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New forms this filing season

Tax filing material (2) Are you finally sorting through those W-2s, 1099s and all sorts of other tax documents you received?  

Now comes the fun part -- entering all that information on your tax return.

Most of us us use tax software or turn all that stuff over to a tax professional to complete the job. Still, I thought it might be helpful for a quick refresher of some new forms that might affect your return this year.

Schedule L: If you claim the standard deduction, and most filers do, this document could help you increase the amount you can claim.The new Schedule L is where you'll detail for additions you can make to your standard deduction amount.Amounts that can be added to your standard deduction are:

  1. A portion of property taxes you paid. That's $500 for single filers (including heads of households) or $1,000 for filers who are married and file joint returns. The appropriate amount goes on line 7. 
  2. State sales and excise paid on a new vehicle bought between Feb. 17, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2009. Calculations for this figure begin on line 10. 
  3. Some casualty losses for filers who live in certain federal disaster areas. This amount goes on line 6, after you complete Form 4684.

    Schedule L can be filed by both Form 1040 and Form 1040A taxpayers.

    Schedule M: This is the new document with which you'll officially claim the Making Work pay credit. Yes, most folks got this money -- $400 per person, twice that for a married couple filing jointly -- as part of the paychecks between April and December last year.

    But everyone will have to fill out Schedule M to ensure they got the correct amount.

    Most filers will be fine. Some, however, got too much credit last year and it will be reconciled here. And a few, such as self-employed folks, probably didn't get enough.

    In addition, retirees who got the $250 government check last year also must fill out Schedule M. It's already been causing some problems for these folks, so be careful.

    Schedules A and B: These are not new forms, but they have a new look this filing season. Most notably, they are now separate documents.

    In the olden tax days, all the way back to 2008 returns, Schedule B was the second (or back) page of Schedule A.

    Now, however, the new vehicle sales tax deduction that I mentioned a few paragraphs ago demands a bit more documentation. So the IRS is asking filers who itemize and claim income taxes paid as well as the sales tax for a new vehicle detail the auto info on a worksheet on the back (page 2) of Schedule A.

    And that means that info about your interest and dividend earnings now goes on a new, totally separate Schedule B.

    How long will these new or revised forms be around? It depends on how long the tax law changes that necessitated them remain in effect.

    And as we all know, with Congress that's a question that will be answered later, probably much later, this year.

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