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There is a lot to consider when planning for retirement. To take full advantage of investing, it’s a good idea to start early. It’s also important to think about inflation and that health care expenses will likely increase the older you get. Here are what experts say you should think about as you save for retirement: Determine how much you’ll need Josh Zimmelman, Westwood Tax & Consulting Owner“You need to look at your savings and figure out when you can actually afford to retire and how much longer you need to continue working. Be realistic. Better to push your retirement back a few years, than realize too late that you didn’t save enough. Think about how much you’ll likely spend on different necessities during retirement. Some of your expenses will probably go down, but others will go up. Add about 3 percent per year for inflation.” Mike Scott, Independent Bank Senior Mortgage Loan Originator“One thing to keep in mind is what the expected level of retirement income is, relative to the individual’s current income. If they expect to have $50,000 per year from retirement income sources, but are currently making $80,000 per year, then it makes more sense to make contributions to a traditional IRA or 401K, thus reducing the current tax burden since they are in a higher tax bracket. If they expect the retirement income level to be in an upper income bracket, it may behoove them to contribute to a ROTH IRA or a ROTH 401K rather than a traditional IRA or 401K, particularly since they would then be locked into the current tax levels. Given the deficit that the government is running on, I expect our tax obligations to rise over the next decade or two. Given that the current three upper level tax brackets are based on income of $160,725 (single), $321,450 (married) and go up from there, the decision would need to be made based on those levels, which are always going to be subject to change. At those levels, the tax rate jumps from 24 percent to 32 percent, then rises from there to 37 percent for income levels of $510,300 for an individual and $612,350 for a married couple.” Consider diversifying for tax purposes Brandon Renfro, Ph.D.“Young people can really set themselves up for success by thinking about retirement taxes ahead of time. You’ll probably receive retirement income from a few different sources, so think about how those integrate with each other. For example, a larger portion of your Social Security benefit is taxable as your combined income increases. You can lower your total tax bill by planning ahead to make that combined income figure lower without necessarily lowering your actual income, since not all income counts in the combined income calculation.” Alex Caswell, CFA, CFP ®, Wealth Planner at RHS Financial“Young people should consider having three types of investment accounts. They should have a Roth IRA or 401k, a regular IRA, and a taxable account. Just like diversifying investments, someone should diversify their tax structures. Just like we don't know what will happen to the stock market, we don't know what will happen to the tax code. Right now capital gain tax is the lowest it has been historically, but that won't always hold true. By having multiple types of accounts, a person retiring can have the flexibility to navigate the tax code.” Patrick Ford, CPWA ® Director of Wealth Management of Brown Wealth Management“Having a taxable and a tax-free source of funds in retirement can greatly help a retiree make the most of our progressive tax system. In retirement, you might withdraw from your traditional IRA until you find yourself close to a higher tax bracket. Any additional income you need in that particular year could be withdrawn, tax-free, from your Roth IRA.” Jason B. Ball, Ball Comprehensive Planning, LLC Founder“As the years have gone on, I tend to prefer a tax bouquet that being some in tax-deferred accounts, some in already taxed accounts like a Roth IRA, and some in non-taxable accounts. This gives some tax flexibility if changes are made to the tax code.” Plan for health care expenses Josh Zimmelman, Westwood Tax & Consulting Owner“Get a head start on Medicare and Social Security. There are a lot of complicated rules so make sure you understand everything you need to know before you need it. Apply for social security and set up your pensions and retirement withdrawals. (And set aside some cash reserves in case you hit any unexpected delays.)” Shobin Uralil, Cofounder and COO of Lively"There are many demographics, particularly young working Americans, where a high-deductible health plan could make sense. For example, if you rarely go to the doctor, why pay high premiums for a service you may not use. Rather, take the savings and put it into an HSA. Because of this, we’re seeing growth in HSAs as a vehicle not only for health savings in the near term, but for anticipated health costs in retirement as well. These new contribution limits will help increase the value of HSAs to individuals and families throughout their lives. We’d encourage users to max out their contributions throughout the year to not only take advantage of the tax savings, but also to ensure that they are putting themselves in a position to better afford their future healthcare expenses. We also encourage employers to do their part by extending HSA contributions as a benefit to their employees.” Make decisions based on current finances and long-term financial goals Jason B. Ball, Founder of Ball Comprehensive Planning, LLC“The goal is typically to lower the marginal tax rate that you pay on your taxes. What I mean by this is that on each next dollar you earn, there is a marginal tax rate that is applied. Your goal is to reduce this marginal tax rate and to have your overall effective tax rate be lower. So, it really is a decision to either accelerate to pay taxes now or decelerate to pay taxes in the future. There is software to help strategize individual tax situations and we strongly recommend working with a CFP(R) or CPA in this area do to some of the complexities.” Josh Zimmelman, Westwood Tax & Consulting Owner“Make sure you’re contributing as much as you can afford to your retirement savings account/s. After age 50, you can make additional 'catch-up' contributions to your retirement savings. If you have multiple accounts, considering consolidating all your 401(k) and IRA plans as you get closer to retirement. Pay off your debt before you retire. Try to get rid of any outstanding debts as quickly as possible, so they don’t drain your retirement funds. Think about getting a part-time job. Retirement doesn’t mean you have to completely stop working. It might be an opportunity to shift to a low stress part time gig. Starting a brand new career can be difficult at an advanced but there are a lot of opportunities for project-based jobs where you can use your current experience in a new way.” Check out Best Company's Retirement Taxes Guide for more information and tips.
Retirement is the dream. It’s about being financially independent, finishing work, and having more free time to spend with friends and family. Unfortunately, taxes don’t go away. “Many recent retirees are surprised to owe income tax time, because they are frequently not withholding on major sources of retirement income such as IRA distributions and Social Security benefits. You have to make withholding elections yourselves, with your planner or brokerage firm holding your IRA account, and by filling out Form W4-V to withhold from social security benefits. The typical working taxpayer has withholding taken care of by their employer, so they don’t expect to have to do this on their own come retirement,” says Bennett Stein, CPA and Investment Advisor Representative with Arbor Wealth Management, LLC. Since you’ll be taking on a more active role in making sure your taxes are paid, it’s important to understand how retirement taxes work. It’s also worthwhile to understand retirement taxes when you’re young because it can help inform how you prepare your finances for retirement. What taxes do you pay in retirement? While you no longer have to pay FICA taxes, which are taxes withheld for Medicare and Social Security, you still have to pay income taxes on all of your income. The only exceptions are Health Savings Accounts and Roth IRAs. Health Savings Accounts remain tax-free as long as the funds are used for medical expenses. However, the penalty for using the funds for other expenses goes away at age 65. Withdrawals for other expenses are considered taxable income. Roth IRAs are tax-free in retirement because the funds in those accounts are taxed before going into the account. Everything else — investment income, retirement account withdrawals, pensions, annuities, and even Social Security Benefits — are taxed. And, you still have to pay income taxes if you live abroad. “America is one of two countries that enforces citizen-based taxation, so retirees will still need to submit the annual 1040s while sipping on cocktails on an island. Many retirees are unaware of this filing retirement. Retirees should look to see the Tax Treaty between their new home and the U.S. to see which country has the taxing rights on their U.S. Social Security benefits and other foreign pension income. If the tax treaty states that the U.S. still holds taxing rights, then overseas retirees need to plan their money wisely, since they most likely be giving a portion of it back to the IRS every April 15th,” says Nathalie Goldstein, CEO of MyExpatTaxes. How much tax do you pay in retirement? Income tax during retirement is not just based on the total amount of income you withdraw each year. Instead, each kind of retirement income is taxed differently. State taxes on retirement income also vary state to state. For more information on how income tax is applied in your state, check out this state-by-state guide. “Once you hit the retirement age the heavily taxed monthly salary stops trickling in but you get to unlock several retirement income plans. These include savings, pensions, and investments and they too are taxed — but at more friendly rates. The rates are primarily dependent on the income source and the best approach to paying the taxes starts with understanding the different classification of your retirement incomes. Go through the IRA guidelines to check whether your incomes are taxable, partially-taxable, or tax-free and separate them accordingly as well as penalties and fines on early withdrawals,” says Edith Muthoni, Chief Editor of learnbonds.com. Understanding how each stream of retirement income is taxed will help you better manage your retirement funds to make them last and get the most out of your funds. How is investment income taxed? Investment income is also taxed differently depending on how the income is classified and your total taxable income. For some income levels, qualified dividends are not taxed. At others, qualified dividends have a tax rate of 15 or 20 percent. Qualified dividends are for funds and fund shares that have been owned by you for over 60 days. Non-qualified dividends are taxed based on your income tax bracket’s normal rate. People earn capital gains when the value of their investments rises. Capital gains are only taxable when they are realized from a sale. The taxes due on capital gains vary depending on how much long you’ve had the investment. If you’ve had the investment for less than one year, the capital gains are subject to your usual income tax rate. These are called short-term capital gains. If you’ve had an investment longer, the profits are called long-term capital gains. Long-term capital gains are taxed the same way as qualified dividends. Interest is also taxed. Interest comes from bonds and some kinds of bank accounts, like savings accounts. All interest, even from mutual funds and bonds, is taxed as income. How are retirement accounts taxed? Taxation of retirement accounts works differently. 