How do I prepare a US tax return?
Tax preparation is the process of preparing tax returns, often income tax returns, often for a person other than the taxpayer, and generally for compensation. Tax preparation may be done by the taxpayer with or without the help of tax preparation software and online services. Tax preparation may also be done by a licensed professional such as an attorney, certified public accountant or enrolled agent, or by an unlicensed tax preparation business. Because United States income tax laws are considered to be complicated, many taxpayers seek outside assistance with taxes (53.5% of individual tax returns in 2016 were filed by paid preparers).The remainder of this article describes tax preparation by someone other than the taxpayer.
Some states have licensing requirements for anyone who prepares tax returns for a fee and some for fee-based preparation of state tax returns only. The Free File Alliance provides free tax preparation software for individuals with less than $58,000 of adjusted gross income for tax year 2010. People who make more than $58,000 can use Free File Fillable Forms, electronic versions of U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) paper forms.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
All U.S. citizens and residents living or traveling outside the United Sates are generally required to file income tax returns in the same way as those residing in the United States. The deadline to file taxes is April 15th.
The Embassy does not have IRS tax forms as all forms can be printed from the IRS website. There is no U.S. Internal Revenue Service representative in Indonesia. The Consular Section is not authorized to accept any forms or filings for U.S. income taxes and will not forward completed returns to the IRS. Should you have taxpayer questions, please consult the IRS website at Internal Revenue Service or call the IRS international Hotline (Monday to Friday from 6AM to 11PM EST) at +1-267-941-1000.
The IRS has a comprehensive tax page, U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, which is directed to U.S. citizens who reside abroad. This page contains basic tax information that Americans overseas need to know and also includes links to more detailed topics such as the foreign earned income exclusion, foreign tax credit, reporting foreign bank accounts, Fulbright grants, state taxes, and a myriad of others.
Who Must File?
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien living or traveling outside the United States, you generally are required to file income tax returns, estate tax returns, and gift tax returns, and pay estimated tax in the same way as those residing in the United States. Your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where you reside.
Your income, filing status, and age generally determine whether you must file an income tax return. Generally, you must file a return if your gross income from worldwide sources is at least the amount shown for your filing status in the Filing Requirements table in Chapter 1 of Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad.
Business Tax Credits
our general business credit for the year consists of your carryforward of business credits from prior years plus the total of your current year business credits. In addition, your general business credit for the current year may be increased later by the carryback of business credits from later years. You subtract this credit directly from your tax.
All of the following credits, with the exception of the electric vehicle credit, are part of the general business credit. The form you use to figure each credit is shown below.
- Form 3800, General Business Credit
- Form 3468, Investment Credit
- This consists of the sum of the rehabilitation, energy, and reforestation credits.
- Form 5735, American Samoa Economic Development Credit
- Form 5884, Work Opportunity Credit
- Form 6478, Alcohol and Cellulosic Biofuel Fuels Credit
- Form 6765, Credit for Increasing Research Activities
- Form 8586, Low-Income Housing Credit
How to Claim the Credit
To claim a general business credit, you will first have to get the forms you need to claim your current year business credits.
In addition to the credit form, in most cases you may also need to file Form 3800.
If you file a Form 1040 or 1040-SR Schedule C, you may be eligible to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). To learn more about EITC, refer to It’s easier than ever to find out if you qualify for EITC, or use the EITC Assistant to find out if you are eligible.
Do I Need to File a Tax Return?
You may not have to file a federal income tax return if your income is below a certain amount. But, you must file a tax return to claim a refundable tax credit or a refund for withheld income tax.
File a Federal Income Tax Return
In order to file your taxes, you’ll need a few things. First you’ll need to know how much money you made. Then you’ll need to decide whether to take the standard deduction or itemize your return. Finally, you’ll need to submit everything by July 15.