2011 Tax Changes Made Easy

 

The IRS Tax Code is getting more complex every year.  There are 20-50% of the people who file their taxes miss tax deductions and/or credits that they really qualify to get.  So all those people are paying more taxes than they are required to pay. 

This site hopes to help you get back what you deserve and not pay any more taxes than you are required to pay. 

You can read the posts, listen to audio and look at videos.

We encourage you to comment on anything on this site. This site is for tax related conversation only.

Frivolous Tax Update

IRS Debunks Frivolous Tax Arguments

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today released the 2011 version of its discussion and rebuttal of many of the more common frivolous arguments made by individuals and groups that oppose compliance with federal tax laws.

Anyone who contemplates arguing on legal grounds against paying their fair share of taxes should first read the 84-page document, The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments.

The document explains many of the common frivolous arguments made in recent years and it describes the legal responses that refute these claims. It will help taxpayers avoid wasting their time and money with frivolous arguments and incurring penalties.

Congress in 2006 increased the amount of the penalty for frivolous tax returns from $500 to $5,000. The increased penalty amount applies when a person submits a tax return or other specified submission, and any portion of the submission is based on a position the IRS identifies as frivolous.

The 2011 version of the IRS document includes numerous recently decided cases that continue to demonstrate that frivolous positions have no legitimacy.

Frivolous arguments include contentions that taxpayers can refuse to pay income taxes on religious or moral grounds by invoking the First Amendment; that the only “employees” subject to federal income tax are employees of the federal government; and that only foreign-source income is taxable.

In addition, the document highlights cases involving injunctions against preparers and promoters of Form 1099-Original Issue Discount schemes, and the imposition of criminal and civil penalties on taxpayers who claimed they were not citizens of the United States for federal income tax purposes.

Find Tax Credits on Tax Form1040

How to find tax credits and tax deductions. This is a 10 minute video about how to fill out the tax form 1040.

How to Figure Capital Gains Tax

When you figure Capital gains taxes it can be confusing. There are two main types of capital gaines. One is short term (assett is held for less than 12 months), and long term (asset that is held for longer than one year).
We put togather a video that is helpful as well as fun.

How to Get Tax Help from the IRS

Top 10 Reasons to Visit the IRS Website 

Don’t wait in line, go online. Point and click your way through the tax season. All you need is a computer and Internet access because the IRS website has a wealth of free information and online tax support. Here are the top 10 reasons to visit http://www.irs.gov.

  1. If you find yourself working on your tax return over the weekend, there’s no need to wait to get a form or an answer to a question – visit the IRS website anytime. The website is accessible all day, every day.
  2. Use Free File: Let Free File do the hard work for you with brand-name tax software or online fillable forms. It’s exclusively at http://www.irs.gov. Everyone can find an option to prepare their tax return and e-file it for free. If you made $58,000 or less, you qualify for free tax software that is offered through a private-public partnership with manufacturers. If you made more or are comfortable preparing your own tax return, there’s Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic versions of IRS paper forms. Visit http://www.irs.gov/freefile to review your options.
  3. Try IRS e-file: After 21 years, IRS e-file has become the safe, easy and most common way to file a tax return. Last year, 70 percent of taxpayers – 99 million people – used IRS e-file. Starting in 2011, many tax preparers will be required to use e-file and will explain your filing options to you. This is your chance to give it a try. IRS e-file is approaching 1 billion returns processed safely and securely. If you owe taxes, you have payment options to file immediately and pay by the tax deadline. Best of all, combine e-file with direct deposit and you get your refund in as few as 10 days. More information about e-file is available at http://www.irs.gov.
  4. Check the status of your tax refund. Whether you chose direct deposit or asked the IRS to mail you a check, you can check the status of your refund through Where’s My Refund?
  5. Find out how to make payments electronically. You can authorize an electronic funds withdrawal, use a credit or debit card, or enroll in the U.S. Treasury’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System to pay your federal taxes. Electronic payment options are a convenient, safe and secure way to pay taxes.
  6. Find out if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. EITC is a tax credit for many people who earned less than $49,000. Find out if you are eligible by answering some questions and providing basic income information using the EITC Assistant.
  7. Get tax forms and publications. You can view and download tax forms and publications any hour of the day or night.
  8. Calculate the right amount of withholding on your W-4. The IRS Withholding Calculator will help you ensure that you don’t have too much or too little income tax withheld from your pay.
  9. Request a payment agreement. Paying your taxes in full and on time avoids unnecessary penalties and interest. However, if you cannot pay your balance in full you may be eligible to use the Online Payment Agreement Application to request an installment agreement.
  10. Get information about the latest tax law changes. Learn about tax law changes that may affect your tax return. Special sections of the website highlight changes that affect individual or business taxpayers.

