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6 Warning Signs That Your Tax Preparer is a Fraud

January 13th, 2015 by Rebecca Lake

tax preparer fraudIt’s tax season and for millions of Americans, that means tracking down a professional to help them with their return. If it’s your first time doing your taxes or you’re planning on using someone different than you have in past years, you need to make sure you choose a trustworthy individual to handle the job. Tax scams occur all too often and many of them involve preparers who use less than ethical tactics to try and get more money out of their clients. When you’re shopping around for a tax pro, here are six warning signs to watch out for so you don’t end up with a phony. Read more »

4 Ways to Get Your 2014 Tax Return Prepared for Free

January 5th, 2015 by Rebecca Lake

2014 free tax preparationApril 15th is still a few months away but it’s not too early to think about getting your taxes done. If you’ve got a fairly simple return, you might be comfortable doing it yourself but when your filing is a little more complicated, it’s probably time to call in professional help. Hiring an accountant or another tax specialist can cost a pretty penny and if you don’t have a few hundred dollars extra to spare, it’ll leave your wallet feeling the pinch. Fortunately, there are a few options for getting your 2014 return prepared and filed for free.

1) Get help from an IRS assistance program

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program sponsored by the IRS provides free tax help to qualifying individuals. All volunteers are specially certified to perform basic income tax prep and electronic filing and there’s no cost to take advantage of these services. To be eligible, you must have earned $53,000 or less in 2014, be disabled or elderly or have limited English-speaking skills. Read more »

IRS Increases Standard Mileage Rate for 2015

December 23rd, 2014 by Rebecca Lake

2015 mileage tax deduction rateUsing your vehicle for business purposes can add up to a big deduction at tax time if you’re able to write off some of the cost. Taxpayers can choose between using the actual expense method or the standard mileage rate to figure out how much the deduction is worth. Since claiming actual expenses tends to be a little more complicated, it often makes sense to base it on how far you’ve driven instead. The IRS is increasing the standard mileage rate for 2015, so if you’re on the roads regularly for business, here’s what you need to know. Read more »

Why the 2015 Tax Season May Mean Headaches for Filers

December 16th, 2014 by Rebecca Lake

tax stress 2015 tax seasonMany taxpayers see their stress level spike as the April 15th filing deadline gets closer, especially for those who are scrambling to get their return completed on time. A number of tax law changes that took effect this year may cause confusion for certain filers but it looks like there may be even bigger problems on the horizon. According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, taxpayers should expect the 2015 tax season to be nothing short of “miserable”.

Speaking at the AICPA National Tax Conference recently held in Washington, D.C., Koskinen warned that cutbacks in government funding paired with a slew of new tax issues to deal with may result in one of the most complicated filing seasons on record. His comments echoed those of National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson who said the 2015 filing season would be the worst she’d ever experienced, rivaling the 1985 debacle in which returns disappeared altogether.

Budget issues behind filing hassles

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Key Tax Changes to Expect When Filing Your 2014 Taxes

December 11th, 2014 by Rebecca Lake

tax changes 2014Even though April is still a few months away, it’s never too soon to start prepping for tax time. Thanks to the introduction of new tax laws and the expiration of certain tax breaks, completing your 2014 return may be a little more complicated versus previous years. If you’re wondering what the biggest changes are, here’s a rundown of what you can expect once it’s time to file. Read more »


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