2013 Tax Tip: Which Tax Form Should I File?

Dealing with the question, which tax form should I file? IRS e-file makes it easy for taxpayers to choose which tax form to file. Tax software automatically chooses the best form for your particular situation. Most people e-file these days, but if you prefer taking pen to paper, the IRS has some tips to help you choose the right form.

Taxpayers who choose to file a paper tax return should know that the IRS no longer mails paper tax packages. The quickest way to get forms and instructions is by visiting the IRS website at IRS.gov. You can also order forms and have them mailed to you by calling the IRS forms line at 1-800-TAX-FORM (829-3676). You may also pick up tax forms from a local IRS office, and some libraries and post offices carry tax forms.

Here are some tips that will help paper tax return filers choose the best tax form for their situation.

You can generally use the 1040EZ if:

  • Your taxable income is below $100,000;
  • Your filing status is single or married filing jointly;
  • You are not claiming any dependents; and
  • Your interest income is $1,500 or less.

If you can’t use Form 1040EZ, you may qualify to use the 1040A if:

  • Your taxable income is below $100,000;
  • You have capital gain distributions;
  • You claim certain tax credits; and
  • You claim adjustments to income for IRA contributions and student loan interest.

If you cannot use the 1040EZ or the 1040A, you’ll probably need to file using the 1040. The reasons you must use the 1040 include:

  • Your taxable income is $100,000 or more;
  • You claim itemized deductions;
  • You are reporting self-employment income; and
  • You are reporting income from a sale of a property.

IRS Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, provides helpful information about which form is best for you.

Access to IRS forms and instructions or information about e-filing, including IRS Free File, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on IRS.gov. Tax products often appear online well before they are available on paper. You’ll find downloadable tax products on IRS.gov by clicking on the “Forms and Pubs” link on the Home page.

The above information was provided in a press release from the Internal Revenue Service. For more help on preparing your taxes and organizing your files contact professional organizing firm In Order to Succeed at info@inorderotsucceed.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

2013 Tax Tip: Important Facts about Dependents and Exemptions

While each individual tax return is unique, there are some tax rules that affect every person who files a federal income tax return. These rules involve dependents and exemptions. The IRS has six important facts about dependents and exemptions that will help you file your 2012 tax return.

  1. Exemptions reduce taxable income.  There are two types of exemptions: personal exemptions and exemptions for dependents. You can deduct $3,800 for each exemption you claim on your 2012 tax return.
  2. Personal exemptions. You usually may claim one exemption for yourself on your tax return. You also can claim one for your spouse if you are married and file a joint return. If you and your spouse file separate returns, you may claim the exemption for your spouse only if he or she had no gross income, is not filing a joint return and was not the dependent of another taxpayer.
  3. Exemptions for dependents. Generally, you can claim an exemption for each of your dependents. A dependent is either your qualifying child or qualifying relative. If you are married, you may not claim your spouse as your dependent. You must list the Social Security Number of each dependent you claim on your return. See Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information, for information about dependents who do not have Social Security numbers.
  4. Some people do not qualify as dependents. While there are some exceptions, you generally may not claim a married person as a dependent if they file a joint return with their spouse.
  5. Dependents may have to file. If you can claim someone else as your dependent on your tax return, that person may still be required to file his or her own tax return. Whether they must file a return depends on several factors, including the amount of their gross income (both earned and unearned income), their marital status and any special taxes they owe.
  6. Dependents can’t claim a personal exemption. If you can claim another person as a dependent on your tax return, that person may not claim a personal exemption on his or her own tax return. This is true even if you do not actually claim that person as your dependent on your tax return. The fact that you could claim that person disqualifies them from claiming a personal exemption.

Remember that a person must meet several tests in order for you to claim them as your dependent. See Publication 501 for the tests you will use to determine if you can claim a person as your dependent.

You can view or download Publication 501 at IRS.gov or order it by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). You can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant at IRS.gov to find out if a person qualifies as your dependent. The ITA is a helpful tool that can answer many of your tax law questions.

The above information was provided in a press release from the Internal Revenue Service. For more help on preparing your taxes and organizing your files contact professional organizing firm In Order to Succeed at info@inorderotsucceed.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

2013 Tax Tip: Important Facts about Dependent Exemption

While each individual tax return is unique, there are some tax rules that affect every person who files a federal income tax return. These rules involve dependent exemption. The IRS has six important facts about dependents and exemptions that will help you file your 2012 tax return.

