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Tax Tips for Individuals

 

Tax Incentives for Higher Education


The tax code provides a variety of tax incentives for families who are paying higher education costs or are repaying student loans. You may be able to claim an American Opportunity Credit (formerly called the Hope Credit) or Lifetime Learning Credit for the qualified tuition and related expenses of the students in your family (i.e. you, your spouse, or dependent) who are enrolled in eligible educational institutions. Different rules apply to each credit and the ability to claim the credit phases out at higher income levels.

If you don't qualify for the credit, you may be able to claim the "tuition & fees deduction" for qualified educational expenses. You cannot claim this deduction if your filing status is married filing separately or if another person can claim an exemption for you as a dependent on his or her tax return. This deduction phases out at higher income levels.

You may be able to deduct interest you pay on a qualified student loan. The deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income so you do not have to itemize your deductions on Schedule A Form 1040. However, this deduction is also phased out at higher income levels.
The tax code provides a variety of tax incentives for families who are paying higher education costs or are repaying student loans. You may be able to claim an American Opportunity Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit for the qualified tuition and related expenses of the students in your family who are enrolled in eligible educational institutions.

Check Withholding to Avoid a Tax Surprise

 

If you owed tax last year or received a large refund you may want to adjust your tax withholding. Owing tax at the end of the year could result in penalties being assessed. On the other end, if you had a large refund you lost out on having the money in your pocket throughout the year. Changing jobs, getting married or divorced, buying a home or having children can all result in changes in your tax calculations.

The IRS withholding calculator on IRS.gov can help compute the proper tax withholding. The worksheets in 'Publication 919, How Do I Adjust My Withholding?' can also be used to do the calculation. If the result suggests an adjustment is necessary, you can submit a new W-4, Withholding Allowance Certificate, to your employer.

If you owed tax last year or received a large refund you may want to adjust your tax withholding. Owing tax at the end of the year could result in penalties being as5 Tips for Early Preparation

Earlier is better when it comes to working on your taxes. The IRS encourages everyone to get a head start on tax preparation. Not only do you avoid the last-minute rush, early filers also get a faster refund.

There are five easy ways to get a good jump on your taxes long before the April 15 deadline rolls around:

  1. Gather your records in advance. Make sure you have all the records you need, including W-2s and 1099s. Don’t forget to save a copy for your files.
  2. Get the right forms. They’re available around the clock on IRS.gov in the Forms and Publications section.
  3. Take your time. Don’t forget to leave room for a coffee break when filling out your tax return. Rushing can mean making a mistake — and that can be expensive!
  4. Double-check your math and Social Security number. These are among the most common errors on tax returns. Taking care on these reduces your chances of hearing from the IRS.
  5. Get the fastest refund. When you file early, you get your refund faster. Using e-filing with direct deposit gets you a refund in half the time as paper filing.

Earlier is better when it comes to working on your taxes. The IRS encourages everyone to get a head start on tax preparation. Not only do you avoid the last-minute rush, early filers also get a faster refund.Amended Returns

Oops! You’ve discovered an error after your tax return has been filed. What should you do? You may need to amend your return.

The IRS usually corrects math errors or requests missing forms (such as W-2s) or schedules. In these instances, do not amend your return. However, do file an amended return if any of the following were reported incorrectly:

  • Your filing status
  • Your total income
  • Your deductions or credits

Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct a previously filed paper or electronically-filed Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ return. Be sure to enter the year of the return you are amending at the top of Form 1040X. If you are amending more than one tax return, use a separate 1040X for each year and mail each in a separate envelope to the IRS processing center for your state. The 1040X instructions list the addresses for the centers.

Form 1040X has three columns. Column A is used to show original or adjusted figures from the original return. Column C is used to show the corrected figures. The difference between the figures in Columns A and C is shown in Column B. You should explain the items you are changing and the reason for each change on the back of the form.

If the changes involve another schedule or form, attach it to the 1040X. For example, if you are filing a 1040X because you have a qualifying child and now want to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, you must complete and attach a Schedule EIC to the amended return.

If you are filing to claim an additional refund, wait until you have received your original refund before filing Form 1040X. You may cash that check while waiting for any additional refund. If you owe additional tax for the prior year, Form 1040X must be filed and the tax paid by April 15 of this year, to avoid any penalty and interest.

You generally must file Form 1040X to claim a refund within three years from the date you filed your original return, or within two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. Please contact us for more!