QUESTION:  It is tax time and I usually do my own return.  However, with the new tax laws do you think it would be wise to have them done by a professional this year?

  ANSWER:  Your question is a good one and the answer will depend on how complex your taxes are, if there were any changes in your life during 2018 that would change your tax status and on how well you understand the new tax laws.

  I have read a number of articles on the new tax law and gathered some points that may help you decide which option to take.

  The new tax laws have introduced major changes which include an increased standard deduction, doubled the child tax credit and capped the state and local tax deductions.

  First let’s look at those taxpayers who aren’t required to file because they don’t earn enough income to pay taxes.  With the new law even though they wouldn’t be required to file they may be eligible to claim a refundable credit or a refund due from a previous year.  So it might be to their advantage to file this year.

  If during the year you collected unemployment and didn’t have taxes withheld you might end up owing taxes.  For situations like this I have always suggested  — whether required to not – to file a tax return.  You will always have a record for that year should a question come up at a later date.

  Depending on the makeup of your household you can file as single or head-of-household.  To determine which status you are entitled to and which is most beneficial for you — you need to look at your household.  Have there been big events such as marriages, divorces, births or deaths.  These types of changes can change your tax brackets or qualify or disqualify you for new credits or deductions.

  Be prepared.  Make sure you have all your tax documents before you start the process.  Missing items just complicate the job and take longer to be resolved.

  Also if you are completing the forms or having them prepared for you – proofread them before sending them on their way.  Typos, incorrect numbers and missing information cause extra time and trouble.

  While I do think most taxpayers can complete their own returns – I also think that maybe this year with all the changes – it may be the year to have a professional involved.  You can learn from what they do.

  Hope that helps.



  SATURDAY – March 2 – 8th Annual Golden Future 50+ Expo – at Oxnard Performing Arts & Convention Center, 800 Hobson Way, Oxnard.  Admission is free.

  WEDNESDAY – March 6 – 1:00 pm – Thousand Oaks Council on Aging monthly meeting will host a presentation – “Nutrition and Supplements: Facts and Myths”, at Civic Arts Plaza Board Room, 2100 Thousand Oaks Boulevard in Thousand Oaks.

  THURSDAY – March 14 – 10:00 to 11:30 am – Seminar – “Now I am Wise, Part 2 – Stepping Into a Wise Life:  The Conversation Continues” – at Agoura Hills Recreation & Event Center, 29900 Ladyface Court in Agoura Hills.  For reservations call (818) 597-7361.

  FRIDAY – March 15 – 9:30 am to 1:30 pm – 4th Annual “Caregiver Recognition Day” at Los Robles Greens, 299 Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks – Special Guest Comedian Fritz Coleman from NBC4 & Defying Gravix.  Admission is free but reservations are required and can be made by calling (805) 497-0189 or online at

  MARCH – Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association diabetes classes: Tuesday  March 5 1:30 to 2:30 pm at Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association Community Room, 1996 Eastman Avenue in Ventura and Wednesday March 6 10:30 am to noon at Simi Valley Senior Center; 2:30 to 4:00 pm at Camarillo Community Center.  No reservations needed.  Just drop in.


  Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns.  The advocates are located at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road,  Thousand Oaks, CA 91362 or call (805) 495-6250 or e-mail (please include your telephone number.)  You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.




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