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income tax credit

Credits and Deductions

Let’s talk a little bit about tax credits and tax deductions. Both can be used to help reduce or avoid taxation but behave differently when it comes to doing so. Tax deductions are beneficial because help lower the amount of your income subject to taxation. Deductions may be either “above the line” or for AGI, or “below the line” or from AGI. The line in the sand in this scenario is of course, AGI (adjusted gross income). Above the line deductions are beneficial because they reduce gross income to arrive at AGI. A lower AGI may result in being able to take advantages of other benefits in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) such as being able to contribute to a Roth IRA and qualifying for additional tax credits (discussed below). Common above the line deductions include pre-tax 401(k) contributions, student loan interest, deductible contributions to a traditional IRA, HSA contributions, […]

Don’t Forget the Saver’s Credit on Your Tax Return

The IRS provides a way to make your saving activities pay off more for you, by way of the Saver’s Credit. If you are eligible, it’s a great benefit.

Earlier W2 Filing Requirement in 2017

Beginning with 2017 there is a new, earlier W2 filing requirement for employers. This won’t likely impact employees. Tax preparers will be busy in January!

Canceled debt and your taxes

When you have a canceled debt, you may think you’re done with that old nuisance. Unfortunately, the IRS sees it otherwise. Technically, since you owed money beforehand and now you don’t, your financial situation is increased by the amount of canceled debt. When you have an increase to your financial situation, this is known as income. And income, as you know, is quite often taxable – but sometimes there are ways to exclude the canceled debt from your income for tax purposes. The IRS recently issued a Tax Tip (Tax Tip 2016-30) which details some important information that you need to know about canceled debt, including HAMP modifications and other items. The actual text of the Tip follows: Top 10 Tax Tips about Debt Cancellation If your lender cancels part or all of your debt, it is usually considered income and you normally must pay tax on that amount. However, […]

Dependents and Exemptions

When filling out your tax return this year, you may have questions about dependents – such as who can be claimed on your return.  Claiming a dependent can have a significant impact on your return, including increasing exemptions and possibly increasing certain credits like the Earned Income Credit and various others. The IRS recently published Tax Tip 2016-08, which lists ten facts about dependents and exemptions.  Below is the list of facts, along with some additional information that I’ve included (my comments are in italics): Exemptions and Dependents: TopTen Tax Facts Most people can claim an exemption on their tax return. It can lower your taxable income. In most cases, that reduces the amount of tax you owe for the year. Here are the top 10 tax facts about exemptions to help you file your tax return. E-file Your Tax Return.  Easy does it! Use IRS E-file to file a complete […]

5 Tax Credits You Don’t Want to Miss

As individuals begin to file their tax returns for 2015 here are some tax credits that some individuals may qualify for to help reduce, if not eliminate their tax liability. Child Tax Credit. This credit may be worth up to $1,000 per child, depending on income. The child must be under age 17 at the end of 2015, as well as be a dependent and a US citizen. Additional information can be found in Publication 972. The American Opportunity Tax Credit. This tax credit for education expenses is allowed for parents for up to the first four years of post-secondary (college) education. The benefit of this credit is that it is a “per student” credit. This means the credit can be taken for multiple children in college. The maximum credit per student is $2,500. Additional information can be found here. The Lifetime Learning Credit. Like the AOTC, this credit can […]

What the Health Care Law Means to You

Since the Affordable Care Act has been in place for over a year now, it’s important to understand what affects the health care law will have on you and your tax situation. Recently the IRS issued a Health Care Tax Tip (HCTT-2015-06) which details how the health care law can effect you. The actual text of the Tip is reproduced below:  

New For 2014 Taxes: Health Premium Tax Credit

We knew when Obamacare went into place that there would be new requirements for income tax filing, and one of the first to deal with is the health premium tax credit. This will require the use of a new form, Form 8962. Health Premium Tax Credit For this tax credit you will need to reconcile your advance credits that you have received in the form of reduced subsidized healthcare premiums.

