TurboTax Answers Most Commonly Asked Tax Questions

Tax Planning

tax questionTax season is now fully underway, and with it comes a wide range of tax questions from filers. These questions range from those asked perennially (“can I claim my boyfriend as a dependent?”) to those specific to the events of 2012 (Hurricane Sandy, healthcare reform and the fiscal cliff). To help make the tax filing process as easy as possible, TurboTax has answered the most commonly asked tax questions for this tax season.

Who can I claim as a dependent?

Your significant other is probably many things to you—but is he or she also a tax deduction? The question of who you can claim as a dependent has confused taxpayers for years.

The short answer: You can claim a “qualifying child” or “qualifying relative” if they meet specific requirements related to residence, relationship to you, age, financial support provided and income. And yes, you may be able to claim a girlfriend, boyfriend, domestic partner or friend as a qualifying relative in some cases. Claiming dependents can give you a tax deduction worth up to $3,800 per dependent and also make you eligible for many other tax deductions like the Earned Income Tax Credit.

What is the Earned Income Tax Credit and How Do I Claim it?

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a tax credit for low to middle income wage earners that has lifted nearly 7 million people out of poverty, however many people still miss it. Why do so many people miss it? Many think they don’t make enough to file their taxes so they don’t claim it. You have to file your taxes to get this valuable tax credit, which may help a family with three dependents receive a credit worth up to $5,891.

Does healthcare reform impact my 2012 taxes?

There’s been a lot of confusion about healthcare reform and taxes. Rest assured, the requirement to purchase healthcare does not impact your 2012 or 2013 taxes. You do not have to purchase health insurance until January 2014 and there may be a few exceptions based on income, religious beliefs, and citizenship. You will not see changes to your taxes related to the purchase of health insurance until your 2014 taxes are filed in 2015 if you buy healthcare coverage at a health insurance exchange.

Are unemployment benefits taxable?

The unemployment rate has dipped to 7.9 percent vs. 8.3 percent in January 2013. But that’s little comfort to the jobless who find out their unemployment income is taxable income. The good news is that job search and moving expenses may be tax-deductible. See the next question for more details.

Can I deduct the cost of searching for a job? Are moving expenses for my new job tax deductible?

Job seekers may be able to deduct many expenses related to their search: printing resumes, fees for employment and outplacement agencies, career seminar costs and business-related travel. Moving expenses relevant to your job search may be deductible if you meet the distance and time test.

What are the tax implications of withdrawing money early from a retirement account to pay bills or debt?

In difficult economic times, many people start eyeing their retirement accounts to pay off bills or debt. While it is your money, you may be unaware of the impacts of withdrawing from your nest egg. Withdrawing money early from a retirement account comes with a 10 percent tax penalty in addition to the regular income tax on the amount withdrawn. There can be other consequences, too. The retirement money may bump you into a higher tax bracket, which can result in the taxation of other income, such as social security, that you wouldn’t have been taxed on otherwise.

What are qualified education expenses? And when can I file?

College tuition skyrockets every year, but the U.S. government provides incentives with education credits and deductions. For example, the American Opportunity Credit, which was extended through 2012, benefits full-time and part-time college students with a maximum $2,500 credit per student, provided you meet modified adjusted gross income requirements.

My house foreclosed, how does that impact my taxes?

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act survived the recent ‘fiscal cliff,’ receiving a one-year extension through 2013. This means you don’t have to pay taxes on the loss of your home through foreclosure or short sale, up to $2 million (or $1 million if married filing separately).

I started my own business; can I deduct my home office expenses?

Many entrepreneurs are reluctant to write off the business use of their home for fear of being audited. But home office expenses are a legitimate tax deduction you shouldn’t miss out on. Keep in mind the space you claim as a home office should be used exclusively and regularly for that purpose.

Will January tax law changes impact my taxes?

On Jan. 1, 2013, Congress kept the U.S. from going over the ‘fiscal cliff’ by passing The American Tax Relief Act of 2012. The act includes a permanent extension of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch, the permanent reduction of tax rates and the reinstatement of several tax deductions, including the Educator Expense Deduction, the Tuition and Fees Deduction, and state sales taxes in lieu of state income taxes.

I was impacted by a natural disaster in 2012. What tax breaks are available to me?

Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters last year left many picking up the pieces, filing insurance claims, and wondering how it will affect their taxes. It’s possible to take a tax deduction for property loss claims not compensated by insurance, or in some special cases, when you’re still waiting for compensation. These are known as casualty losses and include hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, fire—even vandalism and shipwrecks.

What if I still have questions?

