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How to Do Taxes Yourself: A Step-by-Step Guide

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As of November 2020, the IRS had received more than 168 million tax returns for the 2019 tax year. More than 72 million—roughly 42%—were self-prepared tax returns. Discover how to do taxes yourself in the guide below so you can decide if self-preparation is the way to go for you.

10 Steps for Doing Taxes Yourself

1. Understand the Filing Deadlines
2. Ensure You Need to File
3. Review Your Documents from Last Year
4. Gather All the Documents You Need
5. Choose Standard or Itemized Deductions
6. Add a State Tax Filing if Needed
7. Check All Your Forms and Data
8. Request an Extension if Necessary
9. File Electronically
10. Check to Ensure the Returns Were Received

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1. Understand the Filing Deadlines

The federal tax filing deadline is typically on April 15. If that day falls on a mail holiday, it may be moved to the next business day. Tax returns must be e-filed or mailed by the federal tax deadline to avoid late-filing penalties.

In 2020, the federal government extended the filing and payment deadlines for 2019 taxes until July 2020. This was to provide some relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of now, the filing deadline for 2021 is Thursday, April 15. Whether or not such a change might be made in 2021 for the 2020 tax year is not yet known. So, keep an eye on IRS and tax news to understand when you need to file in 2021. 

State deadlines may be different from the federal deadline, so be sure to check the filing requirements in your state.

2. Ensure You Need to File

Not everyone is required to file taxes each year. For example, if your income is below a certain threshold, you don’t need to file a tax return. Dependent children and adults also may not need to file a tax return.

If you’re not sure whether or not you need to file, you can find out using the IRS’s online Interactive Tax Assistant. This wizard asks you some questions about income, filing status, and whether you had federal taxes withheld the previous year. It uses that information to help you understand whether you need to file.

3. Review Your Documents From Last Year

When doing taxes yourself, you might want to review the information from your previous year’s federal and state tax returns. Much of the information will be the same, including employer federal ID numbers, children’s Social Security numbers, and even some of your credit or deduction options. The IRS also uses your prior-year AGI to verify your identity when you e-file, which means you’ll want to make sure you have the information you submitted last year on hand.

Starting with an old return can help you enter information quickly and accurately. One great tip for doing your own taxes is to use a software program that can import old tax data. That way you don’t have to enter it again, which can reduce the potential for typos and other errors.

4. Gather All the Documents You Need

Gather the forms and documents you have that indicate income, expenses, and other tax-related figures. Some common forms you might have include the following:

  • W-2s, which report wages from employers.
  • 1099s, which report income from contract work, royalties and rents, unemployment, interest, dividends, retirement distribution and other sources.
  • 1099-Cs, which report forgiven debt, which the IRS considers income in many instances.
  • 1098s, which indicate payments that may be tax-deductible.

These aren’t the only forms you might need. You may also want copies of receipts and other documents proving you made tax deductible purchases or charitable donations if you’re going to take itemized deductions.

5. Choose Standard or Itemized Deductions

When you file your taxes, you can choose to claim the standard deduction ($12,400 for those filing individually this year) or itemize your deductions. Claiming the standard deduction is easier, and for many people it is more than the itemized deduction they would be able to claim.

If, however, you had large, out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses, paid mortgage interest on your home, had large uninsured losses, or made large contributions to qualified charities, it may be worthwhile to itemize your deductions and determine whether they amount to more than the standard deduction you qualify for.

Good tax software prompts you to enter all your information and does the calculations for you. The software tells you whether itemized or standard deductions will save you the most money, taking the guesswork out of this process.

6. Add a State Tax Filing if Needed

After you enter all your federal information or complete federal forms, don’t forget that you may need to file a state return too. Most states require a separate state tax return to be filed, and it can be easier to do this all at the same time. Some free tax filing services let you add a state return too.

State tax rates may be different from federal tax rates, and some states don’t have an income tax at all. They include Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. However, New Hampshire and Tennessee do tax some types of dividends and interest income, so individuals in those states may still need to file a return in some cases.