Remember the address of the official IRS website is http://www.irs.gov. Don’t be confused by Internet sites that end in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov.

Do I Have to File a Tax Return

Do I have to File a Tax Return? 

You must file a federal income tax return if your income is above a certain level; which varies depending on your filing status, age and the type of income you receive.

Check the Individuals section of the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov or consult the instructions for Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ for specific details that may help you determine if you need to file a tax return with the IRS this year. You can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant available on the IRS website to determine if you need to file a tax return. The ITA tool is a tax law resource that takes you through a series of questions and provides you with responses to tax law questions.

There are some instances when you may want to file a tax return even though you are not required to do so. Even if you don’t have to file, here are seven reasons why you may want to:

  1. Federal Income Tax Withheld  You should file to get money back if Federal Income Tax was withheld from your pay, you made estimated tax payments, or had a prior year overpayment applied to this year’s tax.
  2. Making Work Pay Credit  You may be able to take this credit if you had earned income from work. The maximum credit for a married couple filing a joint return is $800 and $400 for other taxpayers.
  3. Earned Income Tax Credit  You may qualify for EITC if you worked, but did not earn a lot of money.EITC is a refundable tax credit; which means you could qualify for a tax refund.
  4. Additional Child Tax Credit  This refundable credit may be available to you if you have at least one qualifying child and you did not get the full amount of the Child Tax Credit.
  5. American Opportunity Credit  The maximum credit per student is $2,500 and the first four years of postsecondary education qualify.
  6. First-Time Homebuyer Credit  The credit is a maximum of $8,000 or $4,000 if your filing status is married filing separately. To qualify for the credit, taxpayers must have bought – or entered into a binding contract to buy – a principal residence located in the United States on or before April 30, 2010. If you entered into a binding contract by April 30, 2010, you must have closed on the home on or before September 30, 2010. If you bought a home as your principle residence in 2010, you may be able to qualify and claim the credit even if you already owned a home. In this case, the maximum credit for long-time residents is $6,500, or $3,250 if your filing status is married filing separately.
  7. Health Coverage Tax Credit  Certain individuals, who are receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance, Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance, or pension benefit payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, may be eligible for a Health Coverage Tax Credit worth 80 percent of monthly health insurance premiums when you file your 2010 tax return.

For more information about filing requirements and your eligibility to receive tax credits, visit http://www.irs.gov.

Income Tax Filing Tips

Top 10 Tax Time Tips 

It’s that time of the year again, the income tax filing season has begun and important tax documents should be arriving in the mail. Even though your return is not due until April, getting an early start will make filing easier. Here are the Internal Revenue Service’s top 10 tips that will help your tax filing process run smoother than ever this year.

  1. Start gathering your records Round up any documents or forms you’ll need when filing your taxes: receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support income or deductions you’re claiming on your return.
  2. Be on the lookout W-2s and 1099s will be coming soon; you’ll need these to file your tax return.
  3. Use Free File: Let Free File do the hard work for you with brand-name tax software or online fillable forms. It’s available exclusively at http://www.irs.gov. Everyone can find an option to prepare their tax return and e-file it for free. If you made $58,000 or less, you qualify for free tax software that is offered through a private-public partnership with manufacturers. If you made more or are comfortable preparing your own tax return, there’s Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic versions of IRS paper forms. Visit www.irs.gov/freefile to review your options.
  4. Try IRS e-file: After 21 years, IRS e-file has become the safe, easy and most common way to file a tax return. Last year, 70 percent of taxpayers – 99 million people – used IRS e-file. Starting in 2011, many tax preparers will be required to use e-file and will explain your filing options to you. This is your chance to give it a try. IRS e-file is approaching 1 billion returns processed safely and securely. If you owe taxes, you have payment options to file immediately and pay by the tax deadline. Best of all, combine e-file with direct deposit and you get your refund in as few as 10 days.
  5. Consider other filing options There are many different options for filing your tax return.You can prepare it yourself or go to a tax preparer.You may be eligible for free face-to-face help at an IRS office or volunteer site.Give yourself time to weigh all the different options and find the one that best suits your needs.
  6. Consider Direct Deposit If you elect to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account, you’ll receive it faster than waiting for a paper check. 
  7. Visit the IRS website again and again The official IRS website is a great place to find everything you’ll need to file your tax return: forms, publications, tips, answers to frequently asked questions and updates on tax law changes.
  8. Remember this number: 17 Check out IRS Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax on the IRS website. It’s a comprehensive collection of information for taxpayers highlighting everything you’ll need to know when filing your return.
  9. Review! Review! Review!Don’t rush. We all make mistakes when we rush.Mistakes will slow down the processing of your return. Be sure to double-check all the Social Security Numbers and math calculations on your return as these are the most common errors made by taxpayers.
  10. Don’t panic! If you run into a problem, remember the IRS is here to help. Try http://www.irs.gov  

