Your Guide to Filing Taxes for the 2019 Tax Season

Your Guide to Filing Taxes for the 2019 Tax Season

Sean Cooper |Feb 25, 2020

Tax Season 2019 Start Date

It’s that time of the year again. No, it’s not the holidays. It’s not back to school. It’s tax filing season! Tax filing season can be a good or bad thing depending on who you are. It’s a good thing if you’re entitled to a sizable refund, but it’s probably not such a good thing if you owe the taxman a chunk of change.

In this article we’ll look at when the 2019 tax season starts, why you might want to file your taxes early and different options for filing your taxes.

Important Dates

Monday, January 27, 2020 marked the official start of the 2019 tax season. Starting on January 27th, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has started accepting and processing income tax returns for the 2019 tax season. This is the third straight year that tax filers have to wait until the last week of January to file. There was some speculation that the start date of tax season may be sooner this year, since there isn’t any major tax reform and the government isn’t threatening to shut down, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. The IRS decided to go with January 27th to ensure its security was ready as well as its tax processing systems.

January 27, 2020 is one important date to be aware of, but another important date to be aware of is Wednesday, April 15, 2020. You’ll have until April 15th to file your 2019 tax return and pay any taxes you have owing. The IRS is expecting over 150 million personal tax returns to be filed for the 2019 tax season, many coming in just before the April deadline.

Why You Might Want to File Your Taxes Early

Every April, many tax filers wait until the eleventh hours to file their tax return. Despite the urge to leave filing your taxes until the last minute, there are plenty of good reasons to file your taxes early. Here are some of the benefits.

1. Get Your Tax Refund Sooner

Perhaps the most common reason we file our taxes early is to get our tax refund sooner. If you’re owed a big, fat, juicy refund check, that’s even more incentive to file your taxes as soon as you can. By filing your taxes electronically and choosing direct deposit, you can have the funds deposited into your bank account even sooner.

2. More Time to Pay Your Taxes

Do you have a balance owing to the IRS? It might just make sense to file your taxes early. That way you’ll know exactly how much you owe the taxman, instead of stressing about it until the tax deadline. By filing your taxes early, you’ll have until mid-April to pay the IRS the money you owe them.

3. Obtain Tax Information

If you’re anticipating a major life change, buying your first home or going back to school, filing your tax return early can help you get important tax information that you need. If you’re going back to school, the information found on Form 1040 can help you apply for financial aid. Likewise, if you’re applying for a mortgage, by filing your taxes early, you can use it for mortgage qualification purposes.

4. Avoid the Hassle of Requesting a Tax Extension

By not filing your tax return at the last minute, you won’t have to go through the hassle of requesting a tax extension. Even better, if your tax return is simple enough, you can file it yourself and avoid the expense of hiring a tax preparer to do it for you. (Not to mention you can avoid paying penalties and interest for not paying the amount you owe on time.)

Different Options for Filing Your Taxes

There are three main methods for filing your tax return: doing them yourself, using a tax service or using your financial planner or institution.

1. Doing Your Taxes Yourself

If your taxes are pretty straightforward, you might choose to do your own taxes. The biggest benefit to doing your own taxes is that you can save money. Learn how to file your own taxes.

The simplest way to do your own taxes is to use tax preparation software. There are many software programs out there; among the most popular are H&R Block and TurboTax.

If you’re "old school" and prefer not to use technology, you might choose to file your tax return using pen and paper. You can do that by manually completing Form 1040 and mailing your tax return to the IRS along with any money you have owing.

2. Using a Tax Service

If your taxes are more complicated or you’re pressed for time, you might choose to use a tax service like H&R Block or TurboTax. H&R Block and TurboTax both offer different levels of service: you can choose the most basic by having someone review your tax return right up to having the company complete and file your tax return for you.

Although these services cost money, it’s money well spent if your taxes are complicated. The last thing you want is to make a mistake on your tax return and end up in hot water with the taxman.

3. Using Your Financial Planner or Institution

If you have an accountant that you regularly use or your taxes are ultra-complicated, you might choose to use a financial planner or institution to help you do your taxes. The advantage of using either is that an accountant or tax planner should be familiar with your tax situation, and they can use this to their advantage to help maximize your tax refund.

Financial planners and institutions typically offer a higher level of service than tax services. If you’re looking for the total package, it’s usually best to go with this tax filing option.

Tips on Making the Process as Easy and Stress Free as Possible

Looking to make the tax filing process stress free this year? Here are our top three tips for making filing your taxes easy.

1. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to File

If you’re in the habit of procrastinating and waiting until the last minute to file your taxes, it’s time to change. If you’re anything like me, a lot of the stress comes from completing your taxes and seeing how much you owe. But once you get started, it’s not so bad.

While you don’t have to file your taxes at the end of January, by aiming to file them by the end of February at the latest, you can breathe a sigh of relief as you cross a big item off your to do list.

2. Get Organized

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of tax slips you receive? Instead of letting your tax slips pile up on the coffee table, a far better approach is to get organized and stay organized. You can do that by creating a file folder for your tax slips and filing them away as soon as they arrive. Compare your tax slips from this year to last year to make sure nothing is missing. You can then file your taxes with confidence knowing you have everything, instead of stressing about a tax slip you might be missing.

