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A New Year Means a New Tax Season
Tax Season | File Photo

A New Year Means a New Tax Season

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.

The option to open an IRA account and get credit will be available until April 15.

“Many of my clients opt to invest in IRAs after the end of the year to get a bigger write off,” Jones added.

Ophelia Jones, CPA, may be contacted on Facebook or text at (760) 580-8425.

This story is featured in the Jan 02, 2020 e-Edition.

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