By Marguerite Cleveland
I love tax time. We always have enough withheld so I know we will get a refund. There is something so satisfying about answering the questions on my e-filing software and seeing my refund tick upwards. Filing your own taxes is surprisingly easy especially with software offered by H & R Block and Turbo Tax. Simply answer a series of questions based on your situation and the software fills out all the required tax forms and you submit everything online. Even having my own freelance business and rental property, the software can handle it.
This is the first year that the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will affect your taxes. There are lots of changes but the most beneficial to military families is the increase to the Child Tax Credit from $1000 to $2000 for children younger than 17. With the married filing jointly modified adjusted gross income cap at $400,000 just about every military family will benefit. Even if you don’t owe any tax you will still receive up to $1400 for each qualifying child. Also new this year parents supporting children 17 and over will receive a $500 credit. For more information visit www.irs.gov and look for Publication 972 Child Tax Credit.
If you’re looking for the most affordable option for filing your taxes, most military installations offer a tax center which provides free tax services to service members, their families and retirees. Typically they are open from January through April. You can have someone help you with your taxes or use the kiosks with tax software provided by H & R Block if you prefer to do your own. Filing is free.
Another option is www.militaryonesource.com. Their website offers free tax preparation and e-filing software. In addition there are tax consultants that have knowledge of the unique tax circumstances military members face such as PCS moves and tax free income during deployments. There are plenty of helpful articles and other online resources.
If you really find taxes difficult and are not close to a military base, your most expensive option will be to visit the many commercial companies like Jackson Hewitt, H & R Block, and Liberty Tax Service. If you have a complex tax situation such as a divorce or inheritance or selling rental property you may wish to hire an accountant who will have more knowledge on complex tax situations.
The sooner you complete your tax return the sooner your refund will be on the way. To prepare your taxes get all your documents organized to make filing easier. Have all your W-2s, banking tax forms and any self-employment documentation such as 1099s available. Whichever method you choose, being organized will make everything run smoother.
How are you completing your taxes this year? Any helpful tips?
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.WanderWordsWine.com