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.

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.

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.

Tax Carnival Ecstasy – October 1, 2013

Good Lord, I'm sure that's Councillor Bill Smi...
Good Lord, I’m sure that’s Councillor Bill Smith from Melrose – unless my eyes deceive me (Photo credit: Ninian Reid)

Welcome to the October 1, 2013 edition of Tax Carnival Ecstasy. In this edition we start with an article from Matt Becker on the deductability of mortgage interest and why it’s not the great tax deal everyone thinks. Bill Smith reports on TurboTax and eHealth working together and the IRS Fresh Start Program. Laura Anderson has some Nanny Tax Myths that you should know about. Hope you enjoy all the articles, bookmark, share, tweet and come back soon.

deductions

Matt Becker presents Is the Mortgage Interest Deduction For Real? posted at Mom and Dad Money, saying, “When people talk about the financial benefits of home ownership, one of the big points they typically make is that the interest paid on the mortgage is deductible. This is only semi-true and in any event is not really the big win that many people claim it is. So today I’d like to run through the reasons why the mortgage interest deduction is not always all it’s cracked up to be.”

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filing

Bill Smith presents TurboTax Is Integrating With EHealth posted at 2013 Taxes, saying, “eHealth, the United States’ predominant private Internet health insurance exchange, has announced that it will enter into a partnership with Intuit Inc..”

retirement

John Schmoll presents Should You Pay Off Debt or Invest in the Stock Market First? posted at Frugal Rules, saying, “There can be a fine balance between paying off debt or investing in the stock market first. The truth is that it’s a personal decision and one that will aid your wealth building, debt reduction and saving for retirement at the same time.”

John Schmoll presents When It Comes To Investing, Be The One Who Dives In Head First posted at Frugal Rules, saying, “Many allow fear to hold them back when it comes to investing in the stock market. However, if you give yourself some practical lessons you can put yourself in better standing to build a retirement portfolio and begin to grow your wealth.”

tax law

Bill Smith presents Tax Help 101: Casualty, Disaster, And Theft Losses posted at 2014 Taxes, saying, “Financial losses incurred because of disasters, casualties, or theft may be tax-deductible.”

taxes

Laura Anderson presents Expert Insights: Nanny Tax Myths with Guy Maddalone of GTM Payroll Services, Inc. posted at eNannySource, saying, “When it comes to employing a nanny, it’s important to know what’s true and false. Guy Maddalone, founder and president of GTM Payroll Services, Inc. and household payroll and tax expert, provides some important insight that can help separate fact from fiction.”

Bill Smith presents IRS Fresh Start Program posted at 2012 Taxes – Free Tax Filing Options, saying, “There is a new system called the IRS Fresh Start Program which aims to make it easier for people to pay back taxes and avoid a lien coming against them. There are three major parts to the IRS program.”

tips

Bill Smith presents Guidance For Personal Finance That Can Save These Days posted at 2012 Tax – Free Tax Filing Options, saying, “The government has become a popular source of security but real financial security is found at home when you reduce debt and have a savings.”

Bill Smith presents Free SCORE Tax Tips posted at 2010 Tax, saying, “Having your own small business can be a rewarding experience. There are many aspects that can be difficult to accomplish on your own though.”

That concludes this edition.  Submit your blog article to the next edition of tax carnival ecstasy using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.