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FAQ

Is the employment of tax professionals an intended consequence of US tax law?
Speaking as a tax professional, it's more of an unintended consequence. In recent years, Congress and the Internal Revenue Service of the United States of America (and many states, also) have actually done a lot to simplify tax preparation for the overwhelming majority of people who need to file.My clients divide rather neatly into three bins:The unbanked people who use tax preparation services as a way to get quick refunds (about a third of our clients). Most have relatively simple returns that they could prepare themselves, get large refunds as a result of EITC and refundable child tax credits, and come to us only because they have no bank accounts and either (a) want a refund loan (which we no longer offer and which other providers will probably stop offering in a year or two), and/or (b) find it difficult or impossible to cash an IRS check. I'd like to see these people be able to have other options, frankly, and maybe the IRS will step in and issue refunds on prepaid cards the way that food stamps are often issued now.People who don't trust themselves to prepare their returns, live in (unwarranted, mostly) fear of making a mistake that will cause the IRS to check up on them, and want the security of a professional. This is about another third of our clients, and most could also prepare their returns themselves - in fact I encourage many of them to do just that - but it's hard for people in this category to overcome their fear of the bogey man.People who really do need a professional's advice, which is most of the remaining third. Proportionally, this is pretty close to an 80/20 rule - I probably spend about 80% of my actual working hours doing something for this group of clients.
I work as an intern at a company in California, I filled out as a Resident Alien and submitted my w4 form, now my federal taxes are zero, is it fine?
I’m not a tax expert. But, if you worked in the US, then you are subject to federal taxes.I don’t know what you mean by “my federal taxes are now zero”.A W4 only sets the withholding of estimated taxes. If they withheld zero, you might have earned less than the threshold of owing taxes, but you MUST file a 1040 tax form to reconcile the actual amount earned, the amounts withheld and the amount you are allowed to deduct and the total amount you owe after using the tax tables. It might end up zero after calculations but you are required to file by law, nonetheless.You need to get the 1040EZ form and file by April 15 of the year following when you earned the money.
How much tax do students on an F1 visa doing a summer internship in California have to pay?
This is a very vague question but I will still try to give my best.Lets assume your income for year 2018(as an intern) is $40000. After taking the standard deductions of $4,236 your taxable income becomes ~$35700. You would have to look up in the tax table to figure out your taxes 2021 California Tax Rates and Exemptionstaxes for $35700 is roughly $2300. Note this is a guess work.This is a very basic example. Based on your financial situation this calculation would be different.Since you are one f1 visa you might be considered non resident alien. This software gives you an eof taxes after entering your w-2 information for FREE. Taxes for non-resident aliens
Should I file tax returns? And how? What should I do?
Get an accurate total for how much you made, gross (that means before anything was  taken out), because the line for you is $6300.  You said you worked basically 60 days, but if it were 56 days, you wouldn't have to file taxes, so that's a legit question.The second question is whether you can get your parents to get their tax guy to do it.  Because you can be claimed by your parents (since your $6700 didn't pay your food and rent for the year), and if you can be claimed, they can get big tax breaks regarding you that you cannot get yourself.Okay, if your parents don't want to do it, if after telling them there are tax breaks they get that you won't get if you do it (so you're leaving money on the table)--if after telling them that they still want you to do it, you can probably just fill out a free 1040EZ online somewhere.  In most states, including Illinois, you'll have to do a state tax return there too, which will probably cost you $40 at any of the same places online.  Or, if you get in there and decide it's crazy (and no one will judge you for that), stop in at any tax office anywhere, any strip mall, any accounting office, etc., and for another $40 you can get someone to do both for you.
Why do conservatives not like Obamacare?
