Do you have to do tax returns in the US?

Q: Do you have to do tax returns in the US?  Is it an easy process that anyone can handle by themselves or do you need help from accounting professionals?

A: The majority of adults must file a tax return. I believe the rule is anyone who has over $10,000 in income must file. Income is defined as earned money from a job, from a sale of property or goods, from inheritance, or interest and dividends earned on stocks and bonds.

Filing taxes is not an easy process. There are some people who really only need to fill out a single form – form 1040EZ. This is only for people who have just one job, who have no children, and who have no tax credits or issues to report. Young people with their first job are often eligible to use this form.

The tax laws in the US change almost every year. Even professionals must relearn what they know every tax season. Credits change, tax brackets change, percentages of tax for various things (property, vehicles, gold, etc) change, so it can be extremely difficult and time consuming.

These days, most people do their own taxes with the help of online software. We can create an account with one of these tax companies, and the software walks us through the process. It asks many questions, then leads us to the correct forms for our answers.

This software is helpful, but if you have an unusual tax situation like being self-employed, having multiple dependents, having multiple jobs, new or changing disability, retirement, etc, things get messy quick.

If we need professional help with our taxes, we have two options. Our first option, of course, is to visit an accountant. This can be incredibly expensive, especially if your situation is complex. People who have inherited money or property often need to visit an accountant for help, as there are separate, ever-changing laws regarding the sale or transfer or property.

Our second option is to go to a tax preparation office. One of the oldest companies that offers this service is called H & R Block. During the year, they have very few locations. During tax season, they rent out many vacant shops and offices and fill them with specially trained tax-prep experts.

These employees are trained every year on how to prepare tax forms with the current laws and for various situations. Typically, they offer a special, like “Federal Filing $100”. This means that if your state requires you to file state taxes (the most common situation), you must pay an additional fee to have your state taxes prepared.  Additionally, if your tax situation is more complex and requires more time, the price goes up. 

Many people choose this option because the company offers “immediate refunds”. Their tax prep expert fills out your forms, estimates your refund amount, subtracts their fee from that amount, and then gives you the cash. Then you sign your return over to the company, so the IRS sends money to them directly. This is a popular but expensive service.


Q: 米国では確定申告はしなければいけないの?誰でもできるような簡単な手続きですか?あるいは会計士の手伝いが必要ですか?

A: 成人の大半が確定申告をしなくてはいけないわ。確か1万ドルを超える収入がある人はみんな申告しなければならないはずよ。収入とは、財産や物品の売買、相続、株式や債券の利子や配当金から得たお金を指すわ。






2つ目の選択肢として、税務準備会社に行くことね。このサービスを提供する最も古い会社にH & R Blockというところがあるわ。1年を通じて、ほとんど事務所を持たないんだけど、確定申告のシーズンは、空き店舗やオフィスを借上げて、確定申告準備に特化した専門家を常駐させるの。

この従業員たちは、毎年あらゆるケースの書式の書き方や現行の法律研修をうけているわ。たいてい、特別に「Federal Filing $100」といった具合で提供しているわね。州税の確定申告が義務づけられている場合(たいていがこのケース)、州税の準備をしてもらうのにいくらか追加報酬を払わなくてはいけないということなの。さらに、もっと複雑なケースで時間がかかる場合は、金額が上がるわ。