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Tax season confusion: What you need to know before you file this year

Samantha Bomkamp, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Home and Consumer News

WATCH OUT FOR 'SPEEDY' REFUNDS AND OTHER SCAMS.

Because of the slowdown in refund distributions this year, the Center for Economic Progress expects there may be more demand for short-term refund anticipation loans.

But Marzahl calls those loans "fairly predatory and high cost," and recommends taxpayers avoid them. Also, if an outside company claims it can get your refund faster, it's likely a scam, he said.

And don't trust anyone who calls claiming to be with the IRS; the federal government doesn't reach out to taxpayers by phone. The only way the IRS will reach out is through traditional mail, Marzahl said, so don't fall for someone claiming to be legitimate who uses phone or email to reach you.

SOME MANDATES AND CREDITS ARE UNCHANGED FOR NOW.

The tax reform law also repealed the Affordable Care Act mandate that required all Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty. But it didn't go away immediately. If you didn't have health insurance last year, and you don't claim a waiver or exemption, you'll still need to pay a penalty. The individual mandate doesn't get phased out until Dec. 31 2018, so the same rules will be in place when you file next year too.

It's a similar situation for the child tax credit. New rules about requiring Social Security numbers do not take effect on 2017 returns.

 

CHANGES MAY BE TEMPORARY.

Many of the benefits for individual taxpayers under the new law have an expiration date. Unless Congress acts to extend them, some of the tax cuts for individuals will expire in 2026.

"Everybody's scrambling to understand, and then in eight years we'll try to remember what we did before," Pravia said.

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