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TAX SEASON HAS BEGUN

BY ORA NELSON

January of 2020 not only welcomed the New Year, but also some changes to federal tax laws.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has revised the Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR based off of feedback from taxpayers and tax professionals. The previous six additional schedules have been reduced down to three for the 2019 filing season.

Additionally, the employee contribution limit has been increased for the 401 (k) and 403(b) plans. If a person’s medical and dental expenses are more than 7.5% of their adjusted gross income, they will be able to itemize your deductions for the taxable year.

“Other than the normal increase in standard deduction, the big thing is there’s no penalty this year for insurance,” said Denise McKinnoen, a tax return preparer at Jackson Hewitt’s Wal-Mart location.

“If they have insurance through the Marketplace — commonly known as ObamaCare — they do have to show verification in order to have their taxes done,” warns McKinnoen. “If they do have insurance through a private company that they’ve contacted themselves, or through their jobs, they do not.”

Employers have until Jan. 31 to send employees their W-2s and Form 1099s. The IRS started accepting tax returns on Jan. 27 with the deadline set at April 15, unless a person files for an extension to Oct. 15, 2020.

McKinnoen advises people to file their returns early. “If you wait until the last minute, you’ll have a shorter time to get your money together if you end up owing income taxes.”

Tax return preparers encourage people to get all of their information together before going to file their tax returns.

“Having all the paperwork here will make it much smoother and easier for everyone,” said McKinnoen. “The biggest thing is to make sure to have your W-2, valid identification, Social Security card, and any information that you have for deductions. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to do a tax return of everything is here.”

Greg White with White and McClung said this year has been steady as last year, so far.

“We started accepting e-filing Jan. 27,” White said. “As of right now we are logging a little bit ahead of last year, but we seem to be on pace.”

With the changing of federal tax laws last year, White believes people will not be as surprised at their tax returns this year as they were last year.

“I think now that they have seen what it was last year, hopefully they won’t be as surprised,” White said. “I don’t think there will be much of a change this year though.”

While most people can e-file, if they want to do it the old fashion way, White said there is a form that needs to be filled out.

“You can opt out of e-filing if you would like,” White said. “The IRA is trying to shift everything to e-filing now, but if you do want to file a paper return, make sure that you fill out the form to opt out of e-filing.”

This season is White’s “busy” season and he said it allows him to see his patients more.

“I think I enjoy tax season because it allows us to see our clients that we don’t usually see all year,” White said. “Since it is our busy season, we use it to determine our employees pay and they work really hard to make sure that every client is taken care of.”