401(k)s and traditional IRAs give people immediate tax breaks for contributing to their retirement account. The funds can grow tax deferred indefinitely. When withdrawals are made, the taxes must be paid at this point. These distributions are taxed as income. In contrast, Roth IRAs do not offer immediate tax breaks on income. Instead, people pay taxes on the money they add to their Roth IRA. When they withdraw money later, they do not have to pay taxes on that income as long as the account is five years or older or a special exemption applies. Penalties and taxes apply for early withdrawals from retirement accounts. Early withdrawals occur before age 59 and a half. For Roth IRAs, the penalties and taxes depend on the amount you withdraw. Expert tips for planning retirement account distributions Tracey Lawrence, Founder of Grand Family Planning, LLC“Many people facing retirement don’t realize that when they turn 70.5, they MUST start taking Required Minimum Distributions from their retirement accounts whether they need to or not. Why? Because they have been growing their money, tax deferred. The IRS wants to start taking their cut. If they DON’T start receiving the RMDs on time, the retiree will be penalized 50 percent. So you might think, okay, I’ll just take the RMD at 70.5 and avoid the penalty. Here’s what most people don’t realize: the amount of the RMD may have a significant impact on their income. Their income has an impact on the premium they will pay on Medicare. How can they control how all of these interdependent mechanisms impact the cost of living in retirement? By working with professionals who understand how all of this works, who will look at the finances holistically BEFORE they turn 70.5. Many professionals are unaware of these issues, choosing to focus only on growing assets. While that may be desirable when we’re younger, understanding how to best distribute earnings later in life can keep people comfortable longer. And with people living longer, and health care costs continuing to rise, that’s extremely important.” Edith Muthoni, Chief Editor of learnbonds.com“You can also lower the impact of taxes on your retirement incomes by adhering to income access and withdrawal guidelines. For instance, avoid withdrawing from your 401K after changing jobs or before hitting 59.5 years as these attract early withdrawal penalties. Similarly, withdraw from both your IRA and 401K accounts before 70.5 years to avoid higher interest plus the possibility of losing up to 50 percent of these savings.” How are Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) taxed? HSAs are not taxed as long as the funds are used for medical expenses. In terms of retirement, HSAs start working like Roth IRAs at age 65. However, if the funds in the HSA are used for health expenses, they remain tax-free. How are pensions taxed? Pensions are similar to 401(k) and traditional IRA retirement accounts. The funds go into the accounts tax-deferred, so taxes are paid when distributions are made. Pension distributions are taxed as normal income. How are annuities taxed? With annuities, the value of the original principal is usually not taxable because they’re often bought after taxes. However, all the interest and value that accrues over time is taxed as income. If the annuity is purchased with tax-deferred dollars, the full annuity is taxed as income. How are Social Security benefits taxed? The taxes you pay on Social Security benefits are determined based on how much other income you receive. In some cases, Social Security is tax-free. However, most people will have to pay tax on 50 or 85 percent of their Social Security benefits. Experts weigh in: What's the best way to pay taxes in retirement? Denise J. Nostrom, ChFC, CLU Financial Advisor at Diversified Financial Solutions“Paying taxes on retirement income really depends on the type of income you are receiving. For most people, it makes sense to withhold federal and state taxes (if applicable) right from the income source. These income sources can include, but are not limited to the following: Social Security, Pension and Traditional IRAs. Before retirement, when you received your paycheck from your job, you had federal, and state taxes withheld plus Social Security, Medicare and perhaps other items withheld from your gross income. You should follow this same system in retirement.” Nancy D. Butler, CFP ® , CDFA ™, CLTC and owner of Above All Else, Success in Life and Business ®“I strongly suggest all retirees do not pay quarterly income tax payments. One of the main concerns we all have as we age is how we can maintain our independence and happiness as long as possible. One way to assist with that is how you manage paying your income taxes. If you are paying quarterly estimated federal and/or state income taxes, it may not be necessary. As we age, remembering how much to pay, when to pay it, where to send payment, and how much postage costs is an issue you most likely do not have to deal with. Contact your tax advisor and have him or her calculate how much to have withheld from your pension, Social Security, or qualified plan assets so you no longer have to file quarterly estimated income tax returns. Each year when you have your income taxes prepared, your tax advisor will need to let you know if you need to adjust the amount for the coming year. This will enable you to have your taxes paid automatically to better assure they are paid in the correct amounts and on time. This will be one less thing you will have to address.” Patrick Ford, CPWA ® Director of Wealth Management of Brown Wealth Management“Other retirement income sources can get a bit tricky. Withholdings might not be appropriate, so you may need to pay estimated taxes to the IRS on a quarterly basis. A non-retirement account may contain a variety of securities which can generate capital gains, losses, dividends, tax-free income, taxable income, etc. Because withdrawals from these accounts are not taxed as income, retirees with non-retirement accounts typically estimate their tax bill and make payments on a quarterly basis to the IRS. It’s the activity within these accounts that matters for tax purposes.”
Guest Post by Michael Law Most people understand that filing their personal tax returns by April 15 is non-negotiable. However, according to the IRS, each year around 7 million taxpayers do not file their taxes. There are specific consequences to take into account when contemplating not filing. Key Takeaway: Understand your responsibilities. File your taxes as soon as possible. Find out if you fit the requirements for the IRS’s first-time abatement penalty waiver (FTA). Pay what you owe, if you can. If you don't file at all Beyond the issue of wondering when unfiled returns or unpaid taxes are going to catch up with you, there are some unexpected implications for not paying taxes, including Hampering your ability to qualify for a home loan. Since one of the lender procedures is to verify your previous years tax returns, it is impossible for the lender to verify a non-filed return. Missing out on credits or refunds of taxes withheld. There were almost $1.4 billion in unclaimed tax refunds, due to 1.2 million taxpayers who did not file their 2015 tax returns. That is an average of around $1,000 in unclaimed refund per unfiled return forever lost. As there is a three-year deadline to claim the refund, once April 15, 2020 arrives, the next group of taxpayers who did not claim their refunds from 2016 are out of luck. Being more likely to believe the IRS phone scams about a sheriff sent to arrest you for not paying your taxes, since you know you have not filed. For those who continually choose not to file their tax return and hence do not pay their taxes owed, the IRS can do the following: File a notice of a federal tax lien (a claim to your property) Seize your property including bank account balances Make you forfeit your federal or state refunds File charges against you for tax evasion Revoke your passport If you don’t file on time If you don't file on time, there are a number of implications that taxpayers might not be aware of: Difficulties qualifying for financial aid for children attending college. In the hurry of filing late, taxpayers may lose or miss important. information, which can for example result in overpaying due to missed deductions. Rushed filings can also generate errors that may lead to IRS or state notices. Late filing penalties and interest based on the initial balance due will build up. The taxpayer will end up owing a lot more than if they had filed and paid any owed taxes on time. If you are reading this now, and still have not filed your taxes, here is what you should do: 1. File your taxes as soon as possible. 2. If you owe taxes to the IRS, find out if you fit the requirements for the IRS’s first-time abatement penalty waiver (FTA). This waiver allows a first-time noncompliant taxpayer to request the removal of certain penalties for a single tax period. An FTA can be obtained for a failure-to-file, failure-to-pay, or failure-to-deposit penalty. To qualify, you must not have been assessed any other penalties on the same type of tax return within the past three years and must be in compliance with all filing and payment requirements. 3. Pay what you owe, if you can. 4. If you cannot pay, contact the IRS to discuss the following options: Short-term extension to pay An installment agreement An offer-in-compromise A temporary delay in collection by reporting your account is currently not collectible until you are able to pay Note that the IRS cannot waive interest charges which accrue on unpaid tax bills. The bottom line If you are considering not filing your taxes because you can’t afford payment, there are better ways to address this issue than not filing. If you don’t have the information you need to file or simply cannot make the April 15 deadline, be sure to file an extension ahead of April 15 to extend your time to file by six months. Michael Law earned a Master’s degree in taxation from Golden Gate University and has more than 20 years of experience in accounting and tax. Currently, he works as a CPA Subject Matter Expert Manager at Canopy, leading a team to develop world-class tax software. Prior to Canopy, he served as the Vice President of Tax Operations for the Salt Lake City branch of Goldman Sachs.
