Taxes can be a major headache for many business owners, but organic business taxes, and organic farm taxes in particular can be especially tough. Luckily there are many places to find help and advice when it comes to your taxes. Even luckier, some of this help and advice is totally free or low-cost, yet still useful.
1. Basic Help from the IRS
Of course, the official IRS website has everything you need to complete your taxes, including advice, although you may need help clarifying the help info. The IRS website at IRS.gov is up and running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to and allows you access to the following services and information:
- You can download all IRS forms for free, including help guides for your specific business. For organic operations the Farmer's Tax Guide (pdf) and Small Business and Self-Employed "Tax Help" and the Restaurants Tax Center are useful links to bookmark.
- You may E-file your return at the IRS website; sometimes for free
- Check the status of your refund status easily, by heading to IRS.gov and clicking on Where's My Refund. To check refund status you'll need your social security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund.
- Use the IRS Withholding Calculator to estimate the tax amount that should be withheld from your paycheck for federal income tax purposes.
2. Free Tax Return Help from the IRS
The IRS offers free help for low-moderate income taxpayers through their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Many VITA sites offer the convenience of free electronic filing and VITA volunteers are knowledgeable enough to help you obtain credits and deductions you're entitled to.
Although this is free help, you still need to be prepared when you visit a VITA site, just as if you were working with a personal accountant. Make sure to bring the following to your appointment:
- Proof of identification.
- Social security cards for anyone on the tax form.
- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for you, your spouse and dependents if applicable.
- Any wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc.
- Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099).
- Previous year's federal and state returns. At the very least bring last year's, but farmers may want to consider bringing the last three years.
- Your bank account routing numbers and account numbers if you'd like to do direct deposit for any refunds.
- All applicable business receipts for the year.
- If you have children, bring their social security cards, and if your child was in daycare or summer camp, bring the provider's tax identifying number and amounts paid to the program (this will help with child credits).
- If you're filing electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both you and your spouse must come so you can both sign forms.
To locate a local VITA program site visit the IRS website or call 1-800-906-9887 or 1-800-829-1040.
3. Locate a Decent Accountant
Individual taxes or farm hobby taxes are one thing, but when you own an larger organic farm or other organic business, taxes can get extremely tricky, and while free help is available, your best bet is to hire a professional accountant.
Accountants are an invaluable year-round tool for organic farmers and business owners because not only can they help prepare your taxes, they can weigh-in year-round on the business decisions you make, hopefully letting you know when a decision will positively or negatively affect year-end taxes.
There are plenty of great business tax accountants out there if you run an organic retail establishment or http://restaurants.about.com/od/finances/a/Finance_Hub.htm">restaurant. However, if you're an organic farmer, finding the right accountant is a bit harder. Very few accountants specialize in farm taxes, but you should make an attempt to find one who is at least familiar with farming tax code. Ask your peers who they work with or see if your accredited certifying agent can make a recommendation.
If an accountant seems out of reach cost-wise, keep in mind that a good accountant only costs in the range of $200 to $1,000 but can save you money in the long run. Additionally, if you'd like to lower your accountant costs, get organized. Be on time to appointments, bring all forms and documents and track your own financial records in a detailed manner. Having your accountant track your financials is one thing that can drive costs up. Track your own records and have your accountant help you with the finer details.
4. Help with Complicated Tax Issues
If you're stuck on a tax problem and you haven't been able to resolve it with the IRS directly, the Taxpayer Advocate Service may be able to help. Although you can locate the Taxpayer Advocate Service though the IRS website, this is an independent organization from the IRS, reporting directly to Congress, so don't be afraid to contact them with problems.
5. State Specific Tax Help
If you have an accountant they can help you directly with both federal and state taxes. However, if you're going it alone, state tax issues may add considerably to your tax headaches. Luckily, you can find help. See the following resources for state-specific tax help: