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Michele J. Gaines

Enrolled Agent

 Federally Licensed by the U.S. Department of Treasury in Federal Taxation

Article Published in the January, 2018 Edition of Pittsburgh Avenue West Magazine

Life is Taxing, Let's Balance It

by Michele J. Gaines, B.A.C.P. EA 

In the grand scheme of things that we are faced with daily, taxation is the one and only financial transaction that impacts each and every one of us, every year. Without fail, this is the one area that gets most people and businesses into more trouble than they can count because if your tax life is out of balance, your life is can take a turn for the worse. So let’s get ready for a great 2018 tax season by putting our tax preparation necessities for the 2018 tax season, in balance.

Are you expecting refund? Well, we hope you are and if you are, your filed Return must be complete, accurate and must include all known refundable credits. If you prepare and file your own tax return electronically, remember to sign and validate your electronic tax return. Check the IRS website to learn the signature validation requirement and how to validate your signature. Moreover, getting that refund also means taking necessary steps ensuring that your Return is smoothly processed. Here’s a laundry list of what is needed:

Gather your documents. This includes W-2’s, 1099’s from banks and other payers and Form 1095-A from the Marketplace for those claiming the Premium Tax Credit. These forms should start arriving by mail in January. Look at each one carefully for accuracy. If you find an error on your tax forms, contact the payer immediately to get those corrected.

File electronically. This is the preferred and most accurate method for submitting a return to IRS, your respective state and to your local taxing agency. Electronic filing is the quickest way to get your refund since you can direct deposit that refund directly into your bank account. Be aware that IRs will not issue refunds for those claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February. Expect those refunds starting around February 27, 2018.

Renew Your ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) if expired on December 31stor if you have not filed a tax return for the last three years. Your ITIN must be renewed before your 2017 Return can be processed. Use Form W-7 to renew your ITIN. If you are eligible for or have received a social security number in 2017, do not renew your ITIN but do inform IRS of both numbers so your IRS account can be merged.

Stay alert. IRS has made great strides in protecting your tax refund from identity thieves. Stay watchful of anyone who asks for personal information by phone or email. Be vigilant and skeptical, even if the email is from a known source. IRS will always contact you first by regular mail. Employers are also at risk since scammers will pose as company executives attempting to gain access to W-2 and other sensitive tax information that employers have about their employees. If you are the subject of a data breach, contact IRS immediately.

Be Diligent. Look up changing tax laws – know the regulations for receiving taxable income. Pay attention to income tax earning reductions and credits – nothing is given for free but much can be taken if we’re not diligent about income received. All tax adjustments offered by our US government has a purpose and a plan so make your plan as a response to offset a potential income tax liability which will give you balance and prevent life from being taxing.

Michele J. Gaines is an Enrolled Agent and federally licensed with unlimited rights of representation in tax practice before IRS.