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What to do when your taxes are complicated

With a little more than a month left before tax returns are due, you may be gathering your documents and getting mentally prepared for a long afternoon of assembling your return. If you own a business, own investment properties or have other complex income, you already know the frustration and confusion you may face.

Part of that frustration is the worry that you may make a critical mistake. Mistakes on your tax return can require more work as you track down additional documentation, delay your refund or put you at risk for an audit by the IRS. Identifying the most common mistakes is the first step in helping you avoid them.

Haven't filed taxes in a few years? You may wish to take action.

Taxes are complicated. This is a notion with which most everyone agrees. Because it can prove difficult to fully and correctly file tax returns, you — and many other California residents — may not know the best way to handle any issues that may arise with your particular tax situation. In fact, because of fears and anxieties, you may have avoided filing your taxes for a few years.

One of the main reasons individuals do not file their taxes relates to financial complications. A person may have filed a return, owed taxes, failed to pay those taxes in full and feared that another filing would result in more owed funds or repercussions for not having paid the previous deficits. While this can seem nerve-wracking, you may benefit more from filing than from avoiding your taxes.

Should an enrolled agent or tax attorney help with your tax prep?

With tax season just around the corner, you and many other California residents may already dread having to go through the filing process. Not only does it take time and effort to ensure that you complete your forms correctly, you may also end up owing taxes, which can feel disheartening and also potentially cause financial strain. If a mistake ends up on your tax forms, you could also possibly face additional issues that could include an audit.

You may not feel that you have the knowledge and overall ability to fill out the correct tax forms without making mistakes. Because tax laws continually change, even in just minor ways, you may not feel confident in handling the tax-filing process yourself. Though you have options for choosing a professional to help you, you may wonder which type of professional could best meet your needs.

Closing out the 2017 tax year

Tax season is approaching, and it won't be long before you will start receiving the appropriate forms in the mail. You may have opted to receive your documents electronically, in which case you will want to check with your payroll office to find out when and how they will deliver these forms.

There may be many reasons why your tax preparation is complex. Complications could revolve around your income by working in more than one state or country, or perhaps you run a business, own rental property or maintain a trust. Maybe you have just gone through a divorce. In any case, you want your tax preparation to be painless and your refund to come fast.

Now is the time to prep for tax season

With the holidays just around the corner, the last thing you want to think about is probably taxes. If you are like many people, you wait until April to even look at your taxes. Maybe you are even one of those people who waits until midnight of the tax deadline to send off your returns. After all, why deal with the pain now if you can put it off for months?

This is probably especially true if you typically owe the IRS or are consistently disappointed with a lower refund than you expected. However, by planning early, you may be able to maximize the chances of a more positive tax season. In fact, you can do a few things before 2017 ends that may lower your tax bill.

Starting a business? What will your taxes look like?

Few things are more rewarding than starting your own small business. Before you open your door or go live online, you have numerous decisions to make that will affect the future success of your business. Some of those decisions will have a profound effect on what your federal taxes will look like.

The time to think about your future tax liabilities as a small business owner is now. Aiming to reduce taxable income and maximize deductions could require some strategic decisions. It may help to consider the following so that you can reduce your tax liability going forward.

Your IRS obligations know no borders

If you have an adventurous spirit, you may have decided that working overseas was the right step for you. You applied for and accepted a job outside the United States. You may have compiled a list of items you need to take with you and tasks you need to complete before you leave California.

Did you consider your taxes? The rules aren't as simple (and little is simple in the U.S. Tax Code) as when you resided and worked here in the United States. You might have thought you wouldn't have to pay taxes here once you moved. Surprise! You may still owe taxes here, and if you remain a citizen, you will still have to file a tax return.

What do you need to know about filing taxes after a divorce?

A divorce changes many things about your life, including your taxes. Whether you find yourself at the beginning, middle or end of your divorce process, it may help to gain an understanding of how being single again can affect the filing of your taxes.

The first thing you need to know involves your filing status as of Dec. 31. If you finalize your divorce by that date, or even on that date, you do not have to file as married for that tax year. Conversely, if your divorce remains in progress as of Dec. 31, you must still file as married.

What should I do about tax debt if I didn't pay the IRS in full?

Issues related to taxes are complicated, particularly for individuals who are unable to pay the full amount or did not pay the full amount at filing. While tax laws are complicated, it can be immensely helpful to know what to expect and how you should move forward in a productive manner. 

In your situation, a California tax law attorney can be your best ally. With knowledgeable guidance, you can know what you should do about your tax debt and how to handle your situation in the best possible manner. With the help of your legal ally, you may be able to find a positive resolution to your concerns regarding tax debt, penalties and the IRS.

Living abroad? U.S. ties could leave you feeling taxed

As a United States citizen living outside the country, you may have had many exhilarating experiences in your time abroad. Your new country of residence may have cultural and governmental differences that allow you to gain knowledge on the various workings of another place. However, living abroad does not completely sever your ties to your native country, especially when it comes to taxes.

If you earn an income while living abroad, the United States will still tax your income. Only the U.S. and one other country impose taxes on their citizens while those citizens live in another country. Therefore, you may wish to understand how living abroad could affect your taxes before the next filing season.

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