What I Learned: Kids and Taxes [VIDEO]

Since joining H&R Block, I’ve read and written and learned a lot about taxes. I have the privilege of working very closely with our talented team at The Tax Institute and constantly ask them questions. This is especially true during tax season when so many of you – our clients – are asking us important questions in Facebook and Twitter. It dawned on me that I learn something new about taxes at least every week. So here’s what I learned this week, that also might be interesting to you.

Resources:

And You Thought Your Taxes Were Frustrating

Ed note: We see it all at H&R Block. People who have shoeboxes of receipts. People who haven’t filed in years. But when Mel told me about her experience, I gasped a little. It was too good a story to pass up. Leer en español.

I am an experience chaser. My Facebook is full of crazy pictures from all over the world, weird jobs and strange experiences and I’ve got to say, it’s been a pretty awesome life so far.

But sometimes, a life that produces awesome Facebook albums also creates some unusual tax paperwork. And by unusual I mean, “Good lord, what is happening here?” as the W-2s start to pour in come January.

I’ve always managed to be pretty self-sufficient despite the onslaught of tax forms, but last year pushed me over the edge. You see, I had run away with the circus.

Circus-ringmasterYou read that right.

I learned how to walk on a low wire and narrowly missed being kicked by horses dozens of times. I saw all sorts of cool things around America but had also received W-2s from 20 states. Sweet mother of pearl.

Suffice to say, the automated tax program I’d used previous years could not handle the onslaught. I sunk into despair. I wondered, what exactly happens if you don’t pay your taxes because you’re so incredibly overwhelmed?

After I recovered from my pit of despair (because, to my horror, hiding in bed at my parents’ house did not magically get my taxes filed), I hauled myself down to the local H&R Block.

I walked into H&R Block and met the lovely and awesome Wendy. Then I promptly dumped my massive pile of W-2s on her desk.

“Whoa.”

Wendy was completely professional and on top of things. She started busting out all the different states’ tax codes. She told me in a few of them I didn’t even need to file because of how much I’d made, although I was delighted to learn that my average weekly salary was just over what triggers the need to file in nearly every state.

Through this process, I learned important tax related state-by-state facts like:

  • Folks who live in Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming are brilliant, because there is no state income tax there.
  • People who live in Tennessee and New Hampshire are pretty clever since their income tax is limited to only dividend and interest income.
  • New Jersey is not a smart place to be from.
  • It’s difficult to figure out where you “live” when it is actually on a circus train and you don’t own any property anywhere.

Three hours later, I left H&R Block with my taxes filed and the reassurance that if the elephant poop hit the fan, they’d be by my side to figure out how to wade through it.

Overall, my advice if you’ll be filing multiple state tax returns:

  • Organization: Keep all of your paperwork together in one place. It’s easy to start losing forms where there are that many.
  • Stay Calm: It feels overwhelming when something you used to handle just fine becomes incredibly complicated.
  • Get Help: Tax professionals are there for a reason! Something that seems confusing to you is just another day at the office for them. Use their expertise to make sure you don’t wind up on an IRS audit list.

Where Is My Refund, Really?

It’s refund season! Literally. We have seen among the conversations on our Facebook page that many H&R Block clients were given a “direct deposit” date of Jan. 30 by the IRS. We couldn’t be happier for you.

However, between when that date was communicated on Wednesday (Jan. 28) and now, there has been much speculation that H&R Block Bank has already received the refund money and is deliberately “holding” it. Some even allege that the bank is earning interest off your refund amount.

Both of those are absolutely untrue.

However, it’s hard to explain the process in a quick sentence. At the heart of it is how our electronic banking system works. This is something we explored in an infographic late last year.

Here’s the gist: The IRS approves your refund. It notifies the bank you selected (H&R Block Bank in the case of using a Refund Anticipation Check or Emerald Card) that it will be sending a payment. This message includes the amount of the payment and instructions for how it should be settled. The bank may update your account to reflect that this payment is “pending” – or is coming soon. A “pending” status does not mean the bank has actually received the funds. It could take hours or even days for the money to be transferred and made available for your use. That’s why it’s always very important to ensure you have the funds before attempting to use them.

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 9.29.00 AM

We appreciate you choosing H&R Block for your tax preparation and money management, and we hope that this helps explain the refund payment issue.

What to Do About Incorrect Information On Your Credit Report

Ed note: Now that you know how to read your credit report, you probably need to know what to do if you found something incorrect on it. The bad news is that it’s not a super-simple process. The good news is that Credit Karma is here to help guide you through it. In 2013, the […]

How to Read Your Credit Report

Ed note: As you start a new financial year, it’s best to do some housekeeping. Don’t worry; it doesn’t involve vacuums or brooms. Check your credit report for accuracy and to get a look at your financial health. Charmaine Ng from Credit Karma explains how to decipher the information. With so much attention focused on […]

Tax Identity Theft – How to Protect Yourself

It’s Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. Why does it need its own week? Unfortunately it is an ever-growing problem. The IRS initiated 1,063 investigations into tax identity fraud in 2014. The Treasury Department reported that IRS received 1,841,144 returns in 2012 involving identity theft. Tax identity theft occurs when someone takes your personal information and […]

Help for Handling Tax Identity Theft

Ed note: We are in constant communication with our clients through Facebook and Twitter, and we hear from people every year who are the victims of tax identity fraud. We wanted to provide some information about exactly what that is, and what to do if it happens to you. So we got some help from […]

Who in Puerto Rico should file a U.S. tax return?

Ed note: H&R Block provides tax services to a wide variety of clients, including residents of Puerto Rico. We even have office locations on the island. These folks have a few complexities though – starting with whether or not they are even required to file. Leer en español. We know that every American citizen is subject […]

Check and Double Check That Tax Return [INFOGRAPHIC]

You are prepared. You collected the right documents. You prepared your tax return (or had help preparing it). You’re about to submit. What’s the last thing you do? Do a double-check. Some of the most common mistakes on tax returns are the most simple things. Here’s a quick rundown of the things you should verify […]

How to Capture, Store and Share Your Family Memories

Ed note: How many photos are on your phone? I have more than 1,000 and I bet 75% of them are terrible and will never see the light of day. That’s why I need these tips from Jeanette Kaplun on taking better photos and making the most of them. Leer en español. Family memories are priceless, […]