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How much does an unmarried dependent student have to make before he or she has to file an income tax return?

If you are an unmarried dependent student, you must file a tax return if your earned or unearned income exceeds certain limits. Considering your income and marital status as single, your unmarried dependent student must file a return if any of the following apply:

1. Your unearned income was more than $2,600 ($4,150 if 65 or older and blind)

2. Your earned income was more than $7,850 ($9,400 if 65 or older and blind)

3. Your gross income was more than the larger of—

  • $2,600 ($4,150 if 65 or older and blind), or
  • Your earned income (up to $5,950) plus $1,900 ($3,450 if 65 or older and blind)

You may want to consider filing a return even if you do not have to in some cases, like to claim a refund of taxes paid. Consider reviewing IRS Publication 501 for more information on this topic.

 

 

Presidential Tax Rates

I was curious about how much taxes are paid by our politicians so I went to the Tax History Project website (www.taxhistory.org) and reviewed some current ones. To be able to compare I needed information for the same year for all. The most current year with complete information is 2014. Here's what I found:

2014      Total Income      Tax %

Biden            388,844        23%
Clinton     28,336,212         35%
Cruz            1,210,382         37%
Kasich          402,603         18%
Obama         495,964         19%
Rubio            335,963         23%
Sanders        205,617          13%
Trump          No computable

Information compared included Total Income (Form 1040 line 22) and Total Tax (Form 1040 Line 63). Total Tax divided by Total Income produced the Tax percentage.

How do you compare?

 

 

Tax Considerations for Same Sex Couples

The IRS has adjusted many of the regulations to reflect the condition of same-sex marriage and adjust the wording previously used to refer to spouses, wives, husband, and husband and wife. Still, people may have questions about how to proceed when tax time comes along. To help in this process, the IRS published Frequently Asked Questions pages dealing with the topic. Some of the questions addressed in those pages include:

  • When are individuals of the same sex lawfully married for federal tax purposes?
  • Can same-sex spouses file federal tax returns using a married filing jointly or married filing separately status?
  • Can a taxpayer and his or her same-sex spouse file a joint return if they were married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages but they live in a state that does not recognize their marriage?
  • Can a taxpayer’s same-sex spouse be a dependent of the taxpayer?
  • If same-sex spouses (who file using the married filing separately status) have a child, which parent may claim the child as a dependent?
  • If a taxpayer adopts the child of his or her same-sex spouse as a second parent or co-parent, may the taxpayer (“adopting parent”) claim the adoption credit for the qualifying adoption expenses he or she pays or incurs to adopt the child?

These and many more questions are addressed on the pages published by the IRS and can be accessed here.

The important message is that while special considerations may exist, a marriage is a marriage regardless of whether it is between same sex couples or opposite sex couples. Read more and be informed. It's the law.

 

Every year, I get questions about this topic. It usually goes like this: Felix, I (or my spouse) was told that we could deduct the expenses we have to repair and maintain our house. How come you are not asking me about that? We spend money in our roof, paint, salt, water, electricity, etc. You need to help us with this. Can we deduct those expenses?

I smile inside, take a deep breath, assess the person I am dealing with and elaborate my response. It typically goes like this: "It depends". And it really depends on several variables but one main question: do you use your house for a business?

The tax laws establish a "standard deduction" for everyone that considers a reasonable amount of money incurred by everyone to cover personal expenses like food, housing, clothing, etc. When your personal expenses allowed by the law are greater than the standard deduction, the law also allows you to itemize your deductions listing expenses such as property taxes, state sales and/or income taxes, mortgage interest, tax preparation fees, donations to charity/churches, etc. The itemize deductions do not include home repair or home maintenance expenses.

There is, however, a separate type of deduction when you use part of your house for a business. In that case, and only in that case, you are allowed to deduct a portion of your direct and indirect home expenses that are associated with the business. For example if you own a house that has 1,200 square feet and you use 300 of that square footage for your business (and it should be an area used just for the business), then you are using 25% of your home square footage to operate your business. In that case, you can deduct a proportionate amount of certain expenses such as electricity and heating as a deduction in your tax return. You could also deduct direct expenses incurred to maintain that 300 square feet area of your house.

If you want to learn more about this topic, call our office or visit the IRS website and search for "Pub 587 Business Use of Your Home".

Don't place too much value to what your friends say about deductions to be used in your tax return. Make sure you always consult with a tax professional who will guide you through the intricacies of the law and how to apply them to your specific case.

See you next time. Make sure you file your tax return early! And Like us on facebook!

 

Changes Coming in 2017

In 2015, President Obama signed into law HR 3236, which included a series of revised filing deadlines for numerous taxpayers. The most notable changes include the new filing deadlines for Partnerships, C Corporations and 1065 Extensions. These new deadlines affect numerous taxpayers and will have an impact on the workflow of professional tax preparers.

To review the complete list of changes, watch this short video prepared by The Tax Group:

These changes in due dates and extension duration take effect for tax years beginning after December 31, 2015, and will not be applicable to most filers until tax returns for 2016 are due in 2017.

 
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