Tax season begins as IRS begins to accept returns

by MPA20 Jan 2016
By Carole Feldman

WASHINGTON _ What's new when you file your taxes this year? Taxpayers without health insurance will face larger penalties, and those insured by their employers will get a new tax form. There also have been adjustments for inflation, and Congress extended expiring tax breaks, some permanently.

"The good news is that we finally have some certainty,'' said Kathy Pickering, executive director of the Tax Institute at H&R Block.

The arrival of the new year means it's time to start thinking about gathering the documents needed to file taxes. They include W-2 forms reporting wages or salaries, which employers will send out this month. You'll also need Form 1099 reporting interest and dividend income, Form 1098 showing interest paid on a home mortgage, and Form 1095-A if you bought coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Taxe season opens Jan. 19, when the Internal Revenue Service begins accepting returns.

If you like to procrastinate, you'll have four extra days _ counting Feb. 29 because this is a leap year _ to file without needing an extension. The deadline is April 18 because of the celebration of Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia. If you live in Massachusetts or Maine, Patriots Day means you'll have still another day to file.
Taxpayers will not see many significant changes when they start filling out their forms, said Greg Rosica, tax partner at Ernst & Young LLP.

But do take into account any changes in your personal life, he urged. Did you get married, have a child or begin caring for an elderly relative, for example?
"As things change in your personal life, so do taxes change,'' he said.

Taxe brackets, the value of each exemption and the standard deduction have been adjusted for inflation. So have the levels at which certain tax credits and deductions begin to phase out.

Fewer people are itemizing because the standard deduction continues to creep upward, said Barbara Weltman, a consultant and author of books on taxes, law and finance.

For 2015, the standard deduction is $6,300 for single filers, $12,600 for married couples filing jointly and $9,250 for heads of household.

Each personal exemption is worth $4,000, up from $3,950 in 2014, according to the IRS.

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