IMPERIAL VALLEY — Even though taxes are not due until April 15, the end of each year marks the beginning of tax season.
Ophelia Jones, a certified
public accountant at MBP and Associates in Brawley, offered a refresher on
steps to prepare for that date looming in the not too distant future.
“Taxes in the last year
changed a lot and it took a lot of people by surprise, especially the middle
income,” she explained. “There were a lot of credits they weren’t allowed to
take in, but I encourage people to save their receipts and there might be
credits they can qualify for this year but didn’t know about.”
There were a few big recent
changes to tax laws that might have an impact:
The individual mandate penalty for those
who did not have health insurance has been removed. For those who did not have
health insurance in 2019, there will not be a penalty.
Those paying alimony will longer receive a
deduction. Those receiving alimony will not be taxed.
There will be a higher medical-expense
deduction threshold. The percentage deductible for medical expenses rose from
7.5 percent to 10 percent of adjusted gross income.
A higher standard deduction. For 2019
taxes, married people filing jointly have a deduction of $24,400. Those married
filing separate or single have a deduction of $12,500, and for a head of
household there is a deduction of $18,350.
Tax brackets were increased with
inflation. The minimum tax bracket for this year is $9,700. The highest tax
bracket is for those exceeding $510,300 in income.
For those who submit their taxes without the help of a CPA or tax consultant, the Internal Revenue Service’s website released a new tax calculator that was designed to be user friendly. For more information on filing taxes visit irs.gov.
Many CPAs offer free
estimates for their services. Jones shared some advice on how to choose the
most adept tax consultant.
“Make sure you to see
you’re your accountant’s credentials. I have seen and repaired many taxes for
many clients that were originally prepared and submitted by consultants and marked
as self-prepared. At the end of the day, taxes are your individual
responsibility,” she said.
Many clients walk into
Jones’ office and ask for advice about putting money into retirement at the end
of the year. She suggests checking with a tax consultant for the benefits of last-minute
changes as everyone’s circumstances are unique.
It is common for people
to procrastinate on their taxes but Jones said preparation is vital.
“Try to find as many
receipts as you can to get the write offs you deserve,” she said.