Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tax tips for this tax filing season

The April 15 deadline for income taxes is approaching, and local and state authorities want to help you save money on your return.

President Obama’s economic stimulus bill offers a range of new credits and deductions aimed at helping put more money in consumer pockets this year, says Dee Harris Stepter, a spokeswoman for the federal Internal Revenue Service office in New Orleans.

Many of the incentives are part of the $787 billion American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act and other measures from Congress to help reduce the impact of the recession.

- Average employees. Many low- and moderate-income earners will qualify for the Making Work Pay tax credit, which will add $400 for singles and $800 for married couples towards their final tax balance.

- New homes. Those who bought a new home for the first time in 2009 can claim up to an $8,000 credit on the purchase. This measure has been extended into 2010: First-time buyers are still eligible, as are certain other prospective buyers, but those changes will be recorded on returns prepared in 2011.

- New vehicles. Taxpayers can also deduct the sales tax paid on new cars, trucks, motorcycles and RV’s bought in 2009. That’s in addition to the standard deduction.

On your Louisiana return

- School tuition and uniforms. Taxpayers can deduct up to 50 percent of the costs of private or parochial school tuition, uniforms and school supplies required by schools. Uniforms for public schools are also tax deductible. Taxpayers may claim up to $5,000 per dependent, said Byron Henderson, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Revenue. Home-schooling expenses also count.

- Homeowners’ insurance fees. Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has been collecting fees from state homeowners used to help cover catastrophic losses from hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Taxpayers are now eligible to have that fee refunded via their tax return. Be sure to bring your policy documents to claim this.

For information, call 225-219-0102 or visit http://revenue.louisiana.gov.

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