12 Ways to Save on Taxes Through Life’s Transitions

Though it hasn’t gotten to the point the Beatles envisioned when they said that if you take a walk they’ll tax your feet. Like it or not, taxes are a part of almost everything we do in life.  There are, however, ways to save on your taxes through your life’s transitions.

Here are 12 tax tips to help you save through major life events.


  1. Deduct your tuition. Education expenses may be tax deductible if they maintain or improve skills required in your employment.
  2. Invest in a 529 plan to save for your children’s education. You won’t get a tax deduction, but there won’t be tax on the earnings and growth of those funds if they are used for education.
  3. Tally the cost of books and supplies purchased for school. Expenses directly related to your college education are tax deductible and may put more money back in your pocket.

The Working World

  1. Invest in 401(k)s and IRAs as soon as possible. Small contributions growing from an early age are more valuable than large contributions made years later.
  2. Learn about your company’s fringe benefits, such as tuition assistance plans, free employee counseling, mass transit commuting assistance, Medical Savings accounts and other tax-free perks.
  3. Get next year’s refund now by adjusting your withholding so that you break even with the IRS at the end of the year. If you need help saving, have money automatically deposited to savings from each paycheck.
  4. Only borrow from your 401(k) in an emergency. The interest you pay on the loan won’t be tax deductible, and you will lose the capital appreciation you’d enjoy if you’d left it invested in the plan.

Family Life

  1. Put tax-free money into your employer’s dependent care plan. Though this will reduce your child and dependent care credit, it’s still a good financial move for most taxpayers.
  2. Claim the child tax credit on your taxes. It is an additional $1,000 credit you may be able to claim for each of your dependent children under 17. For married couples with income over $110,000 or $75,000 for a single parent, the credit phases out. TurboTax will ask you questions about your dependents and give you all the deductions and credits related to your dependents that you’re eligible for.
  3. Gather your receipts for dependent care.  You may be able to claim the dependent care credit even if you don’t work, if your spouse works and you are a full-time student or disabled.
  4. File jointly. Married couples filing separately are barred from many deductions and credits, so unless you are trying to distance yourself from a tax evading spouse or a soon-to-be-ex, a joint tax return is your best move.  TurboTax selects the filing status that gives you the biggest tax refund.
  5. Don’t overlook expenses eligible for the child and dependent care credit such as nursery school, private kindergarten, after school programs and day care.

TurboTax will ask you simple questions about your life events when you file your taxes so you can take advantage of valuable tax deductions and credits and get your biggest tax refund.

Comments (288) Leave your comment

  1. I am 59 will be 60 in july, was fired from my job in feb of 13 and cashed 401 in december , can you give me a heads up on this?

  2. Hello, I have a question I am the only person who works in my family of 4. I have 2 children and one of them is disabled and I also have a disabled wife who I have to care for, and have to pay 180 dollars a month for her doctors appointments. In addition she is a diabetic and also have to buy insulin for her. What is the best way to claim our taxes. Thank you very much for your help. Robert M

  3. My cousin, who turned 19 in Sept 2013, lives with me. She is a full time college student. She earned approximately $4500 collecting social security and has $10000 for a life insurance policy due to her mother’s passing.
    Can I claim her as a dependent? Thank you

  4. My husband and i have been married for 4 1/2 years, and he owes back childsupport arrears only, but a portion of his paychecks are getting garnished weekly will the federal tax board still take/intercept our joint federal return if we file together??

  5. I was married in June 2013, both my husband and I have paid interest on student loans this last year. He also took out another student loan. Would it be a better idea for us to file Married Jointly or Married and Separate?

  6. We sold our property in 2013 after living there for 12 yrs, and after investing $130,000 in upgrades during this period. We made a profit of $245,000 on the sale and applied $200,000 of this to purchase of our new home also in 2013. We rented a place for $800.00 a month for 5 months until we moved into our new home and additionally paid $425.00 per month on storage.
    What do we qualify for as a tax write-off / deduction in 2013?

  7. I draw SSI. $710.00 per month. I pay $550.00 per month rent which includes everything. I get food stamps for myself. Also I have medical expenses and driving back and forth to the doctors which most are 22 miles from me. should I file or not?
    Thank You

      • I posed the following question previously with no response.
        Mary F. said: on January 22, 2014 at 10:34 am
        Two part question:
        1. I attended college in 2013, can I claim mileage as an education expense?
        2. My spouse was laid off in 2013 and we accepted jobs over 100 miles from our residence. We had to pay for a mortgage and an apartment during that time.Can the cost of the 6 month apartment lease, while waiting for our home to sell, be deducted?

      • I have two children living at home both claim them selfs. We pay tuition on one and medical supplies for diabetes for the other can we deduct any of these supplies or tuitions ages are 24 and 27

    • Unless you live in Michigan, where you would probably qualify for a rent credit and possibly a Home Heating Credit.

  8. I just got married on Jan 25, 2014. When I file my taxes should I file single or married? And my husband has been in prison from 2009-march of 2013. He worked while in prison. Can he file taxes on that?

    • Melissa,
      If you were not married on December 31, 2013, you will file your return as single (or head of household, if you have a dependent child).
      Your husband needs to file his own tax return, claiming the income he earned in 2013. If his income was less than $10,000 he does not need to file a return.

      For 2014, you and your husband will file a joint tax return, or you may choose to file two separate returns using the filing status of married filing separately. Filing separately usually results in a higher total tax, but you can use TurboTax TaxCaster to help you decide what is the best status for you. Here is the link to TurboTax TaxCaster https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/

      Mary Ellen

      • I posted the following questions previously with no response:
        Mary F. said: on January 22, 2014 at 10:34 am
        Two part question:
        1. I attended college in 2013, can I claim mileage as an education expense?
        2. My spouse was laid off in 2013 and we accepted jobs over 100 miles from our residence. We had to pay for a mortgage and an apartment during that time.Can the cost of the 6 month apartment lease, while waiting for our home to sell, be deducted?

  9. My spouse taxes are going to be garnish due to student loans default should I file married but seperate to avoid my taxes being taken

  10. I pay my mother $400 a month to take care of my infant son, she is not license. can I still deduct child care expenses and claim eic?

  11. I just got married this year 2013 and my husband has a daughter and i have a son, we were both single parents. how should we file this year; jointly or married seperately? Or should wait till next year to file jointly. what is the best advantage for us?

    • Hi Michael,
      You have to file as a married couple the year you are married. Whether you file as married filing jointly or separately will depend on your income and dedcutions. You can use TurboTax TaxCaster to get an estimate of whether filing jointly or separately is better for you. You can also try both scenarios in TurboTax Online. Here is the link to TurboTax TaxCaster https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  12. I am in a chapter13 payback program . Got married after filed . I will owe 600 in fed taxes wife will get back 1100 . My return will go to trustee for him to decide if I can retain any monies back. Should I file married filing separate to keep the refund coming back to her , then pay my liability?

    • Angela,

      If you are paying interest on your school loan, you will be able to deduct that from your income. TurboTax will help you with this in the Education section of Deductions.

      Mary Ellen

  13. Two part question:

    1. I attended college in 2013, can I claim mileage as an education expense?

    2. My spouse was laid off in 2013 and we accepted jobs over 100 miles from our residence. We had to pay for a mortgage and an apartment during that time.Can the cost of the 6 month apartment lease, while waiting for our home to sell, be deducted?

  14. I am 25 and my fiance is 31. We’ve lived together since may of last year. I worked and he didn’t which meant I paid all our bills. Can i claim him on tax return?

