Money Matters: Two big reasons tax stories are unusual this year

February 1, 2019 11:00

Sponsored by NEFE

Employer tax forms are all send and the IRS is accepting tax returns, but this tax filing season, where workers file tax forms for 2018 earnings, are unusual in two significant ways consumer reporters should look into this year.

Tax reform
This filing season is the first when taxpayers will see the effects of the tax reform bill signed into law at the end of 2017, and many people still don’t understand how the law affects them. It made some significant changes, including nearly doubling the standard deduction, which means more filers may be using that simpler method rather than itemizing write-offs for things like charitable giving.
 
The IRS expects total refunds to go up to go up this year, but that doesn’t mean every filer will see a bigger refund. Some of the impact depends on how much was withheld from wages throughout the year, among other factors. 

Revisit your reporting on the tax law change and refresh it with an update for how your audience is seeing the impacts now.
 
Government shutdown
The IRS has said that it still estimates refunds will be processed within 3 weeks for online filers or 6 for paper filers, despite lingering effects of the record long government shutdown. And the April 15 filing deadline still applies to almost everyone. (Is your coverage area in one of the states or areas with an exception?)

A more immediate effect will be for federal workers, who may be wonder how back pay will be paid out, when, and whether it will it be taxable income for 2019 or 2018. The answers vary by agency. For example, the Department of the Interior has said back pay will be paid out in 2019 and included on 2019 tax forms. Check with agencies that employ federal workers in your area to see what impacts they can expect on their taxes this filing season.

Here’s a great overview from an RTDNA/NEFE Personal Finance Award winner on what to expect this tax season:
 

Weekly Money Matters personal finance content for your newsroom is sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education


 




 
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