It’s that time of year… time to start thinking about filing your federal and state tax returns.
The first income tax in the United States was levied following the Civil War so that the Union government could pay its bills. But in 1895 a later income tax was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, authorizing the tax, was ratified February 25, 1913.
This year the filing season started eight days late (on January 30) due to the last minute “fiscal cliff” negotiations. The new tax laws that were passed at the last minute caused delays for the IRS who had to reprogram computer programs and print new tax forms. Only those with simple returns have been able to file so far and some refunds may be delayed as well. The IRS says that most people will still get them on time. Those who need to use some of the more extensive forms might not be able to file until late February or March (including those people claiming residential energy credits, depreciation of property or general business credits).
Who has to file a tax return? That depends on several factors, including your age, 2012 income and marital status (for example, if you are single and made over $9,700 last year, you do have to file). Many people who are below the income threshold for 2012 should still file a return in order to get a tax refund. You might also be required to file in specific situations, for example, if you are self-employed with earnings of more than $400 or if you are a church employee with income in wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security or Medicare taxes. If you are unsure if you need to file, check the IRS website (http://www.irs.gov), the Virginia Department of Taxation (http://www.tax.virginia.gov), or your home state’s tax offices.
Kelly Library has a limited number of paper copies of forms available for many of the more popular forms (1040, 1040A, 1040 EZ, and 1040 schedules A, B, and EIC). You can also download tax forms and instructions directly from the IRS.gov and tax.virginia.gov websites. If you want to file electronically you can do so for free here (http://www.freefile.irs.gov/) using Free File Fillable Forms, or if your adjusted gross income(or AGI) is less than $57,000 and you meet certain criteria, you can file for free using Free File Tax Software. Other websites that have options to file Federal forms for free include Turbo Tax, H&R Block, and FreeTaxUSA. The Virginia Department of Taxation has a webpage with these and others listed to help filers. One note of caution: while you might be able to file Federal returns for free, some of these programs charge for the state forms.
Remember, Monday April 15 is the deadline for filing your federal tax return this year, so don’t be late. You have until Wednesday, May 1 to file your Virginia form; the deadline for North Carolina residents is April 17. Residents of Tennessee do not have a deadline, since there is no state income tax.