  15. I ask this before but gave u the wrong email address. Can my wife and I deduct our grandson as our dependent on our tax return. He lived with us all of 2013 and worked very little. He is 26 years old

  16. Can my wife and I deduct a dependent for our grandson who lived with us all of 2013 and he made very little money. He is 26 years old

  17. My mother-in-law lives in a nursing home and is on Medicaid. She does receive Soc Sec every month in the amount of $1,141 – however that is used to pay the nursing home, and medical insurance. Anything else she needs we pay for. Can we claim her as a dependent?

  18. Me and my husband got married July 13, 2013. I lost my job July 5, 2013. Can my husband claim me as a dependent or injured spouse. Also we have 2 separate accounts set up and now I’m wanting to know if I file on each account as married filing joint or do I just use one account for both of us or create a new one.

    • Yolanda,
      You and your husband have two choices for filing taxes now that you are married. You can file Married, filing jointly, or Married, filing separately. A spouse is never a dependent on a joint tax return.
      Injured spouse is a term that refers to a tax injury, not a physical injury.
      If you already have a TurboTax account, you should use that account, change the filing status, and add the spouse to the return. It doesn’t matter which account you start with, but you should plan to list the taxpayer and spouse in the same order every year going forward. So if you use your TurboTax account, you will be the taxpayer and your husband will be the spouse.

      Mary Ellen

  19. Great! you’ll file a Schedule C as independent contractor. All registration fees, samples, business-associated mileage can be deducted. If you clear less than $600, then the income is simply reported as Hobby Income.

    • Selene,
      You can deduct expenses as an independent contractor, but if you are in business, you do not report your income as Hobby Income. If you clear less than $400, you do not have to pay any self-employment tax.
      The hobby rules don’t have anything to do with the amount of income you receive. If you report income as hobby income, the expenses are all deducted as miscellaneous itemized deductions on Schedule A. Only miscellaneous itemized deductions that exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income can be deducted, and only if you can itemize deductions instead of taking the standard deduction. You are also limited to deducting hobby expenses by the amount of hobby income you make. Hobbies cannot create a tax loss.
      Hobby income is not subject to self-employment tax.

  20. I have a few questions. Can I file monthly costs of internet services for school (online classes)? I am in the process of going to court for child custody and was appointed a Guardian at Litem for my child. Are the fees for the lawyer or the GAL deductible?

    • K,

      The internet costs for taking online classes will not be deductible. Legal fees for child custody and being appoint a GAL are not deductible, either.

      Mary Ellen

  21. My 17 yr old son has a part time job now and wants to file his taxes. Can I still file him under a dependant in our household?

    • Lori,

      Yes, a 17 year old still qualifies as your dependent even if he files a tax return to report income from a part time job. He cannot claim an exemption for himself on his return, though.

      Mary Ellen

  22. Can my husband claim any part of my cobra health coverage we reside in mass. Thank you for any help you can give us Debra carvalho

    • Debra,

      Cobra premiums qualify as medical expenses and can be deducted on Schedule A of your tax return.

      Mary Ellen

  23. I’m a foster mom who has cared for 6 different children over the last year, but none for more than 5 months. Is there a way to claim any of them?

    • Tashonda,

      There is no way to claim a foster child as a dependent if they did not live with you for the entire year.

      Mary Ellen

  24. I am on social security disability and I made more money last year than my girlfriend so could I claim r son to get the earned income credit also we both pay child support on other kids can we claim that as well for the unearned income

    • If it’s your son, when you say “r” son, then yes. You may qualify for earned income credit independent of having a child, since that is income-based limited by how much you earn. You could also potentially take credits on the children for whom child support is being paid, as well. It would be a great idea for you to discuss you tax situation with a tax professional in their office so that you understand about earned and unearned credit, and rights of non-custodial parents who pay support.

  25. I am on social security disability and I made more money last year than my girlfriend so could I claim r son to get the earned income credit also we both pay child support on other kids can we claim that as well

  26. The Child Tax Credit also includes college students until the age of 19 … Withdrawing money from your 401-K also precludes your from receiving the Saver’s Credit … much of the information presented herein tells only part of the story … In order to receive the most accurately prepared tax return, at least consult with a tax preparer who can complete the picture and the balance of information vis-a-vis important changes for Tax Year 2014.

  27. I was in a car accident in 2010. I paid out everything out of pocket over insurance (a lot) and including my travel to doctors. I never settle with insurance as of yet. I never claimed these expenses. Am I able to file an amended return concerning these cost and /or do I wait to settle with insurance? Or, do I not file anything because of this law suit?

    • Amended Returns:
      You can always file as many amended returns for three years’ prevoius Tax Years. For 2013 that would include: 2012; 2011 and 2010. Of course you may file the medical expenses irrespective of settling with insurance companies.
      Insurance Settlement:
      If you do intend to settle with insurance companies you may want to first check to see if there is a statute of limitations on filing your claim with insurance, which could be as short as 6 months or as long as a year for most companies.
      Law Suit:
      I really don’t know or understand enough about the lawsuit to be able to adequately advise. You may want to discuss all of this with your attorney, as well.
      Yearly Tax Filing:
      It is a good rule of thumb to be completely compliant with tax filing, meaning that each tax year should be filed irrespective of law suits or other circumstances.

  28. I live in Texas where we have QDRO instead of alimony. Can I deduct my QDRO payments to my X’s ??
    Curtis Sharp

  29. Can I claim my girlfriend on my taxes? We lived together all year and I paid all bills. She receives foodstamps and general relief through county. She also owe irs for past years.

    • You can claim her as a dependent, signifying her relationship to you as “none.” This does not mean that she is not your girlfirend, in IRS speak it means that you are not blood relations.
      If you paid more than 50% of her support, she can be claimed as a dependent.

  30. If I paid for my parents home roof replacement, would I be able to claim it as a deduction or would my parents who own the house? Both of them are retired.

    • If your parents had quit claimed the house to you prior to the payment, then yes. It might be a good idea to put the house in a trust for inheritance taxation purposes. Unless the property is a rental property, it is doubtful if the roof replacement is deductible. Typically, energy-saving improvements are deductible.
      If you used an upgraded energy-saving roofing material, it may qualify.

  31. I thought my ex was going to claim one of our 2 kids last year and he didn’t. So only one was claimed. Can i claim my 2nd child for last year still, or add it to this years refund ???

    • Do both. You are able to re-file for the past three years as many times as you like. That would include 2010; 2011 & 2012 for Tax Year 2013. One tax year cannot be combined with another, so you would file a 1040X for Tax Year 2012 and a regular 1040 for Tax Year 2013. Make sure to see if you qualify for Earned Income Credit (EIC), the additional standard deduction for your child as well as the Additional Child Credit, and credit for any daycare expense for that child.

  32. I have helped my dad with food, bills, and day to day items. He is currently on SSI can I still claim him as a dependent or can he file taxes himself he only makes $700 a month. Which would be the better way to go?

    • If you take care of more than 50% of your dad’s expenses you may claim him, however, $700 per month may be close. There are many variables in determining support. Does he live in your home? It really comes down to that percentage, only you know what that is.

    • in claiming moving expenses you must have moved more that 50 miles from your job and you must be working within one year of the move to qualify. Moving expenses include mileage (calculated at a different rate than standard mileage), storage fees, hotel expense, moving supplies expense, etc. You are not able to include meals. There is no way to figure what your return will be based on the moving expense information alone that was provided. In order to get a refund, you must have earned income during the year. You didn’t state whether or not your move was work related.

  33. I bought a new house in april 2013, can I claim expenses? Also I have a 24yr. old son who lives with me who is unemployed and who is a fulltime student so I pay for all his expenses can I claim him on my taxes?

