How To Choose A Great Online Tax Preparer

When people look for online tax preparers, they need to consider various factors. Choosing the right tax software option is vital to maximizing a tax refund after all. Therefore, individuals must focus and search for their best tax preparation solution. Each person is going to require something slightly different from their online tax prep service.

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Safety Concerns

TurboTax 2013 from last year provided ample safety measures. Unfortunately, not all preparation services take safety seriously enough. The last thing a person wants to do is lose their personal information. Others have become victims of identity theft and lost their returns. The best tax prep options implement strict safety protocols today.

Tax refund theft continues to grow at an alarming pace. More taxpayers find themselves victims each tax filing year. While tax prep companies try to combat this fraud, cases will slip through the cracks. By choosing the safest option, taxpayers can minimize their risk of becoming a victim.

Convenience

These days, people tend to prize convenience and efficiency over other factors. It’s important to check out a tax service’s extra features. Turbo Tax 2013 was prized for its variety of useful features. Typically, such features aren’t core to the tax filing experience. They do, however, provide certain taxpayers with extra tools that can be used for various purposes.

In the end, consumers must consider price and a handful of other factors, too. TurboTax is often considered the best tax preparation software available today. Anecdotal and usage figures seem to support the validity of this idea. Still, each taxpayer needs to find the tax preparation service that’s right for themselves.

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Obamacare’s Impact On 2014 Taxes

Researchers have unveiled an ignorance on the part of the American public: a full 48 percent of people in the United States do not know that they must report their health insurance status on their 2014 federal income tax returns.

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The tax-filing season is soon on its way, and most Americans 18 and over do not realize that health care and income taxes are connected. This information was uncovered by an online Intuit TurboTax Health Survey which was conducted by the well-known Harris Poll group.

According to the Affordable Care Act, otherwise dubbed “Obamacare,” all Americans have to show that they have qualifying health insurance coverage. Proof has to be presented when they file their 2014 income tax returns. If they do not, they can face a penalty.

The study also shows that many Americans who do not have health insurance–a full 62 percent of them–know that they will incur a penalty if they do not have health insurance. However, 87 percent of people do not know that the time to avoid a tax penalty for the year 2014 has already come and gone. Insurance purchased during the current open enrollment time which goes through February 15th will be applied to income tax returns which are filed in 2016.

Sacha Adam, Affordable Care Act product leader for TurboTax software, says that many people in the United States do not understand there is a correlation between income taxes and health care insurance.

The Intuit survey also showed that 9 of 10 Americans have insurance, but those living in the South are less likely to have policies. Also, almost half of Americans do not know that premium tax credits are available to make health insurance more affordable for low to moderate income families. In addition, three-quarters of Americans who got health insurance through the government marketplace will renew it next year.

For more information on this important issue, go to TurboTaxHealth.com.

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H&R Block Backs Voluntary Tax Certification Program

H&R Block Inc. has taken the forefront to elevate industry standards in tax preparation by supporting a new voluntary certification program initiated by the Internal Revenue Service.

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Tax preparers who voluntarily enroll in continuing education courses covering basic tax filings, tax updates, ethic of tax preparation and other related issues will now receive a record of completion noting their efforts. The purpose of the IRS program is to help taxpayers find qualified individuals to prepare tax returns and to help them avoid unethical practices. A study indicating that 42 million Americans have used a tax preparer with no credentials and who operates under no state regulations or minimum standards is the impetus for this program. That figure represents about 54 percent of all returns prepared by someone other than the tax filer.

In a letter supporting the program, H&R Block CEO Bill Cobb encourage the United States government to continue promoting voluntary certification actions, indicating that his company believes the U.S Congress should set standards for professional tax preparers. Until Congress passes such legislation, however, Cobb believes a voluntary certification program is essential to protect the concerns of consumers. Such a program should also include components of the Registered Tax Return Preparer Program that the IRS previously implemented, including registration, competency measures, screenings and continuing education.

