14 THE QUEENS COURIER • FEBRUARY 1, 2018 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Common tax mistakes to avoid in 2018
Life changes - getting married, having a
baby, buying or selling a home, sending a
child off to college or retiring - oft en come
with changes to your tax situation.
Overlooking these changes when fi ling
your taxes can lead taxpayers to make mistakes
that leave money on the table, potentially
impacting their refund at a time when
the average refund is about $2,800. Here is
a list of common tax mistakes to avoid in
the 2018 fi ling season to help ensure you
don’t miss any deductions or credits that
Using the correct fi ling status
One of the most common mistakes taxpayers
make is selecting the wrong fi ling
status. A taxpayer’s fi ling status can aff ect
which credits and deductions they’re eligible
for, the value of their standard deduction
and their tax bracket.
One situation that can make choosing
a fi ling status diffi cult is when more than
one fi ling status seems to fi t. For example,
if a taxpayer with children is in the process
of getting a divorce, they may not be sure
if they should fi le as married fi ling jointly
or married fi ling separately or, in some
instances, whether they qualify to fi le as
head of household. In this case, the taxpayers
should run the numbers to see if fi ling
jointly or separately is more to their advantage
rather than guessing.
In addition, common clerical errors such
as mixing up names, forgetting to include
information reported on your W-2, 1099 or
other forms, or even making mathematical
errors can also aff ect your tax benefi ts.
credits and deductions
Most taxpayers fi le their taxes using the
standard deduction, but you may be eligible
for a variety of itemized deductions that
could possibly save you more. Also, you
may be eligible for “above-the-line” deductions
and tax credits, none of which require
you to itemize. And it’s important to note
that the newly passed tax reform generally
does not impact these credits or deductions
until you fi le your 2018 tax return in 2019.
Earned Income Tax Credit
for lower-income workers
Twenty percent of eligible taxpayers,
particularly lower-income workers, do
not claim the Earned Income Tax Credit
(EITC). Depending on their income and the
number of children they have, these taxpayers
may be eligible for an EITC of $503 to
$6,242. Since eligibility can fl uctuate based
on fi nancial, marital and parental status,
taxpayers can be ineligible one year and eligible
Under the PATH Act, taxpayers who
claim the EITC and who fi le early will have
their refunds delayed until mid-February.
Despite the delay, taxpayers should fi le as
they normally would to get their refund as
soon as possible.
Depending on your academic program,
what year the student is in, income and
other restrictions, there are federal tax credits
that can help off set the costs of higher
education for yourself or your dependents.
To qualify, you must pay for post-secondary
tuition and fees for yourself, your
spouse or your dependent. Depending on
the criteria, a student may use the American
Opportunity Credit of up to $2,500 or the
Lifetime Learning Credit of up to $2,000.
Itemizing deductions: Itemizing can save
taxpayers hundreds of dollars, as only one
third of taxpayers itemize but millions more
should - especially homeowners. Owning
a home is oft en the key that unlocks itemization,
but some taxpayers with high state
taxes and charitable contributions may also
be able to itemize.
Itemizing enables eligible taxpayers to
take deductions such as charitable donations;
medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent
of adjusted gross income; personal
property taxes; state income or sales taxes;
casualty losses such as a fi re, hurricane
or earthquake; and mortgage interest payments.
Not fi ling
On average, the IRS announces annually
that approximately $1 billion goes
unclaimed in federal tax refunds. Taxpayers
can claim a refund for up to three years aft er
the fi ling deadline. So, in addition to fi ling
your 2017 return, keep in mind to fi le
your 2015 return by April 17, 2018. If not,
you will lose your 2015 refund. Th ere is
no late-fi ling penalty if a taxpayer is due a
refund. Also, even if you are not required to
fi le a return, you may be entitled to a refund.
Taxpayers who want to ensure they get the
maximum refund without a delay should
refund-advance/ to see if you are eligible
for a Refund Advance, or you can make an
appointment with a tax professional.
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