4 Major Tax Credits Consumers Should Know About

In navigating the endless maze of rules and regulations known as the Federal Tax Code, it is easy to miss some important ways to lower your tax burden. Tax credits are available for a myriad of activities and lifestyle choices. Because credits provide a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the taxes you owe, taking advantage of those available to you is the easiest way to bring down your tax bill.

Some tax credits that apply to a large percentage of the public. Here are four of the majors:

Savers Tax Credit: The government is doing what they can to encourage low-income earners to save for retirement. In addition to reducing your taxable income, a contribution to an IRA, 401K, or other qualified account can also qualify you for a credit of up to $1000. To be eligible, you must have an income of $29,500 or less for a single filer, $59,000 for married filing jointly, and $44,250 for those filing head of household status. If you are thinking of opening an IRA or getting into a 401K plan at work, this may be the incentive you need.

American Opportunity & Lifetime Learning Credits: These are two different education credits available to those seeking a post-secondary education. The American Opportunity Credit allows you to claim up to $2500 of tuition and other expenses put toward the first four years of post-secondary studies. To qualify, single filers must have an income of $80,000 or below and married filing jointly must have an income of $160,000 or below.

The Lifetime Learning Credit offers additional flexibility in exchange for a lower credit maximum. It is available not only to those seeking a four-year undergraduate degree, but also for those seeking a graduate degree or for those not pursuing a bachelor’s degree at all. The maximum credit available is $2000, and it is only available to single taxpayers with incomes of $52,000 or below and married joint filers with incomes lower than $104,000.

Child/Dependent Care Credit: This credit allows taxpayers to claim up to 35% of qualified costs of childcare or dependent care while working or looking for work. Dependents must be under the age of 13, unless they are mentally or physically incapacitated. In the latter cases, for those who qualify, there is no age limit.

Earned Income Tax Credit: The EITC is considered by many experts to be the “mother of all tax credits”; it applies to a large number of taxpayers, the amount of the credit can be significant, and it is refundable, meaning you can receive it even if you did not owe any taxes during the year. Unfortunately, many who qualify for the EITC do not take it because they are either unaware of it, or do not know that the credit is refundable. If you are a low-to-middle income worker between ages 25 and 65, this credit may apply to you. Talk to your tax professional to find out if you qualify for the EITC or any of the previously aforementioned credits.

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