Changes to know before filing

Most tax law changes don't affect the average taxpayer. That's fortunate news, considering the U.S. averaged at least one tax law change per day every day between 2000 and 2012.

Some tax changes generally happen every year, such as inflation adjustments to standard deduction and exemption amounts. Others happen every few years, like expiration or renewal of credits and deductions, new taxes and tax increases.

What can you do to ensure you maximize the benefit or minimize the negative impact of tax law changes each year? It's quite simple, says TaxAct spokesperson Jessi Dolmage.

"Do a dry run of your federal income tax return each fall," Dolmage recommends. "DIY tax programs are updated with the latest tax laws every fall so you can get an estimate of your refund or liability as it currently stands. The Q&A also reviews credits and deductions you can still take advantage of in the next few months."

You can do tax planning and calculate your 2014 taxes with a DIY tax return preparation solution (most are free to try) or with a tax calculator like TaxAct's at www.TaxAct.com/tax-calculator.

Whether you start your taxes early or wait until the April 15, 2015, deadline, here's a list of key changes that could impact your 2014 tax return:

  • Personal and dependent exemptions increase to $3,950 per person.
  • The 2014 standard deduction is $6,200 for a single taxpayer and $9,100 for a head of household. The standard deduction for married couples filing jointly also increased to $12,400.
  • Several benefits have expired, although Congress may extend them for 2014 returns. Those include the tuition and fees deduction, educator expense deduction, deduction for mortgage insurance premiums, cancellation of some mortgage debt, nonbusiness energy property credit, and state and local sales tax deduction.
  • Did you purchase health insurance from the federal or a state-sponsored marketplace in 2014? If so, your marketplace will send Form 1095-A by Jan. 31. Simply enter the form information when your tax program asks for it.

If you qualified for the premium tax credit toward marketplace insurance, the information you need to report on your return will also be on Form 1095-A. Your credit amount, which was based on your best estimate of your household income at the time you applied for insurance, will be reconciled with your actual income reported on your tax return. If your income or household size changed since applying for insurance, so can your credit amount. You may receive a larger refund if your income was less than estimated, or you may have to pay some of the credit back if your income was more than estimated.

  • If you didn't have minimum essential health insurance for three or more months in 2014 and don't qualify for an exemption, you may pay a shared responsibility payment. The penalty is the higher of 1 percent of your 2014 income or $95 per adult and $47.50 per uninsured dependent under 18, up to $285 per family. Your tax program will ask simple questions to calculate your payment.

If you qualify for an exemption, keep in mind some exemptions require you to submit an application and supporting documentation before filing your tax return. Only paper applications are being accepted by marketplaces, so processing can take weeks. Once accepted, your marketplace will issue an exemption certificate number (ECN) that you report on your tax return in order to avoid the penalty.

Learn about more tax law changes at www.irs.gov and www.TaxAct.com/taxinfo. Visit healthcare.gov and healthcareact.com for premium credit and exemption information.

February 2018
S M T W T F S
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28

Upcoming Tax Dates

February 10 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2017. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Certain small employers
File Form 944 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2017. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Farm employers
File Form 943 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2017. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Federal unemployment tax
File Form 940 for 2017. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during January, report them to your employer Details

February 15 — All businesses
Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2017 Details

February 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in January.

February 15 — All employers
Begin withholding income tax from the pay of any employee who claimed exemption from withholding in 2017, but did not give you Form W4 to continue the exemption this year.

February 15 — Individuals
If you claimed exemption from income tax withholding last year on the Form W-4, you must file a new Form W-04 by this date to continue your exemption for another year Details

February 19 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Washington's Birthday) Details

February 28 — All businesses
File information returns (for example, Forms 1099) for certain payments you made during 2017.

February 28 — Payers of gambling winnings.
File Form 1096 along with Copy A of all the Forms W2G you issued for 2017. If you file Forms W2G electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to 03-31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains 01-31.

February 28 — All employers
File Form W3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, along with Copy A of all the Forms W2 you issued for 2017. If you file Forms W2 electronically, your due date for filing them with the SSA will be extended to 03-31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains 01-31.

February 28 — Large food and beverage establishment employers
File Form 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. Use Form 8027T, Transmittal of Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, to summarize and transmit Forms 8027 if you have more than one establishment. If you file Forms 8027 electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to 03-31.

View More Tax Dates