2020: When May became the new tax season's February.
Normally, this tax tip page would be full of post-filing advice. But, as we all know all too well by now, the coronavirus pandemic has made 2020 an incredibly abnormal tax season.
April 15 came and went without a frenzy of individual tax return filings. Those 1040s and lots of other tax tasks that the Internal Revenue Service previously has demanded be done by mid-April are now delayed until July 15.
That effectively means that with ten weeks until Tax Day 2020, May is the new February. And that means that many of us are really just now getting into gear when it comes to filing our taxes.
Tax time vs. more freedom: This unusual situation where May is part of the active tax season also coincides with some COVID-19 changes.
Some states that had enforced stay-home orders to help slow the spread of the pandemic now are letting up on the lock-down. That means, we hope, things will start returning to normal, or at least a new normal outside our houses.
That's good, as long as we follow Dr. Anthony Fauci's recommendations are are still cautious and diligent about social distancing!
But it also that means more chances for us to get distracted. If we're not careful, July 15, like the April 15 it's temporarily replaced, will suddenly be bearing down on us.
Taxes 2019 and 2020: So this May, we still need to make some tax moves so that we'll be ready when the filing due date arrives. Or before. As with the regular deadline, the IRS will gladly take your Form 1040 earlier.
We also need to be thinking about what the changes in our lives and jobs mean for our 2020 taxes. This month some of the tips will focus on those moves.
Either way, taxes are still here so here are the ol' blog's first ever May of filing season, not post-filing season, tips.
As with its predecessors, these May pieces of tax advice are highlighted in the upper right corner of the ol' blog. And as is routine, after each tip's time in spotlight, it will join all the May tips here on this page.
Let's get to them!
- 5 COVID relief payment myths — There's no need for a mayday alert, on May Day or any other day, as long as you don't fall for these 5 coronavirus stimulus myths. (May 1, 2020)
- May the Tax Fourth Be With You: COVID-19 sequel — In a galaxy very close to home, taxes are always critical. This year, coronavirus considerations offer some different takes on the annual Star Wars' inspired May the Tax Fourth Be With You sequel. (May 4, 2020)
- Charitable tax guidelines, COVID-19 changes — The tax rules for donating, along with myriad (and out-of-the-ordinary) ways to give provide philanthropic and tax-saving options for donors beyond May 5's special #GivingTuesdayNow. (May 5, 2020)
- May 13 is COVID-19 relief direct deposit deadline — If you want your COVID-19 economic relief payment directly deposited in your bank account act now. Or at least by May 13. That's the deadline to use the Internal Revenue Service's online Get My Payment tool to provide your financial institution info so your coronavirus cash goes there instead of coming to you as a mailed Treasury check. (May 9, 2020)
- 6 reasons your COVID-19 payment was short — You got your COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP). Yay! But it was less than you expected. Boo! Here are some reasons why that might have happened and how you might get the rest … but not until next year. (May 11, 2020)
- FSA, other benefit changes under COVID-19 — COVID-19's disruptions continue, this time affecting people's tax-favored workplace-provided benefits. To help ease those problems, the IRS has issued a couple of notices that allow changes to things like medical spending accounts and dependent care assistance programs. The goal is to give employees more flexibility to adjust benefits in this uncertain time. (May 12, 2020)
- Homeowner's insurance is tax deductible in some situations — Owning a home is costly. But one of those expenses, your property's hazard insurance, might be at least partially tax deductible. That's the case if you're self-employed and work from home. (May 14, 2020)
- Hurricane prep time is here — The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is off to an early start, just like happened last year. Fortunately, Tropical Storm Arthur didn't cause many problems to U.S. coastal residents. But the early storm is a good reminder that we need to prepare now. Here are some disaster kit tips, as well as financial and tax issues to consider, along with this year's storm names. (May 17, 2020)
- File beyond 7/15 with IRS' OK — Tax Day 2020 is three months later than usual thanks to COVID-19 complications. Still, some folks will find they need more time as July 15 nears. No worries. You can still use Internal Revenue Service Form 4868 to get an extension until Oct. 15. (May 19, 2020)
- Tax-free COVID payments in most states — Across most of the United States, the federal COVID-19 economic relief payments aren't taxable at any level. However, a handful of states' tax laws mean their residents could see these stimulus amounts taxed at the state level. Some of those states now are taking action to ensure that doesn't happen. (May 20, 2020)
- Inflation increase for high deductible medical savings plans — Looking for medical insurance with lower premiums? A high deductible health plan (HDHP) could be just the thing, especially when you add a health savings account (HSA). Here are the IRS' annual 2021 adjustments to this tax-favored medical option. And don't forget you also still have time to up your 2019 contributions. (May 21, 2020)
- Some COVID-19 payments are on debit cards — Don't have a bank account? No worries, says the Treasury Department. It's sending out a star-spangled debit card with your qualifying COVID-19 economic relief payment amount loaded on it. So look for the unmarked envelope from MetaBank in your snail mail box and don't throw away the card! (May 22, 2020)
- Expat tax break could increase COVID-19 payments — Living in Paris and getting a larger COVID-19 relief payment than you would have if you worked in the United States? That's the deal for some expats, and not just those in The City of Light, thanks to a special foreign income tax exemption. (May 23, 2020)
- HSAs mean tax savings & more filing tasks — High deductible health plans (HDHP) and associated health savings accounts (HSA) can help you save medical tax dollars. The health care choice, however, requires another tax task. You'll have to file Form 8889. (May 26, 2020)
- Form 1040-X going digital this summer — Good news for taxpayers who want to amend a tax filing mistake: the IRS will accept some 1040-X e-filings later this summer. It's only for 2019 tax corrections, but it's a start. (May 28, 2020)
Just getting started on your taxes? No problem. You can find the previous months' collected tax wisdom by clicking the links below.
And yes, you can click on May, June and June, too, but you'll just find a guy telling you to whoa up. We're not there yet. Rest assured, those tips will be added as those months arrive.
|Coronavirus Caveat & More Information
In 2020, we're all dealing with extraordinary circumstances,
both in our daily lives and when it comes to our taxes.
The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to reduce its transmission
and protect ourselves and our families means that,
for the most part, we're focusing on just getting through these trying days.
But life as we knew it before the coronavirus will return,
along with our mundane tax matters.
Here's hoping that happens soon!
In the meantime, you can find more on the virus and its effects on our taxes
by clicking Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Taxes.