Some taxpayers filing returns early for fear of another government shutdown

Local News

What does the partial government shutdown have to do with filing your taxes?  It seems quite a few people nationwide think it might happen again and they are filing their taxes now to try to have that return and more importantly that refund in the pipeline.  That’s because of speculation there might be another shutdown starting February 15. a

“They have in their heads to come in now and file early while the government is still open and possibly get that refund processed, ” says Shemeka White who is a tax preparer in Savannah. 

White says while some people always like filing early, it is different this year.  And she says something else that is different is the tax form.  This is the first year that changes are being applied from the new tax law. Many itemized deductions that a lot of Americans have relied on to lower their taxable income are gone.  However, the standard deduction has been raised for both single filers and married couples filing jointly, etc. 

“Most of the time the itemized deductions they have won’t reach that standard deduction threshold ($12,000 for singles and up to $24,000 for married joint filers) so it’s looking slightly different for those taxpayers,” says White.  “But if they’re paying their taxes properly then they will still come out okay without owing.”

White says some filers who are unaware of the changes may have some difficulty “because some things they can write off and some things that they can’t.” 

The itemized deductions many are used to are disappearing but at the same time, there is an increase in the child tax credit.  

White says many people will still get refunds but not everyone may get as much as last year. She also says the EZ form is kind of a thing of the past and most people can use the 1040 form which has been shortened. “Because you don’t have all that itemizing to do,” she said. 

In some cases, though you may need to complete schedules that go with the 1040 form.  (There are up to six schedules but most people would not use more than one or two.) 

White says the idea is to work toward a way to simplify the tax filing process.  “Actually, a lot of the lines (on the 1040 form) have been eliminated and some of the forms are already set up to look as small as a postcard so it will be up to the taxpayer to go in and either let a professional file the return or to do it themselves.” 

Nationwide though some experts say this year at least some consumers may want to use a tax preparer to help them navigate the changes or at least to use an online tax preparation program. 

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