PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – In just over six weeks, federal income taxes are due.
Tax preparers say there is one big way you can save on your taxes, but you need to know the difference between a deduction and a tax credit.
Ask people if they know the difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit, you get “I’m not sure” and “Good question.”
A tax deduction lets you subtract dollars — like home mortgage interest — from your gross income on which you are taxed.
That’s really different from a tax credit.
A tax credit means you get to subtract money from the taxes you owe the federal government.
Let’s assume you owe $5,000 in taxes. If you get a $1,000 tax credit, you get to subtract that and end up owing the federal government $4,000.
One of the biggest tax credits — children.
“Just having a child who is under the age of 17, living at home and qualifying as your dependent, the government is going to give you a $1,000 tax credit,” says tax accountant Dan Hackett, who teaches taxes at Chatham University.
There’s another credit for child care expenses if both parents work.
“Most taxpayers with young children qualify and claim this credit,” he said.
And there are two education credits — the American Opportunity credit for undergraduate college education, up to $2,500 — and a $2,000 Lifetime Learning credit for anyone who takes a course.
Did you buy a new home last year?
You may qualify for an $8,000 tax credit that could wipe out all your federal income taxes.
“It was a big incentive to go out and buy a home,” says Hackett. “In fact, that was the purpose of it.”
If you made some energy-efficient improvements at your home like new windows, insulation, furnace, Hackett notes, “It can be a credit up to $1,500 maximum.”
And if you’re lucky, you might qualify for something called a refundable tax credit. That means if the credit is bigger than what you owe in taxes, you get the difference back in a refund from the IRS.
You could get an earned income credit check of $1,000, $2,000 or $3,000. It could be large.”
Now no surprise the Tax Code lays out some rules for who can take tax credits, often depending on how much money you make.
That’s where you need to read the IRS instructions carefully or consult a tax preparer.
But if you do it right, you will end up paying a lot less in taxes.
By the way, because of a special holiday in Washington, this year taxes are due Monday, April 18th, not on the 15th.