3. File Electronically

If you aren’t already, you should be filing your tax return online. Not only does filing your tax return online help you avoid simple math errors, you should receive your tax refund sooner, too. You can expect to receive your tax refund in three weeks when filing electronically, whereas it can take you several weeks longer if you file using a paper return.

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5 of the Best Auto Insurance Companies

Eric Bank | February 25, 2020

Protect Against Collisions and More If you drive a car in the United States, liability insurance must cover it. This type of policy pays for medical and property damage resulting from a vehicular accident. You can also purchase comprehensive and collision insurance to cover other costs. These additional coverages help protect the value of your car should it be damaged. If you are calculating how much it will cost to buy a car, you need to take into consideration the cost of insurance as well. In this article, we’ll review the basics of car insurance and the best auto insurance companies in America, including costs, pros and cons. This is a brief introduction to automobile coverage. Liability Coverage When an accident occurs, liability insurance covers you, household members and authorized drivers for the costs associated with property damage and bodily injury. It covers the cost to repair or replace property damage that you caused. [youmaylike] You are also covered if you cause the bodily harm or death to someone else while you are driving the car. This includes medical expenses, loss of income and specified legal defense costs. Collision Insurance If you are involved in a collision, this type of insurance will help pay for repairing or replacing your vehicle. If the collision is your fault, the coverage may extend to other damaged vehicles involved in the accident. States do not mandate that you buy collision insurance, but your lender or car dealer will if you finance or lease the car. Policies offer a range of deductibles, which is how much you’ll have to pay for repairs before the insurance kicks in. Larger deductibles lower the policy premiums but expose you to more out-of-pocket expenses if a collision occurs. Comprehensive Insurance Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car that occurs for reasons other than a collision, including theft, fire, vandalism, weather and natural disasters. This coverage is often required if you finance your automobile. You can add riders to this insurance to provide coverage of additional costs, including auto towing, glass repair, daily rental while your car is in the shop and emergency roadside service. As with collision insurance, you can set the deductible on your comprehensive insurance policy to cut your premium costs. Gap Insurance If your car is severely damaged in an accident or other incident, you might find that your comprehensive and collision damage won’t provide enough coverage to pay off the amount you owe on the vehicle. Many policies pay only the fair market value of a totaled car, which might be only 80% of the amount you owe. You can buy additional insurance to plug this gap and ensure you can pay off the car loan in full if the vehicle is destroyed or stolen. Normally, car leases require you to buy gap insurance. If you pay cash or pay off your loan, you can save money by avoiding or dropping gap insurance when no longer needed. Top Five Auto Insurers These five insurers all offer full coverage policies and many additional services. Amica Amica is a superstar among car insurers, winning accolades from Consumer Reports and J.D. Powers. It’s known for handling the claims process smoothly. The average annual cost for full coverage: is $1,360. Pros You can have your car repaired at any body shop, without restrictions. Offers a premium package which, for an additional cost, provides full glass coverage, rental coverage, good driving rewards and identity fraud monitoring. Superior financial stability rating from A.M. Best. Cons Missing some discounts, such as military, low-mileage and prepay discounts. Must speak on the phone to get a quote. Sparse website when it comes to customer education. State Farm State Farm is the country’s largest multi-line insurance company. It excels in customer service and regularly garners high marks from customers. The average annual cost for full coverage: is $1,337. Pros Superior financial stability rating from A.M. Best. Excellent online quote tool, getting customers a quote in as little as five minutes. Easy claim handling and top service from its more than 18,000 agents and its easy-to-use mobile app. Cons Doesn’t offer coverage for new car replacements or uninsured motorists. Missing prepayment and automatic payment discounts. The Hartford While only 11th in size, The Hartford is big when it comes to policy options. It offers rates based on your actual driving as well as full replacement of new cars when destroyed shortly after purchase. Average annual cost for full coverage: N/A. Pros Solid benefits, including superior roadside assistance and towing programs. High marks from customers for their purchase experiences. One of the few insurers with mechanical breakdown coverage for out-of-warranty repairs. Cons Mediocre service interaction according to J.D. Power surveys. Sparse online learning materials. Geico Geico is the second-largest U.S. car insurer. It is a favorite among tech-savvy geeks who appreciate the insurer’s mobile app and excellent online service. The average annual cost for full coverage: is $1,627. Pros Geico offers plenty of ways to save, such as multi-vehicle, driving history and vehicle safety equipment discounts. Special savings for active and retired military members and federal employees. Full-featured mobile app for getting quotes, buying insurance, managing your policy, submitting claims, summoning roadside assistance and making payments. Cons Human help may be in short supply, as just about everything is handled online. No gap insurance is offered. USAA No insurer matches USAA for service to military members. Unfortunately, it's only available to active service members, their families and retired veterans. Average annual cost for full coverage: $896. Pros Superior financial stability rating from A.M. Best. Top-ranked purchase experience score from J.D. Power. Cons Missing gap coverage. Doesn’t offer interior vehicle coverage or new car replacement coverage. Limited availability. The Right One for You Competition in the insurance industry helps drive down prices and prompts insurers to offer money-saving features. For example, your carrier might reward you for a safe driving record and for having a long-term relationship with the insurer. The right insurer for you is highly rated for service, offers the exact coverage you want and does so at an unbeatable price. You should always gather multiple quotes before selecting an insurer, and make sure you get credit for all applicable discounts.

