Taxes 2020: 7 On Your Side, Answers to tax questions asked by viewers

Michael Finney Image
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Do you have questions about filing your taxes? 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney and a team of experts will be here to help beginning at 4 p.m.

RELATED: Worried about the tax law changes? Here's what you need to know about filing your taxes

Keep up to date with changes to the tax law, new deductions and deadlines. A team of volunteers from the Golden Gate Society of Enrolled Agents, California Society of CPAs and United Way's Earn It, Keep It, Save it will be on hand to answer your questions on both social media and over the phone.

You can call in your questions to our hotline and speak live with a volunteer beginning at 4 p.m. Wednesday until 8 p.m.

You can call 415-954-7621 beginning at 4 p.m. today (Wednesday, February 12). The phone lines will not be activated and no one will be available to take your call until then.

Our hotline gets busy and you may find it easier to send in your questions in advance using the form below or by tagging them #AskFinney on social media.


1. Question: The health insurance mandate is no longer on Federal but the state says you'll be fined 695 bucks is every state like that or is just Ca? Or is this even right

Answer: Technically, the federal mandate is still in place, but the fine has been suspended. Californians will still face the fine starting in 2020.

2. Question: Any company that won't charge for basic filing after I add my student loan interest payment? Turbo tax was free until I added my student loan interest and then Wham-O. You need to pay 40 bucks to file....

Answer: Adding the student loan interest payment meant that your return was no longer a "simple return!" FreeFile from the IRS should be able to help you out. ( There is an income limit, and possibly other limits, but check it out.

3. Question: Is Income Average still available at IRS and FTB, and if so, how many years forward or back can be included? How difficult is it to complete?

Answer: No, that stopped being available a few years ago.

4. Question: I was given a fraud id password to file my taxes but misplaced it. I did call the IRS and ask for a replacement one but its taking a while as well as my 1099 form from social security. I worked very little in 2019 am low income. I have everything else I need my w2s and proof of health care. how much longer should I wait. I did call at the beginning of feb to both social security and irs. thank you very much.

Answer: Fraud ID numbers are issued via mail, and, as you know, prevent anyone from filing your taxes without that number. They should take three weeks or less, so you should call again to ask if it has been issued and mailed. 1-800-829-1040.

5. Question: When are tax refund checks being sent out?

Answer: Depends on if it's filed online; the processing completes on the following Wednesday, the check is generated the Wednesday after that, and direct deposited Thursday night, and it should appear in your bank account on Friday. Mailed checks take about an additional 3-4 days to arrive. If you submit your taxes via mail, then it can take about 3 weeks. California is faster; they do their check runs every day!

6. Question: Is it right I couldn't add my daughter for child tax credit because she was 17 last year?

Answer: Yes, that is correct. 17 years old is when someone is no longer considered a child for that credit. For dependents, 19 years old is the upper limit (and requires that you provide over half of their support), unless they are at least a half-time student, and then the age is 24.

7. Question: My home sustained fire damage. I've been living in another home until my home is completely repaired. What kind of items or losses can I write off or deduct on my taxes?

Answer: The Feds have restricted this deduction so much that few people still get it. (California still allows it.) You must take the total cost of the damage and deduct the insurance payout and from the balance, deduct ten percent of your adjusted gross income. The balance of that goes on your Schedule A, but the standard deduction may wipe it out. Do the calculations and figure out if you can use this on the Federal; if not, see if it can go on your state.

8. Question: I lost my house in the Kincaid fire. FEMA gave us no assistance so is it true I don't get any kind of right off or loss?

Answer: This is not necessarily true. There are lots of factors, including the fact you were in a disaster area, and your other income. You should speak to an enrolled agent in your area, check out this website where you can search by area code:

9. Question: I have only social security income. I filled out forms, but neither owe or receive a refund. Do I still have to send in forms?

Answer: No, in this instance you don't have to file. Keep copies of your forms in case something comes up, but you do not need to file.

10. Question: My daughter who is 18 and my dependent is going to a beauty college which is very expensive. Is there a limit as to the amount of tuition and supplies required for school that can be deducted - I am referring to the dollar amount

Answer: The American Opportunity credit is available for the first four years of undergraduate study, it includes tuition, books, fees, supplies, and equipment; it's limited to $2,500 per student, which is 100% of the first $2,000, and 25% of the $2,000. There is an income limit on the parents (married, filing joint is $160,000). After that, there's a Lifetime Learning Credit.

11. Question: If someone works for a public agency and participates in a 403b program. If he also has a sole proprietor business on the side. Can he participate in the SEP-IRA program in addition to the 403b program from his job?

Answer: Yes, he can, however there are income limits. He's considered to be in a pension plan for the 403b, so he is limited to $103k or less to get the full deduction.

12. Question: Were there tax changes regarding children? Or do things change when your kids hit 17? Why have I gotten $4k before and now can only receive $2500 in deductions?

Answer: It seems like your child aged out of the child tax credit -- the age limit for that is 17. But if they're a student, they'd still qualify for the American Opportunity credit, which is available for the first four years of undergraduate study; it's limited to $2,500 per student.

13. Question: I was on medical disability leave for several months after surgery in 2019. Will I have to claim the income I received from State Disability? I also received a small amount from my long term disability insurance. Will that need to be claimed ?

Answer: State Disability, no. Not unless you were on unemployment when you got the disability, then it is counted as unemployment. If the disability insurance is through your employer, you'll get either a W2 or 1099 for it, and if it has special coding on it, then it's tax free. If it's a private policy, it might be taxable; you should check in with your insurance agent.

14. Question: I got a 3922 form from ESPP activity in 2019. I don't remember ever getting this before, but I have been in the ESPP program for decades. On TurboTax, there was no place to enter this info. Can I shred this document?

Answer: No, that is the exercise of stock options. It's on Turbo Tax, but you can't access it by form number. You have to search for "employee stock option" which will bring up a worksheet that will prepare the form.

15. Question: I got a tax form from a class action lawsuit, but it has a W2, a 1099-INT, and a 1099-MISC. Which one should I file it under?

Answer: All three! The W2 means you're paid for lost wages, the 1099-INT is for the interest from the escrow account it was paid from, and the 1099-MISC is for other income.

16. Question: Michael Finney, What if any are there to the way donations to charities like Good Will are handled when filing my taxes?

Answer: You can deduct those donations if you're itemizing. If so, it goes on the Schedule A form.

17. Question: A widow lost her husband in September. She had premium reduction through CoveredCA.

Her hubby took out money from tax deferred annuities to pay off house. He did do withholding. But the increased income means she no longer qualifies for the premium reduction.

They will let her file separately if he left her or abused her.

Will they allow her to file separately since he is deceased?

Answer: Unfortunately no, because of community property law.

18. Question: My daughter is 26 which I can't claim her as a dependent. Can I still claim her education expenses for 2019 even though I do not claim her as a dependent. She does not qualify as a dependent. Who files the educational expenses

Answer: If she's not a dependent, then she should file them on her own tax return.

19. Question: My daughter is 26 which I can't claim her as a dependent. Can I still claim her education expenses for 2019 even though I do not claim her as a dependent. She does not qualify as a dependent. Who files the educational expenses

Answer: If she's not a dependent, then she should file them on her own tax return.

20. Question: Can you include owed taxes in Chapter 7? 2010 taxes included in Chapter 7 in 2014 and didn't get cleared.

Answer: In bankruptcy, Federal income taxes generally cannot be discharged, it depends on if they're part of the reason for the bankruptcy, and if there are other issues it generally cannot be discharged -- so, it depends on the circumstances.


Take a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.