2021 Summer Tax Breaks and Tips
Summer 2021 and taxes may be the last thing on your mind, but giving tax breaks a little bit of thought now could save you a lot of money when tax season comes around again. Read on for summertime tax tips that might help you save money at tax time. Additionally, find ways to save money during the year as well as tax tax deductions or tax credits that may apply to your tax situation.
Summer Changes in Occupation or Status
Summertime gives way to many changes and opportunities. You may find a new or temporary job, begin a new school program, travel, or make changes to your home. On this page, find information regarding common summertime events and changes in taxpayers' lives. 2020 Taxes are due April 15, 2021.
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Be sure to fill out a new Form W-4 for each job when you are hired. Use the eFile.com PAYucator to estimate and calculate your tax withholding while you have the W-4 Form open.
Not only will this form let your employer know how much income tax to withhold from your paycheck, it ultimately will determine whether you will get a refund, owe taxes, or be tax balanced (not get a refund nor owe taxes) when you file your tax return next April. Use the eFile Taxometer - a free W4 Tax Withholding Assessment Tool - to help you determine your tax withholding situation and give your paycheck(s) a taxercise.
If you are a dependent, you may want to claim "exempt" on your W-4(s). Be aware that your employer will still withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes, but not income taxes. If you are claimed by someone else as a dependent and you earn a total income of $12,400 or less during 2020, you generally will not owe taxes or be required to file a tax return (though you may want to file a return to claim tax credits or a return refund). Note: the dependent's total earned income must be less than $12,400 for 2020 because that is the standard deduction for that tax year. For more information on tax rules for children and dependents, click and view the PDF file.
No matter what job you do this summer, here are more tax tips:
- Determine if You are a Wage or Self-Employed Worker: If you are hired at an ice cream shop and your employer gives you a Form W-2 that reports your income, you are a wage worker or employee. However, if you babysit, mow lawns, and/or do other other odd jobs and your employer gives you a 1099-MISC, you are generally considered a self-employed independent contractor. If your net income (income minus expenses) from self employment is $400 or more, the IRS requires you to pay self-employment taxes. This means that you pay Social Security and Medicare taxes since they are not withheld from your paycheck. Find out if you are an employee or self-employed taxpayer in order to prepare to file your tax return properly.
- Report Cash Tips as Income on Your Tax Return: There are jobs, such as a waiter or camp counselor, where you may receive cash tips. Tips are considered part of your taxable income and the IRS requires you to report them on your tax return if the tips from any one job total $20 or more.
- You May not be Self-Employed if You are a Newspaper Carrier or Delivery Person: Many newspaper carriers and delivery people are under age 18, so they are usually not subject to self-employment taxes unless they are classified as "direct sellers."
- Report Active Duty Pay as Taxable Income: If you are in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) and you attend summer advanced camp, you may receive active duty pay. While your normal subsistence allowance is tax-free, active duty pay is taxable income. Details.
- You May not Need to Pay Taxes if You Work for Your Parents: If you are younger than 18 and you work for your parents, you can earn up to the amount of the standard deduction and owe no federal income tax.
- File a Tax Return if You are Expecting a Refund: Even if you do not make enough money from your summer job to file a tax return, you may still want to do it anyway. If your employer withheld too much tax from your paycheck, you will need to file a return in order to receive a tax refund. Use the free eFile.com TAXstimator now to see if you may be entitled to a refund in 2021. Though there is no penalty for filing a late tax return if you are expecting a refund, you must file the return within three years after the original tax return deadline. After three years, the U.S. Treasury will keep the money.
- Returning to School After Summer: There are many student credits and deductions for pursuing an education that you can claim. See the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit, invest in a college savings plan, and see which expenses qualify as deductions.
Summer Weddings and Taxes
Getting married greatly affects your tax situation. Though taxes may be the last thing on your mind, being prepared tax-wise when you tie the knot can easily help you file your 2021 Tax Return in 2022. Here are some things to remember:
- Review your Tax Return Filing Status: If your get married on or before December 31 of a given tax year, you're considered be married for the entire year for tax purposes. You must file as married filing jointly or married filing separately. Take a close look at both of your incomes. If you are filing married jointly your tax brackets might change as well.
- With a new filing status also re-assess Your Paycheck Tax Withholding: You and your spouse will to coordinate pour paycheck tax withholding by increasing or decreasing your allowances on Form W-4. Your goal is to make sure your W-4 information matches the amount of tax that's withheld from your pay so you neither receive a large tax refund or owe tax when you file your return next year.
- Review and or update Your Name and Address Changes with the IRS. Make sure you inform the Social Security Administration of your name change after getting married (the Administration will send the information to the IRS). Form SS-5. Application for a Social Security Card. Report to the IRS on your address change if you moved to a new address with your spouse. That way, there would be no delays on processing your filed tax return. Form 8822, Change of Address.
- Take a fresh look at Taxes and Health Insurance. You will not pay a penalty on your 2020 return if you did not have health insurance in 2020. Details on the health insurance related the Premium Tax Credit . If you and/or your spouse purchased health insurance from the Marketplace, make sure the Marketplace knows about your new married status. That way, the Marketplace can update your Premium Tax Credit amount and you won't be surprised by a smaller refund or a higher taxes owed amount when you file your return.
Learn more about how getting married affects your tax return.
