Tax Filing Doesn't Have to Be Avoided

Are tax filing and procrastination two words that you can relate to all too well? Do you receive your W-2 forms from your employer, take them home, and watch as they collect dust sitting on your desk in your home office? To cut costs, you may have decided to file your taxes yourself and now you feel overwhelmed as you don't even know where to begin.

Before you begin, make sure you have all the appropriate tax documents for the previous year. If you have more than one job, check to make sure you have W-2 forms from each employer. If you have a student loan, make sure you have the forms handy showing what the interest paid for the year was. If you have a mortgage, be sure the bank has sent you the appropriate forms so you can report the taxes paid for the year. If you don't know what forms you need, don't worry. Don't be discouraged. Online tax software programs are designed to easily walk you through the process.

Once you're ready to start, you'll want to choose the online tax software program best suited for you. Compare prices online and read user reviews, when available. Don't forget that you might be able to file for free if you're yearly income falls into a certain bracket. Select a program from a reputable company that offers "live help" services if you can, so you can have the reassurance of knowing there's someone available to answer any questions you may have. However, tax filing is a pretty simple process if you just follow the instructions and answer the questions correctly.

Tax filing does not and should not be a process you put off until the last minute. Depending on your personal financial situation, you may need to collect receipts for itemized deductions or submit other documents, along with your taxes for the year. Compiling this information requires time and you don't want to rush yourself. Submitting your taxes incorrectly is not something you want to do. Additionally, if you're expecting a tax refund for the year, visit a website like for more information. You're only delaying your refund by putting off the process!

Don't let yourself become one of those people desperately driving to the post office at the last minute so they can get the appropriate postmark on their tax returns. In fact, tax filing can be done online, eliminating the hassle of having to mail your returns at all. Websites like serve as great resources for guiding you through this process. The sooner you file online, the better, as most companies offer discounted rates on software programs early in the tax season.

Jodie Stoughton, CPC is a freelance writer residing in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. She works as a certified professional coder for a health insurance company and specializes in articles focusing on medical coding, as well as health and wellness.

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Your Guide to 2009 Tax Planning

Make Work Pay
There are a lot of misconceptions going around regarding the new Making Work Pay credit. In order to benefit fully, it is important to understand how you can take advantage of the credit. The most common myth is that the credit will be delivered to qualifying taxpayers through the mail, similarly to the stimulus check last year. However, it is actually distributed through a taxpayer's check in the form of a reduced tax rate. Because of this, it is your job to check you paychecks and make sure the amount is being added (note that you may need to adjust your withholding to reflect the change).

The First Time Homebuyer Credit
A lot of people are talking about the federal government's credit for people to purchase a home in the 2009 tax year. However, it is important to remember that the credit is only available to first time homebuyers. To be more specific, the IRS defines a new homebuyer as a person who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. The IRS also specifies that you need to purchase the home between January 1 to December 31, 2009. For more information, check out the IRS' press release titled "First-Time Homebuyers Have Several Options to Maximize New Tax Credit."

Energy Conservation Credit
For those of you hoping to upgrade some of your appliances this year, the IRS is giving you even more incentive to go "green." If you make an energy efficient upgrade to your home-such as installing double-paned windows or buying an approved washer and dryer-you can take a deduction for up to $1,500. However, you must divide the deduction between the 2009 and 2010 tax years, so you will only be able to claim $750 this year. Please note that according to, "geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, solar panels, fuel cells, and small wind energy systems... are not subject to this cap."

Automobile Breaks
Although many hybrid vehicle tax credits are beginning to expire, there are plenty of new ones being announced. The IRS just released new information on the new tax credits being made possible by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The credits apply to low speed electric vehicles, as well as cars with at least four wheels that draw propulsion using a rechargeable battery. Depending on the height and weight of the vehicle the value of the credit can range from $2,500 to $15,000.

Flood Victims
The IRS unveiled some new tax law changes to assist flood victims this year. One big win for flood victims was the removal of some loss limitations. Whereas in 2008, flood victims could only claim a certain amount of losses, now they can deduct the entire amount. However, it is important to remember that this full amount can only claimed by taxpayers who itemize their deductions. Another less popular tax law change affects individuals who helped victims displaced from their homes. According to the IRS these charitable taxpayers can claim an additional exemption of $500 for each displaced individual they help, with a maximum of $2,000.

With more and more Americans losing their jobs, changes have also been made to the way unemployment benefits are taxed. The key to benefiting from these new changes is by knowing exactly what you are entitled to. According to the newest changes to the tax law, the first $2,400 worth of unemployment benefits is income tax free. Therefore, you could expect an increase on each check you receive by around $25. Additionally, 20 more days have been added to the duration of unemployment.

The Tax Lady Roni Deutch and her law firm Roni Lynn Deutch, A Professional Tax Corporation have been helping taxpayers across the nation find IRS tax relief for over seventeen years. The firm has experienced tax lawyers who can fight IRS tax liens on your behalf.