People often hold on to many myths when it comes to taxes. Below is a list of those myths and how you can save money by separating fact from fiction.
Students are exempt.
A lot people think there’s an exemption for students, but students must pay taxes on all of their income, no matter how many credits they are taking or whether they are a full-time student.
There are special credits for students, though, such as, the Lifetime Learning Credit and the new American Opportunity Credit. Distributions from a 529 Plan are tax-free, but the income is taxed.
Students who during the summer check the “exempt” box on their W-4′s, but if they didn’t have any taxable income last year and don’t expect to have any this year, then they have nothing to claim.
I can’t claim my working child as a dependent.
If you are providing more than half your child’s support, they qualify as your dependent, and you can deduct any costs you paid for that child. Support is what’s spent, not what’s earned.
You can also qualify for an exemption if your child doesn’t earn more than the value of the exemption.
A child qualifies as a full-time student if he or she is a full-time student for at least five months during the tax year.
I can sell my house tax-free because I’m over age 55
The old law was that if you were older than 55, you could eliminate as much as $125,000 in gains from taxes, but you could only do that once. The new rules are even better.
Under the current law, age doesn’t matter. If you sold property that was your principal residence for at least two out of the last five years, you can exclude as much as $250,000 in gains, and $500,000 on a joint return. You can take the gain exclusion every two years if you qualify.
I can deduct my sales taxes too
If you file a Form 1040 and itemize your deductions on Schedule A, you can claim either state and local income taxes OR state and local sales taxes, but you cannot claim both. If you decide to claim your sales taxes, you have to make sure that you save your sales receipts throughout the year so that you can add up the total amount of sales taxes you paid.
If you were not very good about saving all of your receipts, you can choose to claim your state and local sales taxes instead. One other option would be to fill out the worksheet and use the general sales tax tables found in the Instructions for Schedule A (Form 1040), but you can also use the IRS Sales Tax Deduction Calculator.
I have to file a joint return if I’m married
If you’re married, you can always file married filing separately. You will pay more in taxes by doing so, but in some situations, this can be to your advantage.
If you’re married, you can’t file as single or head of household. However, if you’re separated and you have a child there are provisions that will let you file as head of household. Speak with a tax professional to get the most accurate information.
The tax codes are complicated and can change regularly. If you aren’t sure of the new rules, again, seek the advice of a tax professional.
Daniel Stoica Accounting Professional