The heart of the tax-filing season is February. And no, that was not an intended Valentine's Day pun.
While it's the shortest month of the year, it's full of tax activity as people get the myriad documents necessary to fill out 1040s.
And those who were able to file earlier are anxiously awaiting their tax refunds.
Just like with January's tips, this page will collect all the advice highlighted in the upper right corner of the ol' blog during February.
That way, regardless of whether you're a filer who puts off your Form 1040 task until the ultimate deadline -- which is again April 18 this year -- or someone who is already thinking about your 2017 taxes, you can come back to this and the other monthly tax tips (links at the end of this, and the other, pages) collections at your leisure -- or panic if you're on filing deadline -- for all the tax information you need.
Since February's short time frame is already ticking away, let's get to it!
- 10% medical deduction threshold for all — Are you claiming medical and dental costs on your 2016 taxes? If so and you're age 65 or older, this is the last year you'll be able to use itemized medical expenses that are more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Beginning with the 2017 tax year, the 10% of AGI limit applies to everyone. (Feb. 1, 2017)
- 5 ways to protect your tax identity — Ben Franklin famously said death and taxes are the only constants. If Ben lived today, he'd add tax scams to his list. This filing season take extra care to make sure your tax return and personal data is safe and secure from cyber criminals. These 5 security steps can help protect your tax identity and safeguard your refund. (Feb. 2, 2017)
- Claiming dependents, kids and other relatives — When someone depends on you, it could pay off at tax time. For most taxpayers, dependents are their children. These young family members provide exemptions and other tax breaks. But other relatives also can be claimed as your dependent, even in some cases where they aren't actually related to you. (Feb. 3, 2017)
- Reporting your gambling winnings — When a bet pays off, like your wagers on the New England Patriots again winning the Super Bowl, that money is taxable. It doesn't matter if the bet was legally placed at a Nevada sportsbook or made illicitly with a bookie or at a U.S.-banned online gambling website. Don't press your luck by hiding the money from the Internal Revenue Service. Here's how to report it. (Feb. 6, 2017)
- Avoid nanny tax pitfalls — Balancing work and child rearing is challenging enough. But if you get outside help for childcare and/or other household chores, you'll also have to decipher the complexities of tax and labor law. (Feb. 7, 2017)
- DIY taxes or hire a tax pro? — Tax software has made do-it-yourself (DIY) tax prep the norm for millions of taxpayers each year. But sometimes, we need a tax professional to help us get the best tax result. Here are four questions that could help you decide which tax preparation way to go. (Feb. 8, 2017)
- Where's your refund? — The 2017 tax filing season is off to a slow start, thanks in large part to a new law requiring the Internal Revenue Service to hold some refunds for additional weeks. If you've filed and are awaiting a refund, check out the IRS' FAQs on the refund process this year, including the agency's Where's My Refund? online tracking tool. (Feb. 9, 2017)
- Business tax law changes — Expensing and depreciation. Return and other filing deadlines and help hiring employees. These are just some of the new tax laws that affect business taxpayers in 2017. (Feb. 10, 2017)
- Calculating your marriage tax or bonus — After they say "I do," many couples find that tying the knot has tax consequences. Depending on your income, it could be a marriage tax or a marriage bonus. The Tax Policy Center's calculator can give you an idea of which applies to your marriage. (Feb. 13, 2017)
- Joint filing requires 2 spousal signatures — Marriage means doing things together, even things you hate, like visiting the in-laws, cleaning out the garage and filing taxes. And when you file a joint tax return, make sure both spouses sign that single Form 1040 or prepare to pay tax penalties. (Feb. 14, 2017)
- 4 ways to get your tax refund ASAP — Expecting a tax refund? The IRS aims to send you your money within three weeks of receiving your tax return. That happens, says Uncle Sam's tax collector, in 9 out of 10 cases. To make sure you're on the right side of that delivery statistic, check out these 4 tax filing tips that can help you get your tax refund as soon as possible. (Feb. 15, 2017)
- Watch out for refund loan fees — Internal Revenue Service efforts to stop tax identity theft and refund fraud have slowed the issuance of refunds to legitimate taxpayers. That's driving some cash-strapped filers to refund loan options. If you go that route, CreditCards.com cautions you to carefully check out possible tax-related loan fees. (Feb. 16, 2017)
- Alimony and taxes — When the end of matrimony leads to the start of alimony, each parting partner can feel the tax effects. (Feb. 17, 2017)
- Deducting state and local sales taxes — Are you a big shopper? The state and local sales tax you pay on those purchases might help reduce your federal tax bill. The amounts can be claimed as an itemized deduction. (Feb. 20, 2017)
- Don't fall for fake tax facts — Tax misinformation abounds during filing season, but there are no alternative tax facts here. Just the truth about paying your taxes. (Feb. 21, 2017)
- Deducting business entertainment expenses — For business owners, entertaining clients, current and potential, is a time-honored tradition. It also offers business tax deductions. Here's how to maximize the tax benefits of such business get-togethers. (Feb. 22, 2017)
- Check your filing status — Do you know your filing status? For most folks, it's probably the same as last year. But a change in your personal situation could mean you need to revisit your filing status. The Internal Revenue Service gives us 5 choices. It could make a big difference in your tax bill. (Feb. 23, 2017)
- Tax to-do list for young professionals — Welcome to the work world and its associated tax responsibilities. This list of 6 tax tips, courtesy NerdWallet via Levo, can help. And to all you new 1040 filers, we taxpaying veterans heartily welcome you to the taxpaying club! (Feb. 24, 2017)
- When married couples should file separate returns — As a married couple, you probably do most things together, including filing your taxes. Sometimes, though, spouses should consider filling out separate 1040 forms. Here are six such instances. (Feb. 27, 2017)
- Homeowner tax breaks — Owning, and eventually selling, your home provides many generous tax breaks. Just make sure you follow the tax rules. (Feb. 28, 2017)
Want more tax tip goodness? You got it!
Below are links to all the 2017 monthly daily tax tips pages. So far, it's just January. But when March and April arrive, the text below will be linked.
Can't get enough tax tips? Check out Don't Mess With Taxes' continually expanding collection of year-round tax tips and money moves.