7. Check All Your Forms and Data

However you choose to prepare your taxes, take time to double check everything. Print the forms out or review the information on screen. Pay special attention to numbers, including income and expenses, as well as Social Security numbers and other ID numbers. Make sure you didn’t reverse numbers with a typo or make another error that could hold up your return.

8. Request an Extension if Necessary

Taxes are due April 15, but if you need more time to file your federal taxes, you can apply for an extension. If you file an extension request, the IRS gives you until October 15 of that year to file. That does not change the due date for taxes owed, though. You are still required to estimate the taxes you will owe and pay those by April 15. If you think you will be unable to pay your taxes in full, you can request an installment agreement from the IRS.

9. File Electronically

According to the IRS, around 90% of all individuals file their tax returns electronically. Reasons for filing electronically include a faster time to refund, convenience, and security. You may also be able to ensure the IRS received your return within minutes or just one day, which can provide some peace of mind.

10. Check to Ensure the Returns Were Received

After you’re done filing your taxes yourself, check back to ensure your return was received. You may get an email confirming the return was accepted. Alternatively, if you used a tax preparation software, you might be able to log in to the software to check the status of your return.

Tax Filing Made Easy

Filing your taxes yourself doesn’t have to be difficult. If you follow these steps and file via a user-friendly tax software, you can be done in a couple of hours.

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Millennials Credit Scores Had A Major Boost

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New York, May 11, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The unpredictability of the 2020 economy had very few positives to report on. However, one ray of light across the board was that the average FICO score for U.S consumers hit a record 710 last year, with millennials leading the way, boasting an 11-point increase.

Credit scores are important for millennials. Aged between 25-34, they are the generation who grew up during a changing financial climate, where more emphasis was placed on having a good FICO score in order to be approved for the likes of mortgages, auto loans and credit cards.

Yet not all US millennials had such a good year when it came to credit. Many are still struggling to gain the financial backing they need for both their personal and business life, and as a result aren’t benefiting from lower interest rates, higher credit limits, or access to better offers. 

If you’re a millennial looking for credit repair, the team at Credit Planned is helping your generation get back on track:

1. Who are Credit Planned?

Credit Planned is a platform that educates users on financial literacy to help them improve their credit and better plan their financial lives. A pioneer in credit repair, personal and business credit building, and funding solutions, they offer free online advice and how-to guides, alongside free over-the-phone consultations, to help people repair, improve, and maintain great credit.

With over 1,500 happy clients, each month they secure over $50,000 in funding and boost over 100 credit scores.

2. How can Credit Planned help millennials improve credit scores and access financial funding?

Above all else, Credit Planned can provide clear, actionable consultation on a case-by-case basis. As they experts when it comes to the financial industry, you will be given help and advice that will truly make the difference.

If your credit score has become a barrier to entry and approval for the likes of mortgages and loans, there are basic things you can do to quickly improve your score. While some are achievable from your side, some will need expert knowledge of the financial industry, both of which Credit Planned can help with.

Securing funding from banks can be made more achievable with an improved credit score. However, where real gains can be made is through leveraging the relationships Credit Planned have with these banks to secure 0% interest funding (anywhere from 50-150k) for 1-3 years.

  • Corporate Credit Blueprint

Many business owners aren’t aware of the power of business credit, and some don’t even know how to affects your personal score directly. Credit Planned can help optimize your business credit, no matter the size of your business, and open the doors to help your business grow.

3. Put past decisions and improper financial education behind you

Credit Planned are helping millennials who didn’t receive a financial education build the knowledge to prosper once more. From debunking credit mythics to posting great tips via their Facebook page, their online resources are an invaluable addition for anybody who is looking to improve their credit score and secure funding.

Book a free consultation and get your credit score on track

A good credit score indicates that you know how to manage your budget and make good financial decisions. Woven into most key systems in our society, it’s something that needs to be addressed should it be halting your progress in any walk of life.

