Tax filing season doesn’t officially open until Jan. 20, but tax-savvy folks are getting ready now. Unfortunately, some of them are starting off the 2015 tax year with erroneous information.
They got an email detailing all the tax changes that supposedly took effect Jan. 1. That mailing, however, got many of its dire tax warnings all or partially wrong. And the information that is correct is incomplete in most instances.
In case you didn’t get the email, or it went directly to your spam folder, it’s full of tax rate hike announcements. Recipients are told to look out for higher taxes in connection with Medicare and other payroll taxes, capital gains and other investment earnings, and the final estates that folks leave behind.
The biggest problem with this mailing, note analysts with Tampa Bay Times Politifact.com, is that it’s a recycled version of an email circulated last year about purported Jan. 1, 2014, tax hikes. Back then, the fact-checking website gave the mailing its totally untrue, “Pants on Fire” rating.
It gets the same ignominious ranking this year.
Wrong rates, incomplete information
While some of the tax rates included in the email are correct, the mailing presents them as affecting every filer. They don’t.
Most of the tax increases over the last few years will be felt only by wealthier individuals.
Another clue that there’s a problem with the mailing is its definite political perspective. “These taxes were all passed only with democrat votes, no republicans voted for these taxes. These taxes were all passed under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare,” according to the email.
You don’t have to like Democrats or, for that matter, Republicans. And you’re very welcome to your thoughts about the new health care law. But if you spread wrong information about any of those folks or matters, then expect to get called out.
Changes made years ago
The taxes cited in this latest email actually were changed on Jan. 2, 2013, when the American Taxpayer Relief Act became law. You probably remember it as the “fiscal cliff” deal that passed with bipartisan support.
And while there are some tax changes under Obamacare, most of the incorrect taxes listed in the email have nothing to do with the health care law.
This latest tax email made some minor changes to its original version, but, says Politifact, is still “so riddled with errors — and gets so few things correct” that it, too, is determined to be “Pants on Fire.”
Follow a trusted tax source
How can you ensure that you don’t get burned by similar bad information? Visit Bankrate regularly this tax season.
Today marks the debut of our annual tax guide.
Not only do we have the correct and complete tax rate information, you’ll find things such as today’s story on a real Affordable Care Act tax filing problem with the premium tax credit, as well as tips to help make your filing easier and less costly.
More tax info from Bankrate
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Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book “The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes” and co-author of the e-book “Future Millionaires’ Guidebook.”