What You Need to Know About Taxes

Most people don't enjoy paying taxes. But the more we know about them the better we can plan for them. Articles here contain information on new tax rules as well as how to save and plan for your taxes.

What is VITA – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (You Might Get Free Tax Preparation)

VITA can help you prepare your taxes for free.

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 $53,000 a year prepare and file their taxes — the VITA, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Read on and see if VITA can help you prepare your taxes and get free tax filing.

What is the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

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5 Reasons Getting a Large Tax Refund is Bad

Why getting a large tax refund is bad.

The stress of doing your taxes is over.

You filed all of your forms and to your joy you’re getting back a tax refund.  And it’s a nice sized one too!

It’s awesome, right?

Not so fast.

Getting a lump sum payout after filing your taxes feels great.  But I’m going to show you that it may not be as great as you think.  There are better ways you can use your money (and it is your money).

Read On as I Tell You 5 Reasons a Large Tax Refund is Bad.

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What Do Your Property Taxes Pay For?

What do property taxes pay for?

How many times have you looked at your tax bill, threw your arms in the air, and yelled our “where is all this property tax money going, this is way too high?!?”

Maybe I’m the wacky one, but I’ve done that.  (Actually, I would probably have an expletive or two in there.)

The problem with that view though is that property taxes are never a single number, but a combination of several.

Most of us tend to think our property taxes are too high, but then we get a bit hung up on the components.  We may want a lower tax bill, but at the same time we might support high spending levels in certain areas, or even just one in particular.

There are constituencies behind each category of our property taxes, which is why it’s so hard to get lower taxes overall.

So What Do Your Property Taxes Pay For?

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Marginal Tax Rate VS Effective Tax Rate – Why You Need to Know the Difference

Marginal vs effective tax rates

Most of us have no idea what either our marginal or effective income tax rates are.

They only seem to matter at income tax filing time, usually appearing as supplemental numbers in a computer generated income tax return.

One of the reasons we tend not to track these numbers is because they’re calculations, which for the most part, have no immediate relevance to us, but also because of complications in calculating them.

Because we have a progressive income tax system — tax rates rise with income — and because there are multiple taxes, the actual numbers can be difficult to calculate.  In addition, each rate can change from one year to the next or from complications in the tax code.

We have two tax rate classifications then, marginal tax rate and effective tax rate.

What is the marginal tax rate and the effective tax rate and how and when do they apply?

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Free Tax Day Snacks, Giveaways and Deals

Tax day deals and freebies

You got all your forms and receipts together to tackle your taxes.

Did you file everything yet in or are you still procrastinating?

If you are really one of those last minute folks then you better make sure your return is in either electronically by day’s end or post-marked by the end of the day on April 15th (expect the post office to be crowded).

To help everyone get over the tax-day malaise, there are a number of stores that are offering up free tax day snacks, giveaways, and deals.

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To Itemize or Take the Standard Deduction, That is the Question

Itemize vs standard deduction

When life becomes more complicated, so do your taxes.

As you claim dependents, purchase a home, or are involved in a major loss or theft you can claim specific items on your taxes that will reduce your tax burden.

Other reasons such as owning your own small business, earning money in more than one state, or if you have investments or property that can be claimed as a loss then your taxes become slightly more difficult to file.

Most single people will file a Form 1040-EZ, but if you have any type of deduction that is greater than the standard deduction it may be best to file using a Form 1040.

So when should you itemize on your taxes?  The following will provide some major reasons for itemizing.

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Where’s My Tax Refund? How to Check the Status of Your Tax Refund

where's my tax refund

When you are expecting a tax refund, it is normal to file a little bit early.

The very next thing you say once you file is “where’s my refund?”  We can’t wait to get that money owed to us.

Indeed, many people have already received their tax refunds.

When you get refunded depends on two main factors:

  1. How you filed (mail or e-file)
  2. How you receive your refund (paper check or direct deposit)

If you mail in your tax return, and opt to receive your refund in the form of a check from the United States Treasury, it can take as long as two months or more to see your tax rebate.

This is the combination that takes the longest.
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