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Tax Returns vs. Tax Refunds: How They Differ, What’s Changed for 2021



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A tax refund and tax return are not the same.

Angela Lang / CNET

A tax return and a tax refund. They sound the same and sometimes go together, but they are not the same things. And this year there are more nuances than ever, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the $ 1.9 trillion in stimulus bill for March and stimulus controls will now turn off in front of up to $ 1,400 eachSo what’s the difference between the two, and what are the biggest changes you should know about?

Tax season is in progress, and with May 17 set as the new tax day deadline, you may have questions. We explain the details of each term below and everything you need to know about how tax refunds are different this year and how to find out if you’re getting one. Once you’ve filed your tax return, here’s how you can do it track the status of your refund

What is a tax return?

A tax return is a form that you file with the IRS each year and submit your adjusted gross income (AGI), expenses and other financial information. Most of these details come from your W-2 statement that your workplace provides you with weeks in advance to file your taxes, but you can also have a 1099 or other form to record your income.

Your tax return includes your gross income (which is different from your AGI), how much you have already paid in taxes (through your business withholding or estimated taxes you paid in advance if you are self-employed) and other important information you need to filing a tax return.

However, the tax return will also balance the deductions for your kids as well as how much you paid student loan interest, health insurance, Roth IRA contributions, home office expenses, business expenses, charitable donations, and more.

You must file a tax return to get a refund. However, just because you’re filing a return doesn’t mean you’ll get a tax refund.


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What is a tax refund?

A tax refund is what is granted to you by the United States Treasury Department if you paid more in state or federal taxes in the previous year than was necessary. For example, your workplace may have withheld more money than it actually needed from your salary, or you may be self-employed and have had to pay estimated taxes in excess each quarter.

The government will reimburse you, or “return”, the difference between what you paid and what you owed as a one-time payment; in other words, your tax return. Any deductions from your taxes (see above) can also add to the amount you can expect. Here’s how track your 2021 tax refund with the IRS

What is different about tax refunds now?

First, the the due date is now May 17th, not April 15th – and you could affect your stimulus check amount, which may mean you should file for an adjustment later, which could mean a larger refund in 2022. The IRS may also send you a second refund in 2021 for unemployment benefits on which you were taxed

For your 2020 taxes (the one you file in 2021), any missing out on incentive money you claim from the first or second stimulus controls can also be included in your tax refund. To get that money, you have to submit a recovery loan on your tax return. Even if you received a stimulus check last year, you are not taxed on it or less because the IRS doesn’t consider it income.

Tax credits for children can also help you get more money for your tax refund this year and next year qualified families until $ 3,600 per Eligible DependentHere’s what you need to know when to get it CTC payments could come

Others changes for taxes 2020 Include the standard deductions for single filers ($ 12,400) and married joint filers ($ 24,800) and deductions of up to $ 300 for eligible charities.

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You can get your money back if you paid too much tax last year.

Sarah Tew / CNET

How do I know if I get a tax refund?

If you use tax filing software or service, you will see a final estimate of how much you should receive after you file your tax return (even if you prepare yourself). Once the IRS receives your return, they’ll send you an email or text message to let you know your final refund amount.

After they accept your refund, it means your money is on its way to your bank account or mailbox. You can track your refund from the time you file your tax return until you receive your payment. Note that it can take anywhere one to three weeks to get your money back, assuming no errors were found in your tax return.

For more tax information on your taxes for 2020, here it is deadline for filing your taxes for 2020, seven tax breaks and tax breaks you might get and what to know this year’s taxes and incentive controls


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