TWIN FALLS • January does more than herald a new year. It starts a new tax season.
If you’re filing for state income tax, you’ve been given a couple of extra weeks to get your forms in order:Filing this year starts Jan. 30, said Leslie Jones, a spokeswoman for the Idaho State Tax Commission. Deadline is April 15.
“It’s actually on the day it’s supposed to be this year,” she said, noting that in recent years it was off by a day or two.
Before you start to file, however, there are some things you might want to know:
If you did any shopping for the holidays online — and didn’t pay any tax — you might owe the state, said Leslie Jones, a spokeswoman for the IdahoState Tax Commission. The same applies to those who purchased anything by phone or catalog.
“Not a lot of people know about the use tax,” she said, but it is the same rate as state sales tax. Only about 1.6 percent of taxpayers, according to Governing.com, report use tax on their income returns, Jones said.
This is something Jones is excited about because it can really help low-income families and the elderly.
“For people who don’t make enough money to file, it’s in essence a chance for them to get free money,” she said. “It is to offset the sales tax on groceries.” But even those who do file might be eligible for grocery credit.
Not everyone knows about this credit, Jones said. But more information can be found on the tax commission’s website.
“If you meet the criteria for eligibility,” she said, “that’s something really good to know.”
If you are a qualified homeowner, you may be eligible for the 2013 Property Tax Reduction program, Jones said.
The program is intended to reduce property taxes on your home and up to one acre of land by as much as $1,320. The tax commission administers the Property Tax Reduction program, but you must apply through the county assessor’s office.
Guidelines and filing procedures are outlined in the Idaho Property Tax Reduction Program brochure. For more information, contact your county assessor’s office.
Those taking deduction for state and local tax on the federal Schedule A will need to claim it on Form 40, line 14 or Form 43 (for part-year residents), line 34, according to the Idaho State Tax Commission. The instruction on those lines previously included “general sales tax” as an amount reducing the federal itemized deductions.
You won’t find those words on the form, however.
Because of the uncertainty over what action Congress would take related to averting a fiscal cliff, some jargon was left out of this year’s forms, said Cynthia Adrian, tax policy specialist with the Idaho State Tax Commission.
Part-year Idaho residents who qualify for an income tax deduction for tuition and related expenses can claim it on Form 43, line 22. This is the same line that allows a deduction for moving expenses, alimony payments, and student loan interest. Full-year residents who claim the reduction don’t have to do anything on Form 40, Adrian said, which automatically allows for the deduction when included on the federal return.
Idaho teachers can now claim a deduction of up to $250 for teaching materials, Adrian said.
“This was something that we had in prior years and has been added back,” she said.
Previously, teachers were allowed a federal tax deduction of up to $250 for out-of-pocket teaching expenses, but Idaho didn’t allow the deduction, which had to be added back to taxpayers’ income on their tax return. Congress has now extended the deduction for federal purposes, Adrian said, and the state Legislature changed the law to allow the deduction on Idaho tax returns.
Full-year residents don’t need to do anything special on Form 40, as the deduction flows automatically from the federal form; part-year residents should deduct teacher expenses on Form 43, line 25 (“Other Deductions”).
You don’t have to spend money to file online, Jones said. The tax commission’s Web page can help you out: tax.idaho.gov/i-1027.cfm
“We encourage people to file online,” she said. “It keeps records for you, does the math, and it’s easy.”
If you choose to e-file, according to the tax commission’s website, you must use the same provider to file both your federal and state returns.
If you have problems filing online, call 332-6632.
For more information about filing taxes: tax.idaho.gov