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tax credits

Just Starting With Retirement Savings? Get All the Credit You’re Due!

If you are saving in an employer plan or an IRA you need to check to make sure you’re getting the Saver’s Credit if you qualify.

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, […]

Save Money with an Energy Audit

When we hear the word audit it’s often associated with a negative connotation. However, an audit does not necessarily have to be a bad thing – especially when it can save you some money. I’m talking about having an energy audit done at your home or business. What an energy audit can do is let you know how much energy and utilities your home is using as well as let you know how much energy and utilities your home may be wasting. Of course, wasted utilities means wasted money. Let me give you an example from my perspective. About 5 years ago my wife and I decided to have an energy audit done. We called our local utility provider and inquired about the specific programs that were available. Our utility company was more than willing to point us in the right direction and they recommended a third-party contractor that was […]

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 […]

5 Tips to Lower Your Tax for 2015

With 2014 over and 2015 well on its way you may be finding yourself gathering all of your 2014 tax information and getting ready to file your income taxes. Some folks will be expecting refunds while others will woefully dread writing out a check to the IRS. If you find yourself in the group of folks that will be writing a check to Uncle Sam, here are some tips to reduce your tax burden for 2015.

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 […]

Get Your Kids to Help You With Your Taxes

Sometimes as parents we get overwhelmed with the costs of raising kids.  What with the high cost of soccer camp, video games, and lessons on the clarinet, it can be woefully expensive raising kids. Sometimes though, there are surprising ways that kids can help out with costs – and your income taxes is one of those places where having kids does help.  The IRS recently published their Tax Tip 2014-11 which lists eight ways that having children can help to lower your taxes. The actual text of Tax Tip 2014-11 follows: Eight Tax Savers for Parents Your children may help you qualify for valuable tax benefits.  Here are eight tax benefits parents should look out for when filing their federal tax returns this year. Dependents. In most cases, you can claim your child as a dependent.  This applies even if your child was born any time in 2013.  for more […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

Expanded Adoption Tax Credit

Image via Wikipedia Recently the IRS published their Summertime Tax Tip 2011-10, which lists out six facts about the expanded adoption tax credit.  The credit is considered “expanded” due to the changes made by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which increased the amount of the credit, while also making the credit refundable.  Refundable credits are such that, even if your tax on your tax return is less than the credit, whatever amount of your credit surpasses the tax can be refunded to you (much like the Earned Income Tax credit). Six Expanded Adoption Credit Facts Here are the six facts that the IRS lists: The adoption tax credit, which is as much as $13,170, offsets qualified adoption expenses making adoption possible for some families who could not otherwise afford it.  Taxpayers who adopt a child in 2010 or 2011 may qualify if you adopted or attempted to adopt a […]

A Restriction on the Home Buyer Credit

Here is a case where, even though the IRS documentation did not state it directly, the real rule of the law makes an explicit statement, and therefore the Code is where the final rules are taken from. In this particular case, there is a situation where the home buyer credit is not available: if the home is purchased from a parent or another close relative (and vice versa). And the taxpayer who relied only on an IRS publication found out the hard way that the Internal Revenue Code is the final word on the subject. There was a recent Tax Court case (Nievinski, TC Summary Opinion 2011-10) that challenged the limitation, and the Tax Court ruled in favor of the Service.  The argument was that, in a particular document, IRS Publication 4819 “Important Information About the First-Time Homebuyer Credit”, there was no express explanation of this limitation. Image via The […]

Tax Benefits For Parents

As parents, we spend a lot of money raising our children – from basic needs such as food, housing, doctor bills, and clothing, to education, daycare, soccer teams and lessons on the clarinet – it seems like the list is endless. Since the kids don’t generally pay you back (at least in dollars), the IRS steps in to help out.  There are several tax benefits that you may be eligible for just because the little urchins are in your care… and here’s a list of ten tax benefits that the IRS has put together (taken from IRS Tax Tip 2011-18): Dependents In most cases, a child can be claimed as a dependent in the year they were born.  For more information see IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information. Child Tax Credit You may be able to take this credit on your tax return for each of your […]

The Making Work Pay Credit

Many (or most) working taxpayers will be eligible to receive a special credit on their 2010 tax return, called the Making Work Pay Credit.  The IRS has recently produced their Tax Tip 2011-15 which explains five important provisions about the Making Work Pay Credit: The Making Work Pay Credit provides a refundable tax credit of up to $400 for individuals and up to $800 for married taxpayers filing joint returns. Most workers received the benefit of the Making Work Pay Credit through larger paychecks, reflecting reduced federal income tax withholding during 2010. Taxpayers who file Form 1040 or 1040A will use Schedule M to figure the Making Work Pay Tax Credit.  Completing Schedule M will help taxpayers determine whether they have already received the full credit in their paycheck or are due more money as a result of the credit. Taxpayers who file Form 1040-EZ should use the worksheet for […]

Credit for Energy Saving Home Improvements for 2011

This tax credit has undergone a change from previous years.  In 2010, for example, you could achieve a credit for as much as 30% of the cost of your energy-saving home improvements, with a ceiling of $1,500. Beginning January 1, 2011, the credit rate is now just 10%, and the ceiling has been lowered to $500.  Something important to keep in mind about this credit:  any credit claimed in prior years (2009 and/or 2010) will be used to reduce your ceiling.  In other words, if you claimed the full credit (or any amount up to $500) on a previous year’s tax return, you have no energy-saving home improvement credit available to you. In addition to the changes above, there are specific item caps in place as well.  For example, if you are putting in a new furnace or water heater, the credit for those units is capped at $150.  If […]