Do I Need to File A Tax Return in 2012?

It’s that time of year again…time to start thinking about filing your tax returns.  Oh boy, it’s tax season!  A common question we hear this time of year is, “Do I need to file a tax return this year?”

It depends on your situation.  You are required to file a tax return if your income is above a certain threshold.  Your age, filing status, and type(s) of income all effect if you need to file or not. 

However, if you are reading this and you are one of our clients, then you probably have a tax problem.  So the rules of the game are a bit different.  So, yes, if you owe back taxes, you should file a tax return- even if you think you are below the minimum filing requirement.  Why?  Well, a few reasons.  The IRS expects you to file every year when you owe back taxes.  They always want to make sure you are not going to owe again.  Furthermore, if we file an Offer in Compromise for you, for example, unfiled returns put a damper on the process.  But if you think about it, it is in your advantage to file anyway.  That is, if you are entitled to a refund, it will credit your tax debt.  Sometimes, every little bit helps. 

If you are saying to yourself, Yeah, well, I need that money…then you need to call our office today to see what we can do to help you so that you GET your refund in the future…but more on that later.

If you expect to owe on this year’s tax return, I know getting your tax return filed can be a bit like pulling off a band-aid…it hurts.  But don’t let that tempt you tempt you to put if off or to not file.  Not filing and generally procrastinating only makes matters worse.  And owing back taxes?  Well, that’s why we are here!  Every problem has a solution.

If you are reading this and do not have a tax problem, there are multiple reasons why you should file even if you are below the minimum filing requirement:

1.  To Get Your Withheld Wages Back  You should file your return even if you are not required to file in order to get your money back if your employer withheld income tax from your pay, if you made timely estimated tax payments, or had overpayments applied to 2011

2. Various Credits For Which You May Qualify That Will Increase Your Refund 
    a. EITC  The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable credit that allows certain working, and low-income individuals to claim this credit and get money back after filing.  Note:  you cannot claim this credit if you file Married Filing Separately. 
    b. Additional Child Tax Credit  A refundable credit that is available in conjunction with the Child Tax Credit if you did not qualify to get the full amount of the Child Tax Credit.
    c. American Opportunity Credit  This is a partially refundable credit.  A student may qualify for this credit if in their first four years of college.  The maximum amount that can be credited is $2500, though only 40% is refundable.
    d. Adoption Credit  if you adopted a child and paid for qualified expenses related to the adoption, you may be able to claim this refundable tax credit.
    e. Health Coverage Tax Credit   Eligible individuals can claim a substantial portion of their payment made for qualified health insurance premiums.  This means you can claim the credit even if you do not earn enough income to owe federal income tax.
So, there you have it.  To make a long story short…file.  If you do not have a qualified tax professional to prepare your returns for you, call us today.  Or, if you owe back taxes and want your tax refund, call us now to find out how we can help.  405-607-1192 or 918-877-2794.
Travis Watkins
Senior Tax Attorney