Ask The Taxgirl: Taxing Social Security Benefits

Taxpayer asks: If you have turned full retirement age and are receiving your retirement and also still working full time, how does this effect your taxes? Thank you. taxgirl says: This is a pretty common scenario these days – and a popular question! Once you reach retirement age, whether your Social Security payments are taxable depends on your filing status and how much other income you receive. Check your federal form SSA-1099 for the total of your benefits. Once you have that number, here are a few key points: If your only source of income is Social Security benefits, your …

Ask The Taxgirl: Last Minute Tax Tips & Issues

On Friday, I tackled some last minute tax questions from readers and viewers via a Forbes Google+ hangout. You can watch the entire hangout here (be forewarned, it’s about an hour long). In addition to last minute tax tips – and filing errors to avoid – I promised some follow-up information in the piece, so here you go… Figuring Out Whether You Need To File (includes the chart as below) Rules for Self-Employed Retirement Plans (Ashlea Ebeling) Contributions to HAS (Ashlea Ebeling) Tuition and Fees Deduction American Opportunity Tax Credit Home Office Deduction Home Office Deductions Now More Simple (Tony …

Ask The Taxgirl: Google+ Hangout Edition

With only a few days left before April 15, it’s time to wrap up those returns! Come hang out with me (and my esteemed editor, Janet Novack) at our Forbes Google+ Hangout on Friday, April 12, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. EST. I’ll be talking about common filing errors and offering last minute tax tips. You’ll have the opportunity to chat with us and ask filing-related questions. To hangout, you’ll need a Google+ account. It’s free and painless to sign up if you have a Google account (including Gmail). If you’re not signed up for Google at all, start here. The …

Ask The Taxgirl: Home Offices And Capital Improvements

Taxpayer asks: I’m confused. Both my wife and I have home offices, each using about 5% of the total home square footage. Last year, we replaced the both the hot water heater and the washer/drier. For the hot water heater, I think it’s very clear, that improvement directly impacts our home office use, so I have no issues with claiming deductions for those costs. I work from home 40+ hrs/wk and expect to be able to wash my hands after using the bathroom. However, we also replaced the washer & dryer, at a cost of $2k+. My first thought is …

Ask The Taxgirl: Paying For Kindergarten

Taxpayer asks: Most of what I read says that kindergarten tuition cannot be used in figuring the Child Care Tax Credit. However, that said, I thought that if a person resides in a state that does not have mandatory attendance in kindergarten, the tuition can be used to figure the Child Tax Credit. Kindergarten is not mandatory in Michigan, so can I add the kindergarten tuition in figuring the Child Care Tax Credit? taxgirl says: Whether kindergarten is mandatory in your state doesn’t change the answer. Expenses for a child in nursery school, preschool, or similar programs for children below …

Ask TheTaxgirl: Deducting The Cost Of Birth Control

Taxpayer asks: Hi Taxgirl, My health insurance doesn’t cover the cost of my birth control. I am trying to decide between pills and an IUD. Would either or both of them be tax deductible? taxgirl says: You can only deduct qualifying medical expenses for federal income tax purposes. Qualifying medical expenses include the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body. These expenses visits to medical professionals as well as any medicine or drug which requires a prescription of a physician for legal use. Under …

Ask The Taxgirl: Do Homeschooling Expenses Qualify As An Educator Expense?

Taxpayer asks: I called the IRS they couldn’t help me and told me to call our local office since they do not know our state laws. I did. They couldn’t give me live help on the phone unless I was a business and to have my SS number ready. TurboTax gave me a “I think so” and then put me on hold. They came back and said “well it looks like you qualify”. We live in [entity display=”Texas” type=”place” active=”true” key=”tx” natural_id=”places/46″]Texas[/entity] where homeschooling is legally considered a private school. We homeschool year round. I am the teacher and my …

Tax Questions? I’ve Got Answers.

Now that we’re into tax season, my inbox is chock full of ask the taxgirl® emails. I’m working on answering your top questions but I thought it would be a great time to offer a few reminders: I get a lot of emails and I read every single one. I’m not ignoring you but you’re also not the only email I’ll get today. So please be patient. I consider a lot of factors when I choose a question to post. If I notice a similar bunch of questions (for example, about refunds this year), I’ll try to answer those first. …

Ask the taxgirl: Marriage License and Marital Status

Taxpayer asks: I live in California. I had the wedding in 2012, but I applied marriage license in January 2013. Can I file a joint return for 2012? Thanks. Thanks. taxgirl says: For federal income tax status, marital status is determined by state law. If you are married for state purposes, you are married for federal purposes (the exception, of course, is for single sex marriages which are specifically exempt from the definition of marriage for federal purposes). States have different definitions of what qualifies as married, and a few even still recognize common law marriages. Since I’m not familiar …