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Help Squad: Money saving tax tips that could save you big bucks

There are so many wonderful reasons to love spring: warmer temperatures, melting snow, longer days and blooming flowers.

There’s only one catch, and beside all the rain, it’s probably the one thing people don’t look forward to in April: tax return day.

April 15 is right around the corner, and if you haven’t finished your taxes yet, we’re here to help!

Help Squad reached out to Arlene Levin and Dan Wolf, certified public accountants and shareholders in their Northbrook-based accounting firm, Steinberg Advisors.

Levin and Wolf, who between them have 65 years of tax preparation experience, offered nine tax tips that could save you big bucks! So ask yourself these questions:

1. Did you make make 2013 contributions to your retirement plans? That includes IRAs, Roth IRAs and SEP IRAs. These funds grow tax-free and can be generally be pulled out anytime after you turn 59 ½.

2. Do you work at home? New this year: a simplified option for home office deduction which allows you to deduct $5 per square foot of the space you use for your business. You can write off up to 300 square feet (a maximum of $1500). But keep in mind, the traditional method, taking a percentage of actual expenses may still often yield a higher deduction.

3. Did you’ve make a capital purchase this year for your business? This would include such items as a new computer, a desk, or other work related equipment. If so, you can take an accelerated deduction, meaning you can deduct up to the full amount for 2013 versus taking depreciation deductions over a period of time.

4. Have you considered eduction credits? That’s right, you can get educations credits on your State of Illinois tax return for your kids’ school expenses from Kindergarten through high school. Whether your children attend private or public school, you can write off registration fees, books and school supplies which are purchased through your child’s school.

5. What about investment fees? When reporting your investment income, make sure you deduct any investment management fees that might have been paid. This may reduce the income and lower the amount of your net investment income tax.

6. How about religions dues? If you have paid any dues to your church or synagogue, these are considered a donation and you can write off the amount you paid.

7. Are you making healthy contributions? If you have a high deductible health insurance plan, you are eligible to have a Health Savings Account. If so, you have until April 15 to contribute to the account for 2013. The amount of the contribution is tax deductible, and can then be used to pay medical expenses now or in the future.

8. Are you thinking electronically? If you can, plan to electronically file your returns and have any refunds deposited directly into a bank account. You should get your money faster.

9. Plan on filing for an extension? If so, include a payment of what you think you owe. If you don’t pay what is due now, you could be subject to interest and a penalty. And, if you simply just don’t file for an extension, you could be subject to a larger penalty!

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