Education Tax Benefits

Going to college can be a stressful time for students and parents. Some of the costs of your education can be offset by tax credits and reductions to income.  These credits and reductions can be complicated, so it takes a bit of coordination to keep things straight.  More than one education tax benefit may be taken in one year, but generally the expenses must be segregated from one another in your reporting.  In other words, you couldn’t take two tax benefits based upon the exact same education expenses, with some exceptions.  For example, you can use most qualified expenses for the tax credits and apply the expense toward eliminating the 10% penalty on IRA distributions at the same time. Generally though, most tax benefits for education can only be applied once to each expense.  Only one of the following credits may be used per student in any given year: American […]

Penalty for Having No Health Insurance

Note: this provision has been repealed beginning with tax year 2019. As you may already be aware, individuals are required to carry health insurance on themselves and their dependents, as of January 1, 2014.  This is the mandate set forth in the Affordable Care Act – and of course it’s an important part of making the whole Act work.  Small businesses (less than 50 employees) have a similar mandate to provide coverage for employees beginning in 2015, or face penalties themselves. Without mandating insurance coverage for everyone, the system can’t sustain the lower-cost options for folks who desperately need the medical coverage. This includes folks who are not covered by any other means (employer, Medicare, Medicaid or individually-purchased policies) and who have medical problems that require costly care.  With the mandate, healthier individuals will also have to pony up and purchase health insurance, so that the overall cost is spread […]

You’re Running Out of Time If You Want to Use These 13 Tax Provisions

Every year we say goodbye to certain things that we’ve come to know and love, and certain provisions of the tax law are not excluded from this treatment.  Portions of the tax law are intentionally added with short life-spans, and others are retired from time to time as their intended use has either changed or been eliminated. Listed below are the tax provisions (according to the Joint Committee on Taxation) that will be expiring at the end of the year – some we’ll be glad to see go, others we’ll wish would stay around a while.  Some will be extended by Congress, either at the last moment or on into the new year, as has happened in the past. Note: This article is aimed toward individual taxpayers rather than businesses, so I’ve only listed those provisions that will have impact on individuals.  There are quite a few provisions expiring that […]

Education Expense Tax Tips

One way to help ease the bite of the cost of a college education is to use all available tax rules to your advantage.  There are several items you can use, including 529 plans, Coverdell ESAs, and various credits for tuition and fee payments. The IRS recently released their Summertime Tax Tip 2013-19: Back-to-School Tax Tips for Students and Parents, providing a valuable overview of a couple of important credits and deductions.  The actual text of the Tip follows: Back-to-School Tax Tips for Students and Parents Going to college can be a stressful time for students and parents. The IRS offers these tips about education tax benefits that can help offset some college costs and maybe relieve some of that stress. American Opportunity Tax Credit.  This credit can be up to $2,500 per eligible student. The AOTC is available for the first four years of post secondary education. Forty percent of […]

Adoption Credit for Tax Year 2012 and beyond

As you probably already know if you’re in the position to seek the adoption credit, this credit has undergone some changes for the 2012 filing season. In the past, for tax years 2010 and 2011, the adoption credit was a refundable credit – meaning that you could receive the entire credit regardless of the amount of tax you have to pay.  For example, if you had $10,000 of adoption credit and your tax return otherwise indicates that your tax is $6,000, you were able to claim the entire credit and $4,000 would be refunded to you.  This was in addition to any overpayment you may have made on your withholding. However, for 2012 (and beyond, unless the rules change again) the adoption credit is back to being non-refundable.  Now, in the situation described above, the maximum amount of credit that you could claim is equal to your tax, or $6,000. […]

Receive a Tax Credit For Saving

Starting (or staying with) a savings plan can be difficult to do.  After all, it’s often difficult enough to just get by on your earnings day-to-day, week-to-week, before reducing the take-home pay that you’ve worked so hard for by putting it into a savings plan.  The thing is though, once you start a savings plan, you’ll be surprised at how little it “hurts” to start putting small amounts aside.  After a while, you won’t even miss it. In addition, the IRS has a way to help you get started – it’s called the Saver’s Credit.  This is a credit that you receive on your tax return, simply for putting money aside in a savings plan.  Pretty sweet deal, if you asked me! The IRS recently released their Newswire IR-2012-101, which details how the plan works and how you can take advantage of it.  The full text of IR-2012-101 is below: […]

