This post is for anyone who hates everything about their income tax return(s) but finally wants to understand enough about them to not feel completely lost.
Legalese, finance, minutiae and numbers aren’t my thing, either. And I was a CPA in public accounting for 5 years.
So take heart. If I can learn this stuff, you can, too.
Like an anthropologist returning from a remote village, I’m here to teach you a secret:
The IRS website is user-friendly and can answer your questions right now!
The IRS created their website so you won’t call them. They are on a budget.
The website was created for you to comfortably explore and easily use.
Visit the IRS help page for an overview of topics. Notice the subtle “We have high call volumes.” warning at the top of the page…
Click Frequently Asked Questions to go to the IRS FAQs page. Review the FAQs for anything akin to your burning questions.
Scroll down the FAQs page to “Additional Information.”
Click the Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA) link.
You’ll also see an Interactive Tax Assistant link on the Main Help page. See the highlighted Help page above.
The ITA is designed to help you answer your tax questions, not to file your taxes.
Each question is linked to a module that will request some information (filing status, dependents, adjusted gross income, etc.). Once you have the information, complete the module to get answers!
TIP: If you have to estimate your adjusted gross income (AGI), better to guesstimate too much. Exemption and credit limits kick in at higher AGIs, so you’ll get a more conservative answer if you guess too much income. “More conservative” means fewer unpleasant surprises on your tax return.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for Part II!