Advice on overlooked tax deductions, tax deductions you think you can take but really can’t, the best (and worst) DIY tax-prep services, and more.
Turbo Tax’s New and Overlooked Deductions. Sample tip:
Did you buy a new washer and dryer in 2009? Did you replace any windows? Did you install a new air-conditioning system? Taxpayers who made energy-efficient improvements to their home may get a credit worth 30% of the cost, typically up to %1,500. Spend $1,000 on a draft-free door, for example, and receive $300 off your tax bill.
Kiplinger’s Most Overlooked Tax Deductions. There are 19 of them, including moving expenses related to taking your first job:
Job-hunting expenses incurred while looking for your first job are not deductible, but moving expenses to get to that position are. And you get this write-off even if you don’t itemize.
To qualify for the deduction, your first job must be at least 50 miles away from your old home. If you qualify, you can deduct the cost of getting yourself and your household goods to the new area, including 24 cents per mile for driving your own vehicle for a 2009 move, plus parking fees and tolls. The standard rate for 2010 moves is 16 ½ cents a mile.
12 Ways to Cut Your Taxes (CNNMoney.com). For one thing, you can save if there’s a new car in your driveway:
If you bought a new car, light truck, motor home, or motorcycle after Feb. 16, 2009, you can deduct the sales taxes you paid on up to $49,500 of the vehicle’s price. You don’t need to itemize to take this special one-year write-off — making it especially valuable for high earners who typically have their itemized deductions clipped or who might otherwise get hit by the alternative minimum tax (AMT). Traded in a junker through the Cash for Clunkers program? Lucky you, you can take this break too.
10 Expenses You May Think You Can Deduct, But Can’t (WalletPop). No deducting of child support, gambling losses, or gym memberships allowed. Nor commuting expenses:
You can deduct car-related expenses that you incur during the course of your job or business. This includes traveling from one workplace to another in the course of your job or business; visiting clients, vendors or customers; and going to a business meeting away from your workplace. You can’t, however, deduct the costs of commuting to and from work. This is true even if your commute is lengthy or if you generally telecommute.
Best Online Tax-Prep Service on the Market (Slate). After comparing the options, from free to Turbo Tax’s $29.95 Deluxe software, the writer reluctantly declares that the latter is money well spent:
The questions, explanations, and help sections read like they were written by human beings rather than cut-and-pasted from the IRS website. It feels like a conversation rather than an inquisition. When Turbo Tax says you need a form, it actually shows you a photo of that form and asks “Did you receive any forms like this?” Some people may find it insulting to be treated as if they’re forgetful, lazy, and just the slightest bit dim. I happen to enjoy it, and I never had the sick, pit-of-my-stomach feeling that I would soon be visited by scowling men with briefcases.