Check here for answers to the most frequently asked questions about complex tax laws.
How do I get a copy of a prior-year tax return and Form W-2?
If you filed your tax return through AG TaxExpress, then you can get a copy of your records at our office. Otherwise, as long as you filed your tax return with the IRS, you can request a photocopy or a computer transcript (a line-by-line listing) of the information on your filed tax return by filing For 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return. Photocopies and transcripts are free from the IRS. If you need an actual copy (not a photocopy), then you must complete Form 4506,Request for Copy of Tax Return,and pay a $57 fee for your filed tax return and all related tax information, such as your Form W-2.
How do I get my Form W-2?
Your employer should mail your Form W-2 to you by January 31. However, you may be able to download your W-2s even before you receive them in the mail.
What to do If I did not receive my W-2
It is a federal law that all employers must have every employees W-2 postmarked by January 31 of each year. This means that they have to mail it by that date not give it to you by that date.
For more information please visit the IRS official site on how to get it.
What information should I bring/fax to AG TaxExpress?
To properly prepare your tax, please make sure you bring the following documents and items:
- Wage statements (Form W-2)
- Pension, or retirement income (Forms 1099-R)
- Social Security card(s)
- Driver's license(s)
- Dependents' Social Security numbers and dates of birth
- Last year's tax return
- Information on education expenses (Form 1098-T)
- Commissions received and/or paid
- Information on the sales of stocks and/or bonds (Form 1099-B)
- Self-employed business income and expenses
- Lottery and/or gambling winnings and losses (Form W-2G)
- State refund amount(Form 1099-G)
- Social Security and/or unemployment income (Forms SSA1099/ 1099-G)
- Income and expenses from rentals
- Alimony paid or received
- Record of purchase or sale of real estate
- Medical and dental expenses
- Real estate and personal property taxes
- Estimated taxes or foreign taxes paid
- Cash and non-cash charitable donations
- Mortgage or home equity loan interest paid (Form 1098)
- Unreimbursed employment-related expenses
- Job-related educational expenses
- Childcare expenses and provider information (Fom W-10)
How much does it cost to have my taxes prepared at AG TaxExpress?
The cost of tax preparation is based upon the complexity of your tax return. To learn more, please contact our Tax Service office.
How quickly can I get my Refund?
When you file electronically and choose one of the free IRS Direct options, you can receive your refund directly from the IRS by direct deposit in approximately 7 to 13 days. IRS Direct is free with paid tax preparation. We also make a variety of financial products available to qualified customers through our lending partners if you need to receive money faster. Please contact our Tax Service office for full details.
How to determine my correct Filing Status?
Determining your filing status is one of the first steps to filing your federal income tax return. There are five filing statuses: Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household and Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child. Your filing status is used to determine your filing requirements, standard deduction, eligibility for certain credits and deductions, and your correct tax.
Some people may qualify for more than one filing status. Here are eight facts about filing status that the IRS wants you to know so you can choose the best option for your situation.
- Your marital status on the last day of the year determines your marital status for the entire year.
- If more than one filing status applies to you, choose the one that gives you the lowest tax obligation.
- Single filing status generally applies to anyone who is unmarried, divorced or legally separated according to state law.
- A married couple may file a joint return together. The couple's filing status would be Married Filing Jointly.
- If your spouse died during the year and you did not remarry during 2011, usually you may still file a joint return with that spouse for the year of death.
- A married couple may elect to file their returns separately. Each person's filing status would generally be Married Filing Separately.
- Head of Household generally applies to taxpayers who are unmarried. You must also have paid more than half the cost of maintaining a home for you and a qualifying person to qualify for this filing status.
- You may be able to choose Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child as your filing status if your spouse died during 2009 or 2010, you have a dependent child, have not remarried and you meet certain other conditions.
For more information please visit the IRS official site
I need to change my withholding. How do I update my personal information?
Use Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. If you get married or divorced, if a child is born, or if you no longer can claim a child as your dependent, you will need to complete a new Form W-4. When you begin to work at a new company, your employer must give you a Form W-4 to complete. You can also request a Form W-4 from your employer at any time to reflect a change in your tax situation.
What is the Refer a friend program?
We will gladly adjust your fees and recompute your bill when you refer a friend who did not use AG Tax Express Tax Service last year. There's no limit to the number of customers you can refer. Please contact our Tax Service office for full details about the Referral Program Terms and Conditions.
What is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and am I eligible?
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is applicable to low-income workers who may or may not have a qualifying child, or children, living with them. If you can take the EITC, then it is subtracted from the tax owed. The credit can be refunded even if you don't owe any tax. If you have a qualifying child and your earned income and adjusted gross income (AGI) are each less than $36,052 ($41,431 if filing Married Filing Jointly), then you could be eligible for a maximum credit of $3,094. The maximum credit is $5,112 if you have two qualifying children and your earned income and your AGI are both less than $40,964 ($46,044 if Married Filing Jointly). The maximum credit is $5,751 if you have three or more children and your earned income and your AGI are both less than $43,998 ($49,078 if Married Filing Jointly). You may still qualify for a maximum credit of $464 if you do not have children and your income is less than $13,660 ($18,740 if Married Filing Jointly). Please contact our Tax Service office for full details.