    • This is the last year that you are able to claim your son as a student/dependent. I recommend filing 1040Xs for the Tax Years 2010, 2011 and 2012 to receive potential credit/additional refunds if the situation was identical in those years. Your son will be eligible to file for earned income credit once her turns 25, and if his income does not exceed the maximum allowed in 2015.

      As for your home, deductible expenses include mortgage interest paid, real estate transaction fees & loan origination fees, insurance; state/county taxes, and energy saving improvements to the property. I have noticed that some recent mortgages do not provide much advantage for homeowners, with interest and principal payments being roughly equal.

      Additionally, if your move exceed 50 miles from your job or included a job change you may be entitled to deduct moving expenses.

  34. I had a baby in Dec 2012 and I haven’t worked for 2013. I did recieve unemployment for some of the year. My boyfriend and I live together, would he be able to claim me on his taxes or can we file together?

    • Claiming Your Child:
      Technically, you should always be the one to claim your own child. Do you receive child support?
      Filing Status:
      You and your boyfriend cannot claim joint filing status unless you are legally married,

      Unemployment is income. Since you had income for the year, you would want to file for any Federal or State Tax withheld, claim earned income credit; claim your child. Alot really depends on how much income you received. If your income is too low to plausibly support you and your child, then you and your child should be his dependent, relationship “none.” His filing status would then be Head of Household, claiming two dependents. If you are unemployed, of course any expense to find work (mileage, resume writing and duplication, out of town travel expense) is tax deductible. Likewise, childcare costs incurred while looking for work are deductible, however continual childcare over the course of the year would not be, since it is presumed that you would take care of your own child when not actively looking for work.
      If you had taxes withheld from your unemployment and you agree to be a dependent on his tax return, you may still file a tax return. Your filing status would be single, and you would be filing just in order to recoup the Federal or State taxes withheld in the form of a refund. If your child is claimed as a dependent on his return, your child cannot be double claimed on your return. You can work out the various scenarios to see which is the most advantageous to your situation.

  35. Hi I just got married last year in august. Iam a Us citizen not working and my husband is not a citizen and works gets paid cash. We have 3 kids I wil b getting taxes because I worked 3 months in 2013 what can I do, should I only file those months?

  36. I got divorced this year and have filed jointly on turbo tax in the past. Do I just start a new account with turbo tax or pull up the old joint account and somehow explain from there that I am filing single now

  37. My husband I file married filing jointly. Recently I tried to applying or the public service student loan forgiveness since I’m a teacher. I don’t qualify for the teacher loan forgiveness. I was told by federal student loans that since I filed jointly, I can afford to pay 1184.83 a month on my student loan, I currently pay 600.00 and can’t afford that. Someone told me I should file married filing signally so that my husbands income isn’t considered when I reapply for the public service student loan forgives again. What would be my advantages and disadvantages of doing this and would it help me get the loan forgiveness? We do have 1 child and are homeowners

  38. I was just wondering if the tuition credit still applies if you did not pay any out of pocket expenses except books?

  39. I got married in this year but my husband wants to file his taxes; married filing individual. How can I benefit?

  40. Last year I needed to support my 36 year old daughter. She went through a divorce and during this time had been unemployed. She was forced to go through a short sale of her house. During this terrible time, I withdrew all my monies that I had received as “compensation” to retire…. Therefore all last year I supported her (and my 14 year old grandson) with food, mortgage, and life necessities, thereby having had no enjoyment whatsoever of this $ gift given to me as a retirement incentive (but taxes that I now have to pay–because of this necessary withdrawal– has now skyrocketed out of control for ME. I now need help myself….!!! and and afraid I will be unable to ever pay back taxes that have accumulated.

    • Check to see if you can claim your family as dependence big cause you paid 50% of there keep & support on your taxes check with a tax person good luck

      • Hi Jackie,
        Congratulations on your baby. Yes, you would be able to deduct your baby. Just make sure your baby has a social security number, which you need to have to in order to claim your baby and take tax deductions and credits related to them.
        Thank you,
        Lisa Greene-Lewis

    • I’m very sorry to hear about your wife. While Funeral Expenses are not deductible, all Medical Expenses associated with your wife’s accident are 100% deductible, including mileage to the doctors’ offices and/or hospital.
      If you didn’t already know, your filing status for Tax Year 2013 would be “Married Filing Jointly.” If you have children, you would file as a Widower for 2014 and 2015, which gives you the same tax filing benefits as if you were still married. Your 2016 filing status would be either Head of Household if you have dependents and/or children, or Single if you are unmarried without dependents and/or children.

    • Am i’m able to deduct traveling expenses
      going back and fourth to hospital. and taking
      him to the doctor

  41. I have a ? Could dependent care be wrote off on 2012 too.also my husband and I were separated but when I was going to amend my taxes to jointly it didn’t change my refund.my other ? Is if I didn’t claim him last yr can I claim him this yr he past away in 2013 and would it help me.

    • Hi Robin,
      Here are answers to your questions:
      1. Yes, you could deduct dependent care in 2012.
      2. Regarding amending as a joint couple, sometimes depending on married couple’s incomes you may not see a big difference(for instance if both have high incomes). By filing jointly though you would be eligible to deduct the dependent care credit depending on your income. Also note, that the refund amount shown on your amended tax return is in addition to that already received if you did receive one.
      3. You can’t claim a spouse as a dependent, but yes you may be able to file with him in 2013 and receive an exemption for him.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

    • The only issue that might come up would be your spouse’s signature for past year amended joint return filings. You might want to attach a certificate of death to keep the IRS from rejecting the return with only one signature.

  42. I got married this year in July. My husband never gets his taxes back because he owes Child Support. Should I file Married but seperate so that the money I get from IRS goes to me? I don’t want my hard earned money to go to the Child Support that he owes. What is the best filing status for me to use for 2013?

    • No, only ever file Married Filing Jointly. It is always more advantageous and certain credits are disallowed for Married Filing Separately. Only in cases of legal separation or physical separation where children are involved would you ever file Married Filing Separately or Head of Household, respectively.
      Use the Injured Spouse form to protect your portion of earnings and commensurate refund.

  43. My 20-year-old son lived with me until he enlisted in the Air Force at the end of May. He did not work or go to school from January until he left. Can I claim him as a dependent and still have him file his own taxes on his military income from June through December? He did come back and stay with me for a total of 4 weeks of leave during November and December, so he was living with me for 6 months and not paying for anything.

    • No unless he was enrolled in a higher education institution most of the year because he’s 20. You could claim him as a qualifying relative but then he would have to have income of 3,900 or less for the year. If he joined the military, I think his earnings would go above that.

    • You can claim him as a dependent under the category of “qualifying relative,” but not as a qualifying child because he was not a full-time student and is older than 17/18/19 (different age limitations for different possible credits).

      He can file so that his Federal Withholding will be returned as a refund, however he must state that he may be claimed as a dependent by someone else.

  44. My question is. I drive right at 98.6 miles for work every day. Is there a deduction for this and any other expenses related to my car usage.

    • State registration fees minus taxes are deductible on all vehicles on a Schedule A.

      Without knowing more details, here are some possible scenarios:

      Job 1 to Job 2 mileage is tax deductible, should you happen to work at another job before you drive to work at the job mentioned.

      If you are a 1099 employee, all expenses may be deductible.

      If you have a small business, LLC or Corporation and depending on the type of work you do, the car may be entered as a fixture of the business and depreciated over the years; repairs, insurance, mileage, tolls, parking tickets, registration fees, etc are deductible.

  45. we purchased energy efficient windows in December and paid in December however due to a weather issue, they couldn’t install them until 1/4/14. Are these windows still eligible for tax deduction and does the install date matter or just when it was paid.

