Help Others With Their Taxes

You may feel good about completing your 2013, 2014 or 2015 Taxes to the best of your ability, but nothing may compare to the satisfaction that can come from helping others do the same. You can make a big difference in the lives of the people in your community by volunteering with programs such as Tax Counseling for the Elderly and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance this tax season.

TurboTax

TurboTax 2015 is a wonderful tax preparation guide, but a lot of people may prefer or need additional assistance. Sponsoring organizations such as TCE and VITA encourage volunteers to join in and assist the elderly and individuals of all ages who may be looking for tax help. You can complete your training online or in a classroom, and tax sites have flexible hours for volunteers and individuals seeking help with their taxes. Here are some great reasons to get involved:

  • No experience required since training is provided.
  • No charge for training materials.
  • Flexible hours.
  • Numerous sites to volunteer.
  • Support programs for military personnel.
  • The satisfaction of knowing that you are making a genuine difference in the financial lives of others.

You can sign up at [email protected] by submitting Form 14310 (VITA/TCE Volunteer SignUP) by email and start giving back to your community today.

2015 Taxes photo
Photo by stevendepolo

Arizona Tax Attorney Aims To Save Customers Money

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Ser...
Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Service. The design is the same as the Treasury seal with an IRS inscription. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tax payers often seek out tax lawyers so they don’t have to deal with the Internal Revenue Service alone. In turn, an Arizona tax attorney offer expert tax resolution services that often helps clients save money.

For instance, one satisfied customer said his Phoenix tax attorney offer detailed recommendations about how to deal with the IRS at a time when “we really needed help.”

The customer went on to explain how he relied on these tax lawyers experience to both resolve current tax bill issues; while also avoiding problems with the IRS in the future.

Reliable tax assistance

When it comes to the IRS and tax bills, many people hire a professional tax attorney to not only help them with their personal income tax and their business related taxes.

For example, one small business owner said he needed reliable and knowledgeable tax assistance because his business could not function under a cloud of IRS tax issues.

Thus, the business owner consulted with expert tax lawyers to sort out the back taxes that the IRS said he owed.

At the same time, people who hire these experienced and trustworthy tax experts for personal tax help say it really offered them peace of mind because they no longer have to worry about their IRS bills.

Do US Citizens Have to Legally Pay Taxes?

We all work hard for our money and we all want life to be fair, so of course, when buzz begins to circulate about the possibility of US citizens not having to pay income tax… we jump right on it. But trust me, when something sounds a little too good to be true, it’s usually because it is.

Unconstitutional you say?

According to believers of this idea the 16th Amendment was never ratified, and therefore we shouldn’t have to pay taxes.

However, the amendment states that the government will collect taxes from its citizens.  This seems pretty cut and dry, however a man named Bill Benson, author of The Law that Never Was, argued that the amendment should not be included in the constitution because it was not properly ratified by the thirty-six states needed at the time to pass. Benson claims that none of the states properly legally went through the process of ratification and even found “evidence” proving that at least four of the states that were documented as ratified actually had paperwork stating their opposition or non-support of the amendment.

There were some spelling and capitalization errors on copies of the documents returned to the Secretary of State. However, Secretary Knox, aware of these small mistakes, adopted the amendment, seeing no need to throw it out based on such trivial and superficial errors.

Neiner Neiner Neiner

What many of the believers also think is that if you do not pay your taxes, even if accused and convicted of this, you will still avoid jail time, just… because.

Benson was indicted in 1980 and in 1981 for tax evasion After attempting to use hi research as his defense strategy, he was promptly found by a jury to be guilty on all counts. Anyone who has attempted to use his “evidence” in their defense or to support their negligence to pay income tax, has suffered the same consequences as he did. He is now infamous for tax evasion.

In addition to jail time, Benson also got a hefty law suit from the Department of Justice for manufacturing and selling tax scheme documents and interfering with the IRS. Benson was charging $3,500 for his “Defense Packages” and was ordered in the suit to stop, post a copy of the citation on his website and handover to the government all the personal information of his customers including social security numbers.

I believe the lesson learned here is that if you want something to be true, somehow, somewhere, especially in the internet era, you can dredge up “information” to support your fact or theory. But tread lightly, if you follow in Benson’s footsteps, there is nothing but trouble ahead.

TaxAlmanac offers up a discussion of tax evasion jam packed with tax urban legends containing a mixture of desperation and hope to downright humor and everything in between.

George Gallagher writes for a handful of personal finance and economic blogs. When not writing he works with young people to sort out their private student loan consolidation questions.