How to Apply for a Business Credit Card

Myles Leva | February 25, 2020

Paying for Business Expenses Applying for a business credit card is something a small business should seriously consider for itself. Business credit cards can provide a range of benefits to a business. They allow a company to build up credit for better borrowing conditions down the road. They’re also quite easy to apply for. In this article, we’ll go over how to apply for a business credit card and other important points to note. What Is a Business Credit Card? A business credit card is a credit card that is intended for business expenses. These cards are not meant for any individual’s personal use, but they are available to businesses of all sizes. What Is a Business Credit Card Used For? Business credit cards are meant for business expenses, and as such, they come with several perks that you wouldn’t get with a normal credit card. Business credit cards typically have far higher credit limits than normal cards, but they are also harder to qualify for. [youmaylike] As a business phenomenon, business credit cards vary their offers greatly, and certain cards are meant for certain businesses. They are also highly customizable when it comes to individual payment terms. Businesses don't always have consistent incomes like individuals do, and business credit cards handle this problem. These cards are used to gain access to a long line of credit, to control employee spending on business expenses and more. One of their other common uses is to make accounting easier, as putting all business expenses on one separate account makes reporting to the Internal Revenue Service easier. In the end, there are many uses for a business credit card. Why Would I Need a Business Credit Card? You might not need one, but if you run a business, you’ll be leaving money on the table by not at least looking into them. Business credit cards can solve many of the problems business owners face. If you need employees to make purchases for the business, a business credit card is the safest option. These cards can be given to authorized users, a status you can easily give to any of your employees. From here, these cards make it easy to monitor employee spending and spot any discrepancies. You can attach customized user privileges to each card to limit spending and place limits on where the card can be used. As mentioned, if you feel like your credit is too limited, business credit cards are a sure way around low credit. According to the American Bankers Association, the average monthly payment on a business credit card is twice as high as the average payment on a normal one. If you’ve found yourself annoyed with the Internal Revenue Service over the complicated reporting processes for business owners, you’re not alone. This is where a business credit card can solve another problem. Simply handing over your business credit card statements to your accountant will make them love you. It will also provide them with the information they need to predict future spending. Another great use for a business credit card is lifting your liability for debts. Liability for credit card debt is determined by the liability offered by the card. If you’re using a personal credit card for business expenses, you are liable for all debts. On the other hand, if you use a business credit card with commercial liability, your business is liable for any debts, which changes the game. Keep in mind that some cards offer joint liability, which leaves both you and your business liable for any debts. Make sure you know what you’re getting into before signing any paperwork. Lastly, just as personal credit cards offer rewards programs, so do business cards. The main difference here is that business credit card rewards are tailored to your business needs. How to Apply for a Business Credit Card Before you apply for a business credit card, you should make sure you’re eligible. For the most part, you only require the following to be able to apply for one: A legal name for your business. A business structure to apply with, such as a Limited Liability Corporation. An explanation of the nature of your business. You’ll typically be given a list of industry types to choose from. A tax ID number issued by the Internal Revenue Service Your roll in the business you’re representing Various business/financial information including: Annual revenue. Number of employees. Length of time in business. Estimated monthly expenses. If you have this information ready, you can apply for a business credit card. At this point, it would be wise to shop around and find the best option for your business. Your decision on the business credit card you choose will have larger ramifications than your choice of a personal credit card. Applying for a business credit card is much the same as applying for a personal one. There are a few differences, but the main thing to remember is that business credit cards are taken more seriously than normal ones, so you’ll have to face a higher bar of entry. This doesn’t mean getting a business credit card is hard, but it does mean you need to arrive more well-prepared than you normally would. To make things easier, you can prepare for certain obstacles in advance. You may need to sign a personal guarantee that you will pay off any debts. Also keep in mind that if you’re the one applying for a business credit card, and your business doesn’t already have one, they will conduct a personal credit check. It may be best to try to optimize your personal credit if you plan on applying for a business credit card in the future. Some Options at a Glance Here are some of the most popular options for small business credit cards: Chase Inc Business Preferred This is a great option for a few reasons. With the Business Preferred card from Chase Inc, you get 80,000 ultimate reward points when you spend $5,000 with the card in the first three months. The card also provides generic, but highly useful benefits for business owners. Business Platinum Card from American Express The Business Platinum is ideal for businesses that spend a lot on flights and travel. This card offers numerous rewards on flight and hotel expenses and makes sure you get something serious back if you use it for these expenses. Chase Inc Business Unlimited The Chase Inc Business Unlimited offers unlimited 1.5% cash back. While we’ve said enough already, they also offer several other perks that are overshadowed by their first one.