  1. Exemptions reduce taxable income.  There are two types of exemptions: personal exemptions and exemptions for dependents. You can deduct $3,800 for each exemption you claim on your 2012 tax return.
  2. Personal exemptions. You usually may claim one exemption for yourself on your tax return. You also can claim one for your spouse if you are married and file a joint return. If you and your spouse file separate returns, you may claim the exemption for your spouse only if he or she had no gross income, is not filing a joint return and was not the dependent of another taxpayer.
  3. Exemptions for dependents. Generally, you can claim an exemption for each of your dependents. A dependent is either your qualifying child or qualifying relative. If you are married, you may not claim your spouse as your dependent. You must list the Social Security Number of each dependent you claim on your return. See Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information, for information about dependents who do not have Social Security numbers.
  4. Some people do not qualify as dependents. While there are some exceptions, you generally may not claim a married person as a dependent if they file a joint return with their spouse.
  5. Dependents may have to file. If you can claim someone else as your dependent on your tax return, that person may still be required to file his or her own tax return. Whether they must file a return depends on several factors, including the amount of their gross income (both earned and unearned income), their marital status, and any special taxes they owe.
  6. Dependents can’t claim a personal exemption. If you can claim another person as a dependent on your tax return, that person may not claim a personal exemption on his or her own tax return. This is true even if you do not actually claim that person as your dependent on your tax return. The fact that you could claim that person disqualifies them from claiming a personal exemption.

Remember that a person must meet several tests in order for you to claim them as your dependent. See Publication 501 for the tests you will use to determine if you can claim a person as your dependent.

You can view or download Publication 501 at IRS.gov or order it by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). You can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant at IRS.gov to find out if a person qualifies as your dependent. The ITA is a helpful tool that can answer many of your tax law questions.

The above information was provided in a press release from the Internal Revenue Service. For more help on preparing your taxes and organizing your files contact professional organizing firm In Order to Succeed at info@inorderotsucceed.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

2013 Tax Tip: Who Needs to File a 2012 Tax Return?

If you received income during 2012, you may need to file a tax return in 2013. The amount of your income, your filing status, your age and the type of income you received will determine whether you’re required to file. Even if you are not required to file a tax return, you may still want to file. You may get a refund if you’ve had too much federal income tax withheld from your pay or qualify for certain tax credits.

You can find income tax filing requirements on IRS.gov. The instructions for Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ also list filing requirements. The Interactive Tax Assistant tool, also available on the IRS website, is another helpful resource. The ITA tool answers many of your tax law questions including whether you need to file a return.

Even if you’ve determined that you don’t need to file a tax return this year, you may still want to file. Here are five reasons why:

  • Federal Income Tax Withheld.  If your employer withheld federal income tax from your pay, if you made estimated tax payments, or if you had a prior year overpayment applied to this year’s tax, you could be due a refund. File a return to claim any excess tax you paid during the year.
  • Earned Income Tax Credit.  If you worked but earned less than $50,270 last year, you may qualify for EITC. EITC is a refundable tax credit; which means if you qualify you could receive EITC as a tax refund. Families with qualifying children may qualify to get up to $5,891 dollars. You can’t get the credit unless you file a return and claim it. Use the EITC Assistant to find out if you qualify.
  • Additional Child Tax Credit.  If you have at least one qualifying child and you don’t get the full amount of the Child Tax Credit, you may qualify for this additional refundable credit. You must file and use new Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit, to claim the credit.
  • American Opportunity Credit.  If you or someone you support is a student, you might be eligible for this credit. Students in their first four years of postsecondary education may qualify for as much as $2,500 through this partially refundable credit. Even those who owe no tax can get up to $1,000 of the credit as cash back for each eligible student. You must file Form 8863, Education Credits, and submit it with your tax return to claim the credit.
  • Health Coverage Tax Credit.  If you’re receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance, Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance, Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance or pension benefit payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, you may be eligible for a 2012 Health Coverage Tax Credit. Spouses and dependents may also be eligible. If you’re eligible, you can receive a 72.5 percent tax credit on payments you made for qualified health insurance premiums.

Want more information about filing requirements and tax credits? Visit IRS.gov.

The above information was provided in a press release from the Internal Revenue Service. For more help on preparing your taxes and organizing your files contact professional organizing firm In Order to Succeed at info@inorderotsucceed.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

2013 Tax Tip: Who Needs to File a 2012 Income Tax Return?

If you received income during 2012, you may need to file an income tax return in 2013. The amount of your income, your filing status, your age and the type of income you received will determine whether you’re required to file. Even if you are not required to file a tax return, you may still want to file. You may get a refund if you’ve had too much federal income tax withheld from your pay or qualify for certain tax credits.

