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Tax season here. 7 changes for 2015 (and 9 of the weirdest deductions)

The deadline to file your tax returns is still a few months off, but it’s time to begin gathering documents and figuring out what you need to pay – and, more importantly, what you can write off. To help you fill out your 2014 returns and plan for 2015, here are few tax changes, big and small, for 2015. Plus, as a bonus, we’ve included nine of the most peculiar deductions allowed by the US tax code.

1. Affordable Care Act: Increased penalty, PTC credit

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    An Estimated Tax form at H&R Block tax preparation office in the Echo Park district of Los Angeles. There aren't many major changes for taxes in 2015, but two of the biggest come from the Affordable Care Act.
    Damian Dovarganes/AP/File
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Compared with last year, when the Affordable Care Act took effect, there are relatively few major changes to income taxes this year. But like 2014, the two biggest changes for 2015 tax filing come thanks to Obamacare. The first is an increase in the penalty for not having health insurance. When they file returns this year, taxpayers who didn’t have proper insurance coverage in 2014 will pay a fine of 1 percent of their household income or $95 per household member (whichever was higher). If you aren’t insured for 2015, the fine on your 2015 returns will jump up to 2 percent of household income, or $325 per person. If you want to avoid getting socked with serious fines in the future (over $1,200 for a family of four) the deadline to sign up for coverage this year is February 2015.

If you have coverage, all you have to do is check a box on your tax return. You may also qualify for an exemption to the penalty: the list of exemptions from the IRS can be found here.

The second big change is the debut of the premium tax credit (PTC), a refund available to families who get their health coverage through state-run exchanges. You qualify, generally, if your household income is between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line and you don’t have access to an employee-sponsored health plan. The amount of the credit varies, but you can either claim it with your insurance company to lower your monthly premiums, or you can claim it on your yearly tax return.

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