For filers who do their taxes the old fashioned way, the tax filing season began a couple of weeks ago -- as long as they had all the necessary 2011 statements to fill out their paper forms.
Taxpayers who prefer to to e-file can hit "enter" tomorrow, Jan. 17. That's when the IRS starts accepting electronically filed returns and also opens the door to Free File 2012.
But regardless of how you submit your return, the tax laws and rules are the same. Tax Carnival #95: Tax Filing Season 2012 looks at some of the issues taxpayers might encounter.
Tim asks the key question: When Are 2011 Taxes Due? Tax Deadline in 2012, an update on when the 2011 taxes are due. "Hint...they're not due on April 15th," says Tim, who posted the answer at Faith and Finance.
Now that you've got your calendar marked, it's time to look at what goes on your return.
FMF has a preview of what to expect in Taxes: What's New for 2011, Part 1, posted at Free Money Finance.
Madison raises another important issue: What is the minimum income to file taxes? Find out the amount in How Much Money Do You Have to Make to File Taxes? It's posted at My Dollar Plan.
Some filers, however, have the opposite income problem at tax time.
Miranda Marquit notes that some in some cases, folks might be surprised at how much they made or they received a windfall upon which they now owe taxes. "In such cases, realizing that you owe taxes can be a real problem. You have to come up with the money to pay what you owe," says Miranda. "But what if you don't have the money? Or what if you don't want to completely wipe out your emergency fund in order to pay your taxes?" Miranda looks at an option for people in these situations in What Happens if You Can't Pay Your Taxes? It's posted at Best Rates In.
OK. You know you owe Uncle Sam on your earnings, large or small. Now what?
First there's the form issue. You can choose from three versions of the 1040. A couple of contributors look at this filing component.
Trishmc says we've probably heard the commercials in which one of the national chains offers to prepare taxes for free if you can use the 1040EZ. "They're targeting young adults who might be tempted to do it themselves online or with tax preparation software," she says. But is it a good deal? Find out more in Can You Use the 1040EZ? It's posted at Our Taxing Times.
Robert Moore also looks at Deciding On The Simplest Tax Form To Use. "For taxpayers who are planning on e-filing there is no need to worry about choosing the simplest tax form because the software program chooses the tax form that you will need," says Robert in the post at 2011 Taxes - Free Tax Filing Options.
As is ususally the case, there are new forms each tax season.
Kristine McKinley looks at one of them in Online Business Owners Prepare for IRS Form 1099-K, posted at Ebiz Tax Tips.
And, of course, you have to figure out exactly how much you owe.
Philip Taylor presents a rundown of the 2011 tax brackets to help with tax planning calculations in What Is My Federal Income Tax Bracket? It's posted at PT Money Personal Finance.
We do have ways, however, to pay less.
Adam points out that the IRS allows as a deduction from your income the lesser of $2,500 or the actual amount of interest you pay on student loans. You'll find more on this tax-saving option at Examining the student loan interest deduction, posted at Tax On Tax Off.
Glen Craig has some more good news. Even though 2011 has passed, says Glen, there is still time to make some moves that will give you a tax deduction and lower your taxes. Details are in Still Want a Deduction for Tax Year 2011? It's Not Too Late, posted at Free From Broke.
John presents Helpful Tips for Tax Season 2012, a collection of ways to get safely through the 2012 tax season. "You’ll be hard pressed to find a better New Year’s Resolution than getting the IRS off your back," says John of the post at Wallet Blog.
We Americans aren't the only ones thinking about taxes right now. Several "offshore," as the IRS calls non-U.S. locales, Tax Carnivalistas have news.
Janet says the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) recently released information that scammers are trying to trick filers by using the agency's name. Details are in CRA Warns of Fraudulent Communications, posted at Credit, Eh.
Young and Thrifty shares some CRA tax information for Canadians working from home, specifically when it comes to deductions from blogging income. Get the scoop at Last Minute "Blogging as a Business" Tax Tips, posted at youngandthrifty.ca.
Boomer has tips for Canadians thinking about tapping retirement funds. "If you simply don't have the money to come up with an RRSP contribution you may think that getting an RRSP loan is the only solution. Think again," says Boomer. Details in Is An RRSP Loan Necessary? It's posted at Boomer & Echo.
Let's pop over to a place with tax news in the same language (sort of) but on a different continent.
Steve has some advice for United Kingdom filers on How to Avoid Meeting the Inheritance Tax Threshold, posted at 2008 Taxes, saying, "Did you know that whenever anyone dies, the money and the property which is left to the beneficiaries are subject to an inheritance tax?"
Forest Parks notes that states are getting ever more creative in collecting tax, but they might be going a bit far. He elaborates in Taxes on Yoga Classes, posted at Frugal Zeitgeist.
Barbara Friedberg raises a question many future retirees ask: Since both the Roth IRA and a 401(K) both offer tax deferred investing, which should you pick if you can't invest in both? She has some answers in Roth or 401K, Which to Max Out First? It's posted at Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance.
Thomas F. Scanlon presents The Difference Between an LLC and a Subchapter S Corporation, including how taxes are treated in both entities. It's posted at Borgida & Company, P.C., CPAs.
A couple of Tax Carnivalistas take a look at real estate related taxes.
Joe Kristan notes at his Tax Update Blog that the tax code's passive loss rules mean It's hard to be a real estate professional.
Neal Frankle says "if you own rental real estate, the government is thinking about you, and not in a good way. The Government Accountability Office reported that 53 percent of taxpayers with rental real estate misreport when they file their tax returns. That means many property owners overestimated real estate tax loss. The bottom line is that owning rental real estate is now an audit flag." Read more at Rental Real Estate Tax Loss – How to Avoid an IRS Audit, posted at Wealth Pilgrim.
Taxdood notes that 2011 was anything but a boring year in the poker world. With tax season approaching, he says, it's time to review some noteworthy events during the year that may impact items on a poker player's 2011 U.S. income tax return. Details are in Poker and Taxes: 2011 Year in Review, posted at Taxes in the Back.
Finally, all this tax talk might have you thinking about getting professional help. No, I'm not talking about psychiatric sessions, although tax pros often act as therapists.
Bruce looks at More of "Things your tax pro may not tell you," posted at The Missouri Taxguy. "There is a lot of information being put out about looking for a preparer," says Bruce. "Find one that will tell you what you need to know."
And with that admonition, we wrap up Tax Carnival #95: Tax Filing Season 2012.
Here's hoping that your filing tasks are off to a good start. If you're putting off taxes for a bit, no worries. The Tax Carnival will be back every other week through that April deadline noted in this Tax Carnival's first item.
The next one, the 96th Tax Carnival, will be here on the ol' blog on Monday, Jan. 30, the eve of another important tax date/deadline.
Happy tax return filing!