Holly and Zachary Neal, from Dublin, Virginia, are preparing to file their 2011 income taxes. Their children are grown; however, Holly's mother, Martha, has moved in with them so Holly is no longer working. Martha is dependent on their income for support except for her $536 monthly Social Security benefit.
Zachary works for a software company and earns enough to keep their heads above water; however, he had to discontinue participation in his retirement plan so they could pay the bills. Holly is taking this opportunity to work toward her master's degree. They know they will file jointly but need your help preparing their tax return. They have gathered all of the appropriate records. as follows:
1. Is Martha's unreimbursed medical expense deductible on the Neals' tax return? Why?
2. Is Martha required to file a tax return? Why or why not?
3. What tax advantage(s), attributable to Holly's education expenses, can the Neals include on their return?
4 . How much of the total medical expenses will the Neals be able to deduct on their taxes?
5. Can the Neals' IRA contributions be deducted on their tax return? If so, to what extent?
6. Would the Neals benefit from itemizing their deductions? Why?
7. Calculate the Neals' total2011 tax liability using the method most advantageous to them.
8. Should Zach have his employer adjust his federal tax withholding amount? Why or why not?