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Podcast: What are the new tax changes for this year?

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Listen to Taxes Made Simple by Yahoo Finance and TurboTax to get help in filing your taxes this year.

Transcript below

Janna Herron: This is Taxes Made Simple by Yahoo Finance and TurboTax. I'm Janna Herron.

So what are the new tax changes for this year? We know that last year there were a lot of big changes, but that doesn't mean everything's the same this year. There were a handful of changes I think people need to know about. Let's start with actually filing your taxes. You could always file your taxes for free by law, especially if you didn't have a very complicated tax return. This year, the IRS has stipulated that it should be easier and has actually created a website where you could go click on the free file and it would take you to one of the programs at TurboTax where you can file your taxes for free.

Now not everybody can file their taxes for free. It depends on how complicated your taxes are. For many, many Americans, their tax returns are pretty simple. If you're only depending on a W2 to fill out your tax return, or maybe you have a few 1099's, those things are very easy and you probably should qualify for the free file.

Another interesting change this year is the IRS is really, really interested in if you invested in cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin. This year, the IRS is going to actually ask if at any time during 2019 did you receive, sell, send, exchange, or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency. So that might be a surprise for crypto investors out there. The reason behind it is that the IRS doesn't have good tracking on transactions that have to do with cryptocurrency. Usually, when you trade a stock, you sell a stock, you buy a stock, your brokerage account will send that information to the IRS and you will get a 1099 form to use to fill out your tax returns. When it comes to crypto, it's not nearly as sophisticated. A lot of the virtual currency exchange platforms don't generate those forms. So the IRS has been in the dark for a long time when it comes to cryptocurrency, so that's a big change.

There are some other things you should know about. If you got divorced last year, the way alimony or spousal support is considered by the IRS has changed. You no longer have to claim spousal support as income if you receive it from your ex-spouse. And if you're the one paying alimony, you can no longer deduct that amount from your taxes. So it's better if you are the one receiving the alimony than the one paying the alimony when it comes to this change.

There's a new change with medical expenses. If you're trying to deduct your medical expenses, it's a little bit harder this year, so your total health expenses in 2019 must be greater than 10% of your adjusted gross income for them to be deductible. Before that, the threshold was 7.5%, so it was easier to get above that threshold. Another change having to do with health insurance, if you didn't have health insurance last year, you don't have to pay a tax penalty. Before, under the Affordable Care Act. If you didn't have health insurance during the year for a certain amount of time, you would have to pay a penalty. But the new tax law that went into effect in 2017 eliminated that penalty starting last year.

The standard deduction also went up from last year to account for inflation. Now it's $12,200 for single taxpayers, $24,400 for married couples filing jointly and $18,350 for heads of household. If you do your taxes and you're really upset with how they turn out this year, say you got a really tiny refund when you wanted a bigger one, or even worse, you owe Uncle Sam some money and you don't want to do that next year, what you're going to need to do is adjust your paycheck withholdings. If you do that, you'll see that there is a new form for the paycheck withholdings, so that will be new to you.

Because it's new, it's going to be a little bit more difficult, but once you've done it and gotten the hang of it, it's actually pretty simple. My advice is to have your tax return handy so that you can plug in the numbers that the withholding form is going to ask for so that it can give you a very accurate reading on what you should withhold from each paycheck going forward. The IRS also has a paycheck withholding estimator, and what's really great about this calculator is that if you want to get a $5,000 refund, you can enter that and it will how to calculate what amount needs to be withheld from each paycheck so that you get that refund next year. And that's it for new changes this year for taxes.

This is Taxes Made Simple from Yahoo Finance and TurboTax. Please head over to Apple Podcasts and leave a five-star rating and review there. Until next time, thanks for listening.

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