1 Slide 1 Taxes Income taxes have been a part of American life since 1909 when the 16 th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. You can t avoid taxes, so you might as well understand how taxes are structured to maximize your income. In this module, you ll learn about how income brackets and filing statuses impact your taxes. We ll explore two terms that cause many people problems - withholdings and taxable income. Finally, we ll walk through what forms to use when filing your taxes. But first, why do we have to pay taxes at all? Let s take a look.
2 Slide 2 Income Taxes Forty three states and the District of Columbia, as well as some local governments, tax income. In addition, forty five states and many local governments collect sales taxes on goods and services that are sold. Most local governments also assess property taxes on either real estate or personal property, such as cars and boats. So where does the money go? These taxes pay for schools, emergency services, parks, and road maintenance. Taxes are also used to help pay for a range of federal programs. This module will focus on federal income taxes, since they apply to everyone. Now that you understand why we pay taxes, let s take a look at how to determine your tax bracket and filing status.
3 Slide 3 Income Tax Brackets The federal tax system is progressive, meaning that people who earn more, pay more in taxes. Tax laws can change from year to year, based upon laws passed by Congress. You may have heard the term tax bracket, but what exactly does that mean? Income is divided into specific ranges, or brackets, and each of these brackets has a specific tax rate. This rate is adjusted each year to reflect inflation. The part of your income that falls into that bracket is taxed at that bracket s rate. This means your income isn t taxed completely at one rate. This may seem a little confusing, but I ll show you an example to help clarify in just a minute.
4 Slide 4 PROPERTIES Allow user to leave interaction: Show Next Slide Button: Completion Button Label: Anytime Show always Next Slide The amounts for each bracket are not only determined by your income, but also by your filing status. Your filing status is determined primarily by your marital status on the last day of the year. Click on each of the tabs to learn about the four filing statuses. Single You re single if you are not married, legally separated, or divorced at the end of the year. Head of Household You can file as the head of household if you re not married, can claim a dependent, and have cared for a dependent for over half the year. Married Filing Jointly You are married and file a return with your spouse. You re considered married if you re married on the last day of the year. This tax bracket also applies to qualifying widows or widowers if their spouse died within the past two years, they have not remarried, and they cared for a dependent all year. Married Filing Separately You re married and you and your spouse file separate tax returns.
5 Slide 5 Filing Status Calculation Single Married filing jointly Now that you understand your filing status, let's look at how that can make a difference in your tax bracket. Using 2009 tax brackets, let's compare the two most common statuses single and married filing jointly. Each of these people have the same amount of taxable income, but can owe a different amount of taxes. Remember, your income isn't taxed completely at one rate. Click on either of the pictures to get started.
6 Slide 6 Filing Status Calculation Return Single Marginal Tax Rate Single 10% $0 - $ % $ $33,950 25% $33,951 - $82,250 $ $ $ % $82,251 - $171,550 33% $171,551 - $372,950 35% $372,951+ Jan Bradley is an analyst with a state agency. Her taxable income is $50,000 and she's filing as a single individual. Let's look at how to calculate the income tax she owes. She pays 10% of her first $8,350, which is $835. She pays 15% of the next $25,600, which is the difference between $8351 and $33,950. Fifteen percent is $3840. Finally, she pays 25% in the next rate. Since she didn't earn to the top of this bracket, the percentage is only calculated up to her taxable income, which was $50,000. So the difference between her income of $50,000 and $33,950 is $16,500. Twenty five percent of that is $ Jan's total income tax is $ To compare this amount to the example of the married couple filing jointly, click Return. If you've finished, click the next button at the bottom of the screen to advance.
7 Slide 7 Filing Status Calculation Single Married filing jointly Jan s total income tax is $ Now let s look at a married couple filing jointly, who have the same taxable income. Click on the picture of the married couple filing jointly.
