When Uncle Sam Pays You Back: Tax Refund Statistics for 2015

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For some of you, your tax season headache is over for 2014. For those who have received a refund or are expecting one, Uncle Sam is rewarding you for your hard work and dedication.

Did you think about what you are going to do with your refund? Are you planning to splurge and take a fancy vacation or simply play it safe by saving and investing?

We’ve put together an infographic of the tax refund statistics of 2015. This infographic covers the total number of refunds issued this year, what Americans plan to do with their refunds and suggests some of the best and worst ways to spend your refund.

Take a look and let us know how you plan to spend your refund. We’d love to hear from you! Read more

Perils of Filing Your Taxes Online and How to Avoid Them

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Tax season is here! As if gathering all the documents and filling out tax forms isn’t enough to give you a headache, you’ll also need to watch out for those pesky cyber criminals while filing your taxes online.

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The IRS reported that there was a steady increase in the total number of tax returns that were e-filed over the past few years. Last year, more than 117 million tax returns were e-filed. As the trend of filing taxes online continues to increase among taxpayers, cyber criminals look for lucrative and sophisticated ways to trap them and make more money.

The good news is that, even though there are some risks associated with filing your taxes online, there are ways to minimize them. Read on to learn more about some of the dangers and tips to reduce them.
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Zoho Books integrates with Avalara: Automates sales tax calculation!

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Why is calculating the right
sales tax crucial? First, you may be subject to penalties for collecting and reporting incorrect sales tax. Secondly, inaccurate financials makes your business susceptible to audit. You learn a few tax rates and believe you are doing the calculation properly. Just when you think you’ve got the hang of it, state and local government agencies change rates, AGAIN! Talk about frustration.

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T
here are more than 10,000 taxing jurisdictions in the U.S. It is literally impossible to remember all the respective tax rates, not to mention keeping up with the constant rate changes. Shouldn’t there be a simple way to precisely determine the tax rate for any region in seconds? Well, Avalara AvaTax is a tool that does just that. Read more

Intuit lobbies against small businesses

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With tax day behind us, small businesses across the country can finally move on to enjoying the warmth of spring. Unfortunately, the tax system has grown increasingly complex and burdensome for small businesses. According to a 2014 NSBA survey, more than 40% of businesses spend over 80 hours dealing with Federal Taxes. So, who is to blame for the pain small businesses endure year after year?

It’s not (entirely) the government’s fault

You can’t blame the federal government for not trying. However, past attempts by the federal government to simplify this nightmarish process have been futile. There has been no action on President Obama’s proposed legislation on return-free filing or pre-fill tax filings, where the IRS would compute your tax or pre-fill your tax forms based on the information already collected from employers, banks and other institutions.

The party pooper

As with any groundbreaking legislation, there is opposition and criticism. Some say that the already overly burdened IRS is not in a position to take on this monumental task. Others say that the complex US tax laws prohibit such a filing system. With any contentious legislation, it is always interesting and surprising to see who opposes seemingly obvious reform. In the case of return-free tax filing, one of the biggest opponents is the tax preparation software maker, Intuit. According to opensecrets.org, Intuit had paid several million dollars to stymie moves by the government to offer return-free filing. A Forbes story says Intuit had derailed the California’s free electronic filing program and was influential in putting to sleep a similar program at Virginia.

What is Intuit afraid of?

Intuit generates a major chunk of its $4 billion in revenue from sales of TurboTax, its popular tax preparation software package. Intuit certainly has a lot of reasons – over one billion of them – to keep the status quo. If there is a free alternative to Turbotax, Intuit’s ultimate revenue machine will be punctured.

Hey Intuit, leave the government alone

While offering tax preparation software solutions is not a core mission of the government, in this particular case its demanding citizens to comply with a complex tax code, and hence it’s obligated to offer all technological means to reduce this unwelcome burden. The idea of return free filing is not new; In fact, it’s prevalent in European countries like Denmark and Spain.

Resistance to changes in our tax system comes in many forms – no doubt it has been a political hot potato for decades. But, in the case of streamlining the arduous filing process for small businesses, the feet dragging is coming from big business – Intuit. We urge Intuit to allow the government to proceed with return free filing.