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It's never too early to start planning for next year's tax return

If the next three months pass as quickly as the last three months have, the tax season will be upon us before we know it. And, if experience is any kind of teacher, no matter how thoroughly we have planned, there is always another line item, deduction or credit to think about -- not to mention any IRS rule changes from the 2014 tax year.

While it may not affect everyone, the rules for the Affordable Care Act will change. Most importantly, the individual mandate penalty will go up to either 2 percent of annual household income or $325 per person per year (with a $975 maximum per family), whichever is higher. Remember, the penalty is assessed for each full month that a taxpayer or taxpayer's family member is without health insurance or has not been granted an exemption.

There are also changes to the federal poverty guidelines. Taxpayers will have to make a little more to qualify for assistance with health insurance premiums purchased through MNSure.

Taxpayers will want to be on the lookout, too, for Congress to re-enact some or all of the tax extenders that expired at the end of 2014. Because Congress has a tendency to wait until the very last minute to address the extenders, taxpayers may have some last-minute details to attend to between Christmas and New Year's.

Anyone who has been married or plans to be married during 2015 will have to address those tax consequences, of course. However, because Minnesota legalized same-sex marriage in 2013, the state's same-sex marrieds need not scramble to work with the disconnect between the federal and state tax returns.

Finally, there is good news for everyone: Emancipation Day will be observed on Friday, April 15 in 2016. That moves the tax deadline to Monday, April 18, 2016. We will all have a couple more days to check our math and make sure all of the appropriate forms are attached.

Source: Accounting Today, "Top Tax Issues for 2016," Aug. 27, 2015

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