8 Slide 8 Filing Status Calculation Return $1670 $4995 Marginal Tax Rate Married Filing Jointly 10% $0 - $16,700 15% $16,701 - $67,900 Married filing jointly 25% $67,901 - $137,050 28% 33% $137,051 - $208,850 $208,851 - $372,950 35% $372,951+ Now let s look at Dave Mason, a deputy sheriff, and his wife Marcia. They have $50,000 of taxable income, but they are filing together as a married couple. Let s look at how to calculate the income tax they owe. They pay 10% of their first $16,700, which is $1670. They pay 15% in the next rate. Since they didn t earn to the top of this bracket, the percentage is only calculated up to their taxable income, which was $50,000. So the difference between their income of $50,000 and $16,700 is $33,300. Fifteen percent of that is $4995. The Masons total income tax is $6665. To compare this amount to the example of the single status, click Return. If you ve finished, click the next button at the bottom of the screen to advance.
9 Slide 9 Filing Status Calculation Single Married filing jointly The Masons total income tax is $6665. Now let s look at a person filing single, who has the same taxable income. Click on the picture of the single status.
10 Slide 10 Managing Your Withholdings You can see that the amount of taxes you may owe can be considerable. How do you avoid paying that all at once? Most people can t come up with the total amount of taxes they owe in a lump sum. Instead, they elect to have the taxes they owe withheld from their paychecks.
11 Slide 11 Withholding Pension benefits Annuities Tips Your regular salary isn t the only thing that s subject to withholding. Your pension benefits, annuities and tips are also subject. If you withhold the right amount, you can pay for most or all of your tax liability throughout the year. Figuring out that right amount can be tricky, especially if you have more than one income. It s important to change your tax withholding elections as your tax situation changes. You should consider changing your elections if you get a second job, have additional outside income, marry or divorce, or have a child.
12 Slide 12 Determining Your Withholdings Additional Allowances Amount Salary Rate When determining your withholdings, keep in mind the four things that determine the dollar amount that is withheld from your pay. First is your salary from that employer. Next is your rate. As you ve already learned, your filing status, such as single or married, determines your tax rate. In addition, the number of allowances you designate influences your withholding amount. The greater the number of allowances, the less money will be withheld. Finally, you can designate any additional amounts you want withheld.
13 Slide 13 PROPERTIES Allow user to leave interaction: Show Next Slide Button: Completion Button Label: Anytime Show always Next Slide To ensure money is withheld from your paycheck, you ll need to file an IRS form W-4 with your employer. You indicate your filing status, allowances and any additional amount to withhold. To help you determine your withholdings, the W-4 form has a worksheet that helps you calculate the number of withholding allowances. Often, having your previous year s tax return can help you determine your current needs. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service provides a calculator on its website to determine withholding. Click on the text to open the IRS Withholding Calculator in a new window.
14 Slide 14 Withholding as Savings Frank wants to buy a new car. How should he save money? Change his withholding so he gets a big refund Put money aside in a savings account Some people use tax withholding like a savings account, withholding more than they need from each paycheck in order to get a large chunk of money back at the end of the year. Do you think this is a good idea? Read the scenario and click the choice you think makes the most sense.
15 Slide 15 Withholding as Savings Getting a big refund might not be the best savings method. While many people use a refund as a means of forced savings, you re essentially loaning the government extra money. Instead, you could earn interest and have access to your money year round, not just once you file your taxes and receive your refund. Frank would be better off lowering his withholdings and saving his money all along.
16 Slide 16 Withholding as Savings That s right! While many people use a refund as a means of forced savings, you re essentially loaning the government extra money. By getting the money in your paycheck, you could earn interest and have access to your money year round, not just once you file your taxes and receive your refund. Frank would be better off lowering his withholdings and saving his money all along.
17 Slide 17 Reducing Taxable Income Employer Savings Plans Health Spending Accounts Dependent Care Spending Accounts As you determine your withholdings, consider ways to reduce the amount of your taxable income. Many employers offer flexible spending accounts, such as the ones on your screen, which allow employees to set aside a portion of their earnings to pay for qualified medical and/or dependent care expenses. The money that s contributed to these spending accounts is not taxed. Before you decide to participate in a flexible spending account, make sure you understand the rules. Both health spending accounts and dependent care spending accounts require that contributions be spent during the time you re covered in the plan year. Any money that you don t spend by the end of the year is forfeited, and can be applied to future plan administrative costs. It s important that you carefully estimate your possible allowable expenses. Let s look at each of the flexible spending accounts. Click on a button to begin.