TurboTax is here for you. Only TurboTax let’s you talk to tax experts who are CPAs, IRS enrolled agents, and tax attorneys while you prepare your taxes, free.

Comments (210) Leave your comment

  1. I’m looking over my sons taxes and his 2013 were never filled correctly after he did an extension. If he download it and tries to print it says ” preview only” can that me mailed in? we have 2 order numbers for a total of almost $80.00 for federal and state. The state never went threw at all. What can he do to make this right.

  2. We paid our grandson $5,385 for some part time help on the farm this year. What kind of form should we give him for his taxes? That is all the money he made. He was 19 and still living at home. Should we have withheld money for taxes, medicare and/or social security?

    1. Hi Deanie,
      If you considered him an employee, you should give him a W-2. Your grandson would not be subject to all of the normal taxes that are withheld since family members may not be subject to the same taxes as other employees. You are required to withhold income taxes, but depending on the type of business you have your grandson may not be subject to all employment taxes. Here is more information to help you
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  3. I worked 6 weeks in 2014 no income tax was withheld just s/s 25.50 I have retirement check and social security less than 18,000.00 a year , no taxes are withheld from retirement or social security do I have to file taxes?

    1. Hi Betty,
      If you received retirement income you do have to file your taxes since that income will also be reported to the IRS. Depending on how much it is, it may require a portion of your social security to be taxed since a portion of your social security income may be taxable since you have other sources of income. If half of your social security plus your retirement income exceeds $25,000 if single ($32,000 if married filing jointly). You can click here to start filing https://turbotax.intuit.com/
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  4. My husband that has a daughter that lives in New York and we drive 8 hours every other weekend to pick her up and return her, can we deduct the mileage and gas on our taxes???

    1. Hi Jill,
      Unfortunately, you would only be able to deduct it if it was directly related to a business or taking a class for your job.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  5. I filled out my daughter’s taxes. She is a medical student in the East Coast, but resides here in California. She earned income last summer (2014) in California. Turbo tax will not allow me to e-file for her because I claimed her on our taxes (used her SS#). I now have to send in her tax documents through snail mail, but, I need her signature. She is back on the East coast and cannot get her signature on these tax documents. How do I file for her? Can I sign with a note attached? BTW, she is getting back money from both the state and the feds.

    1. Hello Irene,
      No, you shouldn’t sign her name for her. This could be construed as forgery and wouldn’t be advised. The best solution, however, would be to certify mail the documents to her so she can sign, then just have her mail them in after she has done so.


  6. I purchased 2013 software but didn’t do my taxes for 2013. I have also purchase 2014 software to do this years taxes. If I need to do my 2013 taxes do I have to use my 2013 software or can I do both years using my 2014 software?

    1. Hey there, Jasmine-
      Yes, you would need to use your 2013 software to file a 2013 return. There are certain situations only applicable to certain years, so not every year software will be the same. After completing your 2013 return, print and mail it—the IRS has shut down e-filing for tax year 2013.

      For information on where to mail your 2013 return, please go to https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/1900672


    2. Greetings, Jasmine

      Yes. You need to use your 2013 TurboTax software to complete a 2013 income tax return. Each TurboTax year is exclusive to its filing year. This is additionally important because filing a 2013 return using 2014 software can cause a myriad of problems including, but not limited to, penalties and interest, informal audits, and extra time spent reentering so much data.

      Best regards,


  7. I’m filing by W-2 form using the TurboTax software I bought last year. I did all the necessary updates on the TurboTax software but for some reason, it shows filing for 2013. Is this correct?

    1. Hello Henry,
      Thank you for returning to use TurboTax. I understand that you made updates to your 2013 tax software, but you will still need to purchase the 2014 software to file your 2014 tax return. At the start of every tax year, we release a new program. Tax laws change, forms get updated, and new tax forms get created – especially this year, with the Affordable Care Act. In addition, we’re constantly redesigning the program to improve your tax preparation experience year after year. Because TurboTax is built for a specific tax year, you’ll need TurboTax 2014 to file your 2014 tax return. There is no way to update your TurboTax 2013 (or earlier) software to handle the 2014 tax law changes. You can visit the following link for more information on TurboTax online and desktop software for 2014: https://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/?view=desktop

      Thank you for using TurboTax,

      TurboTax Sherri

  8. I paid over 2,000 in old motor vehicle taxes last year. Would I be able to claim any of this in this years taxes?

    1. Hi Sweetpea32,
      The IRS has a simple rule for many personal deductions, including the property tax you pay on your home. You deduct the expense when you pay for it. In other words, if you pay your property taxes early, you can claim the deduction early, and if you pay your property taxes late, you have to claim the deduction late, as well, but you don’t lose the deduction.
      State and local taxes imposed on personal property are deductible if three conditions are met: the tax must be:

      based on the value of the property,

      imposed on an annual basis, and

      imposed on personal property (a car is considered personal property).