While I must start by clearly indicating that while I have some conservative leanings, my political affiliation is actually as a Libertarian, so I may not exactly qualify in your view to answer this particular question but I will give it my best anyway.What I, personally, found abhorrent about Obama Care and the Affordable Healthcare Act in general is that it is a bold face lie.What did the American public actually ask for? They asked for Affordable Healthcare. Not access to insurance but healthcare that was actually in the realm of financial possibility for the average Joe.Instead, the government more or less held a gun to every one’s head and forced the purchase of insurance through a multitude of avenues. They made sure that the bottom line for all the insurance fat cats got that much better and an amazing number of easily duped Americans just fell in line. “Oh look! Sally Sue has never been able to afford health insurance before but now she is all set!”That new mantra is so low brow in thinking it hurts me to know that many of you think this is the bees knees. Our people are screaming for relief from $12,000 bags of chemo and insane charges for simple things like Tylenol and the indignity of having to decide between finances and health but they did absolutely nothing to address these very real issues.The ultimate bait and switch has taken place and you are all so deep in the forest that none of you see the trees anymore.The truth is that our government will NEVER address the underlying factors that helped to bring healthcare costs the absurd levels we currently see. In order to make healthcare actually affordable, something has to be done about tort reform. Something has to be done about the divide between pharmaceutical research and end patient in need of said research.I’m all for free markets and everyone making gobs of money but not like this. When these big pharma companies are living as large as they are while pushing to keep the cost of their products as sky high as ever…something has to break somewhere. As long as the government, big pharma, courts and lawyers all stay good bed-fellows, you will never see any real actual healthcare reforms. Not real ones.They will dole out the same old tired ideas where they shuffle things around, fight with each other and in the end unveil some crusty band-aid to apply to the nation’s boo-boo, fully aware that they will never take action against their own interests as long as they can placate the masses with truly laughable things like the “Affordable Healthcare Act”.I’m sure some of you will protest this with very heart-felt stories about all the times you or a loved one couldn’t do this or that in healthcare because you didn’t have insurance and I understand why you would feel that way but understand that it is people like you, the desperate ones who need to see the light at the end of the tunnel, that they depend on to sell their fraud for them. They count on you to tout all the “wonderfulness” of their fraud in order to push forward. They use you to make it seem like they accomplished something good for you. They didn’t. They sold you insurance while secretly thinking…”Good luck chump!”Next time a politician is talking about ‘affordable healthcare’, think about what they are actually doing for you. Are they making your healthcare affordable or are they lining someone’s bottom line at your expense under the guise of help?I don’t think you will like the true answer to that question.I certainly don’t.
Even with a tell all book, the press and democrats in Congress are constantly barraging Trump. Why are Trump's poll numbers rising?
Well, the “tell all book,” just came out, so polls don’t reflect it, though I would guess that most people who think favourably of the President will disregard it as high school level gossip, which is about all it sounds like to me, from the bits I’ve seen quoted.As for the rest, here’s the problem that the press and Democrats don’t seem to understand ‡ there is spin, and there is reality. For people on the edges of politics (call them “Trump’s base” on the right and “Trump haters” on the left,) the difference between spin and reality don’t matter. They believe what they want to believe, dismiss anything that disagrees with what they believe, and then surround themselves in an echo chamber that reinforces their world view.The President’s approval ratings to date have, largely fallen along these lines ‡ the only people who approve of him are those in his base, who don’t care about spin and reality, they’re supporting him, regardless of what he’s doing, saying or (especially,) what the press and Democrats are saying about him.For some of those who are not on the edges of politics, their opinion is not a result of spin, but of reality, and that’s why his numbers are edging up, and are likely to continue to do so. If the general consensus of the press is that the Trump administration is a dumpster fire and we’re all going to die, but the reality is that things are carrying on about the same as they were a year ago, rational people are going to start questioning the general consensus of the press, they’re not going to say “I’m going to deny reality, because NBC News is telling me that we’re on the edge of the precipice.”A perfect example is the recent tax reform bill, passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. How many times did you hear Senator Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi decrying the bill, because “It will raise taxes on the middle class to give the wealthy a tax break!” Every analysis that I saw on NBC News said pretty much the same thing.But the reality is that the tax bill does cut the taxes on everyone who pays Federal income tax. Schumer, Pelosi and NBC weren’t lying ‡ taxes on the middle class (actually, everyone) will go up‡ in ten years, when this tax cut expires. That’s assuming that Congress doesn’t act to make the tax cuts permanent, something I’m sure Republicans would be in favour of, but do you think that Democrats would agree? In which case, who is really raising your taxes, Republicans? Or Democrats?There is one group of people who will pay more in taxes in 2021. wealthy people in states with high state income taxes, and people who have mortgages over $750,000. Now, is that the fault of the tax reform? Or is it the fault of states that over tax their citizens and people who choose to buy super expensive homes?And here’s where the press and Democrats are going to lose this argument: in the US, we actually pay our taxes throughout the year. When you file your taxes at the end of the year (1040EZ, 1040A, etc) what you are actually doing is filing a reconciliation between what you paid over the course of the year and what you should have paid.Starting in February, employers will start withholding Federal income taxes, using the new withholding tables, and everyone (even the wealthy people cited above who are going to pay higher taxes,) who pays Federal income tax will see an increase in their take home pay, the amount that gets deposited in their bank account. Whether that’s $10, $100 or $500, it is a tangible amount that people can save or spend, both of which help the economy.But the kicker is that a lot of those people in the middle are going to look at that and say “Hey, the press and the Democrats kept saying that my taxes were going to go up, but they didn’t, they went down!” with the inevitable conclusion that they were lied to, which they were. During the 2021 midterms, unless the economy really goes in the tank, which is unlikely, every single incumbent Democrat is going to hear the message “They voted against cutting your taxes!” over and over (since there were zero Democratic votes,) and a lot of people, who did notice that they got a tax cut, are going to respond to that.I really wondered, in the run up to the vote on the tax reform bill, why NBC, Schumer and Pelosi kept hammering a point that was a) so obviously false and b) which would be so evidently shown to be so by everyone’s paychecks a couple of months later. I still have no idea why they did that, it is so patently stupid.My guess is that, unless something drastic happens (war, economy tanks, evidence of actual lawbreaking comes out,) the President’s numbers will continue to edge up over the coming year, as more and more people “in the middle,” politically, realize that they’ve been lied to by the press and the Democrats.