You can find income tax filing requirements on IRS.gov. The instructions for Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ also list filing requirements. The Interactive Tax Assistant tool, also available on the IRS website, is another helpful resource. The ITA tool answers many of your tax law questions including whether you need to file a return.

Even if you’ve determined that you don’t need to file a tax return this year, you may still want to file. Here are five reasons why:

  • Federal Income Tax Withheld.  If your employer withheld federal income tax from your pay, if you made estimated tax payments, or if you had a prior year overpayment applied to this year’s tax, you could be due a refund. File a return to claim any excess tax you paid during the year.
  • Earned Income Tax Credit.  If you worked but earned less than $50,270 last year, you may qualify for EITC. EITC is a refundable tax credit; which means if you qualify you could receive EITC as a tax refund. Families with qualifying children may qualify to get up to $5,891 dollars. You can’t get the credit unless you file a return and claim it. Use the EITC Assistant to find out if you qualify.
  • Additional Child Tax Credit.  If you have at least one qualifying child and you don’t get the full amount of the Child Tax Credit, you may qualify for this additional refundable credit. You must file and use new Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit, to claim the credit.
  • American Opportunity Credit.  If you or someone you support is a student, you might be eligible for this credit. Students in their first four years of postsecondary education may qualify for as much as $2,500 through this partially refundable credit. Even those who owe no tax can get up to $1,000 of the credit as cash back for each eligible student. You must file Form 8863, Education Credits, and submit it with your tax return to claim the credit.
  • Health Coverage Tax Credit.  If you’re receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance, Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance, Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance or pension benefit payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, you may be eligible for a 2012 Health Coverage Tax Credit. Spouses and dependents may also be eligible. If you’re eligible, you can receive a 72.5 percent tax credit on payments you made for qualified health insurance premiums.

Want more information about filing requirements and tax credits? Visit IRS.gov.

The above information was provided in a press release from the Internal Revenue Service. For more help on preparing your taxes and organizing your files contact professional organizing firm In Order to Succeed at info@inorderotsucceed.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

2013: Tax Tip: Missing Your W-2?

It’s a good idea to have all your tax documents together before preparing your 2012 tax return. You will need your W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, which employers should send by the end of January. Give it two weeks to arrive by mail.

If you have not received your W-2, follow these three steps:

1.     Contact your employer first.  Ask your employer – or former employer – to send your W-2 if it has not already been sent. Make sure your employer has your correct address.

2.     Contact the IRS. After February 14, you may call the IRS at 800-829-1040 if you have not yet received your W-2. Be prepared to provide your name, address, Social Security number and phone number. You should also have the following information when you call:

· Your employer’s name, address and phone number;
·Your employment dates; and
·An estimate of your wages and federal income tax withheld in 2012, based upon your final pay stub or leave-and-earnings statement, if available.

3. File your return on time. You should still file your tax return on or before April 15, 2013, even if you have not yet received your W-2. File Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, in place of the W-2. Use the form to estimate your income and withholding taxes as accurately as possible. The IRS may delay processing your return while it verifies your information.

If you need more time to file you can get a six-month extension of time. File Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File US Individual Income Tax Return. If you are requesting an extension, you must file this form on or before April 15, 2013.

If you receive the missing W-2 after filing your tax return and the information on the W-2 is different from what you reported using Form 4852, then you must correct your tax return. File Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return to amend your tax return.

Forms and instructions are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

The above information was provided in a press release from the Internal Revenue Service. For more help on preparing your taxes and organizing your files contact professional organizing firm In Order to Succeed at info@inorderotsucceed.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

2013 Tax Tips: Missing Your W-2?

It’s a good idea to have all your tax documents together before preparing your 2012 tax return. You will need your W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, which employers should send by the end of January. Give it two weeks to arrive by mail.

If you have not received your W-2, follow these tax tips:

1. Contact your employer first. Ask your employer or former employer, to send your W-2 if it has not already been sent. Make sure your employer has your correct address.

2. Contact the IRS. After February 14, you may call the IRS at 800-829-1040 if you have not yet received your W-2. Be prepared to provide your name, address, Social Security number and phone number. You should also have the following information when you call:

· Your employer’s name, address and phone number;
·Your employment dates; and
·An estimate of your wages and federal income tax withheld in 2012, based upon your final pay stub or leave-and-earnings statement, if available.