Many taxpayers look forward to tax season because of tax returns. While getting a large sum of money all at once is exciting, it also means that you overpaid your taxes. On the other hand, getting a nice check from the government feels way better than owing taxes. If you owe too much, you could be fined or need to seek tax relief. The big question: What determines the size of your tax return?The answer: Tax withholdings. Understanding tax withholdings and setting them carefully will help ensure that you’re not overpaying or underpaying.This article will answer the following questions people have about tax withholdings: What is tax withholding? What is federal tax withholding? What is Medicare tax withholding? What is Social Security tax withholding? What is state tax withholding? How do you calculate taxes from your paycheck? Should I change my withholding? How do I change my withholding? What is tax withholding? Employers generally take payroll or income taxes out of their employees’ pay before giving employees their paycheck. If you want to know how much you’re paying in taxes, you can take a look at your pay stub and W4s. If you’re self-employed or a contract worker, you’re responsible for paying your own taxes. What is federal tax withholding? The federal tax withholding is determined based on how much you make. These percentages are consistent across the U.S. but are subject to change. The IRS publishes withholding charts for every tax year that detail what people with different W-4 allowances, tax filing statuses, and income levels will owe in taxes. This information is especially useful for employers and self-employed individuals. The federal tax withholding also includes Medicare and Social Security taxes. What is Medicare tax withholding? Unlike the payroll and income tax rates, the Medicare tax percentage rates do not vary based on the amount earned. The tax rate is 1.45 percent for people earning up to $200,000 annually. If you make more, an additional .9 percent tax is applied. Employers also pay a 1.45 percent Medicare tax.Medicare taxes go to fund Medicare — medical, hospital, and prescription drug insurance for Americans over age 65. What is Social Security tax withholding? Social Security taxes are also consistent across the United States and income levels. It is 6.2 percent for individuals. Employers also pay 6.2 percent in Social Security taxes These funds are dispersed to qualified American retirees, individuals receiving disability, and to surviving minors and spouses of deceased workers. What is state tax withholding? Each state has its own tax laws, so the state tax withholding varies state to state. Some states do not tax income. You can find information about your state’s taxes and tax withholdings online. The department that manages state taxes has a different name in each state. For example, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance manages taxes in New York, and the Missouri Department of Revenue manages taxes in Missouri. Once you know the department name in your state, you can find good information about state tax withholdings from the official webpage.Depending on your community’s local laws, you may also have to pay additional taxes. How do you calculate taxes from your paycheck? Tax withholdings vary based on how much you make. If your employer takes taxes out of your paycheck, the easiest way to see how much you’re paying in taxes is to look at your pay stubs. For the annual amounts, multiply the tax deductions by the number of pay periods in a year.“You want to make sure you have the right amount of tax withheld to set yourself up for a successful tax season. If you withhold too little, you might find yourself owing money in taxes next April. If you withhold too much, you might get a big refund but you’ll likely be short on cash all year,” says Joshua Zimmelman, President of Westwood Tax and Consulting, LLC.If you’d like to do the math yourself to make sure that your withholding is correct, here’s the breakdown: Know how much you make annually.Your annual earnings affect what tax bracket you fall under, which determines the amount you pay in taxes. If you don’t know that number specifically, it’s important to make a good estimate to make sure that you’re paying the right amount of taxes. Look at the tax withholding charts.The IRS publishes the amount each earning bracket will need to pay in taxes annually. The charts are broken down by filing status and number of dependents. Alternatively, you can use the IRS withholding calculator to make sure your withholdings are correct.“The IRS website has a withholding calculator to help you make sure you’ve got the correct amount of tax withheld from your paychecks. You’ll want to have last year’s tax return and your recent pay stubs handy.” says Zimmelman. How often should I check my withholding? Fully understanding your finances includes understanding what you’re paying in taxes.“It never hurts to see if your withholdings are on track. A big refund means you’ve over-withheld, effectively giving the government an interest free loan. Owing money could mean you face added costs in penalties and interest. If you check your withholding throughout the year, you can take control of the situation and your money,” says Ann Brookes, LL.M. in taxation and tax attorney.While taking the time to check your withholding can sometimes be tricky to prioritize and work into a busy schedule, in some situations it’s an especially good idea to double check.Brookes says, “I encourage taxpayers to check their withholding when there is a job change, extra income such as a lottery win, or rental income on a cottage, sale of stock, or distribution from an IRA. Withholding on your main paycheck doesn’t account for extra income, and it’s important to consider the big picture. Taxpayers who file jointly and have both self-employment income and W-2 income might consider increasing withholding on the paycheck to alleviate or eliminate the estimated tax payment amounts on the self-employment side. In all cases, I encourage taxpayers to do a withholding check in the fall. If it turns out they have over-withheld, they have the chance to reduce or eliminate withholding for the remainder of the year. This means a bigger paycheck at the holidays. Just remember to switch it back in January.” Should I change my withholding? Before you decide to change your withholding, think about whether or not you need to.“If you’ve experienced a major life change (marriage, divorce, new child, new home, new job, or anything else that could affect your tax liability) you should examine your withholding and see if it needs to be adjusted. If you haven’t already adjusted your withholding after the new changes under the Tax Act then you should definitely get informed about how the tax act changes your taxes,” advises Zimmelman.In some cases, adjusting your withholding may be strategic.“If you often get a large refund, considering adjusting your withholding to give you more money per paycheck. But don’t spend that extra cash, put it in an account where it can earn interest. You might not end up with a big refund at the end of the year, but you’ll have grown your savings. Worst case scenario, you can use some of those extra savings to pay an unexpected tax bill if your calculations were slightly off.” Zimmelman says.With the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, it’s worth taking a second look at your withholdings.“A lot of taxpayers were surprised by a smaller refund or an unexpected tax bill this year. This doesn’t mean their taxes went up; it just means that they saw the benefits of the Tax Act during the year, through larger monthly paychecks. The tax withholding tables were adjusted under the new tax act, but not everyone adjusted their withholding appropriately. Many people weren’t withholding enough during the year so they were left coming out short once tax season came,” says Zimmelman. How do I change my withholding? If you want to change your withholding, you need to submit a new W-4 to your employer. If you’re making adjustments to state and federal tax withholdings, you may need to submit a state W-4 and a federal W-4. The federal W-4 takes information about yourself, the allowances you claim, and your employer. The form also includes worksheets to help you determine the number of allowances and kinds of adjustments you should make. Some states use the federal form to determine state income withholdings. Other states have their own forms. Your employer should be able to give you information on what forms they need to adjust your state withholdings. If you’d like to see what forms are necessary in your state, here’s a helpful guide.Be careful when adjusting your withholdings: you don’t want to underpay your taxes and receive penalties.“The simplest rule of thumb is using the IRS’ ‘safe harbor’ rule to avoid any underpayment penalties. You won’t owe any penalty if either of the following applies: You owe less than $1,000 If you pay 100% of your previous year’s tax liability through regular withholding or estimated taxes. (110% if your Adjusted Gross Income, “AGI”, is over $150,000)(Your 2018 AGI can be found on line 7 of your 2018 Form 1040.)” advises Ben Watson, CPA and Virtual CFO of DollarSprout. Setting your tax withholdings well will ensure that you don’t overpay or underpay your taxes. It will help ensure that you have access to all of your money throughout the year and don’t owe the government any taxes when you file.
