Accounting & Tax

The Internal Revenue Service estimates that taxpayers and businesses spend 6.1 billion hours a year complying with tax-filing requirements.

To put this into perspective, if all this work were done by a single company, it would need about three million full-time employees and be one of the largest industries in the U.S.[1]September 28, 2016

As complex as the details of taxes can be, the income tax process is fairly straightforward. However, the majority of Americans would rather not understand the process, which explains why more than half hire a tax professional to assist in their annual filing.[2]U.S. News and World Report, March 2, 2016

The tax process starts with income, and generally, most income received is taxable. A taxpayer’s gross income includes income from work, investments, interest, pensions, as well as other sources. The income from all these sources is added together to arrive at the taxpayers’ gross income.

What’s not considered income? Child support payments, gifts, inheritances, workers’ compensation benefits, welfare benefits, or cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer.[3]The tax code allows an individual to gift up to $14,000 per person in 2017 without triggering any gift or estate taxes. An individual can give away up to $5,490,000 without owing any federal tax. … Continue reading

From gross income, adjustments are subtracted. These adjustments may include alimony, retirement plan contributions, half of self-employment, and moving expenses, among other items.

The result is the adjusted gross income.

From adjusted gross income, deductions are subtracted. With deductions, taxpayers have two choices: the standard deduction or itemized deductions, whichever is greater. The standard deduction amount varies based on filing status, as shown on this chart:
Tax Chart

Itemized deductions can include state and local taxes, charitable contributions, the interest on a home mortgage, certain unreimbursed job expenses, and even the cost of having your taxes prepared, among other things.

Once deductions have been subtracted, the personal exemption is subtracted. For the 2017 tax year, the personal exemption amount is $4,050, regardless of filing status.

The result is taxable income. Taxable income leads to gross tax liability.

Fast Fact: No Pencil and Paper. The IRS reports that about 40% of taxpayers use tax preparation software. Source: IRS, 2017

But it’s not over yet.

Any tax credits are then subtracted from the gross tax liability. Taxpayers may receive credits for a variety of items, including energy-saving improvements.

The result is the taxpayer’s net tax.

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2021 WAAG Tax Guide

Tools to Help Manage Your Taxes

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Tax Calendar

Important tax dates to remember

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Tax Forms

A full set of downloadable forms from the IRS

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Tax Publications

A full set of downloadable publications from the IRS

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Tax Rates

Tables to enable you to find your federal marginal income tax rate


1 September 28, 2016
2 U.S. News and World Report, March 2, 2016
3 The tax code allows an individual to gift up to $14,000 per person in 2017 without triggering any gift or estate taxes. An individual can give away up to $5,490,000 without owing any federal tax. Couples can leave up to $10,980,000 without owing any federal tax. Also, keep in mind that some states may have their own estate tax regulations.