What You Should Know Before Filing Your Taxes: A Singles Guide
The tax deadline for Americans is slowly creeping up this April 18th of 2017. Have you ever wondered how you can file your taxes to receive benefits as a single person and as the head of your household? Have you also thought about what types of penalties you are receiving by filing as a single person as well? How you file your taxes can either benefit you or be a burden, it all depends on where you live and what you deduct.
Many people already know about the benefits married people have by filing their taxes together. This may be a hint from the government to encourage people to get married and to chastise those who are single. When married couples file taxes together the IRS gives joint filers a larger standard deduction and a lower percentage of taxable income based on a couple’s tax bracket.
What are some of the benefits of filing as a single person?
There are not really any special tax deductions for singles who file their taxes. Unless you have a mortgage or dependents, you will generally pay more money on your taxes in comparison to the average married couple. If you file as a single person for your taxes you have a standard deduction of $6,300. In comparison, if you are a single parent who is filing as the head of the household in 2016, then you will have a standard deduction of $9,300 for the tax year 2016. Married persons filing jointly receive a $12,600 standard deduction.
How do I file as a single?
You can claim the single filing status when you prepare your return on any of the 3 major tax return forms: 1040EZ, 1040A, or 1040.
What percentage of your income is taxable?
Your income will determine the tax bracket that you are in. It is different for people who file single versus married couples filing jointly. See the chart below to find your tax bracket. As you can see, married couples are taxed less on their income for state and federal taxes. Head of households do receive less taxable income due to their dependents.
Alaska’s income tax bill
If you’re single then you definitely don’t want to move to Alaska for tax purposes. Alaskan Governor Bill Walker plans to tax singles at a higher rate than their married peers. In Alaska, a single person with no dependents who makes $50,000 a year will be taxed about $867, versus married couples who will pay about $484. The policy clearly is penalizing singles. The variance is much higher in Alaska than in the majority of states in the US.
What Penalties Do Taxpayers Incur?
There are many penalties that you can incur if your taxes aren’t filed properly. You can also receive a penalty if you don’t have health insurance. According to Nerd Wallet, “For the tax year 2016, the penalty will rise to 2.5% of your total household adjusted gross income, or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, to a maximum of $2,085.”
There is also a penalty for filing your taxes late without an extension. April 15 is the deadline for the majority of people to file their federal income tax return and also pay any and all taxes they may owe. The IRS notes that by law they may assess penalties to taxpayers for both failing to file a tax return and for failing to pay taxes they owe by the deadline.
You can also be penalized if you underpay or underestimate the amount of taxes you owe. However, the law allows the IRS to waive any penalties if:
- You didn’t make a required payment because of a casualty event, disaster, or other unusual circumstance and it would be inequitable to impose the penalty, or…
- You retired (after reaching age 62) or became disabled during the tax year or in the preceding tax year for which you should have made estimated payments, and the underpayment was due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect.
What can you report on your taxes to receive a benefit?
Even if you are single, you can set up your finances to benefit you when you file your taxes. Here is a handful of tax write offs you can include on your next tax return:
1. Deduct Student Loan Interest
If you owe debt on your student loans, then you can benefit by filing what you paid in interest. When you file, you will need your 1098-E Student Loan Interest Statement, which is generally sent after the first of the year via mail for both private and federal student loans.
2. Medical Deductions
The money you spend on medical care can be deducted from your taxable income, this includes dental care and health insurance premiums. If your total medical deductions add up to more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income then you can only deduct the costs above that figure.
3. Charitable Donations
You can deduct any charitable contributions you make during the tax year to write off on your taxes. To meet IRS standards, you must make the donation to a qualified organization. Friends, family, and for-profit businesses do not count.
Taxes can be a lot to undertake, especially if you’re single and seem to get the short end of the stick. Keep track of your finances and work to find as many deductions as you can. This will help you get ahead in some ways. For help with your taxes consult with a CPA to help you find loopholes and extra deductions you may not have known about. April 18th draws near, don’t forget to file!
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