Book a free consultation via the website, or by calling (877) 650-5116

 

More information:

Credit Planned are a pioneer in credit repair, personal and business credit building, and funding solutions. Don’t be afraid to scale your business or become financially independent. Read our advice, speak to us via a free consultation, and start building your credit today. Learn more via the website: https://creditplanned.com/.

https://thenewsfront.com/credit-planned-millennials-credit-scores-had-a-major-boost-in-2020-but-if-yours-didnt-heres-what-to-do/

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How Much Do Credit Repair Services Cost? – News Anyway

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On average, one in five Americans has an unfair credit score. Mistakes on reports from bureaus are quite common. They range from misspellings to events that never happened. A false bankruptcy may tarnish your records for up to a decade! Experts may have such errors erased, so your FICO total will rise immediately. These services are not free, but what is the best value for money?

Credit repair is a highly competitive industry. As a result, the best credit agencies on Credit Fixed     have to offer reasonable pricing. Customers are always charged depending on the length of the billing cycle (e.g., 30-45 days). In addition, there could be an upfront fee.

Cost vs. Duration

Repair is a lengthy process. Although professionals speed it up, you still need several months (between 2 and 6) to clean your records. The most complex cases linger for a year. Trusted companies allow you to stop using their services at any time. Still, the longer — the more expensive.

Today, monthly rates from the most popular providers range between $79 and $129.95. If the upfront fee applies, it may be equal to the monthly payment or different. For example, with Sky Blue Credit, you pay $79 upon enrollment and $79 monthly.

Compare Service Levels

As you can see from this Sky Blue Credit vs Lexington Law review, not every company divides its services between packages. The first provider offers a universal solution that is also modestly priced. The competitor has three tiers, from basic to advanced.

This second scheme is the most common in the industry. Consumers choose cheaper or more expensive bundles depending on their needs. The tiers often include different numbers of disputes. For example, you may be able to disprove five items per bureau per billing cycle.

In addition to analysis and disputes, premium clients may get identity theft insurance, score tracking tools, and personal budgeting solutions. The biggest firms provide their proprietary apps — for instance, the Lexington Law app is highly rated in both Google Play and App Store. On the other hand, almost every company will let you track the status of your case through their web portal.

What You Are Paying For

While add-ons vary, the core services are the same. Any company will collect your reports from three major bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. The staff will scrutinize the records in search of debatable inaccuracies. Next, they will collect evidence and send dispute letters to bureaus on your behalf. Eventually, the errors should be eliminated, which pushes the total up immediately.

This describes the mission of any repair firm. It will help you fix your status more quickly. After all, experts can identify the most damaging mistakes and collect sufficient evidence from the get-go. In the process, they may also send different types of correspondence to lenders and collectors. This includes:

  • debt validation letters asking the lender to prove that you owe the specified amount;
  • goodwill letters asking them to stop reporting particular items;
  • cease and desist letters to collectors, do they stop bothering you.

Repair companies may eliminate different types of mistakes. However, only some of them can delete hard inquiries. Ideally, such items are created when you apply for a loan and the lender checks your credit history. Too many hard inquiries over a short period are damaging to the total.

Money-Back Guarantee

No company can guarantee specific results. The professionals will not promise to increase the total by a certain number of points. However, you may get your money back if the firm is inefficient. Check the conditions of its money-back guarantee (if it exists).

Most commonly, clients are paid back if no entries are deleted within the first 60 or 90 days. Removal of a single item voids this guarantee. In exceptional cases, the policy is unconditional. At the moment, it is only provided by Sky Blue Credit Repair. You may stop using the services for any reason within the first 90 days and get a refund.

Choose Wisely

As there are so many companies, choosing the right provider is not easy. Consider the BBB ratings and genuine feedback from consumers on sites like TrustPilot. Check if the firm delivers on its promises. It must provide excellent support, while the absence of a money-back guarantee is a legitimate deal breaker.

