The holidays are well behind us, and the New Year is in full swing, so now is the time to focus on getting your taxes done. But you probably need some information to help you get started, including the answer to “What do I need to file taxes?” Below are the five top tax questions asked along with quick, helpful answers.
“Who qualify as dependents?”
Let’s say your retired father-in-law moved in with you this past year and your unemployed adult daughter lives at home while attending a local college. If you file as head of household, can you claim them as dependents? Probably, yes. But to be sure, you should check with a tax advisor to see who qualifies as a dependent because there are many variables, including your relationship to the dependent, their gross income for the year, the amount of support provided, and their age. For a more complete list of eligible dependents, visit the Liberty Tax® website.
“What is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and how do I claim it?”
First established in 1975, the EITC is a tax credit for low- to moderate-income families to help them keep more of the money from their paychecks. Since it’s a refundable credit, the EITC can reduce or eliminate tax or even provide a refund, even if there was tax withholding. The maximum adjusted gross income limits for eligibility for 2017 are $48,340 ($53,930 if married filing jointly) for a family with three or more qualifying children. The maximum credit available for this same family is $6,318. Our EITC Tax Guide offers more complete information.
“Does health care affect my taxes?”
Definitely. Even though the individual mandate for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was removed in the new tax reform law, it doesn’t take effect until tax year 2019. So until then, every American or legal resident must have health insurance. If you or your dependents do not have insurance, you could have to pay a penalty. But no matter what, you still need to submit insurance information with your tax return.
“What do I need to file taxes?”
The main items are listed below, but a more complete tax preparation checklist is available on our website.
- W-2 Form. If you worked for an employer who reported your annual wages to the IRS, your W-2 is required to be mailed out to you (postmarked) by January 31.
- 1099 Form. If you worked as an independent contractor and earned at least $600 in the tax year from a business, you should receive a 1099. You’ll also get this form if you received dividends or other investment income, took a distribution from your 401K plan, or have a retirement pension.
- Receipts. For every charitable contribution you made, be sure to have proof such as a cancelled check; statements from your church, bank, or credit cards; or acknowledgment letters from the charitable organizations that received your money or goods. The documentation should have your name, dates, and amounts listed.
- 1095 A, B, or C Form. These forms are proof of health insurance coverage. If you applied for a health care exemption in the Marketplace, an exemption certificate number (ECN) will be required.
- 1098 Form. If you’re a homeowner, you’ll get a 1098 showing how much mortgage interest you paid, which is tax deductible.
“I didn’t make much last year; do I need to file a tax return?”
If your income is above a certain level, the IRS requires you to file a federal income tax return. The minimum level depends on your filing status, age, and income. There are also other variables, including if you’re claimed as a dependent by someone else. This chart should be helpful: