Though the tax-filing deadline is near, there's no need to panic. You still have time to employ some smart strategies and avoid common problems and hassles. The tax experts at Grant Thornton provide the following suggestions and reminders.
Look Here for Additional Deductions
Paid real property taxes. Congress extended a new deduction for non-itemizers on real property taxes of up to $500 for singles and $1,000 for married couples filing jointly. If you don't itemize your deductions but paid real property taxes, don't forget this deduction.
Your new car. "Cash-for-clunkers" stole all the press, but don't forget about the new deduction for state and local sales tax on new-car purchases made between Feb. 17 and the end of 2009. The deduction is allowed for taxes on the first $49,500 of the car's price, and the income limit is unusually high for this type of targeted benefit. The deduction phases out beginning at income levels of $125,000 for individuals and $250,000 for joint filers.
Home improvements. The February stimulus bill revitalized the energy-efficient home improvement tax credit. For 2009, you are entitled to a 30% credit of up to $1,500 for installing energy-efficient insulation, windows, roofs, fans, furnaces and water heaters.
Paid tuition. February's stimulus bill enhanced the HOPE credit and renamed it the American Opportunity Credit for 2009 and 2010. The 2009 version features a higher income phaseout ($80,000 to $90,000 for singles and $160,000 to $180,000 for joint filers), an increased maximum credit of $2,500 and 40% refundability.
Moves You Can Still Make to Reduce 2009 Taxes
Contribute to an IRA. Contribute to your IRA anytime before April 15 and get an above-the-line deduction on your 2009 return. If you don't have one, set one up. Contribution limits for 2009 are $5,000 plus a $1,000 "catch up" for those 50 and over. Contributions offer deductions only at income levels below $109,000 for joint filers and $65,000 for singles.
Contribute to an HSA. If you were covered by a "high deductible" health plan in 2009, you have until April 15 to contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA) and deduct it from your 2009 return. Limited to $3,000 for individuals and $5,950 for families, plus a $1,000 "catch up" for those 55 and over.
Buy a home. If you buy a house in 2010 that qualifies you for the homebuyer credit, you can claim it on your 2009 return. The credit offers up to $8,000 for "first-time homebuyers" who have not owned a...