  46. I’m divorce, but I still paying for my exWife education(she is unemployed), Can I claim those costs on my return?

    • While it’s very nice of you, I don’t see how you could unless you had a corporation or small business, made her an employee then claimed that the expense of the education was vital to her job. She may be able to claim the Lifetime Learning Credit, but has not wages to claim against …. unless she is receiving Unemployment income?

  47. I also paid off some bills for her totaling around $4,000.00 so she could qualify for a home loan. Is there anyway I can claim that?

  48. My daughter is receiving a disability check and lived with me until the end of October. I paid all house payments and utilities. She did pay her cable, jnternet, and house phone. Can I claim her on my 2013 taxes?

  49. Hi, I was renting a house that was caught in a flood last year. I did not have renters insurance and lost all my furniture, household items, some electronics, and most personal belongings as well as my vehicle (also not insured for floods). I’ve had to replace almost everything out of pocket. What kind of tax credit can I claim?

  50. My son left for college may 2013, he uses my income for his FFSA pell, his grandfather pays is rent on campus, and his books for his first semester. How do I claim him on my taxes without cheating grampa’s help

    • You need to first determine if his g’father is claiming educational expenses which are typically granted to parents.

      If so, remember that no one has a greater right to claim a child than the parent.

      If your child is 24 or younger, you may claim him as your child.

  51. I moved to Oklahoma just over a year ago from Texas so I now live in Oklahoma but my employer has remained the same in Texas. In order to do this I now work remotely over 90% of the time out of my home. Texas does not require state taxes and since I work there t is not taken from my pay. Oklahoma however does. Am I required to pay Oklahoma state take if I work in Texas but live in Oklahoma?

    • Hobby Income in excess of $600 per annum must be disclosed.

      If you mean to say that you want to deduct that cost of creating and maintaining your business website, small businesses are typically allowed to claim up to 100% losses in the first two years of business.

  52. My husband had a brain hemmoraghe in May and needed 24/7 care. Can I deduct the cash payments that I made for different caregivers that I hired to help me care for him so that I could get some sleep. It lasted for 3 months and I paid out in the area of $15,000 . Medicare does not cover any of this. Thank you.

    • Make sure to contact each of those providers and have them give you receipts for the cash payments that were received. Or, using a receipt book, you can make out receipts for the sum total given to each provider and have them sign and, if possible, stamp the receipt with their business name, if available.

  53. This past year i have a had a lot of medical expenses. Instead of jaw surgery they are trying invisalign (which isn’t covered since i had braces 5 years ago) This cost me over 6000.00 plus office visits. Insurance only covered like one visit. Am i able to write this off? And the rest of what insurance didn’t cover? Im over 10 grand this past year.

    • Since it is a remedy en lieu of surgery
      I would include this expense as well as prescriptions, copays, out of pocket expenses and all round-trip mileage to doctors’ offices/ hospitals/therapists.

  54. I recently received $45000 from my deceased uncle’s estate. Do I have to claim this amount as income?


  56. hello i had a baby in 2013 i worked pt up till may 2013 im also getting soc.sec. can i claim my new babyif so up to how many kids can i claim?also my daughter moved back home from college she in sophmore yr can i claim her she 19yrs old are ther deductions to claim for buying a vehicle last year?

    • Hi,
      Congratulations on your baby. You can claim your baby just make sure you have a social security number for him or her. There’s no limit to how many kids you can claim as long as they meet the test to be claimed as a dependent. You can claim your daughter that’s in college as long as she didn’t provide more than half of her own support.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  57. hi I have two babies and I was wondering whats the most money you can make for the year to get the earned income tax credit…thanks

  58. my husband and i have been living apart since june 5th. am i ble to file head of household. I do not know his social security number and there is a 5 yr restraining order therefore there is no communication between us

    • In order to file as Head of Household, there must be household members besides you, meaning children or dependents.

      If that is the case, then yes, you may file as Head of Household.if the children or dependents lived with you in 2013 even one day more than with your spouse.

      If there are no children or dependents, then you would file as Married Filing Separately, which is the least possible favorable filing status.

      I would imagine that at some point a formalized divorce would be in order. In place of that, a formalized separation would be a good idea.

  59. My girlfriend and i live together, both our names are on the lease. She has no income other than footsteps, so i pay all the bills. Can i claim her as a dependent?

  60. My mom is receiving Medicaid in a nursing home. Her S.Security and pension monthly does not pay the entire cost and I have to pay about $200 a month to cover her costs. Plus I have to pay for personal care items and use alot of gas traveling. Can I claim her as a dependent? Thanks.

  61. I am on social security disability and I was wondering if I should claim my son or my gf should my income is higher than hers for 2013 also we both pay child support can we both get the tax credit for that as well

  62. I got married in February of 2013 and my husband only worked a couple of months and we have two children can I still file hoh if we file jointly

    • Do not confuse the psychological aspect of feeling that you’re doing it all on your own because your husband isn’t working with the fact that you are legally married. You will have a higher standard deduction if you file Married Filing Jointly. This will reduce your earnings to a greater extent than if you file Head of Household and, hopefully, will get you a larger refund as a result. Head of Household is typically applied to single-parent scenarios, or those with dependent relatives. Your husband, whether working or not, is still your husband, and the IRS supports your legal union through a higher standard deduction and credits that people who are Married Filing Separately will never get.

  63. My wife and I are still legally married and currently living together but filing for a divorce. She has a part time job and purchased a house and going to school. I have a full time and a part time job we also have a 7 year old. She we still file as married or separately.?

    • Married Filing Jointly will always give you the best possible return. You are entitled to the standard deduction for married couples, plus your standard deduction for your child, as well as child care expenses, if any. Additionally, you may be entitled to Earned Income Credit (EIC) and Additional Child Tax Credit. You are also entitled to the Lifetime Learning Credit or Standard Education Credit for your wife’s school, depending on if she is pursuing an undergraduate degree or continuing education, From the purchase of the home, all loan origination fees, interest, state/county taxes are deductible.

      Married Filing Separately is the least advantageous filling status as many possible credits are excluded for this status.

  64. Can my boyfriend clame me even thow i havent worked or made over 10,000 but supported me all year and am try to get ssi

    • I worked this yr.2013 and made 24,600.I also collected my social security retirement funds 25.000. do I file taxes?Im seperated from my wife for 3yrs.and we live seperatly.what do I do?this is the first yr. i worked since i retired

  65. Can i clame my boyfriend if ive taken care of him and hasnt workec even thou i may have barly made 3000 yhis year

    • The IRS can do the math on a $3,000 income for two people over the course of one year. Your tax filing will likely be rejected. Whether or not you are trying to get SSI, the only income that matters is what actually comes through the door into your home. Pending issues are not considered. If he provided 100% of your support, he can claim you as a dependent, relationship = none. He becomes Head of Household by virtue of you being his dependent and files as such.

  66. We have recently purchased a new house and used money from our 401k for the downpayment. What forms do we need to receive before we file our taxes?
    We also were wondering how we can go about filing our medical bills for the past year.

    • Medical bills, mileage to doctors’ offices and hospitals, prescriptions are all deductible on a Schedule A.

      The withdrawal from your 401k may exclude you from taking the Saver’s Credit this year.

      You should expect to receive a disbursement 1099-R.

      Other Info that may be helpful:

      Exceptions for Early Distributions from a Qualified Retirement Plan such as a 401(k) or 403(b) plan:

      Distributions upon the death or disability of the plan participant.
      You were age 55 or over and you retired or left your job.
      You received the distribution as part of “substantially equal payments” over your lifetime.
      You paid for medical expenses exceeding 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.**
      The distributions were required by a divorce decree or separation agreement (“qualified domestic relations court order”),

      * The home-buying exception has the following additional criteria: you did not own a home in the previous two-years, and only $10,0000 of the retirement distribution qualifies to avoid the tax penalty.

