7 Tax Prep Tips to Ease the Stress of Filing

Filing Income TaxesDecember 25th and April 15th are two of the most memorable dates on the American calendar. The first is the culmination of a joyful season of celebration, gift-giving, and general goodwill, and is eagerly anticipated. The second date – the day income tax returns must be filed – is a day of dread, stress, anger, and fear for many people. Preparation for Christmas often begins in early autumn, while many people wait until the last minute to complete and file tax returns.

Despite the fact that three out of every four filers receive a refund, nobody likes income tax time. However, there are ways to make the experience less hectic and easier to endure.

How to More Easily File Your Income Tax Form

Whether you file your own taxes or use a professional preparer, the key to a satisfactory, tension-free result is organization. Trying to make sense of a rat’s nest of paper receipts, canceled checks, brokerage statements, and other miscellaneous bits of information is frustrating and time-consuming. The confusion adds time for you, and unnecessary expense if you are using a professional tax preparer. It also increases the probability of mistakes in determining the correct tax liability. If you pay too little, you may be subject to a tax audit and additional penalties; paying too much effectively gives a donation to the government that could have been returned to you in a refund. Avoid such troubles by following these tips.

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7 Tax Tips for Expats Teaching ESL Overseas

This article first appeared on esl101.com on December 11, 2013.

various moneyWorking and living overseas is an adventure that few Americans get to enjoy. An estimated 6.3 million worked abroad in 2012 – many lived in exotic places, immersing themselves in a new culture often very different from that of the United States. But one obligation shared by U.S. citizens everywhere is the requirement to file and pay U.S. income taxes, regardless of domicile.

The United States is the only industrialized nation that taxes its overseas citizens, even if they are paying taxes elsewhere. As a consequence, if you are an expatriate – an American citizen living abroad – you should be aware of the income tax laws affecting you, as well as the opportunities you have to minimize their impact.

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Privatization of Public Services

Bridge under constructionSince the beginning of civilization, there has been tension over the role of government and the provision of services paid for with public funds (tax dollars). Before the advent of democracies, ambitious, enterprising men sought the favor of royalty in order to gain political power and riches at the expense of the population.
American governments, whether federal, state, or local, have not been immune from this trend where politicians manipulate the economy to fill their own pockets, as well as the purses of their friends. Boss Tweed and his cronies at Tammany Hall bilked New York City taxpayers of more than $200 million in the building of public works by private contractors. The Credit Mobilier of America scandal with Union Pacific during Ulysses S. Grant’s presidency reverberated for decades. According to The Atlantic, privatization leads to crony corruption, citing the example of Edward Snowden and Booz Allen Hamilton.
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