Tax Deduction Tips and Planning

It is important to act and plan now during the year. They can provide a financial boost for many taxpayers in various life situations.

There are certain expenses you cannot deduct from your taxes. Check out our lists below for various nondeductible expenses-it could save you from receiving a tax audit.

Expired Deductions

Every Tax Year, the tax laws often change. As a result of rewritten tax rules, tax breaks change or expire. In addition, dollar amounts are adjusted every year to adapt to the new laws.

Review our complete list of changed or expired tax laws that could affect your tax return.

Standard versus Itemized Deductions

You should itemize your deductions if the total amount of your deductions is more than your standard deduction amount. Otherwise, you should claim the standard deduction on your tax return.

When you prepare your tax return on, the online tax software will determine what tax deductions you qualify to claim on your return, and calculate how much they are worth to you. The software will generate the correct tax forms for you to make sure you get all the deductions you deserve.

Before you prepare your tax return and as a tax preparation planning tool, please review our general tax deductions tips below. Remember that every eligible tax deduction or credit will either increase your tax refund or reduce the taxes that you owe.

The following income tax tips could help you plan to claim the deductions you qualify for, as well as save money on taxes.

Know the Mileage Deduction Rates

If you use your vehicle to commute to work or for other business purposes, you may be able to deduct a set amount for each mile driven. There are also standard mileage rates for vehicle use in the service of charity, for the purposes of moving to be closer to a job, and for qualified medical use.

Find out the latest standard mileage rates

Tax Calculators and Tools

The following free tax calculators, tools, and estimators will help you figure out some of the deductions you qualify for, as well as optimize your tax return. Simply answer a few simple questions and get answers right away.

  • Use our "DEPENDucator" (qualifying child dependent tax tool) to help you determine whether or not a qualifying child can be a dependent on your tax return.
  • If you do not have a child, you may be able to claim a qualifying relative (stepchild, grandchild, significant other, etc.) as a dependent on your tax return. Use our "RELucator" (qualifying relative tax tool) to find out if someone counts as your qualifying relative.
  • You might qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC or EIC) if you work for a living but earn a low or modest income. Our "EICucator" (Earned Income Credit tool) will let you know whether or not you can claim it on your tax return.
  • Are you a HOH (Head of Household)? Our "HOHucator" (head of household qualifying person tax tool) will help you determine if you have a qualifying person to use for the HOH tax filing status.
  • Don't know which tax filing status to choose? Answer some easy "Yes" or "No" questions on our "STATucator" (tax return filing status tool) to find the right filing status for you!
  • If you have dependent children, you may qualify for the Child Tax Credit. Use our "KIDucator" (child tax credit tool) to find out if you can claim the credit on your tax return.
  • After you have used all of the above Tax Educator Tools, you can either estimate your federal tax refund or your IRS tax payment by using our "TaxStimator" (tax calculator, tax estimator).

Adjust Your W-4 Paycheck Withholding

Not sure what you should enter on your W-4 form? Make sure you are not having too little or too much tax withheld from your paycheck.

Learn more about adjusting your paycheck withholding

Clever Ways to Save Tax Money

Tax loopholes are not only for big businesses and savvy tax attorneys. Read about ways to save money on taxes--from charitable giving to income deductions that the IRS cannot tax.

Learn more about tax loopholes and more ways to save money on taxes

Use a Tax Return Preparation Checklist

Once you have figured out the tax deductions and credits you qualify to claim on your return, you can use our tax return preparation and tax deduction checklist to line them all up!

Choose the Right Income Tax Filing Status

Your tax filing status must be decided before you can calculate your correct tax rate, deduction amounts, and filing requirements. Your income tax filing status generally can be divided into Married and Unmarried (Single, Widow, Head-of-Household). Whether you may file as married or unmarried depends on your legal marriage status on the last day of the tax year, December 31. There are five filing options, each with its own specific qualifications and consequences.

Learn more about tax filing statuses

Owe Taxes? Have Difficulty Paying Taxes?

The IRS has continued to assure taxpayers that it will balance its responsibility to enforce the tax laws with the realities of the current economic climate. All IRS staff has been given a greater degree of flexibility to help taxpayers who are struggling to pay their income taxes.

Learn more about owing taxes and what to do about paying them

Make Sure You Get Your Tax Refund!

Every year for the last few years, over 100,000 tax refund checks have been returned to the IRS as undeliverable. Why? Because they were sent to incorrect or outdated mailing addresses. The average amount of these checks is more than $3,000. Is one of these tax refund checks for you? If you are the intended recipient of one of these returned checks, all you have to do is update your address with the IRS. The IRS encourages taxpayers to efile their returns and use direct deposit to receive their refunds. Electronic filing and direct deposit help reduce errors, increase the speed of tax refunds, and eliminate the problem of undeliverable refund checks.

Do You Have To or Should You File A Return?

Find out which income amounts require you to file or efile a tax return and why you might want to even if you owe no taxes.

Learn more about the requirements for filing a tax return

Ways to Save Taxes

Yes, you can decide to claim a tax credit. Tax credits are even better than tax deductions! Credits reduce your taxes dollar-for-dollar and some tax credits are even refundable. A refundable credit will be paid to you in a tax refund if you owe no taxes.

Review our up-to-date list of tax credits.