Tax Day is this Monday, April 15. Yes, that's right -- THIS Monday!
Haven't filed your taxes yet? Check out these tips to ensure you and your spouse receive the maximum benefits on your returns, even in the last minute rush to pay good 'ol Uncle Sam.
- Be aware of extended tax breaks: This year, in efforts to avoid the fiscal cliff, legislation extended some family-friendly tax breaks that previously expired. This includes the tuition and fees deduction and a credit for energy efficient home improvements, both of which were set to expire after 2011.
- Take into account life changes: Getting married, buying or selling a home, having a baby, sending a child to college, or even retiring will likely affect your taxes. Be sure to let your tax professional know about these monumental life changes as they could mean additional tax breaks or changes to your tax return.
- You may be eligible to claim casualty losses: Victims of Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters may be able to claim a casualty loss for any damages not covered by insurance on their 2012 tax return, or if more advantageous, on their 2011 return. Claiming a casualty loss as an itemized deduction could mean significant tax savings for millions of taxpayers. So remember, if in 2012 you were in a federally declared disaster area and experienced a casualty loss because of the disaster, talk to a tax professional to see if you should claim the loss on your 2011 or 2012 return.
The tuition and fees deduction can lower your taxable income up to $4,000 for qualified higher education expenses you paid in 2012.
You are eligible to claim a credit for up to 10 percent of the cost of eligible home improvements to your main residence, with a maximum lifetime credit of $500! For example, in 2012, if you and your spouse purchased and installed energy efficient windows and doors or insulation, you may be eligible for this tax break.
Still don't feel like you have enough time to file? You can file for an extension through April 15, but take note; an extension does not extend the time to pay tax liability. Even if you can't pay the taxes you owe, you should file an extension to avoid the 5 percent monthly penalty for failing to file your return. You will need to estimate your 2012 tax liability and pay at least 90 percent by the April filing deadline. H&R Block can help taxpayers understand their payment options if there is a balance due.
Participating H&R Block offices are offering free extension filing now through April 15. To find a tax office in your area to file for an extension or to prepare your 2012 return, visit hrblock.com.
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