Ed note: When you file with H&R Block online, you never have to file alone. All of our products come with tax support options that allow you to chat or email one of our professionals with questions. Another great thing about that is it allows us to see trends and patterns – common issues that trip people up. Leer en español.
If you are trying to get your return filed on time, but are stumped by a tax issue, you might not be alone. H&R Block has an awesome Q&A resource that you can search by topic for help, or you can check out the IRS interactive assistant.
For your convenience, here are three of the most common tax questions The Tax Institute and our tax pros have gotten this year – with answers for you!
Did you know that scholarships might be treated as taxable income? If you receive a scholarship that is used for qualified tuition, fees, books, supplies or equipment required for enrollment, it could be excluded from gross income if you are a degree candidate. If the scholarship specifies it CANNOT be used for tuition and related expenses – instead it must be used for things like room and board – then it will need to be included on your tax return as income. Which leads to the question…
Who reports scholarship income? The student or their parent?
Answer: the student who received the scholarship.
For example, a college student used $15,000 of a $20,000 scholarship to pay for tuition, fees and books. The remaining $5,000 was spent on room and board. The $5,000 must be included in that student’s gross income and not as a part of his or her parent’s income.
Head of Household
We get a lot of questions about head of household. It definitely seems to be the filing status that trips people up most commonly. One of the most frequent questions is:
Since my spouse is the only member of the family who is employed, should she/he file as head of household?
Unless you and your spouse lived apart for more than six months of the tax year, you’ll either file as married filing jointly or married filing separately. Neither of you can file as head of household if you lived together at any point in the last six months of the tax year. Furthermore, married filing jointly usually has better tax consequences than head of household.
This issue often affects the early birds.
I filed my return when the IRS opened on Jan. 20, but I’ve gotten a 1099 since then. What should I do?
Answer: You should amend the return.
If you receive income statements (like a 1099 or W-2) after you file your return, you should submit an amended return (Form 1040X), no matter how small the amount of income. Excluding income is one of the most common mistakes we see made on tax returns. The amended return can be prepared in one of our offices or through our online and software products, if you used them initially. It cannot be e-filed. If you prepare it yourself, it will need to be printed and mailed.
While it’s always a good idea to be early, remember that wage statements don’t have to be mailed until Jan. 30 of each year. So it’s best to wait to ensure you have all the documents needed to file, and file a complete return the first time.
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