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.

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Photo by JeepersMedia

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.

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.

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.

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.

Tax Changes For The Wealthy

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2013 and 2014 taxes may be different for the wealthy due to several new tax implementations. The top tax rate may be steeper, and the actual percentage may depend upon what is included. People may be surprised by the changes, and this may be the ideal time to let TurboTax 2013 guide you through efficient tax preparation.

Income inequality continues to be a major political issue, and things like extending jobless benefits, raising the minimum wage, and imposing changes that affect the top tax rate are central to addressing this issue. Some of the newer taxes include changes to capital gains taxes, and 2013 is the first year that taxpayers will feel the impact. New payroll and Medicare taxes may effect wealthy taxpayers starting in 2013, and the increases may net $87 billion over the next decade.

The 2013 tax filing season will begin on January 31st, but wealthier individuals may already see differences in their withholding going forward. The law is applied unevenly, and this may result in withholding for some people, exemptions in some cases, and larger tax refunds for others.

Changes involving capital gains, interest, dividends, and other types of investments may increase tax bills, but income after taxes may decrease by a small percentage. The percentage may not seem like much, but losing this share of income may seem substantial. You may not know where your income will place you in terms of the current tax rate changes, but TurboTax 2013 may give you the important answers you need.

IRS Forms To File Back Taxes

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IRS Forms To File Back Taxes

Even if one is certain there are no mistakes in the forms when following federal tax procedures, a little shiver goes down a taxpayers spine at the very thought of a letter arriving from the IRS. The Internal Revenue Service blundered recently when the office sent penalty notices to business owners who had requested an extension in filing tax return Form 5500 to file back taxes. An error in programming caused the mistake regarding the required Form 5558, the Application for an Extension of Time to File Certain Employee Plan Returns, before filing Form 5500. Normally, taxpayers are penalized if the Form 5500 is late or unfinished. However, the notice to those taxpayers who filed the proper forms in the right order received the penalty notice, CP 283, Penalty Charged on Your 5500 Return.

Legal research
Legal research (Photo credit: gwilmore (I HATE THE NEW LAYOUT!))

A letter of explanation concerning the inaccuracy was instituted November 8th to IRS employees. Citizens received a penalty notice before the Form 5558 had an opportunity to post to the accounts. Therefore, letters of explanation were prepared while telephone assistors and tax examiners were instructed to apologize to callers. Penalties were removed in all cases, up to five if the caller was a person with multiple plans or clients. If the person was responsible for more than 5 accounts, they were requested to solicit their abatement in writing. The Internal Revenue Service accepted responsibility for the penalty notice to the taxpayers and the charges were removed. It seems filing back taxes can be simple most of the time, but one small computer error can create a fiasco of work.

Intuit TurboTax Class Action Lawsuit

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Intuit TurboTax Class Action Lawsuit

Intuit TurboTax began drawing a lot of customers to their site when they began marketing, ‘file 2008 taxes free‘. However, a class action lawsuit was filed against Intuit TurboTax stating that the company was not revealing fees being charged. The lawsuit stems from TurboTax allowing filers to have their preparation fees deducted from their tax return. TurboTax charged an additional $29.95 if online customers opted to have fees deducted.

Class Action (film)
Class Action (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The lawsuit alleges Intuit’s processing fee was not disclosed as a finance charge so an APR or annual percentage rate was never provided. Since TurboTax essentially lent money to filers who chose this option, an APR should have been present. There was another class action lawsuit, Smith v. Intuit, Inc in February, 2013, which was resolved with the new lawsuit pending.

Intuit has denied that it was involved in any deception or wrongdoing and agreed to give customers full refunds through the class action settlement fund.

Currently there is a $6.55 million Settlement Fund. How much each person will receive depends on the number of people who actually file a valid claim form. The deadline to submit a claim form is October 28, 2013.

Anyone who used TurboTax online and opted to have their TurboTax fees deducted from their refund between January 12, 2008 and May 28, 2012 can take part in the settlement. Claims can be filed online at the official website, TurboTax Class Account, which makes the process easier for anyone wishing to file.

Intuit TurboTax is a very popular online software tax preparation that walks people through the process of filing their federal and state income taxes. They check the return for errors and you have the choice to e-file, which makes getting refunds faster.