Tax Season FAQs
Tax season is around the corner, and everyone here at Schreib Insurance Group wants to make sure our clients have everything they need in order to properly file taxes. Review the most frequently asked tax return questions and answers below to make sure you're prepared for the 2020 tax season.
Should I hire a tax preparer?
Filing your taxes is much easier now with all the software that can walk you through each step of the process. If you only have your W-2, your return should be simple enough to file on your own. However, if you are filing for the first time or have had a change in your filing status you may benefit from working with a preparer initially.
Small business owners and those who are self-employed have many complex rules regarding work deductions and filing requirements. While business tax software is available, it can be easy to overlook tax write-offs for those that are unfamiliar with the tax code. In these situations you are typically going to do much better with a tax preparer.
How do I determine my filing status?
You can determine your tax filing status on the IRS website.
When should I file my taxes? Should I file early?
Taxes should be filed no later than April 15 each year.
If you can't file your taxes on time, you must file Form 4868 for an automatic 6-month extension. Filing your tax return early may help eliminate the need to file an extension. Another common reason to file early is to receive a faster tax refund. Or if you expect to owe taxes you will have extra time to pay as you do not have to pay taxes you owe until the filing deadline.
Where do I file my taxes?
What should I do if my address has changed?
You will need to notify the IRS of your change of address. There are several ways to do notify the IRS of your change of address, including:
- IRS Form: Form 8822, Change of Address or Form 8822-B, Change of Address or Responsible Party - Business.
- Tax Return: Use your new address when you file
- Written Statement: Send a signed written statement with your full name, old address, new address, and social security number, ITIN, or EIN. Mail your signed statement to the address where you filed your last tax return.
- Oral Notification: Tell the IRS in person or by telephone. Have your full name, address, date of birth, and social security number, ITIN, or EIN.
When can I expect my refund?
90% of tax returns are completed by the IRS in under 21 days, however, it is possible that your tax return takes longer. Use the Where's My Refund? tool on the IRS website to get an update on your refund status.
How can I avoid IRS tax scams?
Always treat suspicious or unexpected communications from supposed IRS officials with a healthy amount of skepticism. The IRS does not contact taxpayers by email, text message or social media so you can safely ignore any requests through those channels. Read their fact sheet here to know when it is really the IRS calling or knocking on your door.
- Scams targeting taxpayers
- Credits and Deductions for Individuals
- Credits and Deductions for Businesses
Winter Safety Tips For Your Home and Vehicle
Winter is on its way. Now is the ideal time to begin thinking ahead about ways to safeguard your home and vehicle in preparation for the frostiest and most frigid days. Take a look at this helpful list of tips and get started on protecting your house and car ahead of time.
Tips For Your Home
- Conduct a home heating inspection: To make sure all of your home heating equipment is up to date and in working order, schedule a home heating inspection. Dirty filters can make your furnace work harder and lead to a higher heating bills; it's best to replace your filters every month when using it regularly. Inspecting and cleaning your furnace often makes sure your system is working correctly and protects against expensive fixes and poorly timed equipment malfunctions.
Take a closer look at your windows and doors: Warm air can escape your house through cracks around your windows and doors. Caulking should be replaced intermittently so you take the time to check for holes that need to be patched. If you can see light coming in around the edges of your doors, plan to replace your weather stripping. It can cost a few dollars to replace but save hundreds on heating bills.
- Prepare your fireplace by having your chimney cleaned: If your chimney hasn't been cleaned in a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and other undesirable buildup. Check on the flue to ensure that it closes entirely and that you don't feel air coming in once it's closed. As an additional way to keep warm air in and cold air out, add glass doors around the opening of the fireplace..
- Cover your water heater: Buying a blanket for your water heater is a sound investment. Pick one up at a hardware store to keep your tank from quickly losing heat. On top of that, you can also lower your water heater temperature. Most manufacturers set the temperature to 140 degrees by default, but turning the temperature down just 10 degrees could save you around 3 to 5 percent on energy costs. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends setting the temperature to 120 degrees.
Tips For Your Vehicle
- Keep your tank half-full: Maintain at least half a tank of gas at all times. In the event of an emergency where you are stuck or stranded, this will ensure a source of heat until help arrives. Keeping the tank half-full will also help avoid gas line freeze-up.
Warm up your car outside your garage: It sounds obvious enough, but always be sure to never warm your vehicle in an enclosed space (such as a garage). Carbon monoxide emitted from your car can be lethal within minutes.
- Thoroughly clear your car in case of snow: Make sure your vehicle is properly cleared of snow and ice before you hit the road. Clearing your windows, mirrors, lights, reflectors, hood, roof and trunk will ensure that your car is ready for travel and offers maximum visibility. Completely clearing your car also means snow and ice won't be able to drift off while driving and accidentally hit a vehicle behind you.
- Pack and store a winter safety kit: Protect yourself from the worst by building a safety kit ahead of time. Items such as blankets, flashlights, gloves, hats, water, food and any necessary medication could prove invaluable in difficult circumstances.