1. Figuring out how to use online tax preparation software via GIPHY 2. Beefing up your tax code knowledge via GIPHY 3. Realizing that the tax code has really changed via GIPHY 4. Deciding to hire an accountant to do your taxes for you via GIPHY 5. Realizing you're missing a document via GIPHY 6. Looking for the lost document via GIPHY 7. Finding the document via GIPHY 8. Finishing the federal return via GIPHY 9. Not so fast. . . you still have to do your state taxes via GIPHY 10. Filing in more than one state via GIPHY 11. Finding out you have a large return coming your way via GIPHY 12. Finding out you owe taxes via GIPHY via GIPHY 13. Finding out you owe more than you can pay right now via GIPHY via GIPHY 14. Finally filing your return via GIPHY 15. Paying your tax debt via GIPHY 16. Getting a nice tax return check via GIPHY 17. Ignoring tax debt via GIPHY via GIPHY 18. Ignoring the IRS via GIPHY 19. Getting help with your tax debt and the IRS via GIPHY via GIPHY 20. When you resolve your tax debt via GIPHY Need help resolving tax debt? View best tax relief companies.
Tax Day (April 15th) is fast approaching. If you’re a procrastinator, don’t have all of your documents ready, or won’t have time to file your taxes by the deadline, a tax extension can give you more time to get everything ready.“If there were ever a year to consider extending, this would be it. The complexities associated with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are impacting many tax filings, and we have found that there are still many unanswered questions. Guidance from the Treasury is still coming out and more is expected. In some cases, taxpayers are required to make decisions about their filings, and they may not have all the information that they need to make those decisions. In other cases, where there is adequate guidance, we believe that taxpayers may benefit from just taking additional time to consider the new law, its implications, and how best to comply,” says Douglas Farrington, CPA, Marcum, LLP Office Managing Partner. According to most of the experts we spoke to, the most important thing to keep in mind with tax extensions is that it is only an extension for filing your taxes, not paying them.Read on to hear what experts have to say about the following tax extension topics: Tax extension basics Advantages and disadvantages of a tax extension Federal tax extension tips for individuals and businesses State tax extensions Tax extension basics Jeffrey A. Schneider: Enrolled Agent, Certified Tax Resolution Specialist, Advanced Crypto Tax Expert, National Tax Practice Institute Graduate Fellow “An extension protects taxpayers from being charged the late filing penalty which can be, for individuals, 5 percent per month of the tax due. It should be noted, though not a good practice, that if the individual taxpayer will not owe tax with the return, an extension does not have to be filed as penalties and interest are assessed on what is owed with the return. However, if the taxpayer miscalculates where they think they will get a refund and then owe, not filing the extension can cause them penalties and interest.” Andrew Schrage: MoneyCrashers CEO “The IRS allows for a 6-month extension on filing taxes. However, this does not apply to paying taxes, only the actual paperwork. This means you still need to pay an estimated amount of how much you owe by the April deadline in order to avoid late penalties. Anyone can apply for an extension. You don't need to provide a reason for requesting one. The IRS won't ask why. They will only contact you if your extension request is denied. If you don't hear from them, you can assume it was approved. You can file for an extension via mail, electronically on the IRS website, or by paying the approximate amount you owe and sending in your tax return later.” Advantages and disadvantages of a tax extension Ines Zemelman: EA for Taxes for Expats “There are no disadvantages for the taxpayer. The IRS does not examine the taxpayer more if the return is filed with an extension.”Douglas Farrington: CPA, Marcum, LLP Office Managing Partner “Unfortunately, many people perceive that extending increases the risk of audit and are therefore opposed to it. Honestly, in all my years of practice, I have never known an audit to occur as the result of filing an extension. I do not believe that there is any downside to requesting an extension, particularly in a year when so much has changed. Taxpayers should make sure that they take the time needed to properly assess the new law and the impact it has on them.”Jacob Dayan: CEO of Community Tax and Finance Pal “From illness to financial hardship, a taxpayer may file an extension if they feel they need to for any reason. Taxpayers may submit an IRS Tax Form 4868 – Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Taxpayers may submit the form themselves or through a professional before the last day to file taxes, which will extend the time to file for six months. It’s important to note that this is an extension to file the taxes and not an extension to pay any due taxes. Meaning if you owe any taxes pay them by the due date, or you’ll face penalties and fines. State extensions vary by state. Some offer automatic extensions, while others require you to request the extension. They generally offer the same benefits of federal tax extensions.”Joshua Zimmelman: Westwood Tax and Consulting, LLC President “Filing for an extension protects taxpayers by giving them more time to make sure their tax return is correct and make sure that they understand any new tax laws. Providing incorrect information on your tax return could result in fines, penalties, or an audit so if you’re not sure about the details, it’s better to file for an extension. An extension also gives taxpayers an opportunity to take advantage of retroactive tax laws changes that take place after April. Of course, they could always file an amendment after the fact if any law changes apply to them after they’ve already filed their return, but an extension helps them avoid the extra trouble (and expense) of doing so.” Individual federal tax extension tips Riley Adams: CPA, Senior Financial Analyst and blogger for youngandtheinvested.com “The IRS allows all taxpayers to file an extension with Form 4868. Doing so allows for up to six months of extra time to file your completed return. This year, that 6-month extension due date falls on October 15. One major caveat of filing an extension, however, is you must still pay the estimated amount of taxes due. Even if you’re granted the extension, Uncle Sam wants his money. There’s a bit of wiggle room in the rules, however. If the taxpayer remits 90 percent or more of the taxes owed with the extension request, the IRS will likely waive the failure-to-file penalty. This is assuming the taxpayer pays any remaining balance by the extension due date, of course. Also, when filing an extension request, you should also pursue filing an Installment Agreement Request. This allows the taxpayer to receive an additional 120 days to pay the IRS in full. If the taxpayer pursues this route, it also lowers the associated interest charges and fees for paying your tax bill late. Under this arrangement, taxpayers can make monthly payments for as low as $25 and extend repayment for up to 72 months.”Jeffrey A. Schneider: Enrolled Agent, Certified Tax Resolution Specialist, Advanced Crypto Tax Expert, National Tax Practice Institute Graduate Fellow “If you are an individual (versus partnership, corporations, etc.), your extension has to be filed by April 15th of each year. However, if you live in Washington, D.C., that date is extended one day as the 15th this year is Emancipation Day, a holiday in our nation’s capital. If you live outside of the country, your extension is due June 15th. You file the extension, electronically or by mail (hopefully via certified mail) using form 4868. Taxpayers have to remember, that the extension is to extend the filing due date, not the paying of taxes. If the taxpayer(s) believe that they will owe taxes with the return when filed, they should pay their best estimate with the extension in order to avoid at least minimize late paying penalties and interest. Most, if not all, professional tax preparers can take care of this for the taxpayer, but of course taxpayers can do it themselves.” Business federal tax extensions Jeffrey A. Schneider: Enrolled Agent, Certified Tax Resolution Specialist, Advanced Crypto Tax Expert, National Tax Practice Institute Graduate Fellow “If you are taxed as a “calendar year” (meaning your tax year ends on December 31st) business (partnership, S-corp), the extensions are due by March 15th. If you are a trust or C-corp your extensions are due April 15th unless you have a different fiscal year end than calendar. Then, generally, extension is due by the 15th day of the fourth month after the close of your year. Business extensions, like the individual extension, can be filed electronically by mail. They need to use form 7004 to file their extension. For C-corporations that may owe tax, the same rule applies to them as individuals. They should pay their best estimate with the extension to avoid or minimize late paying penalties and interest. Most, if not all, professional tax preparers can take care of this for the taxpayer, but of course taxpayers can do it themselves. Generally, individual, S-corp and partnership extensions are for six months. Corporations are for five. Calendar year not for profits returns are due May 15th and their extension is for four months, with another two allowed with a subsequent filing.” Scott Roelofs: RCG Valuation & Monetization Owner “As the tax deadline approaches, the number of options available to your business falls quickly. One option that the taxpayer still has is filing an extension for your company. Many people know this option can buy you some time, but it may actually save your business money. Not only does filing an extension give the taxpayer an extra six months of time, it also gives the taxpayer an extra six months when looking backwards at previous years. There is no doubt that the Tax Act of 2017 has benefited small businesses, especially ones investing in the United States. One thing it did fall short of was simplifying the tax code. If anything, they are a little bit more complex. Many small businesses may not take advantage of all the new deductions or credits available to them. With that being the case, many companies may find themselves filing amended returns somewhere down the line. This is where the extension can come in handy. Let’s look at an example. In May of 2018, you did an analysis of your business and discover that your business has qualified Research and Development (R&D) expenses of $1 million per year dating back to 2014. Your business would be able to claim those expenses in the form of a credit, approximately $70,000, by filing amended returns for each of the previous three years. This is where the extension can save your business money. If the business files their taxes on time with no extension, the last year the business could amend would be 2016, as the May 2018 analysis is more than three years past the April 15, 2015 filing. If however the business had filed an extension, the business would be able to file amended returns for all years: 2015, 2016 and 2017. In this case, the extra six months from the extension would have allowed the business to claim the $70,000 credit for 2015. Imagine having a conversation about forfeiting $70,000 with your tax professional three years from now. It’s our experience that business owners prefer to avoid such conversations, so planning for the future now may be warranted. My example may seem like an extreme case, but given the numerous changes in the tax code and the amount of time tax professionals have been able to dedicate to mastering those changes, it is possible that something could be missed. As a form of inexpensive insurance, it might be advisable to give your business the extra time it may need to claim properly earned deductions and/or credits.” State tax extensions Joshua Zimmelman: Westwood Tax and Consulting, LLC President “Each state has its own requirements for filing for a state tax extension. In some states it will be automatic when you file for your federal extension. Other states make you file a separate state-specific form. Some states don’t require you to file a tax return at all, so an extension wouldn’t be necessary.”
