Nothing says the holiday season like getting your tax returns ready.
Well, maybe for some of us, anyway.
The tax reform law passed last year impacts taxes being filed for 2018. Raphael Tulino is a tax expert with the IRS and he said the changes will impact just about everyone.
“I think a lot of us are going to see something different in terms of a refund amount than we’ve seen in previous years either smaller or larger or perhaps having a balance due,” he said.
Tulino said the personal exemption is gone, the standard deduction has doubled, the child tax credit has doubled and the income threshold for the credit has been raised and there is a special dependent deduction in lieu of the personal exemption.
But before you start worrying about remembering all the changes, Tulino said that most people efile now and the software used to file electronically has been updated to reflect the changes in the tax law.
Tulino also reminded people that the IRS does not knock on doors and does not call people demanding payment. It also doesn't email people. He said those are scams and should be ignored.
Instead, the IRS contacts people by mail if there is a problem and he said the IRS will work with you because most mistakes are just that - mistakes.
Gather your records: Round up any documents you will need when filing your taxes, including receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support income or deductions you will be claiming on your tax return. Store them in a safe place.
Report all your income: You will need all your Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statements, and 1099 income statements to report your income when you file your tax return. To ensure you don’t misplace them, add them to your other records.
Get answers to questions: Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool available on the IRS website to find answers to your questions about tax credits and deductions.
Use Free File: There is at least one option available for everyone to prepare and e-file a tax return at no cost. Let IRS Free File do the work for you with brand-name tax software or online fillable forms. It's available exclusively at IRS.gov. If your income was $57,000 or less, you qualify to use free tax software. If your income was higher, or you are comfortable preparing your own tax return, there's Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. Visit IRS.gov/freefile to review your options.
Try IRS e-file: IRS e-file is the best way to file an accurate tax return. It’s safe, easy and the way most taxpayers file their return. Last year, more than 80 percent of taxpayers used IRS e-file. Many tax preparers are now required to use e-file. If you owe taxes, you have the option to file early and pay by April 15.
Weigh your filing options: You have several options for filing your tax return. You can prepare it yourself or go to a tax preparer. You may be eligible for free, face-to-face help at a volunteer site. Weigh your options and choose the one that works best for you.
Use direct deposit: Combining e-file with direct deposit is the fastest and safest way for you to get your refund.
Visit the IRS website: The IRS website at IRS.gov is a great place to find everything you need to file your tax return. This includes many online tools, filing tips, answers to frequently asked questions, the latest tax law changes, forms and publications.
Remember number 17: Check out Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, on the IRS website. It’s a complete tax resource that includes information such as whether you need to file or how to choose your filing status.
Review your return: Don’t rush. We all make mistakes when we rush. Mistakes slow down the processing of your return. Be sure to double check all Social Security numbers and math calculations on your return as these are the most common errors. If you run into a problem, remember the IRS is here to help. Start with IRS.gov.
Raphael Tulino, tax expert, IRS
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