      ** You do not need to itemize in order to claim the medical expense exception.

      If the exception is properly coded in box 7 of your 1099-R form, you do not need to fill out Form 5329. If an exception applies and is not recorded in box 7, then you need to fill out Form 5329.

      1099-R Box 7 Distribution Codes
      The following is a list of distribution codes that may appear in box 7 for Form 1099-R to report distributions from a retirement account. This list is taken from Instructions for Forms 1099-R & 5498 (PDF).
      Distribution Codes for 1099-R Box 7
      Distribution Code Meaning
      1 Early distribution, no known exception
      2 Early distribution, exception applies
      3 Disability
      4 Death
      5 Prohibited transaction
      6 Section 1035 exchange
      7 Normal distribution
      8 Excess contribution
      9 Cost of life insurance protection
      A May be eligible for 10-year tax option
      D Excess contribution
      E Excess annual additions
      F Charitable gift annuity
      G Direct rollover
      J Early distribution from Roth IRA
      L Loans treated as deemed distributions
      N Recharacterized IRA contribution
      P Excess contribution
      Q Qualified distribution from a Roth IRA
      R Recharacterized IRA contribution
      S Early distribution from a SIMPLE IRA in the first two years, no known exception
      T Roth IRA distribution, exception applies


      Federal Tax Forms for the Early Distribution Penalty

      Form 5329 (PDF)
      Instructions for Form 5329 (PDF)

  67. I moved du to being transferred with the company i work for . This was cross country and I have spent over 4000 dollars of my money for this move. What can I calim?

    • Everything … except meals!

      Moving Expenses include storage fees, truck rental, mover’s expense, hotel stays, flight expense, and mileage as calculated specifically for moving expense.

      You may want to subtract meals and detail all other expenses for your records.

  68. Hi, I am a legal alien working in USA. I am working on L1B Visa. I am the only earner in my home. I have wife with me in USA, but she is a home maker. we had a baby in 2012 November. but i dont remember i have updated my withholdings or not. Please suggest me what to check in W2 about exclusions. In short, I am the only earning in my home – have a wife and a kid. so what will be my exclusions?

    • The American Opportunity credit is available only for the first four years of post-secondary education and is partially refundable. The student must be enrolled at least half-time.

      The Lifetime Learning Credit is a tax credit for any person who takes college classes. It provides a tax credit of 20% of tuition expenses, with a maximum of $2,000 in tax credits on the first $10,000 of college tuition expenses. You can claim the Lifetime Learning Credit on your tax return if you, your spouse, or your dependents are enrolled at an eligible educational institution and you were responsible for paying college expenses. Unlike the American Opportunity credit, you need not be in the first four years of undergraduate classes. Even if you took only one class, you may take advantage of the Lifetime Learning Credit.

      Use Form 1098-T

      Remember: No felony drug convictions!

  69. My 28 year old girlfriend lives with me. She’s been unemployed all year. She has also lived with me all year. Can I file her as my dependent?

    • Yes, you would count her as a dependent since you paid for all of her living expenses.
      That would make your filing status Head of Household with one dependent, relationship = “none”

  70. My daughter moved out of the house in March and back home in September. She works but doesn’t pay any expenses. Can I claim her on my taxes?

  71. Help! My boyfriend and i have a son together we’re not married yet but he takes care of me financially and i work part time..can he claim me as a dependent??

  72. I started drawing my Social Security in 2013. My wife draws a MS State Retirement from her work now that she is retired and I receive a monthly check from IRA’s that I have with Edward Jones. Are any of these items MS State Taxable? I’m 65 years old.

  73. I need information about receiving a 1099 after selling my residence! Why did I get a 1099 and how do I use my deductions? thank you

    • Congratulations! Yes. For the whole year. And you should be able to claim medical expenses, prescriptions, round trip mileage to the doctors’ offices and hospital.

  74. I have a 19 year old son that has lived with me all year and work, but I provide him with shelter and food. My question is can I file him on my taxes and does he also file taxes. What is the correct proccess for this situation?

  75. Hi I got married in October 2013 in Greece and will be filing for him to come. Haven’t changed my name yet. Do I file as married although haven’t applied for him to come as of yet?

  76. Is telework eligible for deduction? Since I attend to the office once a week, the rest of week, work at home.

    • What might be deductible would be any special equipment (computer, headphones, monthly internet connection, cell phone, cell phone service) depending on how you are paid … if as a 1099 employee it is much simpler to claim these expenses, but they can also be claimed as a regular W2 employee.
      You can further complicate your return by claiming the percentage portion of the house (mortgage or rent expense) that you dedicate to your job, and identical percentage portions of electrical, water, gas, alarm systems support that you pay monthly. I have heard that these types of business expenses catch the attention of IRS agents and therefore, make your return more likely to be audited, however that may be changing as time goes on.

  77. I was diagnosed with bird fanciers des ease this year and had to pay for some expensive med that was not covered also had to replace all my carpet and replace some furniture and some bedding with feathers in them etc. would I be able to claim these expensive on my taxes this year

  78. What does turbox tax plan on doing about the law suit?? I filed a claim form but never heard anything back

  79. Mary Ellen,
    My husband and I retired in 2013, sold our home and moved from Wi. To Az. We are married filing jointly. Do we file for both states, We were 5 months in Wi. 7 months in Az. We have not earned any wages in Az. but I do receive SS and pension. Also can I claim my health insurance premiums that we pay our of pocket? Lastly, is the fee that we paid the realtor for selling our home tax deductible?
    Janet Bartels

  80. Can I claim my granddaughter as a dependent she is 23yrs.old. She has not work at all I support her and grand kids there 2 and 6 yrs they all live with me.

  81. I have have a question. I would full time at a bank and my husband works part time and a restaurant as a server. should be fill jointly or married but separate?

  82. My husband passed away in November 2013. Do I file widow or do I still have to file jointly? after that how many years can I file as a widow?

  83. I sold a house in 2013 for 85,000 to a couple for which I took 20,000 as a down payment on a seller backed loan. They currently make monthly mortgage payments to me with 5% interest. The home is on a 3yr balloon so they have to refinance before the three year mark. How will this look on my taxes, will I receive a 1099 from the title company for the home sale? I assume I have to pay taxes on the mortgage interest. Not sure where to start on this. Thanks

  84. will turbo tax be able too help me if i was unemployed from march? and i need to file jointly with my wife and claim my kids?

  85. I’ve been separated from my husband since the beginning of 2013 and I have my children leaving with me. I am in the process of filing for divorce. Under which status should I file my taxes. Is filing as single the same thing as head of household?

  86. My 29 year old son is disabled but he works partime- he doesnt collect disability or ss- I support him- he does not pay us any rent- he is on medicaid through the state and has food stamps- can I claim him as a dependent even tho he works? And how do I do that ?

  87. I had a double lung transplant 8-2013 and even though I have Medicare and BC/BS, there are still a great deal to pay for what medicare will not cover on some of my meds I take for anti-rejection. We also have to travel to another city that is 3 hours away every month for follow up care of my new lungs. Is any of this something I can claim as a deduction? Thank you, Cheri Cisneros

    • Cheri,

      Yes, any out-of-pocket expense for prescription medicine is deductible as a medical expense. Medical travel is also deductible. TurboTax will have a place to enter your prescriptions and your mileage for calculating your deductions.

      Mary Ellen

    • Yes, count everything — round trip mileage to every appointment and medical event including overnight hotel stays, excluding meals, including prescriptions, co-pays, and all out of pocket deductibles.