Debt, taxes, and everyday expenses can obliterate your paycheck. As you get older, you accumulate medical expenses, possible tax debt, and other unforeseen debts. You have kids and, though they do bring you joy, they also bring additional expenses.When you are surrounded by financial burdens, you have two choices: you can either cut costs or increase your income. Fortunately, this article will show you how to make more money by impressing your boss and earning a promotion, which is the quickest way to drastically increase your income. Basic principles of earning a promotion Michael D. Brown, Career Consultant and Director at Fresh Passion Institute puts the climb up the ladder into perspective: “Career growth is all about professional differentiation. This means you stepping out of the queue, differentiating yourself from the ordinary. No one is honestly going to admire you if you have precisely the same characteristics as them — if you have nothing more to offer than they do.”Standing out always has its own dangers. By extending yourself, being unique, and drawing attention, you invite scrutiny and criticism — this is to be expected. Your superiors will begin to look deeper into your work ethic and performance. If your superiors like what they see, they’ll consider you for a promotion.It’s vital that both your work ethic and job performance are top notch compared to your co-workers before you bring unique ideas to the attention of your superiors.Ask yourself these questions: What type of employee does my boss need? Which employee attributes does my boss value most? What type of employee would get a promotion? What type of employee am I going to be every day? What do I need to do each day to impress my boss? What can I say to my boss that will help my cause? Answering these questions will help you create a goal specific to what your boss is looking for in an excellent employee.Differentiation is a lot easier when you have help. I’ve asked career experts to provide tips and proven strategies to help you stand out from the crowd and catch the eye of your boss.If you fully incorporate the ideas given by these business executives, career experts, and professionals, you will impress your boss, earn promotions, and make more money in the long run. 1. Document your successes obsessively Will Craig, Managing Director of LeaseFetcher“If you want a promotion at work, you're going to have to prove to your boss why you actually deserve one. Reeling off a list of your past achievements will do just that. A lot of people can have trouble coming up with a list of their successes on the spot though, so it's much easier if you keep a comprehensive list of every single achievement you make that you can refer to when it comes to asking your boss for a promotion, or for dropping subtle hints. It doesn't have to be anything too complicated either – literally just a pad of A4 paper where you list your achievements, as and when they happen.” 2. Actively post about your job on social media Son Ngo, Founder of Tankscrib“Post a good picture of your company on social media. An employee at my previous company once put a cute picture of him and some co-workers under a huge Christmas tree at the corporation's lounge on Facebook. The caption was "This is what family is all about!". It caused a small stir among his circle (his most liked picture!), and days later my record showed that he got a significant raise. I want to stress that the employee was doing great, and he would be likely to get that promotion had he not posted the picture. However, that picture surely gave him a much better image with his manager and within the company.” 3. Show reliability through consistent attendance Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com“Show consistent attendance. I know that on the surface this does not sound like a 'unique' strategy, but it really does set you apart in a positive manner. Showing up and being on time in the workplace tends to tie in with other consistency traits, such as meeting deadlines or reaching time-sensitive goals.” 4. Accept the responsibilities before the title Altimese Nichole, Founder of Altimese Nichole Enterprise“[Don’t] be afraid to take on the responsibility before the title. Rise to the occasion and live your life as if the title is already yours. It's a little of the law of attraction and a lot of self confidence, in spite of fear.” 5. Develop strong relationships with clients Airto Zamorano, Founder and CEO of Numana SEO“Develop unbreakable relationships with your clients. It's hard to find good people in general, but it is especially hard to replace a key person on your team that clients depend upon.” 6. Learn to innovate Daniel Shen, Founder of Soqqle“Be innovative but not out of scope. Play in the lane and [win] the race but don't jump into other people’s lanes. Bring bosses and managers into innovation plans. Before that, learn how to innovate.” 7. Be strange and unique Michael D. Brown, Career Consultant and Director at Fresh Passion Institute“Why should your boss like you when you give him just what every other person in the office can offer? Why should your agitation for promotion be honored when there is no grain of difference between you and others in your workplace?It is becoming increasingly obvious that being “nice” and “okay” takes you through your career (in terms of career growth) at bicycle speed while being “strange” and “unique” takes you through at jet speed.You can be quiet but YOUR PERSONAL BRAND LOUDLY SCREAMS YOUR PLAUDITS.” 8. Back your performance with data Solomon King, CEO of Glacier Wellness“If you want to win that promotion you have to show that you've earned it. That being the case, be sure to bring the data which effectively shows how you've contributed to company growth and how you've personally progressed over time. Besides communicating your value to the business, this also shows your hunger for growth and ability to track and analyze data.” 9. Get media coverage for your company or product Nate Masterson, CFO of Maple Holistics“Getting media coverage for your company’s products or a new project the company wants to promote is a great way to garner attention for the business and accolades for yourself. Think outside of the box when seeking a promotion so that you set yourself apart from everyone else at the company.” 10. Ask key questions in interviews Dr. Elliott B. Jaffa, Behavioral and Management Psychologist“As a behavioral and management psychologist, a promotion begins at the job interview.a. When the hiring manager (not the HR person) asks, "Do you have any questions for me?" I highly recommend asking, "When would I receive my first performance review?" The typical response is, Annually. Ask if your performance can be reviewed after six months to make sure that your performance and work ethic (two very important words to use) are up to and hopefully exceeding the company's expectations.b. Assess if there are any skills you would like to learn or further develop beyond the scope of your current duties. Bring one or two to the boss's attention and say, ‘I feel I could become more valuable to you (key word) and the company if I could be cross-trained on. . . ’c. When given an assignment always ask what metrics (key word) are noted and captured to measure success. Further explain “This is important to me to do produce quality work.” 11. Map the power dynamics in your workplace Will Craig, Managing Director of LeaseFetcher“There's no denying that getting a promotion involves catching the eye of your manager or boss but you need to make sure that you're actually attracting the attention of the person who has the power to make that decision. That's where mapping your workplace comes in. Workplace mapping is when you think strategically about where the power resides in your workplace and you note the people who can effect change there. This can help you come up with a much more effective strategy for getting that promotion, rather than wasting time trying to get the attention of people who don't have the power to actually promote you — as much as they want to.” 12. Leverage your current position David Alexander, Digital Marketer for Mazepress“You know what they say, it's always easier to find a job when you already have one. So if you want a promotion, consider interviewing at other companies and if you get an offer that involves more responsibility and a pay rise use that to your advantage when negotiating with your current employers. Letting your bosses know that you are in demand and other companies are willing to pay you more and position you higher in the chain of command is a sure-fire way to get their attention and increase your chances of success when trying to win a promotion even if it is a little Machiavellian.” 13. Have an honest conversation with your boss or supervisor Kay Rodriguez, Editor-in-Chief of HappytoHustle.com“It might feel terrifying to go directly to your boss or supervisor with a request to get promoted, but putting it on their radar directly shows confidence and strength (both qualities of a great leader!). If you do set up a meeting to discuss a promotion, be armed with specific information about what kind of role/title/salary/compensation you'd like to receive.”
