NEW YORK (Reuters) – While this year’s taxapalooza is off to a slow start because of the earlier U.S. government shutdown, one thing already is clear: your refund might be a whole lot smaller than you were expecting.
FILE PHOTO: The new Form 1040 tax form for individuals, released by U.S. Treasury Department, is shown in this handout image obtained June 29, 2018. Department of the Treasury/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released its first set of filing season statistics last week. The average refund was down 8.4 percent from the equivalent period last year, at $1,865 from $2,035.
The lower refund amount is tied up in changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that went into effect in 2018. To match the new law, the government last year changed the amount of tax withholding it takes out of paychecks.
Yet many people did not notice and adjust their withholding. So when it comes to tax time, filers may be getting back less – even if their overall tax burden was lower than the previous year.
Not everyone should expect smaller refunds. Some may get worse news, and actually end up owing, particularly single taxpayers in states with high local taxes.
Tynisa Gaines, an enrolled agent tax preparer based in Henrico, Virginia, has a single client who is going to owe more this year in taxes, even though he is now in a lower tax bracket. This is because he can no longer deduct as much of his state and local taxes, which results in a difference of about $5,000 more in taxable income for 2018.
“He’s going to be mad,” Gaines said. “I haven’t told him yet.”
One big change that will make refunds look different is the tax form itself. Filers used to skipping straight to line 76 to make sure their refund is correct can now find that information on line 19.
The new cosmetic look of the 1040 form belies all the changes within. The redesign squishes what used to be 79 lines of information into just 22, on two half-sheets of paper.
But things did not get streamlined and simplified. All of those missing lines now correspond to six new numbered schedules and several worksheets. And that is in addition to the existing alphabetical schedules (A for itemizing deductions, B for interest and dividends, etc.)
“It’s not a postcard, you can’t mail it. It’s maddening,” said Jerry Gaddis, an enrolled agent tax preparer based in Winter Haven, Florida.
If you are an Uber driver, for example, you used to have a simple return, with just a Schedule C for business income. This kind of return is now the most complicated, said Gaines, who is seeing 15 more pages per return, on average.
You need several new additional schedules and worksheets to figure out the new 20 percent deduction for qualified business income, she added.
Phyllis Jo Kubey, an enrolled agent in New York, has basically given up trying to process the changes visually. Her tax software even comes with a “1040 reconciliation worksheet,” which takes everything on this year’s tax form and makes it look like an old 1040.
“It’s easier for me to find things on the old form than to look at six different schedules,” Kubey said.
Kubey is especially concerned for senior citizens, who might be among the last of those who fill out the 1040 by hand.
“Can you imagine if you have been doing taxes every year of your life on paper, and then all the sudden you get this? I’d go nuts,” Kubey said.
For taxpayers who file electronically, the new form might not have that much of an impact. A professional tax preparer will take your information the same as always and deal with the changes for you.
DIY tax software will prompt you for the information needed in a similar manner to previous years, with just a few new questions.
It is when the results are printed out that most people will notice the difference. Kubey decided to sidestep this by giving a copy of the old-style version to her clients with the file copy of their return.
While Kubey wants them to understand the new tax system, she knows that they will have trouble comparing this year to any past years if they cannot see the information in a way that matches it up.
Gaddis is doing something similar for clients – his software creates a three-year comparison in the old form’s style.
“I don’t even show them the new 1040,” Gaddis said. “They wouldn’t understand it and I couldn’t explain it.”
Editing by Lauren Young and G Crosse
Meghan Markle’s estranged half-brother urges the Duchess of Sussex to reunite the family
“He’s hurt and very confused about what happened to his relationship with his daughter and I think he’s a little more frustrated now because he’s got a grandchild coming up with his favorite person that he worshipped,” Thomas Jr. explained.
He continued: “They had such a tight bond together and now he’s worried about if he’s ever going to get to see his grandchild. It’s a new addition to the family and now would be a perfect opportunity for the family to get back together.”
According to Thomas Jr., the rift between the family members started back when Meghan landed the role as Rachel Zane on the TV series, “Suits.”
“A lot of the distance happened between Meghan when she went to Toronto and her first big break in TV which was ‘Suits’ and it turned out to be a big hit in the USA,” he stated, claiming that he believes the 37-year-old former actress “turned into a little Hollywood starlet” who was “focused on her career so much.”
