Tax day, which is April 17th in 2018, is approaching and it is time to begin crossing T's and dotting I's in preparation for paying taxes. As tax time draws near, you want to make sure you file all the proper forms and take all deductions you're entitled to.
Following are some things to keep in mind as you prepare your tax form.
- New Tax Law: Most of the changes to the tax code in the 2017 Tax Code and Job Act don't take affect until you file your 2018 taxes, including changes to the tax brackets, an increase of the standard deduction, and a cap on the state and local tax deduction. For more informaiton about the new law, click here.
- Gifts. Did you give away any money this year? The gift tax can be very confusing. If you gave away more than $14,000 in 2017, you will have to file a Form 709, the gift tax return. This does not necessarily mean you will owe taxes on the money, however. Click here for more information.
- Medical Expenses. Many types of medical expenses are tax deductible, from hospital stays to hearing aids. To claim the deduction, your medical expenses have to be more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. (Beginning in 2019, this threshold will be 10 percent.) This includes all out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions (including deductibles and co-pays) and Medicare Part B and Part C and Part D premiums. (Medicare Part B premiums are usually deducted out of your Social Security benefits, so be sure to check your 1099 for the amount.) You can only deduct medical expenses you paid during the year, regardless of when the services were provided, and medical expenses are not deductible if they are reimbursable by insurance. Click here for more information.
- Parental Deduction. If you are caring for your mother or father, you may be able to claim your parent as a dependent on your income taxes. This would allow you to get an exemption $4,050 (in 2017) for him or her. The new tax law eliminates personal and dependent exemptions, so you will not be able to claim a parent as a dependent starting in the 2018 tax year. Instead, you may be able to claim a $500 tax credit for any non-child depedents. Click here for more information on claiming a parent as a dependent.
- Long-Term Care Insurance Premiums. Premiums for "qualified" long-term care policies are treated as an unreimbursed medical expense. Long-term care insurance premiums are deductible for the taxpayer, his or her spouse and other dependents. Click here for more information.
- Social Security Benefits. Although Social Security benefits are generally not taxable, people with substantial income in addition to their Social Security may pay taxes on their benefits. If you file a federal tax return as an individual and your "combined income," including one half of your Social Security benefits and nontaxable interest income is between $25,000 and $34,000, 50 percent of your Social Security benefits will be considered taxable. If your combined income is above $34,000, 85 percent of your Social Security benefits is subject to income tax. Click here for more information.
- Home Sale Exclusion. Married couples can exclude from income up to $500,000 in profit on the sale of a home ($250,000 for single individuals). If a surviving spouse sells the home, he or she can still claim the exclusion as long as the house was sold no more than two years after the spouse's death. Click here for more information.
- Elderly or Disabled Tax Credit. Some low-income elderly or disabled individuals are entitled to a special tax credit. To be eligible, you must meet income limits. For more information, click here.
- Tax Refunds. Getting a federal tax refund should not affect your Medicaid or Social Security benefits. For a year after recieving a tax refund from the federal government, the refund will not be considered income or resources for SSI or Medicaid purposes. You can also transfer the refund within a year without incurring a penalty. For more information, click here.