What is Federal Income Tax?
In many countries, taxes are imposed at the federal, state/provincial, and local level. The income tax that one pays at the federal level is determined by applying a predetermined rate to the earnings of an individual or business.
- The income tax that one pays at the federal and state level is determined by applying a predetermined rate to the funds an individual or business has earned.
- There exist many laws and regulations that surround federal income taxes, and it is useful to learn the basic concepts that surround taxable income both at the state and federal level.
- Countries like the US and Canada also have itemized deductions on taxes, which include certain types of mortgage interests, charity donations, and certain types of financial losses.
Understanding Federal Income Taxes
The term income is broad and is often subject to legal interpretations and nuances depending on the country you live in, as well as which state/province or local municipality you reside in.
In many countries, including the U.S. and Canada, individuals must self-assess their taxable income and file a tax return with the federal government. It is up to the individual, or an accountant acting on their behalf, to research and utilize which deductions are appropriate and legal to determine the total taxes owed to the government.
There exist many laws and regulations that surround federal income taxes, and it is useful for students and professionals alike to understand the basic concepts that surround taxable income both at the state and federal level. There are many types of deductions and reduced rates, depending on the type of income being earned.
For example, in many countries, capital gains are taxed at a much lower level than traditional income to encourage investment and business growth. Capital gains include the profits taken from selling stocks and bonds or other capital assets like real estate.
Countries like the US and Canada also have itemized deductions on taxes, which include certain types of mortgage interests, charity donations, and certain types of financial losses. In countries that have privatized health care, certain types of health care expenses can also be itemized deductions.
State/Provincial Income Tax
In the US, most states collect state-level income tax in addition to federal taxes. There are currently 43 US states that charge income taxes. It is charged as a graduated rate, like federal income taxes, and there is some variance between states.
Different types of deductions exist at the state level as well and are subject to local laws and guidelines. States also follow federal guidelines that determine various calculations like gross income, business deductions, and what constitutes a business entity (corporations, partnerships, etc.).
All states have a state taxing authority, which has the authority to audit tax returns that are filed. These state authorities have the power to take individuals to court and impose penalties for improperly filed tax returns.
The penalties for filing a false tax return are often serious and come with many legal repercussions. Individuals and businesses can have hefty fines placed upon them in both the U.S. and Canada, and if the tax crime is severe enough, they may even find themselves sentenced to jail time.
Regarding the regulations around tax filing in the US, many states also follow the same April 15th deadline for federal taxes to be filed. However, in some years, a longer filing period is permitted due to extenuating circumstances.
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