Tax Planning Tips and Resources
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is tax planning important?
The idea behind tax planning is to arrange your financial affairs so you ultimately end up owing as little as possible in taxes. You can do this in three ways: You can reduce your taxable income, increase your deductions, and take advantage of tax credits.
How do you do year-end tax planning?
Year-end tax planning is the practice of trying to maximize tax returns, avoid tax penalties, and make the most of any possible tax deductions. While this can take place at any time during the year, there are last-minute strategies that taxpayers can implement. These include withdrawing from or contributing to a retirement account to take advantage of tax-free withdrawals, and converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA to take advantage of a lower tax rate.
When can you start filing taxes?
How do you estimate taxes for retirement planning?
Your tax rate in retirement will depend on the total amount of your taxable income (i.e. Social Security, investment income, pension, traditional IRA, 401(k)) and your standardized or itemized deductions. List each type of income and how much will be taxable to estimate your tax rate. Add that up, and then reduce that number by your expected deductions for the year.
A tax return reports income and earnings to the IRS. Filing one allows taxpayers to claim various deductions to reduce their taxable income to the least amount possible. Both individuals and businesses are subject to federal income taxes, but not everyone must file a tax return, and not every state charges income tax. If you don’t file a tax return though, you may miss out on a tax refund—even if you had no income.
Household income is almost all types of income brought into your home by you, your family members, and any others who live with you. It can be earned or unearned income. Household income can be calculated in a few different ways, depending on which elements of it matter for formulas used by a particular agency or program. Several government programs rely on household income for determining eligibility for benefits and tax credits, both at the federal and state level.
A dependent is a person who relies on you for financial support, either because they’re a child, or because they’re an older relative who is unable to support themselves. The IRS recognizes two types of dependents: qualifying children and qualifying relatives.
The FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) tax, also commonly called payroll or withholding tax, is money collected from you and your employer to pay for services such as old-age, survivors, and disability insurances (OASDI). It also covers Medicare.
A tax you pay directly to the government is known as a direct tax. For example, federal income tax is a common direct tax. The amount of income tax you pay depends on how much you earn, whether you’re single or married, whether you have children or other dependents, and other factors. Direct taxes must be paid by the person or entity that incurred them, unlike indirect taxes, which can be passed on to others.
A tax base is the total amount of property, consumption, assets, transactions, income, or other sort of economic activity that is subject to taxation by an authority, such as the government. While a narrow tax base is considered to be non-neutral and inefficient, a broad tax base is known for reducing tax administration costs, allowing for more revenue to be raised at lower rates.
Back taxes are taxes that weren’t paid at the time they were due, typically from a prior year. You can owe back taxes at the federal, state, or local level, and you can owe them for a number of reasons. Many people owe back taxes because they didn’t have enough money withheld for taxes from their paychecks throughout the year. Some people may also owe because they were unaware that unemployment benefits are taxable most years, and didn’t have money automatically withheld.
Form 1099-G, officially titled Certain Government Payments, is a type of 1099 form that’s used to report some types of income you receive from the government—the “G” stands for government. One of the most common reasons for receiving a 1099-G is that you received jobless compensation. Another scenario where you could receive Form 1099-G is when you received a state or local tax refund, credit, or offset.
IRS Form 8862 (“Information To Claim Certain Credits After Disallowance”) must be included with your tax return if you have previously been denied the earned income tax credit (EITC), child tax credit, additional tax credit, credit for other dependents, or American opportunity tax credit. Filing this form will allow you to once again claim any of these credits.
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
The IRS assigns Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) to businesses, usually when they are newly established. EINs serve much the same function for businesses as Social Security numbers do for individuals—namely, to provide a means of easy identification and distinction from other businesses for tax and other purposes.
Internal Revenue Service. "Year-Round Tax Planning Is for Everyone."
Internal Revenue Service. "IRA FAQs."
Internal Revenue Service. "January 31 Wage Statement Deadline Reminder for Employers."
Internal Revenue Service. "1040 (and 1040-SR) Instructions (2021)," Pages 23-32.
Internal Revenue Service. "1040 (and 1040-SR) Instructions (2021)," Pages 9-10.
HealthCare.gov. "Who To Include in Your Household."
Internal Revenue Service. "Publication 501: Dependents, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information (2021)," Pages 11-12.
Internal Revenue Service. "Topic No. 751 Social Security and Medicare Withholding Rates."
Tax Foundation. "Tax Base."
Internal Revenue Service. "About Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments."
Internal Revenue Service. "About Form 8862, Information To Claim Certain Credits After Disallowance."
Internal Revenue Service. "Employer ID Numbers."