KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The only certainties in life are death and taxes, the saying goes, but with changes to the tax code, you might not be feeling so certain this year.
Here are the five things you need to know.
1. Your taxes could be lower.
First up, some good news. For many tax brackets, the tax rate has gone down.
"Although we still have seven tax brackets, the tax rates was dropped in several of those brackets," financial expert Paul Fain said.
Some of the brackets stayed the same, but most have dropped slightly.
2. You're probably not going to itemize this year.
"The standard deduction is doubled from 6,000 to 12,000, from 12 to 24 so a lot of people will discontinue itemizing their deductions now," Fain said.
Unless your deductions are higher than $12,000 for a single filer or $24,000 for joint filers, you're probably going to just take the standard deduction.
3. New ways to make the most of the changes.
The tax code changes have led to some creative accounting.
"People may be exploring some new strategies such as bunching where they itemize every other year and maybe load up those years with 'Schedule A' deductions," Fain said.
That means some people are essentially doubling up on property tax or charitable contributions in one year to itemize and then taking the standard deduction the next.
4. Don't mess up the simple stuff.
Just like Santa Claus, when you make your list, check it twice.
"There are ridiculously simple tips to remind people," Fain said. "Sign your return, double check the math, get the correct social security number."
5. Spend your return wisely.
And finally, if you do get some money back from Uncle Sam, Fain said to spend it wisely.
"You might put a third of it towards paying down some debt like credit card debt, a third toward building up your cash reserves. And then let's be realistic, take a third and go have some fun. All work and no play makes us all feel dull," he said.