      Payment for car, truck, or RV registration and licensing or a motor vehicle tax may be deductible as a personal property tax if it is imposed annually and assessed in proportion to the value of the car. The only condition is you have to itemize your deductions (schedule A) to take advantage of the deduction.

      As a side note. there was a credit for sales and excise taxes paid on new vehicles bought during 2009. This would only be deductible on your 2009 return. Which you would need to amend if you qualify for this credit. I only mention this as you said the taxes were “old” and offer it as a possibility.

      This link gives more info on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Which is the credit for sales and excise taxes paid on new vehicles purchased in 2009 that I mentioned


  9. Someone filed 2014 tax return on my social security number. I have spoken with the IRS who alerted me of this possibility. I now have a bill from Turbo Tax demanding payment for online service I didn’t use.
    What should I do?

    1. Hi Gratitude14 –
      I’m sorry you are having to go through this problem. I believe you chose the Refund Processing Service for your fees. After the return was rejected you would have received a bill for those fees since the paper return you would submit takes a long time to process.
      Please contact a support agent at this website: https://support.turbotax.intuit.com/contact/ Enter “billing issue” as your question. Although you are already working with the IRS, we do have some additional resources for you. Please see https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/2700327-identity-theft-what-to-do-if-someone-has-already-filed-taxes-using-your-social-security-number
      Thank you,

  10. Hi, I am non resident in USA from another country. Currently I am graduate assistant and received my W2. I tried using turbo tax but it did not file for non residents. I am in Arkansas, can you provide me right state tax form to be filled. Non-resident alien, independent.

  11. HI:) I am trying to do my taxes through turbo tax for year 2013 and 2014. Last year I was unable to do my taxes. How do I go about filing for both years? Do I have to sign into 2013 turbo tax in order to file for both years? Will I be charged twice?

    1. Hi Lindsey,
      You do have to sign in two different times since tax laws change every year the software is different every year. In addition 2013 is no longer available online since the IRS is closed for e-file for 2013. You can download the software for 2013 from here
      https://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/past-years-products.jsp and then go online and do 2014. Depending on your tax situation in 2014 you may be able to file your 2014 federal taxes free https://turbotax.intuit.com/.
      You don’t have to file your 2013 first, but if you have a refund coming for 2014 the IRS will not process it until your 2013 is filed and processed.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  12. I’m almost 17 and I work, I support my little sister because my mom is not working right now can I make my taxes with Turbotax?

    1. Hey there, Eddie-
      You absolutely can do your taxes with TurboTax. Please visit https://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/ to answer a few brief questions about yourself, and we will recommend the right product for you. Also, on that site, you will be able to see a full list of our products and what specific tax situations they support just in case you want to see your various options.
      Remember, you can always start in the Federal Free Edition, and if it is needed, then the program will request that you upgrade to support your tax situation.

      Thank you,
      Nicolle Lesuer

  13. I made 15,869 which is 1099 and 11,250 which is a w2 they with held 474.18 fed and 466.30 state we have a child we claim wife is on permanent disability would we owe the government?

    1. Is the form an 1099 Misc? Or which 1099 form? Now the 11,250 was only with held from the W2 or both the W2 and 1099? How old is the child you claim ? Since age of a child/dependant does matter the younger the child is it seems higher the EIC becomes. I see that you mention your wife is on disability so I assume this return would be for both of you as filing jointly married? Did your wife receive an SSA 1099 form aka from SSD? If so it depends on the amt of payments at end of the year for rather disability is taxable or isn’t taxable. Now SSD is the disability that people receives any wheres from the 3rd of the month or they pay could be on the 2nd or 3rd Wednesday or Thursday of each month etc., however SSI is received always on the 1st of each month = periodically. Unless otherwise the 1st lands onto an weekend and or Holiday then the last week day of the month would be the date the person gets his/her check stipend. Example: on the 30th or 31st sometimes people receive their SSI just because that’s the last date of month that falls onto an week day which is not holiday accredited.

  14. i am 24 and I will be 25 next I am graduate and I still go to school for my master I know my father can’t claim me as his dependent, if I don’t work who will claim my tuition money.