What is the purpose of the 1040 tax form?
In the United States, Form 1040 is the basic form used to compute and report our income tax obligation. Some people with simpler tax situations use varieties of the form, such as the Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ.The form includes our name and address, social-security number, the income we make, and things we exclude from income where we calculate our adjusted gross income. Then we report our total deductions on the form to calculate our taxable income. We compute how much tax we owe from tables, and then subtract what we’ve already paid and any tax credits. The bottom line on the form is how much much more we owe in taxes or how much we receive as a refund of we’ve already overpaid.Form 1040 deals with totals. Other forms or are used for details such as medical expenses, charitable contributions, business income, investment income, various tax credits and on and on. Many of these forms are called “schedules” and bear the 1040 name also.This is what it looks like:https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/...
When Trump cut taxes does that mean people will do taxes in a postcard?
A2A:first, as others (rightly) point out, the President of the United States cannot “cut taxes.” He cannot enact any actual legislation, whether it be tax laws or the ACA. Barack Obama did not pass “health care reform,” either. Bill Clinton did not raise them or pass the Assault Weapons Ban. Ronald Reagan did not cut taxes.Too many are under the false idea that the president is responsible for all sort of things - both good and bad. They (the presidents) love to claim credit for popular legislation, so that doesn’t help.With that bit of pedantry out of the way…Simply put - no. There is nothing in the new law that allows for people to file their taxes on “a postcard.” This is a euphemism/meme used by politicians to provoke a reaction. That reaction isThe current tax code is overly complex and burdensome, for many requiring dozens of pages and hours to completeThe new paradigm is simple (it fits on an object that is immediately recognisable, all can visualise, and is small).The choice of postcard is, as I think, almost totemic, and represents a sort of championship of semiotics. The actual postage stamp is irrelevant; the symbolism it carries is supreme.The reality is this - for most Americans, the tax reform does not do anything much to simplify the process. Something like 70% of Americans currently file taking the standard deduction. They can file, on-line for free, using the 1040EZ. It really should be something that can be done in less than an hour, with no receipts, no paperwork, nothing to keep or reference other than the W2 that your company provides. The math is simple (on-line tools do the calculations automatically, but for those who use pen and paper, there are actually simple tables in the books that one can look up, and this saves any actual math).Because the standard deduction has essentially been doubled, that is likely to increase the number of filers who take this option. For them, the lack of a need to fill out Schedule A, Schedule B, and perhaps Schedule D will make things simpler.It’s not a post card, but the 1040EZ is, I think, two pages long.The truth about our tax code is that is time-consuming for some - my personal taxes last year were close to 100 pages. My situation (repatriating to the US after a few years living in France, selling a property, some stock sales) was much more complex than average, but 100 pages is still too complicated. By comparison, I had to file taxes in France as well, and my taxes there were five pages.If you want to take deductions, declare capital losses and gains, have rental income, etc., Trump’s reforms will not help you. Not in terms of simplification.But for more than 7 out of 10 Americans, taxes already were simple, or have now become simple.
Am I at risk for tax evasion for paying our full time nanny under the table? Or is she at risk? What are the chances we’ll get audited since I’m wiring money to her every week?
Yes, you are at risk.Yes, she is at risk.The chances of getting audited are much better, now that you’ve posted this question to a public forum.The cost of full legal compliance in California for home care workers for the elderly, when they are paid from certain accounted funds, requires that you pay them as employees, rather than as contractors.For most people, this means outsourcing the compliance to a third party, with a monthly bill for their services.I have a friend who is struggling with this, since compliance approximately triples the costs of employing one person for this purpose, compared to a contractor (a family dispute requires her to document full compliance).Most people not dealing with certain accounted funds treat the relationship as a contractor relationship.As long as you issue a 1099-Misc, and file the correct paperwork with the IRS, rather than paying completely under the table, this should be sufficient.She will then be on the hook for paying the taxes, on an estimated quarterly basis, which is what independent contractors have to do.This cost-shifts the burden onto her, so it would be unfair if she did not also get a raise to cover her taxes, and the accounting.Again, in California, you would likely have to nearly double what you pay her. So, for example, if you were paying her $20/hour under the table, you would need to bump it up to about $30.80/hour so that when she pays ~35% state and federal taxes, she still makes that $20/hour after taxes. Call it $33/hour so she can hire an accountant for the taxes.If you go through a service and make her an employee, expect it to be closer to $60 (management fees, workman’s comp insurance, legal insurance, employer contribution to taxes, etc.).Either way‡ adding 65% for a contractor or 200% for an externally managed employee, is better than federal prison or a huge fine which would wipe out everything you’ve saved by paying her under the table, and then a lot more.