What is VITA – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

Many people would like help with their tax returns, but don’t know how they can afford to employ the services of a tax professional.

It’s true that some of the major income tax preparation services advertise that they will file your taxes for free, but this isn’t always the same as preparing them; in many cases you can only have the 1040-EZ prepared for free.

If your taxes are a little more complicated than a 1040-EZ, yet you don’t feel like you can afford to have an accountant or other tax professional help you prepare your Form 1040, you do have a place to turn.

The IRS sponsors a program designed to help those who make less than $50,000 a year prepare and file their taxes.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

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Tax Time: Are You Reporting Your Income? Different Tax Forms to Look For

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For many, income reporting at tax time is fairly straightforward.

You get a W-2, there’s your income.  The IRS gets a copy of the W-2, your state gets a copy, and you keep a copy for yourself.  Your income is reported on this form, and you don’t have to worry a great deal about other income reporting.

However, in a world that increasingly provides opportunities to earn money from side hustles and investments, reporting income has become a little more complex.

It can be tempting to avoid reporting income to the IRS, but it’s important to remember that failure to report your income is illegal, and can result in fines and penalties and even criminal charges.

As the IRS works to recapture some of the revenue it feels it has been losing lately, you should understand that more people are reporting your income to the IRS than before.  So you need to be on your toes. Continue Reading

Alternatives to Foreclosure

If you are concerned that your home might become a foreclosure risk, you are probably casting about for other options.

Foreclosure can impact your credit score, and make it difficult for you to purchase a home in the future — at least for the next two to four years.

When you are trying to avoid foreclosure, you do have some options.

However, it’s important to realize that you will have to meet certain requirements in order to qualify for some of these options.  Additionally, some of your foreclosure alternatives will impact your credit score, even if it isn’t impacted as much as it would be with a foreclosure.

Here are some of your alternatives to foreclosure:

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Cost Basis Reporting – How it Affects Your Taxes

When you sell an investment, your gains or losses depends on your cost basis.

If you sell for more than your cost, you end up owning capital gains taxes on the increase.  If you sell at a loss, you don’t have to pay taxes on the difference; instead, you might be able to claim a tax deduction for your investment loss.

What is Cost Basis?

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What is Self-Employment Tax?

When you work as someone who is self-employed, one of the costs of doing business is paying the self-employment tax. As you get ready to pay your taxes, don’t forget that you will need to add the self-employment tax.

What is the Self-Employment Tax, and Who Must Pay It?

The self-employment tax encompasses Medicare and Social Security taxes.  For those who are more traditionally employed, these taxes are automatically taken out of the paycheck.  The employer pays a portion of the tax, and the employee pays a portion.

Note that as a self-employed person, you will be responsible for the entire tax on your own — both the employer portion and the employee portion.
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What is Tax Evasion and How Could it Affect You

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As tax season moves into high gear, thoughts turn toward how to improve tax efficiency.

There are a number of legal ways to reduce what you owe in taxes, thanks to deductions and credits.  If you think about your expenses, and re-examine your position, it is quite likely that you will find a few commonly overlooked deductions and credits that you missed.

Additionally, with a little thought, it is even possible to reduce your tax liability for the previous year — even though a new year is under way.

However, there is a very real difference between employing legal and properly documented tax breaks to reduce what you owe, and evading taxes in order to avoid paying what you are bound to pay by law.

Tax evasion is a serious matter, and you need to be careful to avoid engaging in it.

What is Tax Evasion?

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10 Common Overlooked Tax Deductions

As you start getting your tax information together, don’t forget to look for tax deductions.

While it is mostly too late to rack up new tax deductions, you can go back through your expenses from last year and figure out if you are eligible for another deduction or two.  Every little bit helps when it comes to decreasing your tax liability.

If you are looking for a few more deductions to add to your tax return, here are 10 common overlooked tax deductions to consider:

1. Charitable Mileage

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