By May 10, 2019, 141.5 million taxpayers had dutifully filed their 2018 federal income tax returns.¹ And all of them made decisions about deductions and credits — whether they knew it or not.
When you take the time to learn more about how it works, you may be able to put the tax code to work for you. A good place to start is with two important tax concepts: credits and deductions.²
As tax credits are usually subtracted dollar for dollar from the actual tax liability, they potentially have greater leverage in reducing your tax burden than deductions. Tax credits typically have phase-out limits, so consider consulting a legal or tax professional for specific information regarding your individual situation. Here are a few tax credits that you may be eligible for:
- The Child Tax Credit is a federal tax credit for families with dependent children under age 17. The maximum credit is $2,000 per qualifying child.³
- The American Opportunity Credit provides a tax credit of up to $2,500 per eligible student for tuition costs for four years of post-high-school education.⁴
- Those who have to pay someone to care for a child (under 13) or other dependent may be able to claim a tax credit for those qualifying expenses. The Child and Dependent Care Credit provides up to $3,000 for one qualifying individual, or up to $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals.⁵
Deductions are subtracted from your income before your taxes are calculated, and thus may reduce the amount of money on which you are taxed and, by extension, your eventual tax liability. Like tax credits, deductions typically have phase-out limits, so consider consulting a legal or tax professional for specific information regarding your individual situation.
Here are a few examples of deductions:
- Under certain limitations, contributions made to qualifying charitable organizations are deductible. In addition to cash contributions, you potentially can deduct the fair market value of any property you donate. And you may be able to write off out-of-pocket costs incurred while doing work for a charity.⁶
- If certain qualifications are met, you may be able to deduct the mortgage interest you pay on a loan secured for your primary or secondary residence.⁷
- Amounts set aside for retirement through a qualified retirement plan, such as an Individual Retirement Account, may be deducted. The contribution limit is $6,000, and if you are age 50 or older, the limit is $7,000 in 2019 (up from $5,500 and $6,500, respectively, in 2018).⁸
- You may be able to deduct the amount of your medical and dental expenses that exceeds 10 percent of your adjusted gross income.⁹
Understanding credits and deductions is a critical building block to making the tax code work for you. But remember, the information in this article is not intended as tax or legal advice. And it may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties.
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1. Internal Revenue Statistics
2. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.
3. Internal Revenue Service
4. Internal Revenue Service
5. Internal Revenue Service
6. Internal Revenue Service
7. Internal Revenue Service. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 allows individuals who are married filing jointly to deduct interest on up to $750,000 of mortgage debt incurred to buy or improve a first or second home. Single filers can deduct up to $375,000.
8. Withdrawals from traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10 percent federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.
9. Internal Revenue Service
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Our firm provides the information in this e-newsletter for general guidance only, and does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, investment advice or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, legal or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. Tax articles in this e-newsletter are not intended to be used, and cannot be used by any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding accuracy-related penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The information is provided “as is,” with no assurance or guarantee of completeness, accuracy or timeliness of the information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.