    • Kelsey,

      A spouse is never claimed as a dependent on a tax return. They are co-filers, and two exemptions are allowed if they are filing a joint tax return, even if one does not have income.

      Mary Ellen

    • You would file as Married Filing Jointly and you both sign the return. Of course, there are many credits for which you may be eligible since you have a child or children. Your children are your dependents as are any other relatives who live with you, or for whom you provide more than 50% of their support.

  88. Hello, my question is over being a foster parent for a child for a little over 6 months. We received no goverment assistance from DCS. How can we claim him for those six months?


    • Whitely,

      You cannot claim an unrelated individual unless they lived with you all year. If he stays with you all of 2014, you will be able to claim him then.

      Mary Ellen

  89. Roger I retired in April and am on medcare. My wife didn`t turn 65 until Dec. so I cobraed her from my employers hospitalization. Can I deduct the cost?

    • Roger,

      If you paid for the premiums out of pocket, you can claim them as a medical expense, as well as claim your Medicare premiums.

      Mary Ellen

  90. I live in a state where same-sex marriage is not legal (Indiana), but we did get married (Vermont). My question is, we’ve got to file separately for state and jointly for federal, does TurboTax handle this situation?

    • Tim,

      TurboTax will help you with this situation. You will actually prepare three tax returns, one joint for your federal taxes, then you will prepare two separate returns for Indiana, and not file the federal returns associated with those returns.

      Mary Ellen

      • What? Filing a joint return for the federal and separate returns for the state. Didn’t think you could due that. I’m in Ohio, dues that matter?

  91. My husband had a heart attack this past year, and I have several thousand dollars worth of medical bills. Is this in any way deductible on my taxes?

    • Sue,
      Any bills you have paid because insurance does not cover them are deductible as medical expenses.

      If you haven’t paid the bill, it will be deductible in the year you pay it.

      TurboTax has a section for medical expenses to help you claim the maximum deduction allowed.

      Mary Ellen

    • Also included are prescriptions, co-pays and round-trip mileage to doctors’ offices and medical facilities. What is, unfortunately, not deductible is your monthly insurance premium which shows up on your pay stub as either a pre- or post-tax deduction.

  92. Hi,
    I’m permanent resident in USA and I’m married. But I married in my country. My wife and my son are outside of the U.S.A. Could I still claim them as my dependents? I applied for them as alien petitioner but it takes time to bring them here. And they don’t have SSN. please help with your opinions. Thank you.

  93. I was married in July but my new husband passed away in December . Do I file as single or what else do I need to do? We were both retired.
    Thank you for your help.

    • Carol,

      I am sorry for your loss.

      You can file a joint tax return with your husband, or you can file as married filing separately. If you file separately, someone will also need to prepare a final tax return for your husband, also married filing separately.

      Mary Ellen

    • Your filing status for Tax Year 2013 would be Married Filing Jointly, which is the most advantageous filing status. Married Filing Separately gives you absolutely no tax advantage, as your standard deduction is reduced and certain credits are not allowed per that status. Your filing status for Tax Year 2014 will be Single, or Head of Household if you have dependents.

  94. I have been supporting my sister for over a year and she finally got approved for social security disability. I have paid her mortgage, food, medications, etc. Can I claim her as a disabled dependent.

  95. I am retired,age 63,and we sold our house last year.We had to pay via certified check $3,000
    at time of settlement to break even.This amount is listed on settlement papers as cash provided
    by the seller.I itemize deductions,and want to know if I can and how to include this.Capital asset losses,such as the loss when selling a personal residence is not deductable.Is this the
    same as a loss,

    • John,

      The $3,000 you paid to settle the sale of your house is added to the purchase price of your house to determine if you have a gain or loss on the sale. You can make a profit of up to $250,000 ($500,000 if married filing a joint return) without having to pay any tax.

      As you said, there is no deduction for the loss on the sale of a personal residence.

      Mary Ellen

  96. My husband and I have been living apart for over 12 months but we are not legally divorced. Can I file head of household with my daughter. He is providing no support

    • Teresa,

      As long as you were living apart for the last six months of the year, and you provided more than half the cost of your daughter’s home, you can file as head of household.

      Mary Ellen

    • Melissa,

      You can file your 2013 tax return before you file your 2012 return, but you should prepare your 2012 return as soon as you possibly can. If you have a refund coming, you don’t want the IRS sitting on your return, and if you owe tax, you are accruing interest every day the tax is not paid.

      Mary Ellen

    • You can, however if you are due a Refund the IRS will hold that Refund until such time as all previous Tax Years have been filed. When filing your 2013 taxes, you are eligible to file original tax returns or refile amendments for Tax Years 2010 through 2012.

    • Here are some benefits:

      1.Lifetime Learning Credit

      Table 3-1. Overview of the Lifetime Learning Credit
      Maximum credit Up to $2,000 credit per return
      Limit on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) $127,000 if married filling jointly;
      $63,000 if single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er)
      Refundable or nonrefundable Nonrefundable—credit limited to the amount of tax you must pay on your taxable income
      Number of years of postsecondary education Available for all years of postsecondary education and for courses to acquire or improve job skills
      Number of tax years credit available Available for an unlimited number of years
      Type of program required Student does not need to be pursuing a program leading to a degree or other recognized education credential
      Number of courses Available for one or more courses
      Felony drug conviction Felony drug convictions do not make the student ineligible
      Qualified expenses Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance (including amounts required to be paid to the institution for course-related books, supplies, and equipment)
      Payments for academic periods Payments made in 2013 for academic periods beginning in 2013 or beginning in the first 3 months of 2014.

      2. Many Grandparents are parenting their grandchildren, which are qualifying children. Earned Income Credit allowed until age 65.

      Here are the 2013 tax year income limits, maximum EITC amount and the EITC-related tax law changes for the 2013 Tax Year

      Earned Income and adjusted gross income (AGI) must each be less than:

      $46,227 ($51,567 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children
      $43,038 ($48,378 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children
      $37,870 ($43,210 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child
      $14,340 ($19,680 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

      Tax Year 2013 maximum credit:

      $6,044 with three or more qualifying children
      $5,372 with two qualifying children
      $3,250 with one qualifying child
      $487 with no qualifying children

      Investment income must be $3,300 or less for the year.

      For more information on whether a child qualifies you for the EITC, see Qualifying Child Rules or Publication 596, Rules if You Have a Qualifying Child.

      The American Tax Relief Act of 2012 extends the relief for married taxpayers, the expanded credit for taxpayers with three or more qualifying children, and other provisions to December 31, 2017.

      3. You may want to consult with a retirement planner for issues such a placing large investments (such as your home, rental property and businesses) in Trust in order to avoid losing money to estate taxes of property transferrence through inheritance.

      4. Retirement Catch-up
      Should you decide to return to work, and have not contributed much to your retirement after age 50 you are allowed to “catch-up” on retirement contributions, thereby increasing the annual limit.

  97. I am 61, sold my home of 40 years to pay off dept avoiding bankruptcy. I had enough left to buy a fixer upper forever home, paid cash, and exhausted all funds on replacing furnace/plumbing/electric/ watertank….. Totally broke now in 2014. How or what do I file this year?(form)….do I even file? I have no job either…….getting food stamps. can’t find work.
    It all went so fast,…..

    • Sandra,

      You will receive a 1099 from the sale of your house. If you are single and you sold the house for less than $250,000 profit (more than you purchased the house for), you will not have to pay tax. If you are married you get $500,000 tax free. You can use TurboTax to prepare your tax return. We will ask all about the sale of your home and report everything properly.

      Mary Ellen

  98. I have always filed my sons taxes for him. All of 2013 he has been in a Fed. Prison Camp and will be for the next year also. Do I still need to file taxes for him? Also, he has a balance left to pay from 2012. Should I notify the IRS?

