This is never a very fun “holiday”, but it’s worth marking every year.
Friday, April 24th is our National “Tax Freedom Day” — that’s the date by which you’ve finally worked enough days just to pay off your taxes for the year. The rest of the year is your “take home” pay, as it were. 🙁
This date includes payroll taxes, sales taxes, property taxes and, of course, INCOME tax.
The date varies year to year (this year it is one day later than last), and a whole variety of interesting data is right here: http://taxfoundation.org/article/tax-freedom-day-2015-april-24th
And for some states, the date is even later. Here’s the state-by-state breakdown:http://taxfoundation.org/sites/taxfoundation.org/files/docs/Map%20of%20Tax%20Freedom%20Day%20by%20State.png— that’s a useful snapshot, actually, of a fuller picture of whether “low tax” states actually are low tax (because it takes more into account than just income taxes) … and it might surprise you.
The calculating organization is the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan educational organization dedicated to informing US — the taxpayers — about the burdens of our tax liabilities. And according to the Foundation, here’s a fun little fact: Americans paid more taxes in 2014 than they did on food, clothing and shelter combined.
Which, of course, is why I and my Sacramento County tax preparation staff are here: keeping your tax bill as low as legally and ethically possible.
Regardless, here at Team Jim and Mike Ornelas we’re beginning the process of serving you during the “off season” (there are always many new tax law changes coming), and we’re evaluating how things went.
We also deal with lots of questions this time of year related to a variety of “post-preparation” issues (like “Where’s my refund?”), so I thought I’d address many of them in one swell foop ;).
Which is not at all to say that we won’t answer YOUR questions. Here’s our number: (916) 481-1025
On to the questions…
Jim and Mike Ornelas Answer “Where’s My Refund?”, And Other Questions For After Your Return Is Filed
“Friends are those rare people who ask how we are, and then wait to hear the answer.” – Ed Cunningham
The dust has settled around here at Sacramento County Tax Planning and Preparation Central, and your return is filed. At least, of course, if you didn’t file for an extension.
It does feel nice, even if more money was owed than you would like … because it *is* completed, after all.
But that doesn’t mean you may not still have questions. Here are some common ones we get this week…
1. “Where’s my refund?”
Well, the IRS does seem to have entered the 21st century.
If you had us “e-file” your return, you can check your status right now, or if you had us mail a paper return, after about 3 to 4 weeks.
When you’re checking with the following options, make sure you have a copy of your tax return on hand or know your “filing status”, SSN and the exact dollar amount of the anticipated refund.
• Online: Go to IRS.gov and click on Where’s My Refund.
[or go right to: https://sa2.www4.irs.gov/irfof/lang/en/irfofgetstatus.jsp ] • Automated Phone: Call 1-800-829-4477 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for automated refund information.
• In-Person Phone: Call 1-800-829-1954 during the hours shown in your IRS form instructions. [Of course, the hold time for the IRS is … somewhat of an issue]
2. “Do I need to keep a copy of my return?”
Yes, for a *minimum* of three years, but I recommend forever. There’s all kinds of contexts where it’s useful. We do keep one on file, on your behalf, but it’s just smart and safe for you to keep one in a secure place at home. (I’ve already written about Amended Returns, and you need a copy for that process, of course.)
As for the supporting documents from your return, anything that relates to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, retirement, business or rental property, should be kept much longer than the three years.
I’ll give even more guidance on this issue in subsequent weeks.
3. “I think there’s a mistake in my return. What should I do?”
Sometimes, you’ll find a receipt or a documentation after April 15th which really would have changed your prior year tax return. That’s, again, when you would have us file an “Amended Return”. Here are some other, common reasons to Amend…
• You neglected to report some income earned.
• You claimed deductions or credits you should not have claimed.
• You did not claim deductions or credits you could have claimed.
• You filed under one filing status, but you should have filed under another.
You might have other questions, which I haven’t addressed here. Let me know!
To more of your money staying in your wallet…
Jim and Mike Ornelas
Ornelas & Ornelas