Summer Camp Expenses
Do you have kids that go to summer camp? If you have to pay someone to care for your children so you can work or look for work, you can get a tax break for the expenses. It doesn't matter whether you send your kids to day care or to day camp this summer (overnight camps don't qualify), you can count the costs toward the Dependent and Child Care Credit. See if you qualify for this credit by using this free CAREucator here on eFile.com. Read all the details on the Dependent and Child Care Credit.
Keep in mind that you must be working or actively seeking employment in order to qualify for the Child Care Credit. If you are married, both you and your spouse must be working or looking for work. The job-seeking must pay off at some point during the year because both spouses must have earned income in order to claim the credit. Unfortunately, stay-at-home moms or dads do not qualify.
Additionally, see if you qualify for the Child Tax Credit by using the eFile KIDucator. While the Dependent and Child Care Credit is geared towards parents who pay for childcare, the Child Tax Credit is applicable to most parents within certain Adjusted Gross Income brackets. Details.
Taxes and Yard Sales
If you are having a garage sale or yard sale this summer, you may wonder if you need to worry about taxes. These types of sales are generally tax-free because your used items are sold for much less than for what you bought them, making the "cost of goods sold" much higher than the selling price. On the other hand, if you sell items which you have marked up in value at a flea market, farmer's market, or craft fair, you will probably need to report your profits and losses, pay self-employment tax, and collect sales tax. Additionally, taxes may be owed if you sell valuable collectibles - see capital gains.
Have unsold items that are in good condition? You can donate them to charity and deduct their fair market value. Since you need to itemize the deductions, make sure that you keep receipts or other documents as proof of your donations in case the IRS sends you an audit notice.
Mileage for Charity
Though you cannot donate your time towards a charitable cause, you can claim an itemized deduction for driving a personal vehicle and donating services on your trip. Check out what you can deduct in current, future, and past tax years. Keep all mileage records in case the IRS asks for them after reviewing your accepted tax return.
Tax Breaks for Employing Children
Do you own a business? If you have children under the age of 18, you can hire them to work for you and then deduct the wages you pay them from your own taxable income. Furthermore, if you operate a sole proprietorship, you can employ your children without having to pay any Social Security or Medicare taxes on their wages. If the child is also under 21, their payments are not subject to the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) tax. Make sure you pay them an amount that is reasonable and based on the work they are performing in order to avoid an IRS tax audit.
Summer Rental Income
Do you have a summer home or vacation property, such as a house, condominium, apartment, boat, mobile home, or similar property? You can rent it out for up to 15 days a year without paying taxes on the rental income and you can deduct the qualified expenses for the rental home on Schedule A of your tax return. If you paid mortgage interest on your second home, don't forget to deduct the mortgage interest. Additionally, see deductible home improvement expenses.
If you visit a casino during your summer vacation, you will need to report any gambling winnings on your tax return. You can deduct your gambling losses if you itemize deductions, but only if you have winnings that are equal to or greater than the amount of your losses.
Tax Credits and Home Energy Efficiency
Summers can get exceptionally hot in many parts of the country, so you may use a lot of extra energy to keep cool. In 2020 and 2021, when you install certain renewable energy sources in your home, you can claim the Residential Energy-Efficient Property Credit, which is worth up to 26% of the total cost, as well as save money on utility bills. This credit is not restricted to your primary residence except for fuel cells and it may be claimed for newly constructed homes. There is no cap or upper limit on the credit except for wind turbines and fuel cells, however, you must own the home as rentals do not count. Find home deductions for improvements made during the summer.
Additionally, if you invest in an energy efficient vehicle, you may be able to claim credit for that as well.
Unfortunately, many people have suffered property damage this summer due to storms, tornadoes, wildfires, and other natural disasters. If this happened to you, you can deduct the reduction in value of your damaged property as a casualty loss on your 2020 or 2021 Tax Return if your home county has been declared a federal disaster area. You may get additional tax breaks, such as extended deadlines, or the right to file immediately to claim your casualty loss benefits.
Keep Copies of Tax Records
Now is a good time to make sure your personal tax records are up-to-date. Preparing and e-Filing your tax return on eFile.com is a great way to maintain your records in digital format. We also recommend that you print your tax return each year and keep a hard copy for your records. Have an account? Sign in here to print your previous tax return(s).
If you did not e-File with eFile.com, find out how to order a free transcript of your tax return from the IRS.
File Your 2020 Tax Return After Filing a Tax Extension
If you e-Filed an IRS extension for your 2020 Tax Return by April 15, 2021, you have until October 15, 2021 to file or e-File your 2020 Tax Return. Check your state(s) regarding extensions and deadlines. However, if you have all of your information ready, why wait? Create an eFile.com account or sign into your existing account to complete and e-File your 2020 Tax Return.
Waiting to file because you don't have the money to pay your taxes? You might want to know that not filing is more expensive than not paying. Find out about the penalties for not filing a tax return and for not paying.
Prepare for Next Tax Season
Though Tax Day is not until next April, it's not too early to think about how to tax plan! Review our list of stupid and smart things to do when filing taxes to help you decide what to do (and not do) when completing your tax return. Then, check out this checklist and prepare to prepare this tax season.
There are simple things you can do all year round to save money on taxes and other expenses. Check out some practical money-saving tips and ways to save on everyday expenses and bills.
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