TurboTax Answers Most Commonly Asked Tax Questions

Tax Planning

The tax deadline is almost here, and with the tax deadline 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 2017 like disaster relief and tax reform. 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 $4,050 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 millions of 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 children who qualify receive a credit worth up to $6,318.

Does healthcare reform impact my 2017 taxes?

With tax reform enacted at the end of 2017 there have been questions around the requirements to have healthcare coverage.  The Affordable Care Act changes under the new tax reform law do not happen until 2019.  Individuals with income over the federal poverty level are still required to have healthcare coverage or they may be subject to a penalty.  All of the exemptions (based on income, religious beliefs, and citizenship) are still in place.

Are unemployment benefits taxable?

Although unemployment income is taxable you may be happy to find your 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.

In addition, there are tax breaks for victims of natural disasters who have withdrawn from retirement accounts.

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 Tax Credit, benefits full-time and part-time college students in their first four years of college 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 was recently extended through 2017. 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 legitimate tax deductions 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 the recent tax law changes impact my taxes?

On December 22, the President signed the tax reform bill into law, but it’s important to keep in mind that for most people, the bill does not affect their taxes for 2017 (the ones they file in 2018).

Because the majority of taxpayers are starting to see bigger paychecks due to 1% to 3% lower tax under the new tax reform law you should revisit your W-4 and adjust your personal withholding allowances.  You should also revisit your W-4 due to changes to the 2018 tax law such as changes to itemized deductions, increased child tax credit to $2,000, the new dependent credit, and the eliminations of dependent and personal exemptions.

There are also provisions in place that provide tax relief for victims of the recent hurricanes and California wildfires.

The newly passed Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 also extended expired tax breaks through 2017 on February 9th.

I was impacted by a natural disaster in 2017. What tax breaks are available to me?

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 that was passed on February 9, 2018 makes changes to the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017, including extending the tax relief provided to cover disaster areas related to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria that were declared between September 21 and October 17, 2017.

If were a victim of the California Wildfires there are special rules allowing access to retirement funds, temporary suspension of limits on deductions for charitable contributions, allowance of deductions for personal casualty disaster losses, and special rules for measurement of earned income to help you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

What if I still have questions?

Don’t worry about knowing these tax laws.  TurboTax has you covered and will ask simple questions and give you the tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for.  If you still have questions, you can connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent and get your tax questions answered.  A TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent can also review, sign, and file your tax return.

 

Comments (230) Leave your comment

  1. Hi there!
    I had to resign from my retail job and as part of it was allowed to cash out my PTO, I make 12.03 an hour and I had 54 hours of PTO making a total cash out of $649.62. What percentage of this amount should I save for taxes? And do I put it under income or under bonuses? If it matters I believe that I will be making under $10,000 before tax this year either way. I also live in Raleigh NC.
    Thank you.

  2. Simple Question??? How long after my Tax Filing is accepted by the IRS will I get my Refund? This should be the number ONE response.

  3. Hi,

    If you file your taxes with your last paystub and the amount that was made was more than what your W2 says.Would it effect your refund,and what can be done to fix

  4. My son and I fill up our taxes separately. We had moved to a new address , we were transfer to a job with the same company. Our moving qualifying expenses are more than $ 2000.00.
    We shared costs with the same credit card and cash. How can we claim the costs in our income taxes? We use Turbo tax every year

  5. Why does it say i got a 360 dollar credit for paying interest on student loans but it only added 53 to my fed and 3 to my state?

  6. I think I goofed up on my state returns & may have to do a amended return. My return says I’m entitled to 600.00 but do not expect a check,because I applied it to my taxes for 2016. I don’t know how I goofed that up. What do I do?

    Thanks!

  7. what is the difference between putting down rent or own home…. should i file single or married my final decree for divorce hasn’t come through but i been separated for almost 8 months …. i have a 4 year old …..

  8. Hi I have a question..
    My husband lost his job last year and cashed in his retirement early he opted to have the taxes taken out then . My question is with his retirement and his earned income for last year we qualify for earned income credit. We have 4 dependents and I was wondering if he will get the federal he paid back since when qualifying for earned income credit you get back all federal taxes also. Should I expect earned income credit this year to include the Federal that was deducted from early withdrawal? Thanks

  9. When u file taxes an it tell you how much you get back for federal an va refund after you put in all your w2 does that includes your kids tax credit or it shows after you click file

  10. What would you have to do to receive the child credit on your taxes?? Do you have to make enough?? And how much for 3 children??

  11. I forgot to claim my daughter, she’s 11, on my taxes last year. I thought it was her father’s turn. Will I be subject to penalties and fines.

  12. I went to efile my w2s and I did my boyfriends for him as well, I’m getting back more income tax than him, however he gets paid more than I do at his job, at least double what I make, why is that? We both elected to receive more money on our paychecks than our income tax too.

  13. My son worked in 2014 but did not file that year because I filed him s a dependent. He is filing this year with a dependent of his own. Can he file his 2015 and 2014 W-2’s together this year

  14. I had two children in college in 2015. Each received “financial aid” but I had to pay out of pocket for both an approximate total amount of $7,000. Am I gonna get any type of credit for this out of pocket money? Also, my 23 year has not job even though he graduated but still lives at home. Can I claim him? He had a job for about 1 1/2 months, will he need to file?

  15. If i got a early loan from a tax company can i fill my own taxes and pay them back what i borrowed cause for 200$ i got to pay back 280 wich i have. O problem doing but they also said they must do my taxes now my total is $480.

  16. I’m a full-time employe. My wife recently got a job in December anfd worked for only last 4 days of the month. Can I still claim her as a dependent while filing joint tax return? She earned ~$500 this year.

  17. 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.

  18. 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
      http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Family-Help
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. 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.

      Thanks,
      Nicolle

  22. 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

      Thanks,
      Nicolle

    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,

      TurboTaxDougR

  23. 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

  24. 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

      http://www.irs.gov/uac/Sales-Tax-Deduction-for-Vehicle-Purchases

  25. 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,
      TurboTaxJoanna

  26. 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.

  27. 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

  28. 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

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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?

    Thanks.

    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

  32. 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?

  33. 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?

  34. 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?

  35. 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?

  36. 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

  37. 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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