18 Slide 18 Employer Savings Plans Exit Employer Savings Plans Health Spending Accounts Dependent Care Spending Accounts One way to reduce your taxable income is to contribute to your employer s 401(k), 403(b), and/or 457(b) plan. The money that you contribute isn t taxed in the year that it s contributed. Instead, the money is taxed when it s withdrawn from the plan, presumably in retirement, when you typically have less income. To learn more, select one of the other buttons or click Exit when you're done.
19 Slide 19 Health Spending Accounts Exit Employer Savings Plans Health Spending Accounts Dependent Care Spending Accounts A medical or health spending account is used to pay expenses that aren t covered by insurance. This includes deductibles and copayments, as well as items not covered by your health insurance plan, such as over-the-counter medications. However, the health flexible spending account cannot be used to pay for health insurance premiums. Currently, an individual may make a maximum annual contribution of $5000. Beginning December 31, 2012, the maximum annual contribution will be $2500. Even though the annual contribution amount is pro-rated across your paychecks, the total is available for reimbursement at the start of the plan year. To learn more, select one of the other buttons or click Exit when you're done.
20 Slide 20 Dependent Care Spending Accounts Exit Employer Savings Plans Health Spending Accounts Dependent Care Spending Accounts Dependent care spending accounts are used to pay for certain expenses to care for dependents that live with you, while you re at work. This includes child care for children under age 13, as well as senior dependents that live with you. Camps away from home and long term care for parents who don t live in your home aren t eligible for reimbursement. The maximum annual contribution is $5000, although your income tax filing status may limit your contribution to a smaller amount. The contributions to this account are also pro-rated throughout the year s paychecks, but you can only be reimbursed for the amount that is in your account at the time of the claim. To learn more, select one of the other buttons or click Exit when you're done.
21 Slide 21 Filing Taxes What happens when it s time to file your taxes? Don t get overwhelmed by the different types of forms. Let s walk through the forms you ll receive each year and how to choose the right form to file.
22 Slide 22 Filing Your Taxes Every year, you re required to file your prior calendar year s tax returns by April 15 th. If the 15 th falls on a weekend or legal holiday, the due date is delayed until the next business day. But the process actually begins in January when employers, pension systems and financial companies send documents that you ll need to complete your tax returns. They must mail these documents by January 31 st.
23 Slide 23 W-2 Your employer will send you the IRS W-2 form. The W-2 is used to report the income you received from a single employer in a calendar year, which you can then use to fill out your state and federal income tax returns. W-2 forms can come in a variety of formats based on your employer s payroll processing, but they all contain the same information. Your employer will send a copy to the Social Security Administration, who shares the information with the Internal Revenue Service. Your employer sends another copy to the state tax department and keeps a copy for its own records. You ll receive copies to file with your federal and state returns, as well as a copy for your records.
24 Slide 24 PROPERTIES Allow user to leave interaction: Show Next Slide Button: Completion Button Label: Anytime Show always Next Slide Let s look at the W-2 form and some of the fields that are likely to be filled. Click on the buttons to learn about each of the boxes. Box a This box contains your Social Security number. Ensure that it is exactly correct. If it s incorrect, contact your employer for a corrected version. Box 1 This box contains the wages that you received from your employer during the previous calendar year. Box 2 This box contains the amount of federal income tax that was withheld from your pay during the previous calendar year. Box 3 This box reports the amount of wages subject to Social Security tax. In 2009, this tax was assessed on wages of $106,800 or less. Box 4 This box reports the amount of Social Security tax that was withheld. This is a flat tax of 6.2% of your wage income, up to the maximum of $106,800. Box 5 This box reports the amount of wages subject to Medicare taxes. There is no maximum wage base for Medicare taxes. Box 6 This box reports the amount of taxes withheld for Medicare taxes. This is a flat tax of 1.45% of your Medicare wages. Box 12 This box contains a monetary amount followed by a letter. Explanations for the letters can be found on the back of the W-2. Boxes These boxes are used primarily when filing state income tax.
