The best part about this app is that you can punch in all different scenarios to see
how each one effects your tax liability. It's a great tool you can have at you access
anytime you want to see how personal changes effect your year end tax liability.
Planning on making a donation, getting married, having kids, becoming self employed,
signing up for education classes, contributing to a retirement account? they all effect
The TurboTax TaxCaster Tax Calculator will track these changes and show you
how they effect IRS income tax obligations.
TurboTax TaxCaster Taxpayer Income Tax Data Gathering and Tracking Checklist
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TurboTax TaxCaster checklist
This checklist is a detailed record of the documents and personal data needed
which is used by the TurboTax TaxCaster Tax Calculator App to accurately calculate
your income tax liability.
TaxCaster 2018 - 2019 Tax Season Users Guide
At this point we begin with the TaxCaster "my info" start screen that requests
entries for age, marital status, and dependents. While the first two items are
fairly simple, your answers for dependent questions pose a large influence on you
TurboTax TaxCaster Start Screen -- My Info
you have any children or dependents? A dependent is a person who entitles the
taxpayer to claim a dependency exemption. Each dependency exemption decreases the
amount of income subject being taxed. The term "dependent" means a "qualifying
child" or a "qualifying relative."
- The child has to have lived with you for at least half of the year.
- The child has to be related to you as a son, daughter, stepchild, foster
child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of
- The child must be 18 or younger at the end of the year, or under 24 if a
student. To be a student, the child must have attended school full-time during
at least five months of the year. The five months don’t have to be in a row.
- The child must be younger than you (or your spouse, if married filing
jointly), unless the child is disabled.
Rules for Claiming Other Relatives and Unrelated Persons as dependents. For a
parent or other relative, there are different additional requirements:
- The person cannot have a gross yearly income over an annually set limit
- The person can’t be claimed if someone else that can claim them does.
- The person must be either related to you or must have lived with you all
year as a member of your household.
TurboTax TaxCaster Income Screen
is where you enter your annual income, taxes already paid, stock sales and interest
or dividend income.
- Employee income / taxable wages
- Self employment income or -
- Business income
- Unemployment income
- Profits from stock sales
- Interest and dividend income
- Other types of income
TurboTax TaxCaster gathers this income data while it starts applying your counter
balancing data in order to lower your overall taxable income. This in tern lowers
the amount of taxes you owe.
Data gathered to drive your taxable income down includes:
- W-4 Federal Employee Paycheck Withholdings
- State Withholding
- Self Employment Quarterly Payments
Your W-4 employee withholding is governed by the W-4 withholding form your
employer has that dictates how many exemption you claim in order to lower the amount
of taxes you pay from each paycheck.
Exemptions are used in combination to claiming dependents. By doing this the
exemptions balance out the the tax advantage you get from having dependents so that
your tax bill comes out close to even at year end. Not owing too much, or getting to
big of a refund -- which means you gave Uncle Sam an interest free loan.
As these figures come together you can start to see a running positive (refund)
or negative (taxes owed) balance as TurboTax TaxCaster presents this figure while it
continues to change as additional data is entered.
TurboTax TaxCaster Tax Breaks Screen
is where the meat and potatoes come into play to help get that tax bill whittled
down as much as possible. Tax breaks are all those little things, "and sometimes
substantial things" that really do add up to a lot when it comes to cutting
First up is education expenses and the tax breaks that are available to qualified
tax filers. The tuition and fees deduction for qualified education expenses can
reduce a taxpayers taxable income by up to $4,000, even if you are not itemizing
your deductions. The main deductible expenses include:
- Tuition and fees paid
- Student loan interest paid
You may qualify to deduct courses you take that maintain or improve skills required
for your occupation. Also, if your employer or a government agency requires you to
take courses you may also qualify for a deduction. In this case, you need to
itemize. Reasons you would not qualify for a deduction include:
- You’re above the IRS's income threshold
- You're married and file separately.
How much you can deduct will be based on your modified adjusted gross income,
MAGI. Software from TurboTax can help
to determine if you’re eligible and TaxCaster can calculate how much you can deduct.
Now comes home ownership tax deductions. There are several changes in this area
beginning with 2018 tax returns. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes limit
itemized deductions for personal state and local property taxes and personal state
and local income taxes (or sales taxes if you choose that option) to a combined
total of only $10,000 ($5,000 if you use married filing separate status).
Individuals now can only deduct a maximum $10,000 of personal state and local
property taxes — even if they didn't deduct anything for personal state and local
income or sales taxes. Deductible expenses can include:
- Mortgage Interest
- State and Local Property Taxes
- Home Office Expenses
- Capital Gains From a Home Sale
The personal residence capitol gains exemption allows taxpayers who have lived in their property as a primary
residence for two years out of the last five years to deduct $250,000 of profit tax
free as a
single person, or $500,000 as a married couple.
Additional tax deductions in the TurboTax TaxCaster tax breaks screen section
include charitable contributions, and IRA, retirement fund contributions. For
charitable contributions another top notch tracking tool is the
TurboTax ItsDeductible App. And an
IRA Contribution Calculator can help you
determine how much you can invest tax free in your retirement account.
Next is the Review Screen and Future Forecast Screen
review screen will show you how your data has been tallied up and the result of
The future forecast screen compares the results from your current calculations to
a projection for the following year to see how next years tax bill stacks up against
your current tax year.
This TurboTax TaxCaster Forecast Feature allows you to move from getting a quick
estimate of your current 2018 tax year refund or amount owed, to forecasting next
years 2019 tax bill based on new tax reform laws that will take place in the
The added ability to forecast next years tax bill based on the new tax reform
laws happens to be one of my favorite features. It's a super convenient feature to
be able to see what's ahead for tax planning purposes.
I’d encourage every person to spend a few minutes forecasting their new tax
liability for 2019.
Thanks for taking time to check out our TurboTax TaxCaster App input data
checklist and user guide.