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Football season is here and I hit hard on the football field! That’s right! I train hard to kick butt on the field. Well….. let me back up a moment to clarify a few things. I don’t physically hit hard and there ‘ain’t’ no way on this earth that you will find me on a football field. But thanks to EA Sports, the creator of the NCAA Football 2013 video game, I can smash with the best. As many of you may know, TaxSlayer.com is the entitlement sponsor of the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl through 2013. As you can imagine, we are excited about the opportunity to be a part of collegiate sports and it is an honor to have 2 storied divisions play in the Gator Bowl, The SEC and Big Ten. I heard rumors that the Gator Bowl may be one of the Bowl locations to choose from in this year’s NCAA Football 2013 video game. Last weekend, a buddy of mine told me to come over to his house to get my butt kicked in NCAA Football 2013. Normally, both of us are EA Sports Madden Football video game enthusiasts and neither of us is good at NCAA Football, so I took him up on the invitation and went to his house to play. That’s when I remembered- I have to see if the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl is a field of choice in NCAA Football 2013. After we selected our teams and began searching for the Gator Bowl, I was anticipating the best but knew there may be a chance that the field may not be added. However, in this case, the rumors were true and the Gator Bowl football field is awesome! I was the South Carolina Gamecocks and he was the M-i-i-i-chigan Wolverines. (No offense to you Michigan fans but I couldn’t resist). The field was just as I remembered it earlier this year when our company was in Jacksonville, Florida at the Gator Bowl. EA sports did a great job with every detail of the field. The gameplay was awesome as both of us executed the option and sent maddening blitzes at each other. TaxSlayer.com supports collegiate sports and, most importantly, the men and women attending Universities and Colleges throughout the United States. It is an honor to tie into collegiate athletics and it was awesome to ‘play’ in the Gator Bowl thanks to EA Sports NCAA Football 2013. I am an ‘old fogey’ and there ‘ain’t’ a chance that I can do what those guys were doing on the real football field. Just in case you’re wondering, my friend and I tied our games at 3 games apiece last weekend. But Cocky, South Carolina’s Mascot, was going crazzzy on the sidelines. LOL! Next weekend I will beat him because, let’s face it, I always do! If you want to get beat by an ‘old fogey’ hit me up on Playstation 3. My gamer tag is killakyi. Have fun gaming and see you at the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl in 2013! Darcel Walker Director of Growth TaxSlayer.com
Having a child is another event in life that can significantly impact your tax situation. Unlike some of the other events we will talk about in this series, having a child almost always is beneficial for your tax situation. If you understand and take advantage of the tax benefits of having a child, you will usually be able to reduce the amount of taxes that you owe. Having a child may qualify you to receive a number of tax credits such as, the Earned Income Credit, Child Tax Credit and Dependent and Child Care Expense Credit for your child. Earned Income Credit The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals or families. The maximum earned income tax credit that you can receive in 2012 for three or more qualifying children is $5,891, $5,236 for two qualifying children, $3,169 for one qualifying child, and $475 for no qualifying children. In order to qualify for the credit, you must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if you do not owe any taxes or are not required to file a return. To qualify to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit, you must have earned income from employment, self-employment or another source and meet certain rules. Also, you have to either have a child that meets all the qualifying child rules or meet additional rules for workers without a qualifying child. In order for your child to meet the qualifying requirements, they must pass all of the relationship, age, residency, and joint return tests established by the IRS. Child Tax Credit In 2011, if you qualify for the child tax credit, you may be able to reduce the amount of taxes you owe by $1,000 for each qualifying child under the age of 17 at the end of the tax year. A qualifying child must be claimed as your dependent, under the age of 17, must be your son, daughter, adopted child, grandchild, stepchild or eligible foster child, your sibling, stepsibling or their descendant, and is a U.S. citizen or resident alien. The qualifying child must have lived with you for more than half of the calendar year. Exceptions to the time lived with you requirements are : A child is considered to have lived with you for all of the calendar year if the child was born or died in the calendar year and your home was this child’s home for the entire time he or she was alive. Temporary absences by you or the child for special circumstances, such as school, vacation, business, medical care, military service or detention in a juvenile facility, count as time the child lived with you. There are also exceptions for kidnapped children and children of divorced or separated parts. For details on these exceptions see Form 1040A instructions. You must reduce your child tax credit if either of the below apply: Your modified adjusted gross income is above: $110,000 if married and filing jointly $55,000 married but filing separately $75,000 if single, head of household or a qualifying widow(er) Any income tax you owe as well, as any alternative minimum tax that you may owe, can affect the amount of child tax credit you can