Tag Archives: HR Block

[Adulting 101] Tax Season 2018

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Seasons here in Los Angeles are an undependable and drastically different monster than anywhere else, Summer can last half the year, while Winter might only last a few days; but the good news is that Tax Season typically comes pretty standard.  Now that we’re almost a month through the new year and you’re working on removing the last one from your lexicon, your finances can finally do the same now as the IRS has begun to accept tax returns for 2017.  Last year, I dolled out the 411 on all things tax season – but this year there are some updates, some new tips and tricks as well as the latest changes to the new tax codes that have rolled out for the year. As the world turns and as your personal world turns, so does your financial world – children, new employment, marriage, and legislation can put a world of change onto your tax returns. With a few life adjustments under my sleeves and a whole lot of personal growth, I have ample new information to share.

Before we dive down the rabbit hole, let’s back up for a second.  Every time we get near April I tend to ask myself why the hell we even pay taxes anyways – but there are ample reasons that it’s a necessity.  At the most basic level, a government and a governed society can only work properly if everyone is participating – money is one of those forms of participation, as are things like voting, working with your local city council and so on.  Social and community functions like hospitals, national parks, schools, roads and the salaries of certain city employees and officials are derived directly from the taxes we pay – whether the money comes directly out of your paycheck, as with a W-2, or as an annual residual if you’re an independent contractor and go by 1099.

Documents on Documents.

Last week, many business and companies began to roll out both their electronic and paper versions of your W2 or 1099, depending on your type of employment. In addition, fiscal firms have also sent out a 1099-DIV form with instructions on investments.  The easiest way to keep yourself organized is either an analog filing cabinet, or a secure digital folder.  As soon as you have the basics, you can begin the filing process – and if you acquire more documents after you’ve filed, never fear: there’s a very simple process to amend your Tax Return, however that must be mailed in.

2018 tax brackets

Filing

When I was a kid, my parents would assist with my taxes – and by kid, I mean 20 year old. Now that I’m old enough to figure out my own way, I defer to e-filing Intuit’s Turbo Tax, but H&R Block also offers a comparable service if you’re looking into other options. For those of you that need a lot of itemizations, deductions and or exemptions – your best bet is turning to a tax professional.  With the advent of the internet they don’t necessarily need to be local, however you will want someone that understands the state laws for where you lived in 2017.

 

Fast Facts

A few tax basics for your lexicon: a dependent is a person that you’re not married to that fiscally depends on you, and only you. Most adults, whether single or married, only claim 1 – but more on that later. Depending on your gross income for the past year and the federal assistance received for health insurance or social security, you might not need to file taxes at all.

Married with Taxes

Now, this to me was – and still slightly is – the tricky part. Just hitched last August, this is the first time I’ll be able to file my taxes as a married lady and I had a lot of questions, but rightfully so.  When you’re married, there are two ways of filing – you can file ‘Married and Jointly’ or ‘Married and Separately’.

So let’s break this down.  Filing ‘Married and Separately’ is exactly how it sounds, you submit your spouses name and social security number along with yours but the only taxes you will file are your own. On the other hand, filing ‘Married and Jointly’ combines your gross income as a couple into one umbrella group, if you notice in the chart above – the income intervals for ‘M & J’ are double the intervals of ‘M & S’, and coming with that is also a fairly nice tax break.  When does each one make sense? Now, that’s the trick – and each year, it could be different depending on types of employment and each partner’s salary.  For us cats over here, I computed both – the Married and Separately as well as Married and Jointly, and compared the results to myself before I believed what I read – but now I can indeed verify: filing Married and Separately makes the most sense for partners that make nearly the same amount within the same tax bracket, while Married and Jointly seems to be the most beneficial when there is an exponential disparity in income.

Filing Deadline

Officially kicking off Tax Season yesterday, you can file your taxes any time you’d like between now and the April 17th (yes, 17th) deadline.  I’ve discovered a little trick, where the sooner you submit your tax return the sooner you can reap the sweet rewards. Last year, it only took a week and a half for both my state and federal return to be processed, so I like sending mine out as soon as possible.  But in case I made a mistake I can file amended 1040-X anytime over the next three years. And yes, Tax Day is technically on April 15th, but that’s also a Sunday – with the observed ‘Emancipation Day’ holiday falling in Washington DC on the Monday, making it a federal holiday, thus the deadline is now Tuesday, April 17th.

IRS | IRS E-File

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[Adulting 101] Don’t Let Tax Season Tax You

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One of the biggest adjustments I’ve made as I’ve ‘grown up’ – a term that I still like to use pretty loosely – was getting my life in order.  It started with finding a planner that could coagulate the millions of thoughts into my head into a concise little package. After some researching, I happily adopted the Passion Planner as my new organizational best friend, and it’s made planning for the future a whole hell of a lot easier.  Now that my life has gotten into some semblance of an order, it was time to get my money in check.

For the last thirty odd years, those words have (rightfully) given me a bit of anxiety.  But the older I get, the more capable I’ve felt handling things on my own, instead of asking for help (also, thanks for the help, Dad!).  Just the other week, the IRS opened the floodgates for the 2017 filing system so we can finally rid ourselves of any reminder of 2016. With just a few tips, tricks and tools – you’ll be on your way to an early refund and have some extra money in the bank.

Before You Jump In

As you jump into filing your axes, you should be at the ready with a few vital pieces of information.  Employers should have sent out W2’s at the end of January, meaning they’ll be in your mailbox soon if you don’t already have them.   If you don’t have your W2, don’t fret – contact your company’s HR department, or the IRS.  Next, you’ll need to know how many dependents you have – which in layman’s terms, means how many people of familial relation fiscally depend on you throughout the year.  Do you have children?  Are you taking care of your parents? If you answered yes to either of those questions, you’ll be entering that number on your W-4, for the rest of us – if we’re single (in this case, meaning unmarried), over 25 and without children, that answer will be 0.  Next, if you were a student and only held a part time job, if you’ve been volunteering, or pursuing a career that’s slowly been taking off and didn’t make over $10,350 – the standard single payer deduction – you’re in luck, you don’t even need to file your taxes.

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In Come Tax

The landscape of the corporate world has been shifting over the last decade, with an unprecedented amount of the general population both working remotely from their home office, or as Independent Contractors – juggling multiple part time jobs.  This means that taxes have to be tailored to meet each and every one of our personal needs.  Back in the day, you’d need to go to a tax professional, so bless the technologically savvy age where we can do everything online at the push of a button.There are several basic options for filing your taxes, baring you’re not a unique tax unicorn with a special filing status.  Both Turbo Tax and H + R Block boast exceptional online options that are convenient, quick, and all things considered fairly painless.  They’re also not bank breakers, either.

Filing Deadline

You can file your taxes any time between now and the April 18th deadline, and in my personal experience, the earlier you file your taxes – the quicker you get your refund. I filed my taxes through Turbo Tax on January 24th, and within two hours was approved for both my State and Federal Returns.  It took a tiny bit of turnaround time,  but by Wednesday, February 1st I had both my of my tax returns sitting pretty in my checking account, cha-ching!

Traditionally, the filing deadline is April 15th – but this year, that’s a Saturday.  So, traditionally, it would be moved to the following Monday, April 17th – but that’s Emancipation Day in Washington DC.  What’s that mean?  This year, we have a three day cushion and if we’re the type that puts the pro in procrastinate, we don’t have to turn in our returns until Tuesday, April 18th.

For tax resources, I recommend the following; happy filing!

IRS | IRS E-File

Turbo Tax

H + R Block

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