Help Filing TAXES: How? When? Who?
There are some great websites that help you file your TAXES for Free and in a very EASY way. They help you step by step to make all the possible deductions and get a bigger refund. Depending on your situation (e.g. if you’re foreign, have a high income or are investing in the Stock Market) you may have to pay a fee, that’s not expensive compared to what an accountant will charge you.
This is my favorite website because in my experience, it was much easier for me:
This other website is good too (they also offer in-person assistance at their many locations):
FIRST DEADLINE: April 15, 2019. Try to send everything by this date!
EXTENDED DEADLINE: October 15, 2019. You’ll need to file an extension if you missed the first deadline and it’s not recommended to miss the Tax Day of April 15, 2019.
More info: When to File for Individuals.
Always consult with an accountant if you have doubts or need help. In this post, I’ll try to give you some tools to help you out.
WHO SHOULD FILE TAXES?
UNITED STATES TAX RESIDENTS
They should report their income and pay taxes. It doesn’t matter if the money was earned within the U.S. or internationally. However, it doesn’t mean that all your income will be taxed.
GREEN CARD HOLDERS
Once you have the Green Card, you are automatically classified as a U.S. tax resident and you must report all of your income earned in the U.S. and abroad. Even if you spent a year outside the U.S. you still have to report your entire worldwide income.
You automatically become a tax resident if:
- You are present in the United States on at least 183 days the current year.
- You are present in the U.S. on at least 31 days during the current year and 183 days during the three-year period that includes the current year, and the previous two years immediately before that.
You don’t count all the days you were present in the U.S. during the previous two years. You count:
- All days present in the U.S. the current year
- 1/3 of the days you were present the first year before the current year
- 1/6 of the days you were present the second year before the current one.
- Click here for more info.
Unlike Green Card holders, nonimmigrant visa holders don’t have to pay taxes on earnings made outside the United States. If you are present in the U.S. less than 31 days of the current year, you won’t be classified as a tax resident for that year. This rule does not apply to certain governmental employees and other professionals and students.
NONRESIDENT ALIENS UNDER THE VISAS F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2
You must file Form 8843 whether or not you earned income in the United States. This form isn’t an income tax return; it’s an informational statement required by the U.S. government (including spouses or dependents of nonresident aliens).
- If you received NO taxable income, the deadline to send the Form 8843 is June 1, 2017. If you earned taxable income in the U.S. your deadline is April 17, 2018.
- If you have to file an income tax return (Form 1040NR/1040NR-EZ) you should attach the Form 8843 to the back of the tax return.
MORE ABOUT FORM 8843
Form 8843 must be filed if you were present in the U.S. during the tax year, you are a non resident alien AND you were present in the U.S. under these kind of visas (F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2). Once again, if you DID NOT receive any income in the U.S. during the tax year, you should only file the form 8843 without any additional form.
By income it can be money you got from a job in the U.S., a scholarship you received from an American organization, if you made interest on money in an American bank account, etc. Check the income sources on the IRS website here.
Read this article from IRS if you want to know more about aliens temporarily present in the U.S. (Foreign Students and Scholars).
HOW MUCH WILL AN ACCOUNTANT CHARGE YOU?
Average: between $500 to $700. Some may charge you a bit less and others much more. If you file your taxes with TurboTax and you end up having to pay a fee, it can be around only $50-70.
IF YOU EARN $66,000 OR LESS
Read this article from nyc.gov if your income is $64,000 or less for Free Tax Prep (remember that you can still file with TurboTax!).
FREE INCOME TAX PREPARATION AT NYPL
If you earn $54,000 or less per tax return.
You can go to the New York Public Library to get free help to file your taxes by AARP volunteers who are certified by the IRS. Check here to know days, times and locations under “Tax Assistance at the Library”. First come, first served basis. Make sure to click on the PDFs to know all the information you need to bring with you.
THEY DO MOST COMMON RETURNS, BUT THEY CANNOT PREPARE:
Schedule C (Business Profit and Loss), Schedule E (Rental Property with Expenses), 2106 (Employee Business Expenses), 3903 (Employee Moving Expenses), 8615 (Minor’s Investment Income), Schedule K-1 (other than interest, dividends, capital gains and royalties), Rental Income or Expenses, Returns prior to 2012.
If the volunteers don’t have adequate knowledge or your return is too complex, you may need to file your taxes in another way (like TurboTax, H&R Block, paid tax assistance).
ARE YOU MARRIED?
IS IT BETTER TO FILE TAXES SEPARATELY OR JOINTLY?
Sometimes, it’s best for married couples to file jointly to get a bigger refund or less taxes due. But there are some situations in which you’ll save more on your Tax Return if you file separately.
Articles with helpful info to see what’s your best option:
One reason to file separately can be to protect yourself from inaccurate tax information reported by your spouse, or if she/he refuses to file and you don’t want to get in trouble. You should consider that if you file a joint return, you will each be responsible for your combined tax bill (if either of you owes taxes).
SMALL BUSINESS TAX DEDUCTIONS
Click here to know what kind of deductions you can take as a small business. To determine if you can deduct an expense (considered a business expense), the expense should be both ordinary (common and accepted in your industry) and necessary (helpful and appropriate for your business).
Some common small business deductions include costs for automobiles, home office, insurance, legal and professional fees, rent, travel, meals and entertainment, etc. Read this article for more details and start saving all the receipts related to your business!
ARE YOU A PERFORMING ARTIST: ACTOR, DIRECTOR, MUSICIAN?
Read this cool article to know what kind of deductions you can take as a performing artist. To know if you qualify as a Performing Artist, you should fit in these 4 items:
- The taxpayer must have worked as a performing artist for at least 2 employers (related to the Performing Arts)
- You received at least $200 each from any 2 of these employers
- The amount of the deduction must exceed 10% of the taxpayer’s gross income that is attributed to those performances AND
- You have no more than $16,000 in adjusted gross income
You should be saving all your receipts related to: business meals, printing headshots/resumes/sides, research (tickets to see a play/musical/movie theatre), coaching/classes, postage, costumes, rehearsal space, props, audition travel, etc. Read this other article to get an idea of what kind of receipts, related to your Performing Career, you should be saving during the year!
DO YOU HAVE TAXES THIS YEAR BUT CAN’T PAY IT ALL?
You can set up an IRS payment plan. Click here for more info.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU MISS THE TAX DEADLINE?
If you missed the tax deadline you should still file your taxes as soon as possible.
If you don’t file your taxes, you won’t receive any refund if you are due a refund. The longer you wait to file, the longer you wait to receive your refund.
There are no problems if you don’t owe IRS money. But if you do owe money, you should consider that your tax payments are due on the Tax Deadline on April 16th. Even if you file a tax deadline extension (extended deadline is October 17, 2018), you need to send an estimate of the taxes you owe.
FAILURE TO FILE OR PAY TAXES
It can result in fines, ruined credit or even jail time. Penalties are calculated on amounts due. If you owe money, you will receive 3 separate penalties on balances due on late tax returns: failure to file penalty, failure to pay penalty, interest. Click here for more info.
Read: Tips for Those Who Missed the Tax Deadline.
If you are a foreign living in the U.S. you may put at risk the approval of the future Visas you may want to apply for, e.g. the Green Card.
Hope all this info was helpful to be a better New Yorker 🙂
Please recommend and share!