claim. If the amount of your Child Tax Credit is greater than the amount of income tax you owe, you may be able to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit. Dependent and Child Care Expenses An individual that pays someone to care for their qualifying child, under the age of 13, or their spouse, or any dependent who is physically and mentally incapable of their own care, while working or looking for work may be able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Expenses Tax Credit. The credit allows you to claim $3,000 in dependent care expenses for one qualifying dependent and $6,000 for two or more qualifying persons. In order to claim the expenses and receive the tax credit, you must fill out Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses, and either file Form 1040A or Form 1040. Tune in next week as we discuss: "The tax impact of losing your job"
Between getting the kids back into the school routine, packing lunches and scheduling after-school activities, back to school time can be stressful around most households. Not to mention, the cost of the kids going back to school seems to be increasing. From clothes to gear to school supplies, it seems that we are spending a fortune. Here are a few tips to help you cut down on some of the costs when your kids are going back to school: Start Your Shopping At Home Before you go out to buy anything, start in your own closets first. Throughout the year you may have accumulated some treasures like pens and pencils, or even unworn clothes. Make A List And Set Limits After looking through your things at home, take inventory of what you will need when heading to the store. When you head to the store, stick to your list and set a limit on how much you want to spend. By setting a limit, you will be able to know if you can grant your child’s request for non-essential items or if you need to put those request off until later. Shop Online Shopping online is a great way to compare both products and prices. Doing your shopping online can also cut down on the hassle of having to drive to multiple stores to find everything you may need. Buy Quality Items When looking for school supplies and gear, look for items that are well made and that look like they are going to last. When looking for backpacks, try to choose a book bag that has great quality, or a life-time warranty. Try to choose a book bag that your child may want to use for multiple years, not the trendy bag that they will only like this school year. You may have to spend more for these items, but if they last then they can be used for multiple years. This means you will be able to save money in the long run. Day Care/ After School Care Tax Deduction If your child goes to day care or after school care while you work or look for work, you may be able to claim a credit for their expenses. The Child Dependent Care Tax Credit allows you to claim $3,000 in dependent care expenses for one qualifying child and $6,000 for two or more qualifying persons. In order to claim the credit, you must have a qualifying child and child care provider. A qualifying child is a child under the age of 13, or if they are 13 or older they must be physically or mentally unable to care for him or herself. In order to be considered a qualified childcare provider, the care provider must be over 19 years old and cannot be one of your dependents. They must provide you with their name, business name if applicable, address, and either Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number. All of this information must be reported on Form 2441, in order for you to claim the Child Dependent Care Tax Credit.
There are many events in life that have a noteworthy tax impact. In this series, we will discuss how simple life changes such as marriage, the birth of a child, divorce or separation, job loss and starting a new career can significantly impact your tax liability or refund. This week we will discuss the tax consequences of a life change like getting married. One of the biggest headaches about getting married and filing your taxes is simply changing your name. If you changed your name as a result of a recent marriage, you will need to take the necessary steps to ensure that the name on your Social Security Card matches the name on the tax return. A mismatch between the name on your tax return and the name registered with the Social Security Administration can cause problems in the processing of your tax return and can even affect when you receive your refund. If you took your spouse’s last name or both spouses hyphenated their last names, you will need to notify the Social Security Administration. If you do not, when you file your tax return using your new last name, the IRS computers will not be able to match the new name with your social security number. However, the steps to inform the Social Security Administration of a name change are easy. You will need to file a Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card at your local SSA office. When you go to fill out this form, it is important to bring a recently issued document, an original marriage certificate, as proof of your legal name change. The new card that the Social Security Administration will administer to you will show your new legal name, but contain your same social security number. If your spouse has a previous tax balance with the IRS, you can prevent your portion of a jointly filed tax refund from being used to offset their remaining tax balance by filing your 1040 along with a Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation. The Injured Spouse Allocation form should only be filed if all or part of your portion of the tax refund is expected to be applied to your spouse’s past-due federal tax, state tax, child or spousal support, or a federal nontax debt, such as a student loan. Tune in next week as we discuss the tax consequences of having a child!