3. File your return on time. You should still file your tax return on or before April 15, 2013, even if you have not yet received your W-2. File Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, in place of the W-2. Use the form to estimate your income and withholding taxes as accurately as possible. The IRS may delay processing your return while it verifies your information.

If you need more time to file you can get a six-month extension of time. File Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File US Individual Income Tax Return. If you are requesting an extension, you must file this form on or before April 15, 2013.

If you receive the missing W-2 after filing your tax return and the information on the W-2 is different from what you reported using Form 4852, then you must correct your tax return. File Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return to amend your tax return.

Forms and instructions are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

The above information was provided in a press release from the Internal Revenue Service. For more help on preparing your taxes and organizing your files contact professional organizing firm In Order to Succeed at info@inorderotsucceed.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

2013 Tax Tip: 10 Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer

Many people look for help from professionals when it’s time to file their tax return. If you use a paid tax preparer to file your federal income tax return this year, the IRS urges you to choose that preparer carefully. Even if someone else prepares your return, you are legally responsible for what is on it.

Here are ten tips to keep in mind when choosing a tax return preparer:

  • Check the preparer’s qualifications. All paid tax return preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. In addition to making sure they have a PTIN, ask if the preparer belongs to a professional organization and attends continuing education classes.
  • Check on the preparer’s history. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has a questionable history. Also check for any disciplinary actions and for the status of their licenses. For certified public accountants, check with the state boards of accountancy. For attorneys, check with the state bar associations. For enrolled agents, check with the IRS Office of Enrollment.
  • Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers can. Also, always make sure any refund due is sent to you or deposited into an account in your name. Taxpayers should not deposit their refund into a preparer’s bank account.
  • Ask to e-file your return. Make sure your preparer offers IRS e-file. Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns for clients must file the returns electronically, unless the client opts to file a paper return. IRS has safely and securely processed more than one billion individual tax returns since the debut of electronic filing in 1990.
  • Make sure the preparer is accessible. Make sure you will be able to contact the tax preparer after you file your return, even after the April 15 due date. This may be helpful in the event questions arise about your tax return.
  • Provide records and receipts. Reputable preparers will request to see your records and receipts. They will ask you questions to determine your total income and your qualifications for deductions, credits and other items. Do not use a preparer who is willing to e-file your return by using your last pay stub before you receive your Form W-2. This is against IRS e-file rules.
  • Never sign a blank return. Avoid tax preparers that ask you to sign a blank tax form.
  • Review the entire return before signing. Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions. Make sure you understand everything and are comfortable with the accuracy of the return before you sign it.
  • Make sure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN. A paid preparer must sign the return and include their PTIN as required by law. The preparer must also give you a copy of the return.
  • Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS.You can report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS on Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If you suspect a return preparer filed or altered a return without your consent, you should also file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. Download the forms on the IRS.gov website or order them by mail at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

The above information was provided in a press release from the Internal Revenue Service. For more help on preparing your taxes and organizing your files contact professional organizing firm In Order to Succeed at info@inorderotsucceed.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

2013 Tax Tip: 10 Tips for Choosing an Accredited Tax Preparer

Many people look for help from professionals when it’s time to file their tax return. If you use a paid accredited tax preparer to file your federal income tax return this year, the IRS urges you to choose that preparer carefully. Even if someone else prepares your return, you are legally responsible for what is on it.

Here are ten tips to keep in mind when choosing an accredited tax preparer:

  • Check the preparer’s qualifications. All paid tax return preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. In addition to making sure they have a PTIN, ask if the preparer belongs to a professional organization and attends continuing education classes.
  • Check on the preparer’s history. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has a questionable history. Also, check for any disciplinary actions and for the status of their licenses. For certified public accountants, check with the state boards of accountancy. For attorneys, check with the state bar associations. For enrolled agents, check with the IRS Office of Enrollment.
  • Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers can. Also, always make sure any refund due is sent to you or deposited into an account in your name. Taxpayers should not deposit their refund into a preparer’s bank account.
  • Ask to e-file your return. Make sure your preparer offers IRS e-file. Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns for clients must file the returns electronically, unless the client opts to file a paper return. IRS has safely and securely processed more than one billion individual tax returns since the debut of electronic filing in 1990.
  • Make sure the preparer is accessible. Make sure you will be able to contact the tax preparer after you file your return, even after the April 15 due date. This may be helpful in the event questions arise about your tax return.
  • Provide records and receipts. Reputable preparers will request to see your records and receipts. They will ask you questions to determine your total income and your qualifications for deductions, credits and other items. Do not use a preparer who is willing to e-file your return by using your last pay stub before you receive your Form W-2. This is against IRS e-file rules.
  • Never sign a blank return. Avoid tax preparers that ask you to sign a blank tax form.
  • Review the entire return before signing. Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions. Make sure you understand everything and are comfortable with the accuracy of the return before you sign it.
  • Make sure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN. A paid preparer must sign the return and include their PTIN as required by law. The preparer must also give you a copy of the return.
  • Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS.You can report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS on Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If you suspect a return preparer filed or altered a return without your consent, you should also file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. Download the forms on the IRS.gov website or order them by mail at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

