It's that time of year again. The IRS will begin accepting 2018 tax returns on January 28. This marks the first filing season under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Trump in December 2017. The new law means a lot of changes, but for most Americans it should make things simpler. Among the changes are a doubling of the standard deduction and the child tax credit, while some itemized deductions have been limited or eliminated.
First, the basics. For the more than 70 percent of Americans who will get money back, the process should be fairly simple. "The best way to get a refund as quickly as possible is to file your return electronically and request that the refund be direct deposited into your bank account," says Houston-based CPA Randy Reimer. He tells KTRH there are also changes to be aware of. "There is some streamlined reporting for your itemized deductions this year," says Reimer. "Some people may not be able to itemize or may not need to itemize because the limits have increased significantly."
With the ongoing partial government shutdown causing fears about delayed returns, the IRS recently recalled 60 percent of its workforce to help process refunds, assuring the public there will be no delayed refunds due to the shutdown. However, for those claiming certain credits, such as the child tax credit or earned income credit, there may be some delays. "There has been a lot of fraud going on the last number of years, and the IRS has put in procedures to mitigate that," says Houston-based CPA Robert Fumagalli. "And one of (those procedures) is taking longer to process returns with these types of credits."
The average tax refund last year was nearly $2,900, but Fumagalli recommends keeping more of that money up front instead of "loaning" it to the government for several months. "People should think about changing their W-4 form at work, and maybe claim more exemptions on it so they get more money on an ongoing basis in their paycheck, versus getting a large refund in March," he says.