Happy Returns: Rules Change, so You May be Eligible for a Tax Return

March 28, 2016|

Tax formBy Christine Hall, CPA, Hall, Murphy & Schuyler

Most people file a tax return because they have to, but even if you don’t, there are times when you should because you might be eligible for a tax refund and not know it.

This year, there are a few new rules for taxpayers who must file. The six tax tips below should help you determine whether you’re one of them.

  1. General Filing Rules. Whether you need to file a tax return this year depends on a few factors. In most cases, the amount of your income, your filing status and your age determine if you must file a tax return. For example, if you’re single and 28 years old you must file if your income was at least $10,300. Other rules may apply if you’re self-employed or if you’re a dependent of another person.
  2. Premium Tax Credit. If you bought health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2015, you might be eligible for the Premium Tax Credit; however, you will need to file a return to claim the credit.

If you purchased coverage from the Marketplace in 2015 and chose to have advance payments of the premium tax credit sent directly to your insurer during the year, you must file a federal tax return. You will reconcile any advance payments with the allowable premium tax credit.

You should have received Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, in February. The new form has information that helps you file your tax return and reconcile any advance payments with the allowable Premium Tax Credit.

  1. Tax Withheld or Paid. Did your employer withhold federal income tax from your pay? Did you make estimated tax payments? Did you overpay last year and have it applied to this year’s tax? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you could be due a refund. But you have to file a tax return to get it.
  2. Earned Income Tax Credit. Did you work and earn less than $53,267 last year? You could receive EITC as a tax refund if you qualify with or without a qualifying child. You may be eligible for up to $6,242. If you qualify, file a tax return to claim it.
  3. Additional Child Tax Credit. Do you have at least one child that qualifies for the Child Tax Credit? If you don’t get the full credit amount, you may qualify for the Additional Child Tax Credit.
  4. American Opportunity Credit. The AOTC (up to $2,500 per eligible student) is available for four years of post-secondary education. You or your dependent must have been a student enrolled at least half-time for at least one academic period. Even if you don’t owe any taxes, you still may qualify; however, you must complete Form 8863, Education Credits, and file a return to claim the credit.

If you are still unsure as to whether or not you need to file a return this year contact your regular tax preparer. They can assist you with making that determination. You may meet the requirements one year but not the next so be sure to check the rules each year!

Hall, Murphy & Schuyler, PC is a full-service public accounting firm. They have a staff of experienced professionals that stand ready to meet all of your accounting, tax and general business needs. For a complimentary consultation, call 706-855-7733 or email at cmh@HMandScpas.com.

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