26 Slide 25 PROPERTIES Allow user to leave interaction: Show Next Slide Button: Completion Button Label: Anytime Show always Next Slide If you re retired and receiving a pension or distributions from a defined contribution plan, such as 401(k) or 457 plans, you ll receive a 1099-R form each year. This form will be sent to you by the plan provider. Just like the W-2 form, the 1099-R is used to complete state and federal income tax returns. Click on the buttons to learn about each of the boxes. Box 1 - Benefits paid to you, including the total of your monthly benefit, cost-of-living increases and any supplements you were paid. Box 2a - Total taxable amount of your benefit. Equals the amount in box 1 minus the amount in box 5. Box 4 Total amount of federal income tax withheld, based on the total number of your exemptions. Box 5 - Amount of your benefit that is not subject to tax. Includes contributions that have already had income taxes paid on them. Subtract the amount in box 2a (taxable income) from the amount in box 1 (gross distribution) for the amount shown in box 5. Box 10 - Total amount of state taxes withheld, based on the total number of your exemptions. Health Insurance Deductions - Amount of health insurance premiums paid. If you receive a health insurance credit, the amount shown is the difference between the total health insurance premium amount and health insurance credit amount. The health insurance credit is a nontaxable benefit.
27 Slide 26 PROPERTIES Allow user to leave interaction: Show Next Slide Button: Completion Button Label: Anytime Show always Next Slide When you complete your federal tax returns, you ll use one of three forms to calculate what you owe. The form that you use will be the one that most closely meets your filing status, and the deductions or credits that you ll claim on your return. Click on the page curl at the bottom right of the page or the arrow at the top right to see all the forms. 1040EZ The 1040EZ is the simplest tax return to prepare. There are only 12 lines to complete! You may use this form if you are single or married filing jointly and your taxable income is less than $100,000. You may not claim any dependents, income adjustments, and most tax credits. All of your income must be from wages, unemployment compensation, taxable scholarship or educational grants, and taxable interest of less than $ A - The 1040A may be used if your taxable income is less than $100,000, but the income can be from a wider range of sources than what the 1040EZ allows. The 1040A allows for limited income adjustments but doesn t allow you to itemize your deductions If you are ineligible to use the 1040EZ or the 1040A, you must use the The 1040 allows you to report income from all sources and to claim any permissible deductions. Other Documents - Depending on your individual circumstances, you may need many other documents to complete your return. We ve already discussed the W-2 and 1099-R forms, but there are many others you might receive from financial institutions. If you have a mortgage, your mortgage holder should send you an IRS Form 1098 which shows the amount of mortgage interest you paid the previous year. If you received interest payments or dividends, you should receive a 1099-INT or 1099-DIV respectively. These are just some of the forms you may possibly have to include with your return.
29 Slide 27 Estimated Taxes Some people file estimated taxes. These people are often self-employed, or their withholding elections won t cover what they expect to owe. The IRS form 1040-ES can help you determine your estimated tax. An accompanying voucher allows you to pay a lump sum at the beginning of the year or to make quarterly payments. If you need to file estimated taxes, it s wise to get professional tax assistance, as the process can be complex based on your particular situation. Underpayment of estimated taxes could result in an IRS-imposed penalty.
30 Slide 28 PROPERTIES Allow user to leave interaction: Show Next Slide Button: Completion Button Label: Anytime Show always Next Slide Many people dread preparing their tax returns each year. You may be concerned that you ll make a mistake or get frustrated with the length of time it takes. There are a number of ways you can get help with your taxes. For a fee, professional preparers can do your taxes for you. Click on each of the lines below to learn how to get help preparing your taxes. Tax Preparation Services - Tax preparation services, for example, can prepare uncomplicated returns. Certified Public Accountants - Certified public accountants can be better suited for more complex returns and can provide tax planning assistance throughout the year. Tax Attorneys- Tax attorneys typically provide tax advice, but don t prepare returns for their clients. Free Tax Help Programs These programs provide free tax help to qualifying individuals. The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) offers free tax help to low to moderate income individuals who can t prepare their own returns. Certified volunteers are trained to prepare basic tax returns and are located throughout their communities. You can find a list of VITA sites on the IRS website or you may call Another program, Tax Counseling for the Elderly, provides free assistance to those ages 60 and older. Its trained volunteers can provide basic income tax return preparation, as well as tax counseling. Help for Military and Their Families - Members of the military and their families can receive free tax preparation assistance through their installations. These sites have individuals who have been trained to address tax issues that are unique to the military, such as combat zone tax benefits.
