Lots More Information
Many Americans don't think about their tax bills until the new year. But there are things you need to do before Dec. 31 if you want to pay less later.
Author's Note: 10 Tax Exemptions You Should Know
Seriously, though. I would love to be a fly on the conference room wall when the poor IRS writers sit down to compose their annual filing instructions. I am 100 percent sure that it's not their intention to create the most convoluted and confusing documents in the English language, but it's hard to tell from the results.
The true culprit, I know, isn't the IRS itself, but the 4-million-word tax code that it's trying to explain. There are so many terms to define, and so many caveats and special cases to decipher, that there's no way to be brief and straightforward. Also, your audience is so incredibly diverse — from wealthy households with vacation properties and foreign stock earnings, to struggling families surviving on government assistance.
This is how we get a definition of "dependent" that stretches over two pages and still doesn't address every possible way that a person can depend on your financially. So my heart goes out to the derided IRS, even as I mercilessly make fun of their forms. Why do I feel an audit in my future?
- Cussen, Mark P. "Tax Rules for Resident and Nonresident Aliens." Investopedia (Oct. 31, 2014) http://www.investopedia.com/articles/tax/11/tax-tips-for-non-residents.asp
- Duncan, Kimberly. "Full List of Property Tax Exemptions by State." Veterans United Network. Aug. 23, 2014 (Oct. 31, 2014) http://www.veteransunited.com/futurehomeowners/veteran-property-tax-exemptions-by-state/
- IRS. "Certain Payments to Disabled Veterans Ruled Tax-Free; Some May Be Due Refunds." Dec. 12, 2007 (Oct. 31, 2014) http://www.irs.gov/uac/Certain-Payments-to-Disabled-Veterans-Ruled-Tax-Free;-Some-May-Be-Due-Refunds
- IRS. "Form 4361, Application for Exemption from Self-Employment Tax for Use by Ministers, Members of Religious Orders and Christian Science Practitioners" (Oct. 31, 2014) http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4361.pdf
- IRS. "H. IRC 501(k) – Child Care Organization" (Oct. 31, 2014) http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eotopich89.pdf
- IRS. "In 2014, Various Tax Benefits Increase Due to Inflation Adjustments." Oct. 13, 2013 (Oct. 31, 2014) http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/In-2014,-Various-Tax-Benefits-Increase-Due-to-Inflation-Adjustments
- IRS. "Information for Veterans with Disabilities" (Oct. 31, 2014) http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Information-for-Veterans-with-Disabilities
- IRS. "Personal Exemptions and Dependents" (Oct. 31, 2014) http://www.irs.gov/publications/p17/ch03.html
- IRS. "Publication 501" (Oct. 31, 2014) http://www.irs.gov/publications/p501/ar02.html
- The New York Times. "An Incomplete Fix." Jan. 13, 2013 (Oct. 31, 2014) http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/14/opinion/an-incomplete-fix.html?_r=0
- Tax Policy Center. "Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)" (Oct. 31, 2014) http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxtopics/amt.cfm
- Tax Policy Center. "Taxation and the Family: What is the personal exemption?" (Oct. 31, 2014) http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/key-elements/family/exemptions.cfm