GMG CPA ANSWERS: How Do I File Taxes?

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At GMG CPA we are here to help answer your questions. The government collects taxes to pay its bills and provide public goods and services. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) collects your taxes to make sure you and your business are in good standing. The taxes you owe to the government are generally paid through withholding (money taken out of your paycheck), estimated tax payments, and payments made when you file your taxes each year.  

You may not have to file a federal income tax return if your income is below a certain amount. However, you must file a tax return to claim a refundable tax credit or a refund on income tax withheld.

Follow these steps to file a tax return:

  1. Gather your tax forms and paperwork - Make sure you have all the IRS forms you need to file. This includes your W-2 form and other income statements. You may also need proof of health insurance coverage to complete your return. Gather all your supporting documents, such as earning statements, interest statements, and receipts for charitable donations. Keep organized records to make the process easier and help avoid issues with your return.  

  2. Determine your filing status - Your marital status and how much your household members pay toward keeping up a home can help you figure out your correct filing status.

  3. See if you qualify for free tax return preparation - The IRS offers free tax help to low-income individuals, military servicemembers and their families, people with disabilities, seniors, or taxpayers with limited English.

  4. Choose the simplest form for your tax situation -  Determine the correct form to use to file your return. If you file your return using IRS e-file, the system will automatically decide which form you need.

  5. Calculate your taxes and credits - Add up your sources of income, such as your salary, interest earned from your banking or investment accounts, and your pension or retirement-related accounts. Check to see if you are eligible for credits and deductions, including charitable contributions, education, and child care expenses.

  6. Claim your dependents and exemptions - It's important to understand the rules on claiming dependents (a qualifying child or relative) and exemptions (deductions from your and your dependents' taxable income).

  7. Determine if you need to pay quarterly estimated taxes - Find out if you need to pay taxes on income that is not subject to withholding, such as self-employment, interest, and dividends.

  8. File your taxes online or mail your paper tax return - Choose the filing method that best suits your needs: online,  a mailed paper return, or through a tax professional. To insure your tax return is filed correctly we hope you will consult a GMG CPA.

Tax Payment Information

You can pay your federal taxes in one of several ways: direct pay, debit or credit card, electronic federal tax payment system, or check or money order.

Tax Refund Information

If you are expecting a refund and want to check its status, the IRS recommends using its online Where's My Refund tool or the mobile app, IRS2Go. These systems are updated once every 24 hours and are the fastest, easiest ways to track your refund.

Refunds are generally issued within 21 days of when you electronically filed your tax return or 42 days of when you filed paper returns.

You can choose to receive your tax refund by direct deposit, U.S. Series I Savings Bonds, or paper check.

Tax Filing when Living Abroad

U.S. citizens or resident aliens (Green Card holders) living abroad must pay U.S. income tax on their worldwide income. The rules for filing tax returns, paying estimated taxes, or estate taxes are generally the same whether you are in the U.S. or abroad. Keep in mind that some of the steps you take, including where and when to file, may be different.  

Tax Filing Information for Nonresidents in the U.S.

If you are not a permanent resident, you will need to follow special rules to complete your return. Foreign nationals who cannot get a Social Security number (SSN) need to apply for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). This identification number is used for returns, statements, and other tax-related documents.

Tax Filing Deadlines

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began accepting and processing federal tax returns for tax year 2017 on January 29, 2018. The deadline to file federal taxes was April 18, 2018, unless you filed for an extension.

Federal and state taxes usually have the same filing deadlines. Find out the tax filing due dates in your state. If you do not file and pay your taxes on time, you will be charged interest and a late payment penalty. For taxpayers due a refund, there is no penalty for filing a late return. You may be able to get a six month filing extension. For help with filing tax returns contact a GMG CPA.