Cobb has previously commented that on an appeals court ruling that the IRS cannot regulate tax preparer, indicting that the ruling hurt honest taxpayers who are entitled to basic protections.

Kansas City-based H&R Block is one of few companies that requires minimum standards from its staff. All company tax preparers must have at least 75 hours of tax law and tax return courses in the first year of employment with 15 hours of continuing education for each subsequent year. Also required is 35 hours of system, policies and procedural training.

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The U.S. Corporate Tax Rate

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Is the U.S. Corporate Tax Rate the Highest in the World?

There is a popular belief that the current corporate tax rate in the country is very high, and a reduction of the prevailing rate will stimulate investments which will have a wide range of positive effects on the economy. Those who support this theory are referring to the current rate which stands at 39.1% (the highest in the industrialized world). According to proponents, this income tax rate is putting U.S. corporations at a competitive disadvantage. But is there more to the story?

Income Tax rates by Country based on OECD 2005...

Income Tax rates by Country based on OECD 2005 data. “OECD Tax Database”. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development . . Retrieved 2007-01-30 . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The truth is that US companies pay the highest corporate tax rate, but the vast majority of them have perfected the art of not paying it. According to official government records, the amount of corporate tax collected by the government has reduced significantly over the years. The ratio of the corporate tax paid to the total pre-tax profit earned by US corporations is the lowest in history.

A recent report by the CTJ (Citizens for Tax Justice) had some shocking revelations. The organization analyzed the federal income taxes and pre-tax profits of 288 Fortune 500 corporations that recorded huge profits for the five years leading up to the year 2012. The following are some of the findings:

While the federal corporate tax rate stands at 35%, the 288 most profitable companies only paid a tax rate of 19.4% over the 5-year period. What is more shocking is that General Electric, Boeing, Verizon and Priceline.com did not pay any federal income tax over this period. 93 corporations (33.3% of those analyzed) paid a tax rate of less than 10% over this 5-year period.
Of the 288 Fortune 500 firms, 111 paid at most zero percent taxes for at least one year during this five year period. What’s interesting is that these corporations had a pre-tax profit of $227 billion, but paid no taxes. Whatever, the corporate tax rate in the country, the big companies usually find ways of paying less than they are required to.

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Looking At The TurboTax Redesign

Screenshot: Intuit's Customer Community

Screenshot: Intuit’s Customer Community (Photo credit: miss_rogue)

If you’ve used TurboTax before, then you should expect some changes this time around. Recently, Intuit’s tax software has become a little confusing. The user interface didn’t exactly welcome simplicity and efficiency. Sometimes, users would get frustrated by looping links and other problems. Such issues could easily hurt a person while preparing their taxes using the software. Intuit finally listened to customers’ concerns and made changes to the popular tax preparation software.

For TurboTax 2014, filing taxes now looks a lot smoother and easier to navigate. A complete redesign of the user interface has been undertaken and completed. Intuit stated a desire to lessen the time required to complete a return. With that in mind, the software now takes better advantage of prior year returns. TurboTax now analyzes that information and focuses upon each person’s typical tax situation. Returns are partially filled out before a person even starts their return.

While using the software, your tax liability indicator changes with each tax question. In the past, there were no real explanations for the changes. TurboTax 2014 now explains why these calculations affect your tax liability. New guides help explain various tax law changes, including Obamacare. Of course, each modification is designed to make things more simple and efficient for filing taxes and filing back taxes. Intuit has returned power to taxpayers by allowing them to complete their taxes with ease.

In the end, the company focused upon the right things for TurboTax 2014. Filing taxes is now much easier because prior returns are utilized to create a custom experience for each taxpayer. Plus, the competition hasn’t made similar bounds forward. Therefore, Intuit still offers the best tax preparation software around. Nobody needs to spend a fortune on tax preparation because Turbo Tax offers every tool a person needs to succeed each year.

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