What are the "Bush Tax Cuts"?
The "Bush Tax Cuts" is a nickname for the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (EGTRAA) signed into law in 2001. The bill set into place higher credit bases including earned income tax credit and child tax credits, increased the standard deduction for married filing jointly taxpayers, introduced the 10% tax bracket, decreased the tax percentage for the other five tax brackets, and provided many other taxpayer friendly tax cuts. The bill also included the original provisions for the alternative minimum tax (AMT) patch, the sales tax deduction, tution and fees deduction, and educator expenses that have been extended numerous times over recent years. The provisions of the bill were due to "Sunset" (expire) December 31, 2010. The sunset provision was extended through 2011 for some of the benefits and 2012 for the remaining benefits.
If I claim my daughter as a dependent because she is a full-time college student, can she claim herself...?
If you claim your daughter as a dependent on your income tax return, she cannot claim herself on her income tax return.
If an individual is filing his or her own tax return, and the individual can be claimed as a dependent on someone else's return, the individual cannot claim his or her own personal exemption.
How much is the Standard Deduction for 2011?
Please click here for the information related to Standard Deductions and Tax Rate Schedules
I received unemployment in 2011. Is this taxable?
Yes, all unemployment compensation paid by the state and local governments is taxable.
If I cannot itemize my deductions, can I still deduct my real estate tax paid on my home?
No, real estate taxes paid are only deductible when you itemize deductions.
What types of educational expenses are deductible?
Deductible educational expenses include:
- Amounts spent for tuition, books, supplies, laboratory fees and similar items.They also include the cost of correspondence courses, as well as formal training and research you do as part of an educational program.
Transportation and travel expenses to attend qualified educational activities may also be deductible.
- Who can claim the American Opportunity Credit?
Generally, you can claim the American Opportunity Credit if all three of the following requirements are met:
- You pay qualified tuition and related expenses for the first 4 years of postsecondary education.
- You pay the tuition and related expenses for an eligible student.
- The eligible student is either you, your spouse, or a dependent for whom you claim an exemption on your tax return.
How can I Reduce my Taxes
Here are few tax-saving tips for you to consider:
- Make Charitable Contributions - If you itemize deductions, your donations must be made to qualified charities no later than Dec. 31 to be deductible for 2011. You must have a canceled check, a bank statement, credit card statement or a written statement from the charity, showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution for all cash donations. Donations charged to a credit card by Dec. 31 are deductible for 2011, even if the bill isn't paid until 2012. If you donate clothing or household items, they must be in good used condition or better to be deductible.
- Install Energy-Efficient Home Improvements - You still have time this year to make energy-saving and green-energy home improvements and qualify for either of two home energy credits. Installing energy efficient improvements such as insulation, new windows and water heaters to your main home can provide up to $500 in tax savings. Homeowners going green should also check out the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit, designed to spur investment in alternative energy equipment. The credit equals 30 percent of the cost of qualifying solar, wind, geothermal, or heat pump property. For details see Special Edition Tax Tip 2011-08, Home Energy Credits Still Available for 2011 on the IRS.gov website.
- Consider a Portfolio Adjustment - Check your investments for gains and losses and consider sales by Dec. 31. You may normally deduct capital losses up to the amount of capital gains, plus $3,000 from other income. If your net capital losses are more than $3,000, the excess can be carried forward and deducted in future years.
- Contribute the Maximum to Retirement Accounts - Elective deferrals you make to employer-sponsored 401(k) plans or similar workplace retirement programs for 2011 must be made by Dec. 31. However, you have until April 17, 2012, to set up a new IRA or add money to an existing IRA and still have it count for 2011. You normally can contribute up to $5,000 to a traditional or Roth IRA, and up to $6,000 if age 50 or over. The Saver's Credit, also known as the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit, is also available to low- and moderate-income workers who voluntarily contribute to an IRA or workplace retirement plan. The maximum Saver's Credit is $1,000, and $2,000 for married couples, but the amount allowed could be reduced or eliminated for some taxpayers in part because of the impact of other deductions and credits.
- Make a Qualified Charitable Distribution - If you are age 70? or over, the qualified charitable distribution (QCD) allows you to make a distribution paid directly from your individual retirement account to a qualified charity, and exclude the amount from gross income. The maximum annual exclusion for QCDs is $100,000. The excluded amount can be used to satisfy any required minimum distributions that the individual must otherwise receive from their IRAs in 2011. This benefit is available even if you do not itemize deductions.
- Don't Overlook the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit - If you are a small employer who pays at least half of your employee health insurance premiums, you may qualify for a tax credit of up to 35 percent of the premiums paid. An employer with fewer than 25 full-time employees who pays an average wage of less than $50,000 a year may qualify. For more information see the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit page on IRS.gov.