“I get it,” Thomas Jr. noted. “I get being in that world because once you’re down that path you’ll do anything it takes to be successful so that had a lot to do with being distant from her whole family.”
However, at the same time, he added that the way he sees it is if “Meg wants to talk to me I’m sure she can get a hold of me.”
Meghan and Thomas Sr. have been at odds ever since he missed her royal wedding to Prince Harry in May 2018, and their relationship grew even more acrimonious after he published a letter from her earlier this month begging him to stop speaking to the media and to stop siding with her half-sister, Samantha Markle, who she accused of selling stories to tabloids.
In the same video interview obtained by OK! Magazine (via the Daily Mail), Thomas Jr. also spoke about Samantha, claiming “she was very jealous of Meghan from the very beginning and still to this very day.”
“‘I wouldn’t believe anything that’s written in there [her tell-all book],” he said, revealing that he hasn’t spoken to Samantha — who he reportedly describes as “negative” and “hard to get along with” — in years.
‘[Thomas Sr.] has even said to me ‘I wish Babe [Samantha’s reported nickname] would shut her mouth already and be quiet,'” he added. “My number one message for Meghan would be to reach out to her father,” he added. “It would mean the world to him to be back in her life and be part of his grandchild’s life.”
As for what Meghan was like growing up? Thomas Jr. called her a “happy kid” who was “always smiling.”
“We would have a little Christmas at our house and then go to [Meghan’s mother] Doria’s mom’s house — they had the really tight environment and it was really nice being there,” he recalled. “She was really into Disney movies, like ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Aladdin.’ There was nothing tomboy about her — she was all princess. We would take our dog for a walk and take lunch and play with the dog.”
Fox News’ Jessica Sager contributed to this report.
Khloe Kardashian responds to Tristan Thompson’s alleged infidelity
Khloe Kardashian appeared to be letting emojis do the talking amid reports that Tristan Thompson – her NBA player boyfriend and the father of her child – was unfaithful to her.
After Hollywood Unlocked, an entertainment news website, posted an Instagram video Tuesday about the alleged cheating with Jordyn Woods, who is best friend’s with Kylie Jenner, Kardashian sounded off with a series of talking head emojis in the comment section.
“#PressPlay One of our contributors was at #TristanThompson’s house party and saw what went down! @kyliejenner we need you to address some thangs with @jordynwoods,” the post said. “Anyhow, #JordynWoods stayed at his house until approximately 7am. Who needs to go?! Comment below!”
The organization, apparently noticing Kardashian’s comment, took a screenshot and posted it to their Instagram.
Larsa Pippen and Malika Haqq – both of whom are pals to the star – also reacted to the post, writing “Amen!!!!” and “STRONG FACTS,” respectively, US Weekly reported.
Kardashian and Thompson are no longer together following the alleged infidelity, according to E! News.
Representatives for the pair did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Fox News’ Julius Young and Katherine Lam contributed to this report.
Cook County state’s attorney recuses herself from Jussie Smollett case
The Cook County state’s attorney has recused herself from the investigation surrounding Jussie Smollett, as Chicago police continue to dig into the alleged hate crime attack the actor claims occurred last month.
State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself on Tuesday, but it was not immediately clear why. First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats will take over the case as acting state’s attorney, Fox News has learned.
Foxx’s recusal came as the Chicago Police Department rejected a tip the bureau received earlier Tuesday regarding the “Empire” actor’s case.
Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the department, tweeted that the tip alleging that Smollett was spotted in an elevator in his building with two men who were initially considered suspects was “unfounded as it was not supported by video evidence obtained by detectives.”
Smollett, who is openly gay and black, reported that on Jan. 29, he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant. He claimed that the men shouted racial and anti-gay slurs at him, poured a chemical substance on him, threw a rope around his neck and shouted, “This is MAGA country!”
Investigators revealed on Friday that two suspects were questioned in connection with the alleged attack, but were released without charges “due to new evidence.”
Chicago police said on Saturday that Smollett was no longer considered a victim in their investigation.
Smollett’s attorneys, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, vehemently denied that the attack was a hoax, previously telling the press: “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with.”
“He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack,” the statement continued. “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
Separately, court documents recently obtained by Fox News reveal that Smollett was convicted for DUI and providing a police officer with false information. It was not immediately clear what information he lied to police about, but it’s related to a vehicular charge. Smollett’s legal team did not deny the arrest.
Fox News’ Mike Tobin and Matt Finn contributed to this report.
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