A tax return is a form or forms that taxpayers fill out once a year to calculate how much they owe the government. If the taxpayer is charged too much, the government will refund them in the form of a tax refund, and if the taxpayer is charged too little, he/she must pay the difference.
Podcast: Tax Returns
Where are they filed?
Tax Returns are filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or with the state or local tax collection agency. The IRS is a government agency and is responsible for collecting and administering taxes.
Do I have to file a tax return?
If your income exceeds the income in the table below corresponding with age and status, you will need to file a tax return.
Do I Have To File A Tax Return?
|Filing Status||Age||Minimum Income|
|Single||Under 65/65 or Older||$10,150/$11,700|
|Married Filing Jointly||Under 65 (both)/65 or Older (both)/Under 65 (one)||$20,300/ $22,700/$21,500|
|Married Filing Separately||Any||$6,200|
|Head of Household||Under 65/65 or Older||$13,050/ $14,600|
|Qualifying Widow(er)||Under 65/ 65 or Older||$16,100 /$17,300|
What do I need to file a tax return?
- Proof of identification
- Filing and residency status
- Social Security Number (SSN) for you, your spouse, and dependents
- Date of birth for you, your spouse, and dependents
- A copy of your past tax return
- Statements of wages earned
- Statements of interest/dividends from banks, brokerages, etc.
- Proof of any tax credits, tax deductions, or tax exclusions
- Your bank account number and routing number
How do I file a tax return?
You can either mail your paper tax return or file your taxes online (e-file). If you choose the paper option, visit this website to determine where to send the form. If you file your taxes online, visit this website form additional information.
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What if I need more time?
The IRS tax filing deadline is on April 15th; however, if you are unable to complete your tax return by this date, you will have to file an extension with the IRS with the IRS Tax Form 4868. This will allow you to push your deadline to October 15th.
Tax deductions decrease your taxable income and therefore how much you owe in taxes overall. Tax deductions can be classified into two categories: above the line and below the line.
1. Above the line tax deductions are also known as “adjustments to income” and allow a taxpayer to subtract from his or her gross income to arrive at an “adjusted gross income.” These are usually more beneficial for a high-income taxpayer.
2. Below the line tax deductions come after the adjusted gross income calculation. Once these deductions have been subtracted from your income, the remainder is your actual taxable income.
Here is a list of possible deductions:
- Job expenses that are not reimbursed by your employer
- Student loan interest that your parents pay
- Self-owned business
- Hybrid car tax credit
- Casualty and theft
- Home mortgage interest
- State and local income or sales tax paid
- Personal property tax
- Real estate taxes and points
- Gambling losses
Important tax forms
Tax form W-2
- Employers must send to their employees and IRS every year.
- Reports wages earned, social security tax information and federal and state taxes withheld.
Tax form W-4
- Every employee must fill out and submit it to their employer.
- Used by an employer to withhold the proper amount of federal income tax from a paycheck.
Tax form 1040 (aka the long form)
- The standard federal income tax form used to report an individual’s gross income to the IRS.
- Allows taxpayers to claim numerous expenses and tax credits, itemize deductions, and adjust income.
- Establishes whether additional taxes owed or refund will be remitted.
Tax form 1040A (aka the short form)
- Simplified federal income tax form used to report an individual’s income and calculate their taxes.
- A two-page form that is less complex than IRS Tax Form 1040.
Tax form 1040-EZ
- The shortest federal income tax form.
- Designed for taxpayers whose filing status is “single” or “married filing jointly” with no dependents.
Tax form 1040-NR (aka U.S. Nonresident alien income tax return)
- Must be filed if you were a nonresident alien during the past tax year and engaged in business in the US.
Tax form 1040X
- Designed for taxpayers who need to correct mistakes made on Tax Form 1040, Tax Form 1040A, Tax Form 1040EZ, Tax Form 1040EZ-T, Tax Form 1040NR, or Tax Form 1040NR-EZ.
Tax form 4868
- The application to extend the filing deadlines for Form 1040, Form 1040A, Form 1040EZ, Form 1040NR, and Form 1040NR-EZ.
- The IRS, which processes tax returns, has more people working for it than the FBI.
- Traffic accidents increase around April 15th, so watch out for drivers heading for the post office.
- The US tax code, which comprises of the rules and regulations that make up tax laws, is almost four million words long. The Bible only has 700,000 words.
- The instructions for form 1040 are nearly 200 pages long.
- Over one million accountants are hired each year to help with taxes.
- In 2000, only 28 percent of the roughly 127 million individual tax returns were e-filed. In 2014 over 83% were filed electronically.
- It costs the IRS approximately $3.00 to process a paper return vs. approximately $0.40 to process an e-filed return.