The tax season is officially started as of February 1st for 2019 taxes. By January 31st, you should have online access to your W-2 forms to file your taxes. Your completed W-2 details enough information for you to file your taxes. If it isn’t delivered up until this point, reach out to your employer or the payroll department of the company. They should’ve sorted it out before January 31st or file a Form 4852-the substitute for Forms W-2.
If you’re a freelancer or a contractor or did it at some point, you should receive a 1099-MISC form that you can use to report your self-employment income.
Same as any other year, the deadline for filing your tax return is April 15. The deadline for filing taxes is also the due date for filing for a tax extension which gives you an extra of 6 months to file your taxes.
Filing for a Tax Extension
Make sure to file an extension before April 15 if you still need time to file your tax return. Even if you file for a tax extension though, you must pay your taxes. See how much tax you withheld this year and pay the IRS the amount you think you owe.
Paying the IRS a little bit more than your estimate is the best as you will get the exceeding amount in your tax refund. If you underpay though, you may be subjected to late fees or interest. Also, those who are living abroad or serving in the military overseas have a two-month automatic extension. But this doesn’t mean that you should file your tax return after April 15.
Even though your extension is automatic, you must pay Uncle Sam by April 15 so take it as your due date if you can.
Taxpayers who are filing for an extension can use the IRS Direct Pay to complete their extension. Doing it so will complete your tax extension automatically so you won’t have to file for a Form 4868 to request an extension.
2020 Tax Changes
While some of the figures you may see in your tax return have changed, a good portion of everything remains the same. Before we list the key changes for the 2020 tax season, here are the main things that continue to be the same in 2020 taxes as well.
Your state income taxes, local income taxes, sales and property taxes are all tax-deductible. If you itemize deductions, you can claim the total amount of “SALT” taxes paid up to $10,000 on your federal income tax return.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018 lowered the maximum mortgage principal to $750,000. However, you can still qualify for the mortgage deduction if it doesn’t exceed $1 million for existing mortgages before 2018. If your mortgage existed before 2018 and under $1 million, you can still claim this deduction. The maximum mortgage principal remains the same as $750,000 for mortgages after 2018.
Child Tax Credit (CTC)
For each qualifying child under 17, you can claim Child Tax Credit. The credit amount is $2,000 and the income limits are $400,000 for joint filers and $200,000 separate filers or single filers.
Taxpayers can deduct up to 60% of their income in qualified charitable donations. Even if you claim the standard deduction, you can claim this deduction under “above-the-line” deductions.
Standard Deduction and Tax Brackets
Undoubtedly, the ground basis of the U.S. tax code starts with the tax brackets and the standard deduction. Most notably, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 nearly doubled the standard deduction but eliminated the personal exemptions. Ever since then, the standard deduction is increased by about $200 every year.
In 2020, we expect more taxpayers to claim the standard deduction now that the deduction amount is increased by $200 to $350.
Standard Deduction Amounts
|Filing Status||$ Amount|
|Married Filing Separately||$12,400|
|Married Filing Jointly||$24,800|
|Head of Household||$18,650|
More information about standard deduction can be found here.
If we were to calculate the percentage of the increase in the standard deduction, it would be about 1.6%. The same increase applies to the tax brackets as well. In all brackets, the increase is close to 1.6%. What this tells us is that you’ll pay pretty much the same amount of taxes if your income and deductions is the same as last year.
New Brackets for 2020
|Tax Rate||Single Tax||Married Filing Jointly/Qualifying Widow(er)||Head of Household|
|10%||$0 – $9,700||$0 – $19,400||$0 – $13,850|
|12%||$9,701 – $39,475||$19,401 – $78,950||$13,851 – $52,850|
|22%||$39,476 – $84,200||$78,951 – $168,400||$52,851 – $84,200|
|24%||$84,201 – $160,725||$168,401 – $321,450||$84,201 – $160,700|
|32%||$160,726 – $204,100||$321,451 – $408,200||$160,701 – $204,100|
|35%||$204,101 – $510,300||$408,201 – $612,350||$204,101 – $510,300|
|37%||$510,300 and more||$612,350 and more||$510,300 and more|
Therefore, you may not see much of a difference in your tax bill in 2020.
The marginal rates, on the other hand, hasn’t been changed. The marginal rates on the tax brackets are the following; 10 percent, 12 percent, 22 percent, 24 percent, 32 percent, 35 percent, and 37 percent.
More information about tax brackets can be found here.
For the most part, the itemized deductions are the same in 2020 but the biggest change to itemized deductions is the threshold for the medical expenses.
Medical Expenses Deduction
While for 2017 and 2018 taxes you could deduct medical expenses above 7.5% of your AGI, it was only temporary. Beginning in 2019, the threshold is increased to 10%. So you’ll only be able to deduct the medical expenses that exceed 10% of your AGI in 2020.
Traditional IRA Contributions Deduction
The contributions to the traditional IRA are tax-deductible. Given that the contribution limit is $6,000 and $7,000 for individuals over 50 and there is no deduction limit, it is a great way to save money completely tax-free. That’s of course if you qualify for contribution to an Individual Retirement Account though. As long as your income isn’t above $137,000 if you’re a single filer or $203,000 if you’re filing jointly.
Flexible Spending Account and Health Savings Account Contributions Deduction
Although Health Savings Accounts or HSA for short provide more benefits than the two, the contributions to both are tax-deductible. The HSA contribution limit for single coverage for the 2019 tax year is $3,500 and the contribution limit for family coverage is $7,000. So these amounts are all tax-deductible.
On top of this, withdrawn amounts to pay your qualified medical expenses are also tax-free which creates a double tax benefit.