Most tax audits have relatively smooth processes. The nightmare stories of tax audits from hell come from the few cases where taxpayers were unprepared. Lack of preparation leads to a weak defense and a growing mountain of IRS debt.That’s why we’ve prepared this expert-supported guide for surviving a tax audit.You should know beforehand that the auditor’s job isn’t to take as much money as possible from you; the auditor’s job is to verify deductions and correct mistakes made on the taxpayer’s tax returns. However, complications may arise: What happens if you don’t have the necessary documents and receipts? Should you hire a tax professional to handle your audit? How long does the tax audit process take? Overview of a tax audit and audit defense strategies You need to know what caused the audit, how to prevent audits from happening in the first place, and what to do if you find you’re going to be audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Luckily, David W. Klasing, Founder of the Tax Law Office of David W. Klasing, has provided this succinct overview of tax audit defense: Factors that trigger audits Most people are unlikely to be targeted, running about a .5 percent chance of being audited. However, the IRS has been increasing the number of audits it conducts, targeting abusive tax shelters, high-income taxpayers, and corporations. These factors can contribute to being chosen for an audit: Your income. More than $1,000,000 in income increases your odds to more than 8 percent; more than 10,000,000 in income puts you in the 34 percent chance of audit group. Your profession. People who are self-employed and do not receive a W2 for their work are more likely to be selected. Home office expenses. Claiming them increases your risk. Related examination. If your returns include transactions with other taxpayers who were audited, such as investors or partners, you're more likely to be audited. Documents don't match. When Forms W-2 or 1099 or other documents don't match what's reported, you may be audited. Kinds of transactions reported. Disproportionately large business expenses, very big charitable deductions, tax shelter losses, excessive itemized deductions, and complex business and investment transactions raise red flags to the IRS. Rounded numbers. Be accurate, and check your figures. Hiding cash or other income. This is especially risky for people with offshore accounts. Audit history. If you've been audited before, your audit risk is higher. Random selection. The IRS lists computer screening and random selection as audit triggers. How to prevent an audit To prevent an audit — and be ready for one just in case — do all of these things all year long: Keep at least three years' worth of records and tax returns Keep all checkbook stubs Keep all receipts and categorize them Keep and organize all bills Track cost basis for taxable investments and property Make notes about deductible items at the time In case of an audit You are entitled to a representative, such as a tax law attorney or a CPA You have the right to appeal any findings, fines, or taxes that arise from an audit Submit copies, not original documents to the IRS Do not submit anything that was not requested Many experts will tell you to be organized and cooperative. The problem is disorganization is often a trait of those being audited. Some of these people simply aren’t equipped to take on the IRS. Most common questions about surviving a tax audit Can you survive a tax audit without any receipts? David Reischer: “It might be possible for someone to survive a tax audit without any receipts if the receipts were not a significant source of revenue or expense for the individual or business. A retail business that has no cash register receipts of all income generated would have a more challenging time surviving an audit than an individual who is missing receipts for minor expenses. In short, survival of a tax audit when someone does not have any receipts will depend upon the individual tax filing.”David W. Klasing: “Yes. But, not keeping records that should be kept is a badge of fraud. Audits are prove it or lose it. Expenses can be proven to a certain extent through other methods (i.e. estimation, cancelled checks, credit card statements). IRS case law states that the IRS cannot disallow 100 percent of expenses solely over missing receipts, so the taxpayer bears the burden of proof.” What is the tax audit process? Arthur Rosatti: “The position of the tax auditor is to get the tax return correct. Their job is to review the return and determine if the information the taxpayer provides is credible. If it is, and the taxpayer can provide proof that it is credible, the auditor will accept the information. However, if the taxpayer does not have the necessary information, the auditor can disallow a portion to all of the deductions. The auditor's position is not to ‘get you’ but rather just make sure you are not cheating the system by taking deductions that you are not entitled to. Unfortunately sometimes this means that a taxpayer will get certain things disallowed because they do not have the documentation to back up what they claimed on their tax returns. I have never worked for the IRS, so I don't know the exact procedure of how an audit starts, but most cases are first flagged by their computer system. At that point an individual reviews the return and determines whether an official audit needs to be done. The examiner will send notice through the mail to the taxpayers last known address letting the taxpayer know that they have a return that is being audited. From there the taxpayer can reach out to the IRS and start the communication process, or they can go hire a professional to help them. The IRS will typically give 30 days to the taxpayer to reply to the proposed changes. From there is a back and forth between the two parties trying to come to an agreement on what will be allowed and what will not be allowed on the tax return. The entire process can be quick and take a few months, or it can drag out over a year. Sometimes the auditor will request a meeting in person to go over any documentation submitted by the taxpayer as substantiation. These meetings can be beneficial to the overall situation.” How long does a tax audit take? Susan Carlisle May: “It took about three years, but some of that I wasn't actively working the process.I received my notice of audit and then had maybe 60 days to respond. The IRS then had 30 or 45 days to respond. It took about six months for the first ruling which they disagreed with all of my business deductions. I then filed an appeal. My material was sent up the line. Months went by with me sending additional letters and support material. A decision was made. I signed the agreement and paid the additional tax. They had allowed my office deductions but not the research trips.A few months went by and I asked if I could see a written report of the decision. I was told that it was too detailed and that I wouldn't be able to understand the rules of law. I let another few months go by and decided that I had the right to see a written report whether I understood it or not. By this time I had to file through the Freedom of Information Act to get the report. That took five months because my first request was lost. After I got my report, imagine my surprise when I had no problem understanding what was written. The IRS lady didn't even know the difference between my nonfiction and fiction books. By this time I had one book published and was contracted by Harlequin.I started the appeals process which took a lot of time but I wasn't going to give up. I was in the right and I knew it. I filed with the tax court, but because I had paid my claim I couldn't go through them. So I had to do it through the regular process. I sometimes made hour long phone calls, every two months to see where my paperwork was. One year my case was closed on December 23 without ever notifying