Tax Hacks 2018: Answers to Common Tax Questions

Before the new tax code takes effect, it's time to wade through the current year's return under the old rules. Here are some of the basics to help you get going.

Most people find taxes to be confusing. That’s especially true right now, as the tax code has undergone its most extensive overhaul in three decades.

Fortunately, you’ve got time to sort it all out. The new tax law doesn’t affect your 2017 taxes. For the return you’re about to file, it’s business as usual.

So, before you begin to worry about the new tax code, it’s time to focus one last time on the old code. Doing so can help you get a much bigger refund — or trim the amount of money you must hand over to Uncle Sam. Let’s start with some of the most commonly asked questions:

When can I file a return?

If you’re eagerly anticipating a refund, or just want to get the task out of the way as soon as possible, you can file your tax return beginning on Jan. 29. The final deadline to file is Tuesday, April 17.

There are excellent reasons to file your taxes sooner rather than later, including minimizing the chances that a scammer will fraudulently claim your refund. But if you can’t make the deadline, be sure to file for an extension (here are details) to avoid penalty and interest charges.

Who can I claim as a dependent?

You can claim as a dependent pretty much anyone you support who makes little themselves, including — but not limited to — your kids and parents. In 2017, the code allowed a deduction of just over $4,000 for each dependent. The deductions reduce your taxable income.

The details are spelled out in this IRS document.

Who can skip filing a return?

If you didn’t make a lot of money, you may not have to file. Roughly speaking, if you are under 65 and make less than $10,000, you don’t need to file a return. If you’re married and your income is under $20,000, you may not need to file.

TurboTax offers a nice rundown of how that works.

Of course, you can always go to the IRS website for answers. It has everything you need to know! But many of us are overwhelmed by the details. That’s why Money Talks News has published — and will continue to roll out — tax stories that boil it down, including these on how to get expert help filing a return:

Do you have any tips for making tax time less crazy? Share them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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