    • Christy,
      If your son’s income is less than $10,000, he does not have a filing requirement.

      If he receives a bill from the IRS regarding his tax bill, he should respond to let them know his current situation and when he should be able to start making payments again.

      Mary Ellen

      • Will I be able to talk to them on his behalf? He is unable to communicate with them while he is in prison.

  99. I have’t worked this last yr do to taking care of my elderly grandmother (passed on dec. 2013). My son (5yrs old) aunt has keep him and helped me provided for him at least 1/2 of 2013. Can I let he claim him since I haven’t made any income to claim to file taxes on this year? If so, that steps do I need to take to make it legal for her?

    • She can claim him on the basis if he has lived with her more than 6 months out of the year. Anyone can claim a child once they have the child’s information. However a child cannot be claimed on more than one persons tax returns.

    • Christy,
      You should sign Form 8332 to allow your sister (in-law?) to claim your son. Sign the section that allows her to claim him for one year, and not all future years. You can sign anther form next year if you need to.

      Mary Ellen

    • In order to talk to the IRS on your sons behalf you will have to have your son give you general power of attorney

  100. I don’t own a business, but I work from home about half the time. I’ve been told by others in my situation that you can deduct a certain expenses, such as out-of-pocket office supplies and a portion of your electric and heating bills. Is this true? Can these be deducted using a standard 1040, or do I need a form for business owners?

    • Matt,

      To deduct home office expenses as an employee, you must be required to work from home by your employer. If you are required to work from home, then you must meet the other home office expense requirements, such as the area you use for work is only used for work, and not for personal bill paying, or kids homework, and the like. TurboTax covers this in Deductions, look for Home Office expenses.

      Out of pocket expenses for supplies are deductible. Use form 2106, Employee business expense to calculate the deduction. TurboTax includes this form in their deductions section. Look for Employee Business expense.

      Mary Ellen

  101. I started my Mary Kay business 04-2013 and don’t know what I need to file my taxes this year. Please help.

    • Using a Schedule C you will add your personal car, and any other business tools: computer, etc. unless you made less than $600 in which case your buisness may be considered a hobby and it would be entered as hobby income on Schedule A.

    • You may be able to request a reprint of your last pay stub from your company’s HR or payables department. By law, W2s must be out by the end of January.

  102. My daughter completed her 1st semester in college before the end of 2013. Are the tuition costs deductible on my taxes?

      • Thank you. I went to college but I never got a chance to ask my parents before they passed.

    • Tuition, books purchased on-campus, round-trip mileage, lab fees, parking expense, registration fees, as well as all school related materials are deductible.

  103. I live in Canada and am a permanent resident there, but have retained US citizenship. I am retired and have no Canadian income. I file my taxes in the US on my US pension income. My spouse files taxes in Canada on his Canadian income. There would not be any benefit for us to file jointly, am I right? Is it even possible to file jointly in two countries?

    • Arlyn,

      Even though your husband is not a US citizen, you must file as Married filing Jointly, or Married filing Separately. If you file jointly, you will need to include his income as well as your own. If you receive social security income, you may receive a reduction in the amount you must claim in your income.

      If you file separately, you only need to claim your income, but you will need to claim all of your social security income. There are other deductions and credits you may not qualify for.

      You can use TurboTax to determine which filing status will give you the best tax result.

      Mary Ellen

  104. My sister is disabled and moved in with Jan 2013. She receives a disability check to me for her. Can I claim her as a dependant?

    • Kimberly,

      If your sister’s disability income is taxable (she will receive some kind of 1099 or W-2), then it must be under the personal exemption amount for the year, $3,900 for 2013.

      If her disability is not taxable, and she does not provide for more than half of her support, and she meets the other requirements for being a dependent, you can claim her as a dependent.

      TurboTax will ask you about you potential dependents and determine if someone qualifies as a dependent.

      Mary Ellen

    • Remember to have a doctor’s note verifying her disability as paperwork back-up. If you provide more than 50% of her support, you can claim her as a dependent. She already meets the relationship test by being your sister.

  105. I am enrolled in a federal loan repayment plan based on my income. I recently got married. If we file jointly, will it effect my repayment plan?

  106. My husband passed away 1/18/13 and when I filed my taxes last year I was able to file still as married filing joint as he was alive all of 2012. How should I file this year since he has passed? I was told you could still file for the first 2 years after they pass as married filing joint, and then you would have to change. What would it change to then?

      • Just got married. My husband is unemployed what filing will give me the greatest benefit.

    • Hi Carmella,

      I am sorry for your loss.

      Even though your husband passed away in January of 2013, as long as you did not remarry in 2013, you can file a joint tax return with him for 2013.

      For 2014, if you have dependent children, you can file as a Qualifying Widow (which gives you the tax breaks of a married couple). If you do not have dependent children, you will file as single.

      Mary Ellen

    • You would file as Married Filing Jointly for Tax Year 2013. If you have children, then you would file as a Widower for Tax Years 2014 and 2015. Widower receives the same standard deduction as Married Filing Jointly.

      More info:
      Taxpayers whose spouse has died may be eligible for a special filing status.

      In the year that the spouse died, the surviving spouse may choose to file either jointly with his or her deceased spouse or file a separate return. In the two subsequent years, the surviving spouse may be able to use the Qualifying Widow/Widower With Dependent Child filing status.

      The Qualifying Widow/Widower with Dependent Child filing status is available for taxpayers whose spouse has died in either of the two preceding tax years and who are maintaining a household for a son or daughter.

      The criteria for being eligible for this filing status:

      The taxpayer was eligible to file a joint return with his or her spouse for the year during which the spouse died, whether or not a joint return was filed.
      The taxpayer’s spouse died during either of the two immediately preceding tax years.
      The taxpayer has not remarried during the tax year.
      The taxpayer maintains a home for at least one dependent who is a son, daughter, stepson or stepdaughter, whether related by blood or adoption. This dependent resides with the taxpayer for the entire tax year except for temporary absences.

      Two Year Rule for Qualifying Widow/Widower Status
      A surviving spouse may be eligible for the Qualifying Widow/Widower status for the two years following the year in which his or her spouse died. For the tax year 2012, for example, the surviving spouse may be eligible if his or her spouse died in either 2011 or 2010. After two years, the surviving spouse would not longer be eligible as Qualifying Widow/Widower, and would need to choose another filing status.

      Types of Dependents that Qualify a Taxpayer for Qualifying Widow/Widower Status
      The surviving spouse must be eligible to claim his or her son or daughter or stepson or stepdaughter as a dependent. This is true whether the child is related by blood or adoption. However, foster children are not included in the definition, nor are other types of dependents included in this definition. That doesn’t mean a surviving spouse cannot claim these other types of dependents. What we’re looking at is whether a taxpayer is eligible for the Qualifying Widow/Widower filing status.

      Maintaining a Home for a Dependent Child
      To be eligible for the Qualifying Widow/Widower filing status, the taxpayer needs to maintain a home for a son or daughter or stepson or stepdaughter. Maintaining a home means that the taxpayer furnished over half the cost of keeping up the home. Costs of keeping up a home include rent or mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, and groceries.

      Further, the child would need to reside in the same household as the taxpayer for the entire year, except for temporary absences. Temporary absences such as illness, education, business, vacation, or military service will not disqualify a taxpayer for the Qualifying Widow/Widower status.

  107. Can me and my husband file together if he is collecting social security disability. he pays no taxes. I work and he gets a disability check.

    • Hi Brinda,
      Yes, you and your husband may file a joint tax return, even if he does not have taxable income.

