BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- All income is considered taxable unless the law specifically says it isn’t. Here are some basic rules you should know to help you file an accurate tax return:
Taxable income. Taxable income includes money you earn, like wages and tips. It also includes bartering, an exchange of property or services. The fair market value of property or services received is normally taxable. Alimony for 2017 is considered taxable income.
Life insurance. Proceeds paid to you upon the death of an insured person are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount you get that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.
Qualified scholarship. In most cases, income from a scholarship is not taxable. This includes amounts used for certain costs, such as tuition and required books. On the other hand, amounts you use for room and board are taxable.
State or local income tax refunds may be taxable. You should receive a Form 1099-G from the agency that paid you. They may have sent the form by mail or electronically. Contact them to find out how to get the form. Report any taxable refund you got even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.
Gambling winnings. You must include your gambling winnings in your income on Form 1040, line 21. If you itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040), you can deduct gambling losses you had during the year, but only up to the amount of your winnings.
Lotteries and raffles. Winnings from lotteries and raffles are considered gambling winnings. Yes, if you won $150 in a 50/50 raffle you should report it. The organization that held the raffle is required to send the state the names of its winners. In addition to cash winnings, you must include in your income the fair market value of bonds, cars, houses, and other noncash prizes.
Here are some items that are usually not taxable:
- Gifts and inheritances
- Child support payments
- Welfare benefits
- Damage awards for physical injury or sickness
- Cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer for an item you buy
- Reimbursements for qualified adoption expenses
Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.