The above information was provided in a press release from the Internal Revenue Service. For more help on preparing your taxes and organizing your files contact professional organizing firm In Order to Succeed at info@inorderotsucceed.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

10 iPhone Apps That Make Organizing Photos Easier

By Guest Blogger: Debbie Denard of Nanny.net

The built-in camera on your iPhone is powerful enough to replace a small handheld digital camera, granting you the ability to take high-quality snapshots at a moment’s notice. Having this power at your fingertips usually results in a flood of photographs, which can be difficult to navigate and put in some semblance of order after a while. For the organization buffs among iPhone owners, here are 10 offerings that can be found in the App Store that will make the task of straightening those photos a snap.

  1. PhotoBook: Photos Organizer – For $0.99, PhotoBook will allow you to organize your photos either by the date they were taken or in a system of user-created albums. Intuitive and easy to navigate, this app is a great offering for photo organization on a relatively small budget. Because PhotoBook only organizes the existing snapshots in “Photos,” it won’t take up more storage space or present the risk of data loss in the event of an app bug.
  2. PhotoFolders – When you have photographs stored on your iPhone that you’d rather keep private from accidental viewing, this $1.99 app is a great choice. You can password protect separate albums to lock or hide them, sharing only the pictures you want.
  3. TravelPad: Travel Photo Album – Traveling presents a surfeit of photo-snapping opportunities, which can leave your Photos folder filled to the brim with scattered snapshots. This $1.99 app finds the location where photographs were taken and allows you to create a mapped route of pictures to retrace at your leisure. You also can share your journey with others by using the built-in slideshow feature.
  4. Stash – Keeping your photographs and other media downloads private is easy and secure with the $3.99 Stash app, which includes the ability to transfer your files to Dropbox, your computer or other mobile devices. The app also allows you to create an unlimited number of separate accounts with password or PIN protection, including hack attempt actions.
  5. Pics – Called “the essential photo management app for iOS” by AppAdvice.com, this $1.99 app allows you to view your photos in all of their full-resolution glory, never sacrificing quality for the sake of compression. You can also edit individual albums, moving and deleting as you see fit to best suit your organizational methods.
  6. Photo-Sort – Manage your albums by folder and sub-folder, maintain the original image quality, and share your photos easily within the $1.00 Photo-Sort app, which allows for Twitter and Facebook sharing as well as email. Exporting and importing is also simple and intuitive, making for an easy-to-use and functional app.
  7. Photo Org – Share images on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and even MySpace, or keep them securely password protected for only $2.99 with Photo Org, which also has a built-in photo editing option that includes several different effects, cropping and retouching. Create your own organizational system and maintain it easily, including video diary entries and YouTube support.
  8. Sort Shots – Find specific photos by rating, category, type, favorites or date with this $2.99 app that also allows you to search images with custom terms. Share your photos to social networking sites and through email, or create a slideshow set to music from your library!
  9. PhotoTag – Tagging your pictures with this $1.99 makes searching for specific items based on those tags the work of a moment. You can even snap your photos from within the app for instant tagging, eliminating the need to run the app after taking a picture, searching and then tagging.
  10. Photo Manager Pro – Transfer via FTP or HTTP, as well as Peer-to-Peer or USB. Create, move and delete custom folders for sorting, then reorder by dragging and dropping. You can even customize the colors of folders and the background style with this $2.99 feature-packed app.

In addition to these great organizational apps, there are a wide variety of high-quality photo editing applications available in the App Store that will allow you to turn out artist-quality pictures right from your handheld device. Snapping, editing and organizing photographs that capture all the memorable moments of your life has never been so easy!

Useful Links: Pocket Memory