me. I reopened and went at it again. My congressman retired and I started with a new congressman's office. At one point I went to my accountant's office and had him help me figure what I should be receiving back. Finally, I read the law closely going through each link and wrote a rebuttal letter to their decision.They told me I would be getting my money back. The day it was to come in the mail I received a letter telling me I had gone over the two years and that they wouldn't be sending me the money. But I still won!” How much does it cost to hire a tax attorney, certified public accountant, or enrolled agent? Chris Cooper: “Attorneys and CPAs generally charge $250/$350 hour for this kind of representation. EA’s are generally less per hour, but not always. What the reader wants to do is interview these representatives and see if they have experience with the type of audit and the type of business the reader is in. This helps to understand the unique items of the audit of the particular business, and any special areas (such as tip inclusion rules in a restaurant).” Can you outsmart the IRS in a tax audit without hiring a tax professional? Susan Carlisle May: “The IRS can be wrong. They usually get their way because it takes so long to fight them. Read the law regarding your issue on IRS.gov. Keep clicking links until you find the answer. Don't give up if you think you are in the right — prove your case with law. Quote their stuff back to them. I won my case and they were sending my money back but it had taken over the two year time frame so I didn't get it back. But I did win without a lawyer or my accountant”. Helpful audit advice from tax experts and audit survivors David Reischer, Attorney and CEO of LegalAdvice.com “It is incumbent on an individual to ask the IRS why their tax returns were selected for an audit. The IRS may not offer a reason unless an individual asks why they are being selected for an audit. It is important to prepare for an audit by understanding the information that is to be targeted by the IRS. Therefore, inquiring about the reason for the audit is a critical first step to prepare. Most IRS notices will also contain a number in the upper right corner that will further inform the person about the reason for the audit.”Chris Cooper, California Licensed Professional Fiduciary and Founder of ChrisCooper.com “The first thing one MUST do once the taxpayer is informed that they are being audited is to hire someone to represent them before the IRS. These professionals are called enrolled agents (EA), certified public accountants (CPA) and tax attorneys. Tax preparers are NOT considered representatives, unless they have one of the above three licenses. NO ONE SHOULD EVER REPRESENT THEMSELVES IN AN ADVERSE SITUATION. Also, remember, before the IRS YOU ARE GUILTY UNTIL YOU PROVE YOUR INNOCENCE. This is very different than criminal law where the burden of proof of guilt is on the prosecutor; the IRS can just accuse you and assess you taxes, penalties and interest and it’s your job to prove you don’t owe them. This is why you NEVER, EVER REPRESENT YOURSELF. I don’t represent myself!Once you have hired your representative, then the representative will have you sign a Form 2848, Power of Attorney, which tells the IRS that this representative has permission from you, the taxpayer, to discuss your tax returns being audited with the IRS. This is also true if you are being audited by a state or local tax authority, including unemployment insurance and workers compensation taxes. Your representative will contact the auditing revenue agent and schedule time with them to start the audit. Then your representative will tell you what to get together, go over things you have and what you don’t have, and what you may be able to do about what you don’t have such as contacting third parties, such as banks, real estate title agencies, etc. to get copies from them, and what things can be reconstructed from other records, such as car repair records for business use of your car, your calendar of appointments to approximate mileage logs, and other allowable techniques.”Robert Kravitz, Audit Survivor “Turn everything over to your accountant; do not represent yourself.If you have done something seriously wrong, whether criminal or not, consult with an attorney; remember, the accountant does not have the confidentiality rights that an attorney has. As to lawyers, however, they often love handling audits and tax problems because they can make so much money on them; if you have not done anything legally wrong, let your accountant handle things. Their fees are less, this will save you money, and the audit will move along further.Work with an experienced accountant. If they have worked for the IRS at one time, they know how the game is played and this experience can help you. Try not to get emotionally involved in the audit; in my experience the toll it takes on your life can be far more detrimental than the audit itself. If you appeal an audit, get ready to wait. In my experience years ago, it took almost three years before the appeal was reviewed. I lost. It might have been better to just work out a payment plan from the start. Remember, should you owe a lot of money, you can ask the government for a compromise. Why would the government want to take less money than they can get? If they can get, for instance, $50,000 on a $75,000 tax bill now instead of it being paid off over several years, they may just accept the $50,000 and wipe the rest off the books. Once you are audited, expect the government to pull your tax return for review every year for about five years, possibly longer, just to see if you are flying right. Depending on what state you live in, your state will also abide by the IRS audit and bill you for what you may own them. In California, it is very quick. Expect a bill as soon as the audit is completed. In other states, it can take one to three years. These comments are based on my own experience owning businesses over the past 40 years and after two audits.”Arthur Rosatti, Esq. Tax Attorney at Ashley F. Morgan Law Firm “Contact your tax preparer (if you had one prepare your return). Certain people, those with more complicated returns, are at greater risk for an audit, such as people with many itemized deductions, anyone with a Schedule C, or business owners. I often recommend these people have professionals prepare their taxes to help insure the proper deductions are taken. Additionally, many tax preparers offer audit protection services for an additional fee. It is often beneficial to pay for these services if you have one of the more complicated return types.Next, you need to review your return. If you had someone prepare the return, you can review with him or her. If you prepared the return yourself, then you need to carefully see what deductions were taken. The IRS will provide you with details about what issues they have spotted on your return. Any deduction that is at issue will need support. You will need to gather things like receipts, credit card statements, bills, bank statements, etc. to substantiate any of the deductions.”Susan Carlisle May, Author and Audit Survivor “First, remember as the taxpayer the IRS works for you. Don't let them intimidate you. Individuals need to contact their congressman or woman. They have a person in their office that helps people who are being audited. Do not sign or pay until you understand and/or are completely satisfied with the decision. After you sign or pay, you have less recourse if you think the IRS is wrong. Always ask for a written explanation of the IRS decision.Don't trust that the person who does your review knows all IRS law. My lady thought I wasn't smart enough to understand the decision. Mark your calendar and call the IRS if you haven't heard from them in the time frame they stated in their letter. Also note numbers and who you spoke to. I promise you will need this information later.”
