Taxes 
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What is the Tax Form 1040?

Form 1040Welcome to the inaugural post in our Tax Form series, a new, somewhat dry, tax series in which we take a look at all the various tax forms the IRS uses. I know it sometimes isn’t the most exciting of topics but understanding the various tax forms is absolutely crucial if you want to do your taxes. Many of you will probably be filing electronically, so software will help you decide which forms to use and how to fill it out, but there are still a few hold-outs out there who insist on filing by paper.

If you are one of them, then this new series is designed for you! (cue applause!)

The Tax Form 1040 is the cornerstone of your tax return. There are two alternatives in the Form 1040A and the Form 1040EZ, which are available to a subset of taxpayers, but the Form 1040 is the long form that many people think of when you talk about your federal personal income tax return. Form 1040A is basically Form 1040-Lite and Form 1040EZ is Form 1040-SuperLite.

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 Taxes 
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How to File Your Taxes for Free

e-File is gaining in popularity as the Internet becomes the place to go for taking care of money matters. Not only is e-file convenient, but it also provides you with a method of getting your tax refund faster (if you are entitled to one). Many tax professionals offer e-file services when you go in. And, if you meet certain requirements, you might be able to have your taxes e-filed for free.

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 Taxes 
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How to File an Amended Tax Return

1040A few years ago I was preparing my taxes with TurboTax when I reached a piece of information I didn’t have (nowadays you can flag it as a place to return to before finalizing your return). Rather than leaving it blank, I put in a placeholder value… and promptly forgot about it. I filed my return, printed out a copy (this was before I decided going all electronic was a better option), and went about on my business. A week or so afterwards, as I was reviewing my return before filing away, I noticed I had put in a placeholder value.

It was for self-employment income and I had put in a nice round $10,000. My actual earnings were slightly higher and all of it was reported on a Form 1099-MISC, so the IRS knew that I made more than $10,000. Plus, $10,000 on the nose is awfully suspicious, especially since I was being 1099′d from about a dozen different places. So I knew I had to file an amended return and I found it to be, relatively, easy. Unfortunately, it’s paper only.

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 Taxes 
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Your Take: How Will You File Your Taxes?

When it comes to preparing and filing your taxes, there are a variety of options. You can prepare your taxes electronically with software like TurboTax and efile for a few dollars. You can prepare you taxes on paper, double check with software like TurboTax, and then mail in your return (for those keeping track at home, this basically means you prepare your taxes twice). You can work with an accountant, either at an independent CPA firm or one associated with one of the tax preparers, which still gives you the option of efiling or mailing in your return. Whatever method you choose, the only rule is that you file by April 15th (or April 18th this year).

How will you be filing your taxes and why?


 Taxes 
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Married Filing Jointly & Married Filing Separately (Filing Status)

This is part two of our filing status series (it’s really just two articles) and in this part we’ll take a look at the two married filing statuses – married filing jointly and married filing separately. As we mentioned earlier today, you filing status as of December 31st will basically determine which filing statuses you’ll be able to choose from. If you’re married, and not “considered unmarried,” your two options will be to file as Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately.

I documented the key differences between married filing separately and married filing jointly in the past, based on 2008 tax brackets data, but the same analysis holds true with the updated IRS tax rates.

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 Taxes 
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Single & Head of Household (Filing Status)

Today we’re going to discuss the four major filing statuses of your tax return – single, head of household, married filing jointly and married filing separately. If you’ve ever filled out your tax return, chances are you’ve had to decide which of these four applied to you. The decision really is between single vs. head of household or married filing jointly vs. married filing separately. A married couple, in general, will not file as a head of household and unmarried individuals cannot file jointly or separately as there is no one to file with!

This post will cover the decision process for picking single or head of household with a post covering married filing jointly vs. married filing separately to come in the afternoon.

Here’s one important protip about marital status and taxes: Your marital status on the last day of the year (December 31st) determines your marital status for the entire year. This is true for a lot of “status” related items – if your child is born on December 31st, they can be claimed on that year’s return. If you are unmarried, you have the option of picking single or head of household. If you are married, you must pick either married filing jointly or married filing separately.

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 Taxes 
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EFiling Tax Return

I was reading the instructions for the Where’s My Refund tool on the IRS.gov website when I spotted this little gem:

You can generally get information about your refund 72 hours after IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or three to four weeks after mailing a paper return.

Within 3 days, the IRS is ready to rock and roll on an efiled tax return. It takes twenty one to twenty eight days for them to start on your paper return. If you have a tax refund, you should be efiling because you can get your refund two to three weeks faster.

Another protip – go with the direct deposit option because then you won’t have to wait or worry about a big check going through the postal system.


 Taxes 
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2010 Taxes Due on April 18th

You know how the tax deadline is usually April 15th? Well, the IRS adjusts the date, they are required by tax law, if it falls on a holiday or on a weekend. This year, the folks in Washington D.C. will be celebrating Emancipation Day on Friday, April 15th. Normally the date is April 16th, the day in 1862 when President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, but this year they’re observing it on the 15th.

What does that mean for you and me? Taxes won’t be due until April 18th, that following Monday. If you are due a tax refund, I’d file as soon as possible so you can get your own money back. If you owe taxes, I’d wait until the 18th. :)


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