5 Tax Tips for 2019 — and Beyond

Get ready for tax season — and for another year of smart planning.

tax planning animation with calculator and credit cards

It was an unusually active year on the tax front in 2018 because dozens of new tax rules took effect that dramatically changed the way people get taxed on their income. Although investors have seen all year the impact of lower corporate tax rates in the stocks they follow, the beginning of 2019 will be the first chance that many taxpayers get to see just how large of an impact tax reform had on the amounts they have to pay to Uncle Sam.

As the new year begins and tax season approaches, there are several things you should keep in mind. Some of these tried-and-true techniques have been around for years, but some will work particularly well because of all the recent changes. Follow these tips and you’ll be in a better position to make the most of tax reform and save as much as you can on your returns.

1. Take a fresh look at your taxes

The most important thing to do as you prepare your 2018 tax return is to throw out all of your preconceptions about whether you qualify for a particular tax break. The rules have changed enough on some key provisions that if you simply ignore them out of habit, then you could miss out on a lucrative tax-saving opportunity.

One key example of this involves the child tax credit. Most of the news surrounding this credit centered on the fact that it doubled in size in 2018, to $2,000 per child. But what many people might not know is that the income limits that determine whether those with qualifying children can claim the credit have risen substantially:

Filing Status Old Law Income Threshold New Law Income Threshold
Single, Head of Household, or Qualifying Widow(er) $75,000 $200,000
Married Filing Jointly $110,000 $400,000
Married Filing Separately $55,000 $200,000


That’ll dramatically expand the number of taxpayers who are eligible. If you regularly earned a six-figure salary, you might have written off ever getting to claim the credit — but it might suddenly be available to you for the very first time this year.

2. Watch your withholding

If it turns out that you get a much larger refund when you file your 2018 return than you received in previous years, that’s only partially good news. Ideally, you could have gotten more of that money over the course of the year in your paycheck rather than waiting for a refund.

Adjusting your withholding at the beginning of the year makes a lot of sense, and it’s especially important with recent tax law changes. By selecting the right choices, you can ensure that you have an appropriate amount of tax withheld, boosting the size of your paychecks and letting you enjoy more of your earnings sooner.