You can't be blamed for misunderstanding the tax process; the more you get behind on your taxes, the deeper the hole that you must eventually climb out of. Usually, taxpayers file late because of unrelated life difficulties. Whether it’s an unfortunate living situation, an unfortunate tax scam, family tragedy, or loss of employment, adding the IRS to your other problems can be disastrous. Tax debt relief companies like Tax Defense Partners can help dig you out of deep financial holes. So what’s the difference between Tax Defense Partners and other top tax resolution companies like Optima Tax Relief or Tax Defense Network? You should probably know the following ten things: 1. Low Fees for Some People (minimum flat fee of $500) Price depends completely on the type of service you require. Generally speaking, the more time it takes to resolve a tax debt issue, the more money it will cost. However, customers should note that Tax Defense Partners charge flat rate fees starting at $500. Depending on the tax issue you have and the resolution process you need, you may be able to save quite a bit of money by signing up with Tax Defense Partners. Ask for a free consultation from each of the top tax resolution companies to compare pricing, expertise, and services. 2. Full Representation Before the IRS The advantage of fully trained, accredited, and certified employees is that they can fully represent you before the IRS. If you go with a company that doesn’t employ enrolled agents or tax attorneys, you may always have to be present for negotiations with the IRS. Enrolled agents are authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers. Tax resolution companies should always employ enrolled agents and/or tax attorneys. 3. No Information on Refunds Success isn’t guaranteed when it comes to companies that handle complex tax problems, like wage garnishment, tax lien issues, tax scams, unfiled tax returns, and bank levies — that’s why it’s so important to ensure your tax resolution company is staffed with the most knowledgeable debt professionals possible. Because Tax Defense Partners can make few guarantees, it would be nice if the company provided a refund or money-back guarantee in the case of failure to handle your IRS woes. Unfortunately, Tax Defense Partners doesn’t advertise any refund policy on its site. 4. Certified and Trained Tax Professionals Every tax professional at Tax Defense Partners has been certified by the American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS). The ASTPS trains professionals to specialize in tax services. The certification would mean that the employees at the company are all experts in their field. Though a certification from ASTPS isn’t required for companies to help with taxes, it is a nice reassurance that the company can handle any possible problem with your taxes. 5. Positive Customer Reviews Many positive customer reviews thank individual enrolled agents and tax attorneys by name. Some customers relate that employees at Tax Defense Partners were professional and courteous to their individual needs and problems. One negative customer review illustrated a less-than-ideal experience with the company, but then later recalled that Tax Defense Partners went to lengths to resolve previous customer issues. Other positive things said about Tax Defense Partners include the following: Easy to reach Responsive Answer every question Save you money on IRS payment plan Knowledge, patience, respectful attitude It’s important to know what customers are saying about Tax Defense Partners and its customer service. Take advantage of the perspective gained from both positive and negative customer reviews. 6. Negative Customer Reviews The majority of Tax Defense Partners’ negative reviews are complaints about high fees. One reviewer suggested that the company does not encrypt sensitive information sent over the internet. One negative customer review suggested that the company is quick to go back on its word once payment is made. Other negative reviews mention the following: Drawn out process Tedious process Misleading service ads Poor communication 7. Wide Variety of Services You should expect tax resolution companies to tackle cases requiring a transcript analysis, unfiled tax returns, and installment agreements. But not all companies have the expertise to deal with the breadth of services that Tax Defense Partners handles. The company also handles simpler problems as well, so if you need tax preparers or audit defense, Tax Defense Partners can handle it. The company has the expertise to adequately handle the following tax problems: Unfiled tax returns Transcript analysis Offer in compromise Wage garnishment Tax Preparation Audit Defense Bank levy Tax liens Payroll tax debt relief Installment agreement Foreign bank account reporting Audit representation PAbatementatement Collection status expiration date Full representation Innocent spouse relief Currently not collectible (CNC status) Whether you need help preparing tax returns for next year's tax season or simply want a qualified tax preparer, Tax Defense Partners can likely provide the service you need. 8. $10,000 Minimum Debt Requirement Tax debt relief companies generally have a minimum tax debt requirement. There are cases where a taxpayer owes just a few thousand dollars and can still save money through tax resolution services; however, in such cases, the tax resolution company does not usually stand to profit as much as they would when helping customers with higher tax debts. Tax Defense Partners has a minimum debt requirement of $10,000, which is just about average in the industry. Some tax relief services, like Tax Defense Network, have minimum debt requirements of $7,500 and even $5,000. Alternatively, other companies have minimum tax debt requirements of up to $20,000. 9. Highly Accredited and Featured The company is accredited by the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), the American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS), and employs IRS certified Enrolled Agents. Accreditation organizations help regulate the industry, ensuring that taxpayers aren't being tricked out of their money by less-than-reputable tax services. It is absolutely vital that your tax relief company be accredited by at least one of the five main accreditation and certification organizations: American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS) National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) American Bar Association (ABA) American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) Additionally, Tax Defense Partners has been featured on Forbes, The Rush Limbaugh Program, and The Sean Hannity Show. 10. Exceptional Success Stories Although business success stories from customers are usually exceptions, some of the success stories at Tax Defense Partners are astonishing. The company claims to have reduced the tax debt of one customer, with debt from a failed business, from $6,878,404 to $0. According to the story on TDP’s site, the customer had accumulated over $6 million in tax debt resulting from a failed business enterprise. TDP worked with the client to make an Offer in Compromise with the IRS. Another customer was able to reduce tax debt from $212,555 to $2,400. Potential customers should view such stories with skepticism, as companies usually advertise only their most successful cases. While such stories can help you understand the potential of certain tax relief companies, you should also research negative stories and experiences in order to see the big picture. Whether or not you decide to go with Tax Defense Partners, make sure you compare its services to the tax relief services of the best tax relief companies in the industry.
Tax Day is like an annoying cousin. Most of the year, you can avoid him, but when the family reunion comes around, you know he'll be there. You may be able to dodge him successfully at the reunion with some careful planning, but, unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to avoid Tax Day. Perhaps the most annoying part about tax season is its inevitability. No matter where you go, how long you live, or how much money you have, tax season comes for all of us. Many taxpayers find themselves in deep trouble with the IRS, either because of irresponsibility, lack of knowledge, or even just a lack of money. The most devastating aspect of tax season — the surprise of additional debt — can actually be avoided by a bit of foresight and a lot of thoughtful financial preparation. Like the line from Dante, "The arrow seen before cometh less rudely," if we prepare ourselves beforehand, we will avoid debilitating stress. Because you're worried about tax debt, you need affordable tax tools. And because you're concerned about efficiency and speed during the stressful tax season, you need useful tax tools. Here are some of the best tax tools to use before the upcoming tax deadline: IRS Tax Tools The Internal Revenue Service website provides a variety of tax tools. While they aren't as fancy or extensive as third-party tools, IRS tax tools can be extremely useful. The best part is they're absolutely free. An additional benefit to IRS tax tools is that you can be confident in their accuracy. Some of the most useful tools provided by the IRS include the following: Free File: a tool for preparing and filing your taxes online Where's My Amended Return?: a tool for tracking your amended return status Where's My Refund?: a tool that lets you track the status of your tax return View Tax Account: allows you to see your payoff amount, balance for owed taxes by year, and 18 months of payment history Direct Pay: allows you to pay your tax bill directly from your bank account. You can also pay through the IRS' mobile app, IRS2Go. There are over 15 other tools for taxpayers to use including some specifically designed for tax professionals and others made especially for business owners. The downside to using tax tools provided by the IRS is that you don't get a dedicated tax professional or help with tax issues; such services are provided by third-party tools. TaxSafe Powered by Tax Defense Network, TaxSafe is both affordable and useful and was designed to help taxpayers beyond TDN's base tax services. Very few tax tools out there provide credit, tax, and ID theft services all in one tool; this is a unique and highly useful tool in the industry. TaxSafe gives you essential protection services for not only your taxes but also monitors your credit and provides identity theft protection. With its credit services, TaxSafe allows users to keep tabs with one Bureau (TransUnion) Credit Report semi-annually, provides 24/7 credit monitoring (including an alerts system for suspicious activity), tracks your credit score, gives users the ability to freeze accounts with their credit bureau, and tracks user scores monthly. In addition to extensive tax monitoring services and its credit monitoring services, TaxSafe also provides users with ID Theft protection services including: Monitors Change of Address — an address change is a common sign of ID Theft SSN Action Alerts — monitors attempts to access sensitive personal information Data Sweeps — a scan that identifies places in which your personal information should not be (internet, dark web, financial, healthcare, and public sources) Data Breach — Alerts users in the event of applicable data breaches ID Risk Score — Alerts users when their risk score increases more than 10 percent Recovery Butler — Helps users recover/restore Personal ID information ID Theft Policy — Service is backed by a $1 million policy with a $0 deductible for a stolen identity For customers in dire financial circumstances, TaxSafe Basic does provide a free package. However, there are more extensive service options. The TaxSafe Plus package (described above) costs $22.99 per month (or $249.99 per year). TaxSafe VIP costs $27.99 per month (or $299.99 per year) and the most comprehensive TaxSafe package, TaxSafe Family, costs $34.99 per month (or $349.99 per year). TaxSlayer Though its extended services are a bit more expensive than TaxSafe, TaxSlayer can help people with simple tax returns and 1040 EZ forms for free. If you are willing to pay slightly higher prices, extended tax services include the following: E-filing Services Deduction Finder Fast W-2 Import Fast Fill Prior Year IRS Audit Assistance Free Email Support Live Phone Support Live Chat Support Priority Support Personal Tax Expert Because this tool provides assistance and expertise for tax issues specifically, it doesn't include services in credit or ID theft monitoring. However, customers may consider using this tool depending on their unique financial situation. Test the waters before jumping into any type of payment when it comes to tax tools. The aim of these tools is to save you money, so make sure you do a fair amount of comparison shopping before you commit. Try out the free versions in order to see if the extended services are worth the money.