and if they owe certain taxes.

5. Exemption Phase-Out.  Taxpayers earning above certain amounts will lose part or all the $4,050 exemption. These amounts differ based on the taxpayer’s filing status.

The IRS urges taxpayers to file electronically. The software will walk taxpayers through the steps of completing their return, making sure all the necessary information is included about dependents. E-file options include free Volunteer Assistance, IRS Free File, commercial software and professional assistance.

Taxpayers can get questions about claiming dependents answered by using the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov. The ITA called Whom May I Claim as a Dependent will help taxpayers determine if they can claim someone on their return.

More Information:

Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax 

Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information.

Posted in Tax TimeComments (0)

Tax tip: Itemize or choose the standard deduction


 

From IRS.gov

Most taxpayers claim the standard deduction when they file their federal tax return. However, some filers may be able to lower their tax bill by itemizing. Find out which way saves the most money by figuring taxes both ways.

The IRS offers the following six tips to help taxpayers decide:

1. Use IRS Free File. Most taxpayers qualify to use free, brand-name software to prepare and file their federal tax returns electronically. IRS Free File is the easiest way to file. Free File software helps taxpayers determine if they should itemize. It files the right tax forms based on the answers the taxpayer provides. Free File software does the math and allows the user to e-file the tax return – for free.

Taxpayers can check on other e-file options if they can’t use Free File.

2. Figure Your Itemized Deductions.  Taxpayers need to add up deductible expenses they paid during the year. These may include expenses such as:

  • Home mortgage interest
  • State and local income taxes or sales taxes (but not both)
  • Real estate and personal property taxes
  • Gifts to charities
  • Casualty or theft losses
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses
  • Unreimbursed employee business expenses

Special rules and limits apply. Visit IRS.gov and refer to Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, for more details.

3. Know The Standard Deduction. If a taxpayer doesn’t itemize, then the basic standard deduction for 2016 depends on their filing status. If the taxpayer is:

  • Single – $6,300
  • Married Filing Jointly – $12,600
  • Head of Household – $9,300
  • Married Filing Separately – $6,300
  • Qualifying Widow(er) – $12,600

If a taxpayer is 65 or older, or blind, the standard deduction is higher than the previous amounts. The deduction may be limited if the taxpayer can be claimed as a dependent.

4. Check the Exceptions. There are some situations where the law does not allow a person to claim the standard deduction. This rule applies if the taxpayer is married filing a separate return and their spouse itemizes. In this case, the taxpayer’s standard deduction is zero and they should itemize any deductions. See Publication 17 for more on these rules.

5. Use the IRS ITA Tool. Go to IRS.gov and use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool. It can help determine whether a taxpayer can use the standard deduction. It can also help a filer figure their eligibility for certain itemized deductions.

6. File the Right Forms.  For a taxpayer to itemize their deductions, they must file Form 1040 and Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. Filers can take the standard deduction on Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ.

All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return.  Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

Posted in Tax TimeComments (0)


advert
Advertising Rates Brochure
Ensley Team Five Star Realty
Cedar Car Co
Kent Theatre

Get the Cedar Springs Post in your mailbox for only $35.00 a year!