      Filing separately may cause his social security disability to be taxable based on the rules for calculating how much social security taxes to include in income. TurboTax handles these calculations for you.

      Mary Ellen

    • Since you’re married, you may always file as Married Filing Jointly, and receive more credits than any other filing status.

  108. I just recently married. My husband and I are not living in the same household and he is unemployed at the time. What will be my filing status?

    • Two options: married filing jointly which will give you more tax credits or second option is married filing separately in which you both will have to prepare your own separate taxes. Also, if he is unemployed and collecting unemployment he may have to pay taxes on unemployment wages unless he opted to have taxes already taken from the unemployment checks…

    • Lisa,
      You can file as Married, filing Jointly; Married, filing Separately; or if either of you provide the home for a child or parent, you can file as Head of Household.

      You can choose the method that provides the greatest tax savings for the two of you.

      Mary Ellen

    • Married Filing Jointly, unless you are separated and have children who live with you in which case you would file as Head of Household. You receive a higher standard deduction (which reduces your taxable income) with MFJ

    • If your doctor registers your pet as a service animal (for emotional reasons), then all maintenance of your pet is deductible. Additionally, your pet can stay with you in any hotel or rental property by virtue of being said service animal.

  109. Hi, I got married to my husband in 2013. I learned that he has back child support for his now adult children. He gets his wages attached and every year he gets his tax return taken. Now that we are married any return we file together I’m afraid will be taken. Is that the case? And if it is, what other options do I have?


    • I know from experience that you can fill out a form protecting your share of your refund. Just not sure of the form number, sorry.

      • Yes, initially they will take the entire refund but once you fill out the form and send it to them, as long as you are not owing child support, the IRS, or an federal government agency, the will issue your portion of the refund.

    • You would file as Married Filing Jointly, the file for Innocent Spouse Relief, as follows:

      Injured or Innocent Spouse Tax Relief

      IRS Tax Tip 2012-60, March 28, 2012

      You may be an injured spouse if you file a joint tax return and all or part of your portion of a refund was, or is expected to be, applied to your spouse’s legally enforceable past due financial obligations.

      Here are seven facts about claiming injured spouse relief:

      1. To be considered an injured spouse; you must have paid federal income tax or claimed a refundable tax credit, such as the Earned Income Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit on the joint return, and not be legally obligated to pay the past-due debt.

      2. Special rules apply in community property states. For more information about the factors used to determine whether you are subject to community property laws, see IRS Publication 555, Community Property.

      3. If you filed a joint return and you’re not responsible for the debt, but you are entitled to a portion of the refund, you may request your portion of the refund by filing Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation.

      4. You may file form 8379 along with your original tax return or your may file it by itself after you receive an IRS notice about the offset.

      5. You can file Form 8379 electronically. If you file a paper tax return you can include Form 8379 with your return, write “INJURED SPOUSE” at the top left of the Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. IRS will process your allocation request before an offset occurs.

      6. If you are filing Form 8379 by itself, it must show both spouses’ Social Security numbers in the same order as they appeared on your income tax return. You, the “injured” spouse, must sign the form.

      7. Do not use Form 8379 if you are claiming innocent spouse relief. Instead, file Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief. This relief from a joint liability applies only in certain limited circumstances. However, in 2011 the IRS eliminated the two-year time limit that applies to certain relief requests. IRS Publication 971, Innocent Spouse Relief, explains who may qualify, and how to request this relief.

      For complete information on Injured and Innocent Spouse Tax Relief, visit IRS.gov.

  110. My wife and I are both on Social Security. In April I turned 66 and in July my wife turned 65. We both have an annuity from teaching. Is there anything we can claim to reduce our Tax

    • Ron,
      Some states, like Louisiana, allow teachers to exclude their retirement income from tax.
      The normal itemized deductions of medical, tax, mortgage or investment interest, and charitable contributions may provide a reduction in your tax. If you do volunteer work for a non-profit organization, the miles you drive and any out of pocket expense can be a deduction as well.

      Mary Ellen

    • Adelaide,

      The out-of-pocket cost for needles, insulin, prescription drugs and test strips are all deductible medical expenses.

      Mary Ellen

      Mary Ellen

  111. Some states allow a deduction of funds deposited in 529 plans from state taxable income. Illinois $20,000.00 for married and. $10,000.00 single.

  112. I have asked this question before but no answer. I am in my fourth year of college I have claimed the American Opportunity Credit four times is there any
    Other credit I can claim??

    • Hi Shawna,
      Yes you may be eligible for the Lifetime Learning Credit or the Tuition and Fees deduction, however 2013 is the last year you can claim the Tuition and Fees deduction as it expired on 12/31/2013. TurboTax figures out which credit or deduction gives you the biggest tax refund.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

    • Not knowing much about your case, here is some additional info:

      The Lifetime Learning Credit is a tax credit for any person who takes college classes. It provides a tax credit of 20% of tuition expenses, with a maximum of $2,000 in tax credits on the first $10,000 of college tuition expenses. You can claim the Lifetime Learning Credit on your tax return if you, your spouse, or your dependents are enrolled at an eligible educational institution and you were responsible for paying college expenses. Unlike the American Opportunity credit, you need not be in the first four years of undergraduate classes. Even if you took only one class, you may take advantage of the Lifetime Learning Credit.

      Eligible Educational Institutions
      All accredited colleges and universities are eligible educational institutions. Additionally, vocational schools and other post-secondary institutions are also eligible. Basically, if the institution is eligible to participate in federal student aid programs through the US Department of Education, then you may use tuition paid to the school for claiming the Lifetime Learning tax credit.

      Qualifying Expenses
      Qualifying expenses include amounts paid for tuition and any required fees (such as registration and student body fees). Qualifying expenses do not include any of the following: books, supplies, equipment, room and board, insurance, student health fees, transportation, or living expenses.

      You must be responsible for paying the college tuition and fees. You also need reduce your qualifying expenses when figuring your tax credit by the amount of financial assistance received from grants, scholarships, or reimbursements from your employer. You do not need to reduce your qualifying expenses, however, if you paid for college tuition using borrowed funds, including student loans, or by using gifts from family members.

      Who Can Claim the Education Credits?
      If your son or daughter is going to college and you claim him or her as a dependent, then you can claim the education credits on your tax return. If your son or daughter is no longer a dependent, then he or she should claim any education credits on his or her own tax return. If you pay the college expenses for someone who is not your dependent, you cannot claim any the tax credit.

      Income Limitations on Lifetime Learning Credit
      The amount of the Lifetime Learning Credit is limited over a phase-out range. If your adjusted gross income is below the phase-out, your credits are not reduced. If your income is in the middle of the phase-out range, your credits will be reduced. If your income exceeds the phase-out range, you are not eligible to claim the Lifetime Learning tax credit.

      For the year 2014, the income phase-out ranges are:

      $54,000 to $64,000 : Single, Head of Household, or Qualifying Widow
      $108,000 to $128,000 : Married Filing Jointly

      For the year 2013, the income phase-out ranges are:

      $53,000 to $63,000 : Single, Head of Household, or Qualifying Widow
      $107,000 to $127,000 : Married Filing Jointly

      For the year 2012, the income phase-out ranges are:

      $52,000 to $62,000 : Single, Head of Household, or Qualifying Widow
      $104,000 to $124,000 : Married Filing Jointly

      Compare this with the income limitations on the tuition and fees tax deduction. For 2012, the full $4,000 deduction is allowed if you earn less than $65,000 (single, head of household, qualifying widow) or less than $130,000 (married filing jointly). The deduction is limited to $2,000 if your income is between $65,000 and $80,000 (unmarried taxpayers) or is between $130,000 and $160,000 (married filing jointly).

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