Families with college students may save tax on their 2017 returns with one of these breaks

The recently passed Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 included an extension of the tuition and fees deduction. This is one of a few higher education tax breaks families with college or grad students may be able to claim on their 2017 returns. There’s also the American Opportunity credit and the Lifetime Learning credit. In most cases you can take only one break per student, and, for some breaks, only one per tax return. Other rules and limits also apply. To learn which break(s) will provide you the greatest savings on your 2017 tax return, contact us. 

Read more: Families with college students may save tax on their 2017 returns with one of these breaks

TCJA temporarily lowers medical expense deduction threshold

 

With rising health care costs, claiming whatever tax breaks related to health care that you can is more important than ever. But there’s a threshold for deducting medical expenses that may be hard to meet. Fortunately, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has temporarily reduced the threshold.

Read more: TCJA temporarily lowers medical expense deduction threshold

State and local sales tax deduction remains, but subject to a new limit

Individual taxpayers who itemize their deductions can deduct either state and local income taxes or state and local sales taxes. The ability to deduct state and local taxes — including income or sales taxes, as well as property taxes — had been on the tax reform chopping block, but it ultimately survived. However, for 2018 through 2025, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act imposes a new limit on the state and local tax deduction. Will you benefit from the sales tax deduction on your 2017 or 2018 tax return?

Read more: State and local sales tax deduction remains, but subject to a new limit

Can you deduct home office expenses?

Working from home has become commonplace. But just because you have a home office space doesn’t mean you can deduct expenses associated with it. And for 2018, even fewer taxpayers will be eligible for a home office deduction.

Read more: Can you deduct home office expenses?

Don’t be a victim of tax identity theft: File your 2017 return early

The IRS has just announced that it will begin accepting 2017 income tax returns on January 29. You may be more concerned about the April 17 filing deadline, or even the extended deadline of October 15 (if you file for an extension by April 17). After all, why go through the hassle of filing your return earlier than you have to?

Read more: Don’t be a victim of tax identity theft: File your 2017 return early

Most individual tax rates go down under the TCJA

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) generally reduces individual tax rates for 2018 through 2025. It maintains seven individual income tax brackets but reduces the rates for all brackets except 10% and 35%, which remain the same.

Read more: Most individual tax rates go down under the TCJA

401(k) retirement plan contribution limit increases for 2018; most other limits are stagnant

Retirement plan contribution limits are indexed for inflation, but with inflation remaining low, most of the limits remain unchanged for 2018. But one piece of good news for taxpayers who’re already maxing out their contributions is that the 401(k) limit has gone up by $500. The only other limit that has increased from the 2017 level is for contributions to defined contribution plans, which has gone up by $1,000.

Read more: 401(k) retirement plan contribution limit increases for 2018; most other limits are stagnant

What you need to know about year-end charitable giving in 2017

Charitable giving can be a powerful tax-saving strategy: Donations to qualified charities are generally fully deductible, and you have complete control over when and how much you give. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind this year to ensure you receive the tax benefits you desire. 

Read more: What you need to know about year-end charitable giving in 2017

7 last-minute tax-saving tips

The year is quickly drawing to a close, but there’s still time to take steps to reduce your 2017 tax liability — you just must act by December 31:

Read more: 7 last-minute tax-saving tips

Even if your income is high, your family may be able to benefit from the 0% long-term capital gains rate

We’re entering the giving season, and if making financial gifts to your loved ones is part of your plans — or if you’d simply like to reduce your capital gains tax — consider giving appreciated stock instead of cash this year. Doing so might allow you to eliminate all federal tax liability on the appreciation, or at least significantly reduce it.

Read more: Even if your income is high, your family may be able to benefit from the 0% long-term capital...

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