#happylife: Be prepared when filing your 2018 taxes

Have you filed your taxes yet? If not, listen up. Local tax preparers say they are getting ready for the next wave of filers as we get closer to the April 15 deadline. If you need help, their biggest piece of advice is to get in early as appointment slots fill up fast!

According to the IRS, of the over 49 million people who’ve filed taxes, 38 million have received refunds. The average has been about $3,143 dollars, which is up $40 from the average at this time last year.

If you have filed and were disappointed with the refund you received, you are not alone. Local tax preparer Mark Mahaffey with Liberty Tax says that while most customers refunds are about the same, some have received less or found they owed money. He says this is most likely due to the new tax law that went in to affect for the 2018 tax season. The law is called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Under it, personal exemptions are eliminated and the standard dedection has been doubled.

Also, it changed withholding rates in paychecks. So, if your paychecks seemed a little bit bigger in 2018, you might owe more this tax season. Because of these changes, Mahaffey says don’t put off filing till the last minute.

“At least when you file, you’ll know exactly what you owe. Some people when they file say ‘I’ll only owe a couple hundred bucks.’ Then they come in April 15 and find out they owe $1,000 and they are not prepared. That causes problems and they have to get a payment plan. They incur additional fees and expenses that they could have avoided.”

Mahaffey urged filers to have a conversation now with their employer if they’ve noticed the change. Take a look over your W-4 and your withholdings.

Whether your working with a tax preparer or taking matters in to your own hands, be sure to carve out plenty of time to file as other things like the 1040 form look different.

Remember, this is the last year of the Affordable Care Act requirement to provide proof of health care coverage to avoid a penalty on your return.

For a full checklist of items you need to file, click here.

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