Oh man, it’s getting to be tax time soon. Has anyone already filed their taxes? If so, good for you! Kudos!
I’m still working in Chicago right now and won’t be able to get all my 1099s together and ready for filing until I get back to New York. I have things moderately organized, and I even have an accountant, but my tax preparation still requires quite a bit of effort- especially since I sometimes end up with over a dozen 1099s per year (!)
In honor of the advent of tax season, and taxes starting to be on the forefront of everyone’s mind, I’ve compiled a list of common tax questions that are relevant to those of us in our thirties. The first few are pretty basic ones which you may have already figured out, and then they get slightly more detailed. Of course, tax answers are rarely simple, so you should make sure to triple check everything for your own personal situation. And I’m splitting this into sections, so you’ll get more tax question and tip articles as April 15th approaches.
1. Should I use tax software this year? Which program?
I used to use H&R Block’s tax software, which I think is pretty good. It’s about $20 for a basic program, and $65 for self-employed software.Turbotax is also quite popular- and it’s base cost is free. Once my self-employment taxes started to get really complex, I hired an accountant.
2. Should I get an accountant?
Only you know whether you need an accountant based on your personal situation. However, I think you can almost definitely make do with simple tax software if you are an employee with only one job and all you need to file is your w2. If you have side income from anything (rental income, side jobs, etc), you may want to consider an accountant- however, I think you still may be able to use tax software successfully. If you’re self-employed, I recommend considering an accountant, if only to protect yourself from accidental audit triggers. You can even find accountants on Yelp now. My goodness, I love Yelp.
3. How much do accountants cost?
CPA’s (Certified Public Accounts) charge anywhere from $150-$400 or more. But you can definitely get a great accountant for less than $400…read those Yelp reviews. A funny bonus of having an accountant is that your tax prep fee is actually tax deductible!
4. Does last year’s tax refund count as income this year?
The answer to this is almost always no if you took the standard deduction. If you itemized your deductions, it may count as income- look into it.
5. What documents do I need to do my taxes?
You need all your w2s (if you work only one job, you’ll have only one w2).
You’ll need all your 1099s if you’re self-employed or have side income.
Also, it’s important to have documentation of any interest you made on any of your savings or investments (you get taxed on this).
Additionally, you’ll need documentation of any interest you paid so you can deduct that from your taxable income (the interest paid on student loans, etc, is tax deductible). Also, if you’re itemizing deductions, you’ll need your receipts, or a spreadsheet of your receipts if you made one. (You won’t actually need to show anyone the actual receipts (except your accountant) unless you’re audited.)
6. If I made very little money this year, do I still have to file taxes?
Officially, for 2014, if you’re under 65 and filing as single and independent, you don’t actually have to file your taxes if you made under $10,500. If you’re married and filing jointly and under 65, the number is $20,300. Here’s a chart with more details. However, you may still want to file taxes for several reasons- one of which is that if you had taxes withheld, you can’t get your tax refund without filing. Here are a few other reasons.
7. What are some deductions I can take to help reduce what I’m paying on my taxes?
Have you deducted the interest you’re paying on your mortgage or student loan debt? Have you deducted your health care costs? Did you spend lots money to move for your job? There are some great deductions you may not be using to your advantage. Mashable goes into fantastic detail on this here.
Hope this has helped you with some of your questions- feel free to comment below with additional ones- I’d love to hear from you! Look out for more tax info here soon, and good luck filing!