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How Long Will It Take to Fix My Credit Score? – News Anyway

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Your FICO or VantageScore status depends on the contents of your credit reports. Unfortunately, data stored by TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian may be inaccurate. Correction of mistakes will make your score rise. However, this is not an overnight process.

The duration depends on the number of false entries, the bureaus involved, and the quality of the evidence submitted. Experts from top-rated credit repair companies at https://creditrepairpartner.com/ will give a tentative evaluation. If you open disputes by yourself, resolution may take longer. It may require a couple of months or half a year. Here are the basics of credit repair in the US in 2021

Why You Need a Higher Total

Many consumers suppose their credit score only affects borrowing. The lower the total — the more difficult and expensive it is to take out a loan. In reality, the consequences are more varied. Aside from banks, your credit history is accessed by landlords, insurers, and even employers. You may fail to land your dream job because your score is far from perfect.

Causes of Deterioration

This may happen fairly or unfairly. In any case, deterioration stems from negative information on your credit reports. Items like missed payments or evictions pull the score down. Some consumers have to remove bankruptcies and judgments that never happened. Even your personal details may be flawed, although correcting the wrong spelling does not affect the total.

Both systems (FICO and VantageScore) look at similar factors for the calculation. The three most influential elements for the first method are:

  • history of payments (35% of the score)
  • how much you owe in total (30%)
  • length of credit history (15%)

Your credit mix (use of different types of credit) and new accounts affect 10% each. As you can see, late or missed payments, bankruptcies, and defaults are extremely damaging. Another crucial aspect is your ‘credit utilization ratio’, which applies to revolving credit — i.e., credit cards.

The lower your balance in comparison with the total amount of credit — the better. For example, if the limit is $5,000, and you have used $2,500, the ratio is too high (50%). Experts recommend keeping it below 30% or 11%, depending on who you ask.

The Fixing Process

So, what should you do if your reports contain wrong amounts or false entries? First, you are not alone. On average, every 5th consumer in the US has mistakes on their official records. Fortunately, everyone can have errors deleted to raise the total. There are two ways to go about it. You could try doing everything by yourself or hire repair experts. Either way, here is what the process involves.

1.   Collection of Data

Every US citizen may get a free annual copy of their report from each of the three major bureaus. Due to the pandemic, the service is now accessible every week. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to collect data from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian at once.

Downloading it online is the fastest way, but you may also call the organization or send them a request by mail. If you hire a fixing company, they will collect this information for you. You may also get a free introductory consultation.

2.   Identification of False Derogatories

Next, you (or the expert) will need to establish inaccuracies. Note that credit reporting agencies do not share data with one another. Any or all of your reports may be flawed, which complicates the process.

As you can see from the score breakdown above, different categories of items affect the total differently. Credit repair professionals will prioritize the mistakes to fix the score faster.

  1. Collection of Evidence

When the report is inaccurate, it is your job to prove this. A repair firm will gather evidence on your behalf. This includes bank statements and other documents showing that the damaging entries are false. Professionals also send debt validation letters to your lenders. These ask them to prove that you owe the amount specified in the reports. As you can imagine, the duration of this stage varies. The more mistakes you want to be removed — the more evidence must be gathered.

4.   Formal Disputes

Armed with the evidence, you may now send formal dispute letters to the reporting agency (or agencies) involved. The bureau will investigate the claim and reply to you within 30 days. It may accept or reject the changes. Alternatively, additional proof may be required.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, fixing the score in under 30 days is next to impossible. You need to collect the reports, analyze them and gather evidence to support your claims. It is crucial to provide conclusive proof, so there is no back and forth between you and the bureaus.

The simplest cases may be resolved and just over a month. The most complex repair may last a full year. Generally, delegating this job to professionals will accelerate the result. The key is to choose a reliable firm that delivers on its promises. Check websites like BBB and TrustPilot for customer feedback, and make sure the company has a money-back guarantee for your peace of mind.

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