    1. Who said your dad can’t claim you as his dependent? As long as you were under 24 or up to the age of 24 on Dec.31st 2014 you can still be an dependent of your dads as long as he had you living with him for 6months or more in the past year aka 2014 and provided atleast half of your support. Now it depends on his income as to which College credit you are elgible for and also the amt you will receive as an added credit for your dads refund. All he has to do is search in Google for : can an 24 yr old college student be claimed as an dependent and then thus will verify that I am correct. The American Hope Credit is usually the credit in which the system mainly elects to allow yourself or your dad to claim since it offers the most back as an refund. I have read that this specific credit allows up to $2500 refund. Many people that I know have received no less than $1,000 credit and those who weren’t married had received $2,000 credit I am unaware of all the situations which apply that determines exact amt your dad will get refunded but even a grand would be better than nothing especially if you have FAFSA / Financial Aide therefore you wouldn’t had to of paid much out of pocket expenses if any. Now you should had received an letter from your school and plz be advised if so, IRS has already been mailed an official document showing proof of your enrollment. Therefore with 1 day left I assume you should have your dad immediately begin his taxes online tonight or 1st thing early AM tmrw. If your dad already has filed and left your college form out of his refund he may follow the steps to amend his tax refund which simply he would transfer his completed returns info onto his amended forms plus add in the college credit / tuition form then e-file it since mailing it wont get accepted unless he already put into theirs for an 6mnth extension. Please don’t opt out of this credit when it seems since you don’t work you cant support your own self therefore an grand up to $2500 could really be beneficial for your support/well being. Also make sure your dad double checks to make sure he elected under credits the EIC credit if he had already filed, and if he hasn’t done no refund submission make sure he does still elect the EIC. Usually the software will take him step by step which will lead him into the direction of the EIC form. But yes being up to 24yrs old your validated still to be an dependent. In fact in many other situations also other people above 24 are still claimed as dependents however in some rare cases instead of an refund credit people above 24 only bring an deduction on someone’s taxes. But yes you are elgible as an accredited dependent therefore not only will you be an deduction you will be an qualified refund dependent.

  15. Hi,
    In 2014 I lived on campus for both the spring and fall semester, was enrolled full time, and paid for my tuition and boarding as well as expenses with student loans. Then I lived with my older sister in South Carolina for the entire summer. The only things my parents pay for are my cell phone and for me to be on their car insurance but I don’t have a car of my own. I might’ve been at home for a month at most counting visits. I worked over the summer and I received a W-2 in January so I filed taxes for the first time and since my parents didn’t pay for anything, I filed independently. My taxes were accepted and I’ve already gotten my refund back. My parents are finally doing theirs and are trying to file me as a dependent because I was still a “student.” I need to know if this is going to affect my taxes and if this is even legal since I can’t be both independent and dependent?


    1. Hi Sara,
      If you were a full time student under 24 you would be considered a “qualifying child” but in order for them to claim you, you could not provide over half of your own support which it sounds like you do. If you already filed and received your tax refund their claim will be denied.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  16. My wife made way more money than me, and was expecting a nice tax return. I made less than half what she did, but was paid 1099-misc.
    After filing, we owe money.
    Why is that? How is that possible?

  17. Hello. The past two years I’ve received around 1,200, nothing’s changed. Jobs, yes, but basically the same duration and wages. I claim my child, she’s in my sole custody. Why is it that this year it’s saying 359?

  18. I have not filed my taxes yet but i realized my w2 said i was claiming 3 dependents when it was just suppose to be myself. I had my work change my dependent status, but what I’m worried about is when i file this year will I have to owe money?

  19. I live in Kansas so cannot claim my auto registration as a state deduction. However, I can claim the property tax I paid on it on my Federal return, I believe. Is this true and if so where do I enter it, under Deductions and Credits: Property Taxes or under Deductions and Credits: Personal Property Taxes?

  20. I’m unemployed now. But I’ve got a w2.from jack in the box. I’m trying to file, and one the question asks employment

  21. What if someone entered(2) w2’s last year, theirs and their wife’s. For some reason only one was excepted. They know They entered two though! So it’s looking like the wife didn’t file this year…. What should be done

    1. Hi Brian,
      So it looks like one W-2 from 2013 wasn’t filed. Is that correct? If that’s the case, then you should amend your 2013 taxes and include the one that is missing. If it is for 2014, if your tax return was already accepted you will have to amend. If it was rejected you can just go in and fix it.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

    1. Hi Kay,
      Yes, it is possible. Plus, although you may be below the income filing threshold you may be able to get money back on your taxes if you had federal taxes withheld and are eligible for credits like the earned income tax credit.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

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