The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 28, 2014

State tax changes have preparer's phones ringing

Taxpayers look for more refund, some money back

By Tim Krohn
tkrohn@mankatofreepress.com

---- — ST. PETER — When Gov. Mark Dayton last week signed a tax relief bill, tax preparers phones began ringing.

"We're getting lots of calls," said Marie Drantell, a certified public accountant in St. Peter.

"The ones who call are the ones who've already filed. They're looking for more refund or if they paid in, to get some back."

For now, those who've filed will have to sit tight until details of the tax cuts are rolled out and she can determine who might be in line for a refund.

For those who haven't yet filed their taxes the advice is simple: "They should wait until April 3rd."

That's the date the state is to have new forms ready representing the changes.

Drantell said people seem to be under the impression the cuts affect more people than they actually do. The state estimates that only one in 10 Minnesotans will benefit form the tax bill.

"There are some good changes. We're appreciative of the changes, but the timing could have been better. When you do retroactive changes during the tax season, you have to change the state system and all the private vendors have to change their systems."	

Drantell said that for her clients who've already filed, she will review their files this summer to see if they should file amended returns, which cost about $20 to $50 depending on the complexity and the tax preparer's fees.

The state said it will notify those who may be eligible for a benefit from the tax cut, but Drantell worries they may miss some filers, which is why she will review her clients' files.

"It's going to be a long summer."

Up to 270,000 taxpayers will get some of the $49 million in individual income tax relief made available this year.

That sum will grow substantially next year, when an estimated 650,000 filers will become eligible for larger deductions with the elimination of the so-called marriage penalty.

Some 1.4 million Minnesotans — just over half of the state's income taxpayers — have filed this year's returns, according to the state.

The tax changes align Minnesota's tax laws more closely with the federal tax code. If taxpayers have already claimed the new benefits on their federal tax returns, they will be reflected in less taxable income on their state returns.

These 10 categories of taxpayers qualify for the new tax breaks:

— Families with incomes between $25,000 and $45,000 can qualify for the Working Family Credit.

— Homeowners who paid mortgage insurance premiums.

— Former homeowners who sold a house in a "short sale" or foreclosure can exclude the amount of debt forgiven from their income.

— K-12 school teachers who bought school supplies with their own money.

— Students or parents who paid college tuition.

— Former students who paid interest on college loans.

— Parents with K-12 students who used funds from a Coverdell Education Savings Account to pay school expenses.

— Health professionals who received certain types of federal financial aid.

— Workers who received employer-paid education, adoption or transit financial assistance.

— Taxpayers over 70 1/2 who made charitable contributions from an IRA.