Devanand Samaddar-Author Life and Finance Coach

Taxes 101: What You Should Know

A comprehensive beginner’s guide to taxes, covering essential concepts, types of taxes, filing deadlines, deductions and credits, the importance of recordkeeping, and the benefits of hiring tax professionals.

Taxes are an integral part of our financial lives, shaping the economy and funding essential public services. However, understanding the world of taxes can be overwhelming, especially for beginners. In this article, we will provide a simplified guide to taxes, explaining the fundamentals and helping you navigate this complex topic with ease.

1. What are taxes?

Taxes are mandatory financial contributions imposed by the government to fund public expenditures. They are collected at various levels (federal, state, and local) and contribute to infrastructure development, education, healthcare, defence, and other public services.

2. Types of taxes:

a. Income tax: This tax is levied on the income earned by individuals and businesses and is usually progressive, with higher incomes attracting higher tax rates.

b. Sales tax: A percentage of the total cost of goods and services purchased, varying across jurisdictions.

c. Property tax: Levied on the value of real estate, calculated based on the assessed value of the property.

d. Corporate tax: Imposed on business profits, calculated as a percentage of net income after deducting expenses.

e. Excise tax: Applied to specific goods and services like alcohol, tobacco, and luxury items.

f. Payroll tax: Deducted from employees’ wages to fund social security and Medicare.

3. Tax filing and deadlines:

a. Individual tax filers: Most individuals must file an annual tax return, reporting income and claiming deductions and credits. Deadlines usually fall around April 15th.

b. Business tax filers: Businesses follow a different schedule, with tax returns generally due by the 15th day of the third month after their fiscal year ends.

4. Deductions, credits, and exemptions:

Tax systems offer deductions, credits, and exemptions to reduce the overall tax burden.

a. Standard deduction: A fixed amount subtracted from taxable income.

b. Itemised deductions: Allowable expenses like mortgage interest and charitable contributions, deducted if they exceed the standard deduction.

c. Tax credits: Direct reductions in tax liability, such as child tax credits or earned income tax credits.

d. Exemptions: Specific circumstances, like dependents or medical expenses, may qualify for exemptions.

5. Importance of recordkeeping:

Maintaining accurate financial records, including income, expenses, and receipts, is crucial for filing taxes correctly and minimising audit risks. Organise and keep financial documents like W-2s, 1099s, and bank statements easily accessible.

6. Hiring tax professionals:

Depending on the complexity of your finances, it may be beneficial to hire tax professionals like CPAs or tax attorneys. They offer guidance, ensure compliance, and optimise tax strategies.

Addressing Common Concerns: FAQs

Q: Is insurance necessary if I already have an emergency fund?

A: While an emergency fund is crucial, insurance provides a broader safety net for unexpected events, ensuring your financial stability isn’t compromised.

Q: Can insurance help with estate planning?

A: Absolutely. Life insurance can play a pivotal role in estate planning, facilitating the seamless transfer of assets to beneficiaries.

Q: Are there instances where insurance may not be necessary?

A: Dr. Samaddar suggests that insurance should align with individual circumstances. For instance, if you have ample savings to cover unforeseen expenses, insurance might play a lesser role.

Q: How can I determine the right insurance coverage?

A: Dr. Samaddar advises a comprehensive evaluation of your financial goals, responsibilities, and risk tolerance. Seeking professional guidance can help tailor coverage to your needs.

Q: Can insurance aid in tax planning?

A: Yes, certain insurance products offer tax advantages. For instance, contributions to retirement insurance plans can result in tax benefits.

Q: How does insurance contribute to a holistic financial plan?

A: Insurance complements a holistic financial strategy by providing protection against risks that can disrupt your financial goals. It ensures that unforeseen events don’t impede your progress.


Understanding the basics of taxation is essential for effective financial management and legal compliance. By grasping the concepts covered in this beginner’s guide to taxes, you’ll be better equipped to navigate this complex subject. Remember to stay informed about tax law changes and seek professional advice when necessary. With this knowledge, you can confidently manage your taxes and make informed financial decisions.

Recent Posts

Taxes 101: What You Should Know

A comprehensive beginner’s guide to taxes, covering essential concepts, types of taxes, filing deadlines, deductions and credits, the importance of recordkeeping, and the benefits of

Read More »
Scroll to Top