31 Tax Preparation Software - There are a number of tax preparation software packages that are available. While these can help expedite the preparation process and can provide electronic filing, they may not be suitable for everyone s needs. Very complex tax issues are probably best directed to a professional preparer.
32 Slide 29 How Do I File My Taxes? Paper Electronic You ve completed your taxes, but you re unsure how to file. You may file your taxes either on paper or electronically. Click on either of the images to learn what s involved with paper and electronic filing.
33 Slide 30 How Do I File My Taxes? Return If you re filing on paper, your return is considered to be filed if it s in a properly addressed envelope with sufficient postage, and is postmarked by April 15 th. You ll send your return to the Internal Revenue Service processing center that services your state and the type of return you re filing. If you re uncertain of the address, you can find it on the IRS website, at To look at how to file electronically, click Return. If you ve finished, click the next button at the bottom of the screen to advance.
34 Slide 31 How Do I File My Taxes? Paper Electronic Paper filing isn t the fastest way to file your return. Click on the image of electronic filing to learn more.
35 Slide 32 How Do I File My Taxes? Return You may elect to file electronically. There are numerous tax preparation software packages that you can purchase and some that allow you to file your federal returns for free. You may be able to use the IRS Free File if your adjusted gross income is under a certain threshold ($57,000 in 2009). Electronic filers get a refund faster than paper filers and file a completely paperless return. You receive an ed proof of receipt within 48 hours after the IRS receives the return. You save time by preparing and e-filing federal and state tax returns at the same time. And finally, you save paper and taxpayer money since it costs less to process an electronic return than a paper one. To look at how to file on paper, click Return. If you ve finished, click the next button at the bottom of the screen to advance.
36 Slide 33 How Do I File My Taxes? Paper Electronic While electronic filing may be faster, some people feel more comfortable sending paper. Click on the image of paper filing to learn more.
37 Slide 34 How Long Do I Keep My Tax Records? Most income and expense records Investment records (non - real estate) Tax returns Real estate records Your taxes are filed and you sent them to the IRS, by paper or electronically. But there's one last thing you need to do. You need to save those tax documents. But how long do you need to keep them? Click on any of the tax records above to find out how long you need to store your records.
38 Slide 35 How Long Do I Keep My Tax Records? Most income and expense records Investment records (non - real estate) Tax returns Real estate records The Internal Revenue Service has 3 years to audit your return, so you should keep all of your documentation at least that long. But experts recommend keeping some records even longer. Keep most income and expense records at least three years. For non-real estate investments, keep your records for 3 years after the sale. Keep your tax returns at least 6 years. And finally, keep your real estate records at least 7 years after the sale. If you're audited, you want to have these documents on hand. The purpose of a tax audit is to examine your tax return and to verify the records behind your calculation. IRS Publication 1 Your Rights as a Taxpayer, available on the IRS website, outlines the rules that the IRS must follow if it questions your return.
39 Slide 36 Taxes On the Web Financial Literacy Good job! Understanding taxes can be tough, but now you have the knowhow to file your taxes with confidence. In this module, you learned how income brackets and filing status can impact your taxes. You understand why determining the right withholding amount is so important and you've learned ways to reduce your taxable income. You also know not only what forms you'll receive each tax season, but also what forms to file. Understanding taxes is just one part of financial literacy. For more information on this topic, select On The Web to visit the IRS website. To view our other Financial Literacy presentations, select the Financial Literacy link.
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