Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Taxing Situation

A new year. In fact, a new decade. But the shiny newness of 2010 is starting wear out and the arrival of those 1099s, W-2s, etc brings with them the sobering reality that April 15, a Thursday this year, is not far off.

We are not tax professionals, but since most of persons who are not tax professionals still have to file a return, or accurately determine whether they are required to, it pays to know where to find the answers before at best, dread, or at worst, panic, takes hold. Even the IRS states on its website, “Many people will file a 2009 Federal income tax return even though the income on the return was below the filing requirement.”

Ah, but you say, Sure. How do I know I am not making a mistake by not filing? Or by filing? The information below, from the Internal Revenue Service website-- -- will help you determine if you have to file a Federal Income Tax return or if it would make sense to change your withholding so you do not have to file unneeded returns going forward. This site is the best place to find accurate and up-to-the-minute tax info and is easy to navigate.
Additionally, one of the most helpful publications, available to download from the site or to order by mail, is Publication 17, which explains in minute detail who must file and what must be included in the return.

Generally speaking, for tax year 2009, if at the end of 2009 you were under age 65 and your gross income was at least $9,350 ($18,700 if married and filing jointly) you must file a return. But there are other conditions and requirements depending not only on your age or marital status, but on other criteria, ie, Were you a church employee? Did you sell your main home? Did you make early withdrawals from a qualified retirement plan? And much, much more. Not only are tax laws complex, many of them change every year so a deduction you were able claim in, say, 2007, may not apply to 2009. So asking an accountant or knowledgeable and well- trained tax preparer is the best way to be sure not only if you need to file, but what forms you need to use.

And please don’t procrastinate. April 15 is headed straight for you so getting the paperwork together now is the best way to meet the filing deadline and retain some peace of mind. And wallet.


Anonymous said...

Smart advice, and none too soon. This is a terrific, responsible siteand will save a lot of angst and money if its readers pay attention.

Virginia said...

I just finished my federal and state returns thanks to turbotax a few days ago. I feel so great to be done before February!