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Get a head start on your taxes...Schedule A

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Get a head start on your taxes...Schedule A

 
Old 01-06-19, 03:47 PM
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mmarshall
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Default Get a head start on your taxes...Schedule A

Doing the Federal, state, and, in some cases, local tax forms each year can be lengthy and time-consuming....and, for some things, such as wages/annuities, bank-interest, securities information, etc....you will simply have to wait for official statements (sometimes they are available on-line). But there is one thing you can often do in early January, really any time after December 31. Although you will need good records of your expenses, like I keep, for those of you who itemize (or plan to itemize) your deductions, you can sit down, beforehand, any time you want (or have the free time), and figure out the total of a lot of the things you are going to deduct on Schedule A. These would include property taxes, real estate taxes, state/local taxes, church/charity contributions, donations to a thrift shop of items not in cash, etc.... This is why it is important to keep records of what you donate or pay, and if you do, it will make it a lot easier. Charities, for example, by law, will send you a statement in January or February for the total of the yearly tax-deductible offerings you gave them, but, even while you are waiting for those, you can go through your own checkbooks or credit-card statements, add up the totals, and verify the totals yourself, before the organizations even send the statements....that way, you'll also be able to resolve any addition/math errors or omissions that the senders might make (yes, I've seen it happen). You can list the totals for Charity A, Charity B, Charity C, for example, on different lines on your own sheet of paper, and the totals for real estate tax, local taxes, etc....on other lines. Then, when it is time to actually do your taxes, you will at least have some of the tedious collection and math work behind you, and just need to copy down a few figures. New tax laws this year, of course, limit some of what was previously allowed for deduction, but it still doesn't change the fact that you can get some of the figures done before you actually get the forms ready.

Some charities, I've noticed, make it even easier, because they send you a tax-donation/Thank-You statement with every contribution, so you will also have that, along with your checkbook record or credit-card statement.

Here is the new official 2018 Schedule A form and the instructions for it, from IRS.

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-prior/f1040sa--2018.pdf

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-prior/i1040sca--2018.pdf

One question, of course, with the government shutdown, is how much of IRS will actually be up and running, how much assistance they will be able to give taxpayers, and how long it will take....that, of course, only time will tell.

Last edited by mmarshall; 01-06-19 at 04:01 PM.
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Old 01-07-19, 01:10 PM
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Another thing to keep in mind is that the standard deduction was practically doubled. For Single filers it's $12,000 and for Married Filing Jointly it's $24,000. Combined with the limitation on deduction state and local taxes, this will greatly reduce the number of people who itemize their deductions.
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Old 01-07-19, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by BrettJacks View Post
Another thing to keep in mind is that the standard deduction was practically doubled. For Single filers it's $12,000 and for Married Filing Jointly it's $24,000. Combined with the limitation on deduction state and local taxes, this will greatly reduce the number of people who itemize their deductions.

And, combined with the fact that the (former) $4000+ Personal Exemption that all taxpayers had has been eliminated, that part will certainly not help. That used to take an additional $4000 off of your taxable income.....it will no longer be there.
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Old 01-08-19, 06:26 AM
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Up through last year, about a third of filers itemized, while this year less than 10% are expected to. So the Schedule A really isn't all that important for most people. I've been itemizing for almost 20 years, to the tune of $35k last year, but will be taking the standard deduction this year (and for the forseeable future) thanks to the SALT cap.
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Old 01-08-19, 07:08 PM
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The basic 1040 is going to be much different this year, too. The primary 1040 is just going to be wages/annuities and a couple of other things....with stuff like taxable refunds, capital-gains, alimony, interest, etc.....on a separate Schedule 1 through Schedule 5, depending on the specifics. Those things were formerly on the 1040....not any more.
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Old 01-08-19, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by geko29 View Post
Up through last year, about a third of filers itemized, while this year less than 10% are expected to. So the Schedule A really isn't all that important for most people. I've been itemizing for almost 20 years, to the tune of $35k last year, but will be taking the standard deduction this year (and for the forseeable future) thanks to the SALT cap.
One reason that more people didn't itemize in the past is that some of them simply weren't aware that they could itemize so many things....church offerings, charity contributions, mortgage-interest, real-estate tax, property tax, state/local income tax, etc.....Sure, the instructions were right there, staring them in the face, but, the lure of making everything as simple as possible still leads a lot of people to do the standard when they could be saving money by itemizing. I myself come out way ahead by itemizing, since I have a lot of deductions even though my house is paid off and there is no mortgage interest. I'll still come out ahead doing that under the new law, just not by as much.

If you are 65 or older, though, you get an extra allowance for the standard deduction that you don't get when you itemize, so that might be an incentive this year for older people to simply take the standard.
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Old 04-11-19, 08:35 PM
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I don't want to sound like a nanny, but, don't forget, folks....Monday, April 15th is the U.S. Federal tax deadline, though the state deadlines can vary....in Virginia, it is May 1.
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