Friday
April 25, 2014

Tax Tips for You and Your Clients

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Tax Tips for You and Your Clients

This coming Tuesday, Feb. 18, is the deadline for financial institutions to send their customers the documents they’ll need to file taxes if they received capital gains, interest dividends, or profits from real estate sales. Finally, you'll have all the paperwork – including forms 1099 – you need to do your taxes. And this year’s tax season is shorter than usual, so it’s time to get moving!

But there are also numerous changes you need to know about before diving in. If you’re like a lot of real estate professionals who made a significantly larger amount of money in 2013 than they did in 2012, prepare yourself for a bit of a shock when it comes to your tax bill. This is especially true if you made estimated payments based on 2012 numbers, rather than your presumably larger 2013 income.

REALTOR® Magazine created two videos to help you prepare for tax-related changes. In the first video embedded here, you’ll learn about how the IRS has made it easier for you to claim your home office deduction, and how the agency has increased the mileage allowance, handy for all the time and money you spend driving buyers to and from listings in your car.

This second video looks at some of the tax changes to be aware of if you or your client is in a higher-income bracket.

Did you know that President's Day is one of the busiest times for IRS phone lines? Here are some of the most common taxpayer questions, which have been answered by IRS.gov. These will not only help you, but also provide great tips you can pass on to your clients.

1. What is the status of my refund? The IRS will issue most refunds in less than 21 days. You can easily check the status of your refund by using "Where’s My Refund?" on IRS.gov or the newly updated smartphone app, IRS2Go. You’ll need verification information from your tax return to get the status of your refund.

2. Can I get a copy of my tax return or transcript? You can easily order a copy of a return or transcript on the IRS.gov website, on our IRS2Go smartphone app or by mailing the IRS a completed Form 4506-T.

3. What if I can’t pay my tax bill? If you owe taxes but can’t pay, use the "Online Payment Agreement" tool. It can help you determine in a matter of minutes whether you qualify for an installment agreement with the IRS. There is also an Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier for those whose tax obligations are more serious. This tool helps determine if you qualify for an agreement with the IRS to settle your tax liability for less than the full amount owed.

4. Where can I get help preparing my taxes? Try the IRS Free File program. You get to choose brand name software to e-file your taxes for free. Also, there are free tax preparation sites available nationwide from IRS-certified volunteers. Find a location nearby by searching “Free Tax Help” on IRS.gov. Certain income limitations apply.

5. What if I have tax law questions? If you are wondering whether to file a tax return or who to claim as a dependent, start by typing a simple keyword search on IRS.gov. You can also use Publication 17, the annual, searchable income tax guide. Or try the IRS Tax Map, where you can search by topic or keyword to get tax information. Taxpayers can even call TeleTax at 1-800-829-4477 for a recording of information on a variety of general and business tax topics.

Sources: REALTOR Magazine, IRS.gov, and "Where Are My Tax Forms? When Your W-2, 1099, 1098 & Other Forms Aren't In The Mail"  Forbes (Feb. 7, 2014)

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