How Tax Law Changes Change Your Life

Tax law changes tend to happen at least once a year. An obscure loophole may be closed, or the tax rate on a specific type of profit may be increased or decreased. In either case, it is important to make sure that you have the right income tax advice before dealing with your own taxes. Rather than trying to go it alone, the help of a professional can aid you in making sure that all your forms are filled out correctly and that all the correct deductions have been made. Even with this in mind, though, you may still wonder if tax changes will actually have any bearing on your own situation.

Now, the truth of the matter is that most tax law changes will not actually do much to change the tax returns of most individuals. The bulk of the changes in any given year will only actually cause an effect on the taxes of a select few, but you may never actually know that these changes have gone into effect unless you actually consult with a tax professional. Unfortunately, lack of knowledge about these changes is no excuse when you file, and if you are audited you may actually face rather stiff penalties for failing to adhere to laws that were only recently passed.

There are, of course, many tax law changes that will cause major changes for more tax payers. The IRS is generally quite vocal in announcing these changes, and most are incorporated into even simple tax return programs. However, if you need to feel reassured about what effect these changes will have on your taxes or you simply wish to play it safe, it may be wise to seek out professional income tax advice. It may cost a bit more, but the associated costs are nothing when compared to the fines that may be incurred by those that file incorrectly.

The author has spent a lot of time learning about tax law changes and other related topics. Read more about income tax advice at the author’s website.

Effective Tax Rate: Not As Simple As It Seems

Mitt Romney recently expressed the belief that his effective tax rate is roughly 15 percent. Most people become incredulous upon hearing this claim.

Their initial thought is that most people pay a much higher rate than that.

The reality is that they really don’t, however.

In fact, based on the specific calculation methodology, Mr. Romney’s effective rate is significantly higher than that of most Americans’.

Comprehending why this is true requires understanding that “effective tax rate” does not equate to your maximum income tax bracket. Those rates range between 10 and 35 percent, depending upon gross annual income.

This figure can be calculated in various ways, however, as no single means of defining tax liability exists. For instance, one might consider only federal income taxes or all federal taxes. Income may likewise be measured in more ways than one. It may be expressed in terms of “gross,” “taxable,” or “adjusted gross.”

In truth, it is impossible to arbitrarily ascertain  Romney’s true effective tax rate to any degree of certainty. That can only be accomplished with a detailed review of his reported income and deductions as reflected within his tax returns.

Even if Romney is right, however, a very simple explanation exists for why his effective rate is most likely much higher than most others’:  Effective tax rate is invariably lower than maximum income tax bracket. Moreover, about 80 percent of US taxpayers’ maximum top rate is 15%. This figure is according to Tax Policy Center Senior Fellow Roberton Williams.

Per Williams, four-fifths of all Americans’ effective tax rate is already less than 15 percent.

When income tax liability is considered by itself, taxpayers whose gross annual income is between $40k and $50k per year is only 3.2 percent, per estimates of the Tax Policy Center.

Even households with gross annual incomes that exceed $1,000,000 can expect to pay only 18.9 percent of this amount in 2012 taxes.

This is due to the fact that many high-income households earn much of their money via tax-advantaged investment vehicles like bonds or other sheletered capital gains.

Would You Like To Have the IRS Do Your Taxes?

To paraphrase Will Rogers, more liars were made of the American people from income tax than from golf.

But if the IRS made it easy and almost impossible to lie on a tax return, would anyone be interested?

Doug Shulman, the IRS Commissioner, recently hinted that if the IRS would prepare taxpayers’ returns the potential for tax fraud would be reduced. No-one would have to prepare their own returns at tax time because the IRS would do it for them.

The common name for this idea is a “ready return” or “simple return.” The IRS would complete the taxpayer‘s wage information and identification under this plan and send out the completed returns. Taxpayers would sign them after checking them for accuracy and correcting any mistakes, and return them.

It is already the responsibility of employers and other parties to provide income information to the IRS, so they already have most of our information at their disposal.

Completing the returns for taxpayers would be expensive, however, and the IRS does not presently have the budget nor the manpower to carry out the plan. It would mean a major undertaking to add preparing returns to the collections and enforcement they are already obligated to do. However, Shulman apparently thinks it is worth discussing.

California already has a similar, if limited, plan for their state taxpayers. Not many have signed on, though, because of limits such as no more than five dependents, income from wages only and mandatory standard deduction. Those who do use the system reported they like it. Nobody knows if the IRS will ever implement such a plan.