Tax tips for college expenses

Most all college students are back on campus by this point but the benefits that you can receive from various tax credits will not become apparent until you pay your taxes next year. It’s important to know what tax credits you may be eligible for early on, so that you keep good records as you pay these college expenses. Recently the IRS published their Summertime Tax Tip 2012 – 25 which details tips for students and parents paying college expenses. The actual text of this tip is listed below.   Back-to-school tips for students and parents and college expenses Whether you’re a recent high school graduate going to college for the first time or a returning student, it will soon be time to head to campus, and payment deadlines for tuition and other fees are not far behind. The IRS over some tips about education tax benefits that can help […]

IRS Helps You Out When Your Boss Doesn’t Pay You Back For Expenses Related to Your Job

Employee Transfer (Photo credit: Wikipedia) When you have to pay for certain expenses in order to do your job, sometimes (if you’ve got a good employer!) your company will reimburse you for those expenses.  On the other hand, sometimes they don’t reimburse you for those expenses.  Did you know that you can deduct those expenses (to a certain extent) from your income when you file your tax return?  And in some cases, when your employer reimburses you, you still need to fill out additional tax forms in order to keep from being taxed on the reimbursements. The IRS recently published their Tax Tip 2012-54, which details how to go about deducting these expenses, and what expenses are qualified for deduction.  Below is the text of the Tax Tip in its entirety. Employee Business Expenses Some employees may be able to deduct certain work-related expenses.  The following facts from the IRS […]

Tax Credits That Can Increase Your Refund

The IRS recently issued their Tax Tip 2012-41, which lists out some of the tax credits that are refundable.  Most tax credits are not refundable, meaning that if the amount of the credit is more than your tax for the year, the credit is limited only to the amount of your tax. For example, if you had tax payable of $1,500 and then had Education Credits, Energy Credits, and/or Foreign Tax Credits amounting to more than $1,500.  Your credits will be limited to $1,500 since that’s your tax payable and the credits are not refundable. On the other hand, there are a few credits that are refundable, as listed below in the actual text from Tax Tip 2012-41. Four Tax Credits that Can Boost Your Refund A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of taxes owed.  Some tax credits are refundable meaning if you are eligible and claim one, you […]

11 Facts About the Child Tax Credit (2011)

Image via Wikipedia The IRS recently issued their Tax Tip 2012-29, which provides some key points about the Child Tax Credit. Below is the text of the tip: The Child Tax Credit is available to eligible taxpayers with qualifying children under age 17.  The IRS would like you to know these eleven facts about the Child Tax Credit. Amount With the Child Tax Credit, you may be able to reduce your federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each qualifying child under age 17. Qualification A qualifying child for this credit is someone who meets the qualifying criteria of seven tests: age, relationship, support, dependent, joint return, citizenship and residence. Age Test To qualify, a child must have been under age 17 – age 16 or younger – at the end of 2011. Relationship Test To claim a child for purposes of the Child Tax Credit, the child must […]

What Changed About the Earned Income Credit?

Image by didbygraham via Flickr I’ve received a lot of questions about this. Apparently as folks file their returns for the year, they are finding a difference in the amount of refund that they are due to receive this year versus last year.  And as they look for answers, they often focus on the Earned Income Credit (EIC) and wonder if something changed. The answer is – very little changed.  Certainly nothing that would have a significant impact on your income tax refund.  There was one significant change, in that beginning in 2011 there was no advance payment of the EIC – in years past it was an option available for the taxpayer to receive his or her EIC in advance payments throughout the year rather than waiting until the tax return has been filed.  Beginning with 2011, you have to wait to receive the EIC payment. Other than that, […]

Do You Need to File a Tax Return This Year?

Image via Wikipedia Have you ever wondered if it was actually necessary to file a tax return?  Perhaps your income is relatively low, and so you wonder if it’s really required of you to file a return. Often it’s not entirely a case of a return being required, but rather it might be in your best interest to file a return in order to receive certain credits against your income.  Recently the IRS issued their TAX TIP 2012-02 which goes over some of the things you need to be aware of when considering if it’s necessary or in your best interest to file a return.  Portions of this TIP are listed below, with additional information added. Do I Need to File a Tax Return This Year? You are required to file a federal income tax return if your income is above a certain level, which varies depending on your filing […]