Tax Benefits Inflation Adjustments

In 2011, Many Tax Benefits Increase Slightly Due to Inflation Adjustments 

WASHINGTON — In 2011, personal exemptions and standard deductions will rise and tax brackets will widen due to inflation, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.

These inflation adjustments relate to eight tax provisions that were either modified or extended by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 that became law on Dec. 17. New dollar amounts affecting 2011 returns, filed by most taxpayers in early 2012, include the following:

  • The value of each personal and dependent exemption, available to most taxpayers, is $3,700, up $50 from 2010.
  • The new standard deduction is $11,600 for married couples filing a joint return, up $200, $5,800 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up $100, and $8,500 for heads of household, also up $100. The additional standard deduction for blind people and senior citizens is $1,150 for married individuals, up $50, and $1,450 for singles and heads of household, also up $50. Nearly two out of three taxpayers take the standard deduction, rather than itemizing deductions, such as mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes.
  • Tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status. For a married couple filing a joint return, for example, the taxable-income threshold separating the 15-percent bracket from the 25-percent bracket is $69,000, up from $68,000 in 2010.
  • The maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low- and moderate- income workers and working families rises to $5,751, up from $5,666 in 2010. The maximum income limit for the EITC rises to $49,078, up from $48,362 in 2010.The credit varies by family size, filing status and other factors, with the maximum credit going to joint filers with three or more qualifying children.
  • The modified adjusted gross income threshold at which the lifetime learning credit begins to phase out is $102,000 for joint filers, up from $100,000, and $51,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $50,000.

Several tax benefits are unchanged in 2011. For example, the monthly limit on the value of qualified transportation benefits (parking, transit passes, etc.) provided by an employer to its employees, remains at $230. Details on these inflation adjustments can be found in Revenue Procedure 2011-12.

By law, the dollar amounts for a variety of tax provisions, affecting virtually every taxpayer, must be revised each year to keep pace with inflation. Most of the new dollar amounts, including retirement-plan-related adjustments, were announced in October. To avoid confusion, the eight provisions released today were not included in the October announcements, due to the anticipated impact of extender legislation.

Don’t File Your Taxes Until Febuary 2011

The IRS announced today (December 23, 2010) not to file your taxes until February 2011. Unless you do not have any deductions.
Because of all the last minute changes the tax forms have not been updated and the IRS software has not been updated.

 So you may not get all the tax breaks that you are entitled to get.
We get the notices from the IRS on the first day they are  published

 Stay Tuned

Subscribe to our RSS feed.  There will be lots of new tax information in the next few months.

HSA Debit Card Use

The Internal Revenue Service  issued new guidance allowing the continued use of health flexible spending arrangement (FSA) and health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) debit cards for the purchase of prescribed over-the-counter medicines and drugs.

The new guidance modifies previous guidance to permit taxpayers to continue using FSA and HRA debit cards to purchase over-the-counter medications for which the taxpayer has a prescription. Effective after Jan. 15, 2011, in accordance with the new guidance, this use of debit cards must comply with procedures reflecting those that pharmacies currently follow when selling prescribed medicines or drugs.

The procedures include requirements that a prescription for the medication be presented to the pharmacy or the mail-order or web-based vendor that dispenses the medication and that proper records be retained.

In accordance with the Affordable Care Act, the cost of over-the-counter medicines or drugs can be reimbursed from a health FSA or HRA if a prescription has been obtained. The requirement to obtain a prescription does not apply to insulin.

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