I am a tax professional yet I always find myself confused about these phrases, especially when speaking to a client. In fact it is very common for folks to be confused about the difference between a “tax season” and a “tax year” and don’t even try to figure out the tax return year. Well allow me to clear it up for those that are still confused, I think…
The Tax Season is commonly used to describe the time between January 1 and April 15 of each year. This is the time that we all file our personal taxes for the previous tax year. Just to add to the confusion, tax seasons also occur within a tax year.
The tax year is simply the year in which you earned income and therefore must pay Uncle Sam a portion. Each year is a different tax year. At the time of this writing we are in Tax Season 2010 for Tax Year 2009. Sure this is Tax Year 2010 but we don’t really care until Tax Season 2011 right..??
When in a conversation with your tax professional, she may ask a question about last years tax return. This often confuses my clients because they don’t know if I’m referring to tax season or tax year. If you are confused by this question ask your tax professional which they are referring to, year or season. More than likely she is asking you about your previous years tax return.
This is when it really gets confusing so I typically stay away from associating a year with the phrase tax return. So how do we refer to “tax returns” when it comes to the year. Afterall tax reurns are filed during a tax season but they are accounting for taxes paid during the previous tax year. Well here it is. The “tax return” year is the same as the “tax year”. Next time your tax pro asks you about a previous tax return just replace the word return with the word year and it all makes sense..right?