Income Tax Savings Tips
NeONBRAND on Unsplash
Finding tax savings and reducing your taxes can be a time-consuming task since existing tax laws change frequently while new tax laws are constantly introduced. Keep up-to-date on the latest methods of tax reduction and the most effective tax planning tips. One of the most important steps a wage or salary earner can do is monitor the ongoing tax withholding per paycheck. Whatever you enter on the W-4 now, you still won't know how it will impact your next tax return regarding a tax refund or taxes owed. For example, if you received a tax refund as a result of your latest tax return or you are expecting a refund next year, you may decrease the amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck so you get your refund money now via increased paychecks. The challenge is to know how to balance this. On eFile.com, we make it easy to determine optimal withholding with free tools and calculators.
Tax-free income is compensation you receive which cannot be taxed by the IRS. Looking for a pay raise but not more taxes? Assistance in the form of money or services is nontaxable income. Here are several examples of expenses that can be paid or reimbursed by your employer without burdening you with any new income taxes:
- $5,250 for education
- $5,000 for child care assistance
- Adoption assistance and reimbursements
- $260/month for public transportation
- $260/month for parking
- Health insurance premiums
- Group-term life insurance premiums
- Health Savings Account contributions
- Athletic facility privileges
- Meals provided at the workplace
- Retirement planning services
- Worker's compensation
- Welfare benefits
- Gifts, bequests, and inheritances
- Court-awarded compensatory damages
- Cash rebates from dealers or manufacturers
Tax planning can help reduce your tax bill and earn you a bigger tax refund. Start your tax planning now so you are prepared once tax season arrives. Check out our list of tax planning tips and this helpful checklist that may help you increase your tax savings, optimize your tax deductions, reduce your tax burden, and ultimately save you money on taxes!
Tax Tip: Plan your tax savings during the months of October, November, and December so you are ready for tax season.
Costs associated with Working
- Deduct Your Work-Related Parking Expenses- Your employer can reimburse you up to $260 per month tax-free for parking expenses you paid.
- Deduct Your Car Mileage for Business- You may be reimbursed for business use of your vehicle based on miles driven.
- Consider Your Carpool Income Tax Free- If you carpool with others to get to work, any payments your passengers give you are considered reimbursements of your expenses and may not have to be claimed as income.
- Deduct Your Work-Related Travel Expenses- If you go on work-related trips and keep your receipts, you can deduct the cost of travel expenses, baggage handling, lodging, meals, business phone calls, and even dry cleaning.
- Deduct Your Moving Expenses- You can only claim a deduction on your moving expenses if you are an active duty military member and you moved to a new residence that is at least 50 miles closer to your new or current workplace than your old home.
- Deduct Home Office Expenses- If you work from a home office, you may be able to deduct expenses such as internet and cell phone service, furniture, insurance, and security.
- Claim the Earned Income Tax Credit- If you have a low income, you may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Claim Tax Breaks for Being in the Military- If you are in the military or armed forces, thank you for your service to our country. You may be able to take advantage of several tax breaks for military personnel.
- Claim Tax Breaks for Being in a Union- You can deduct union dues and initiation fees if you belong to one.
- Claim the Saver's Tax Credit- You may get a tax credit for making qualified retirement saving plan contributions.
- Rent out your Building, Room, or Property Tax Free- According to the IRS, if you rent out your Residential or Vacation Property, it is tax free if it is rented for 14 days or less. Consider this to avoid paying taxes on renting for purposes like Airbnb, hosting business conferences, company parties, etc.
Start Federal and State Tax Returns
Save Taxes on Home and Car Expenses
Save Taxes on Family Life
- Marriage and Taxes- If you got married during the tax year it could reduce your taxes. Make sure you coordinate this with your spouse in terms of W-4, income tax bracket and filing status.
- Divorce, Separation, and Taxes- If you get divorced or separated, your new filing status affects your taxes. Learn about the latest updates on alimony payments and find whether they are deductible or not.
- Claim the Child Tax Credit- If you have children or other dependents, you may qualify for a $2,000 credit. See if your child qualifies here!
- Claim the Adoption Tax Credit- If you adopt a child, you may qualify for the refundable Adoption Tax Credit.
- Claim Student Tax Credits- If you are a student or the parent of one, you may be able to claim different tax credits on your tax return. For example, you may be able to receive up to $2,500 per student by claiming the American Opportunity Credit.
- Claim Teacher or Educator Tax Deductions- If you worked as a qualified educator during a given tax year, you may be eligible to claim up to $250 on various expenses related to your job.
- Claim and/or Deduct Student Expenses- Consider contributing to a college savings plan for your children or grandchildren. Additionally, find student-related deductions and credits to learn about.
- Deduct Medical Expenses- If you spent money on medical care and you had a particularly tough year, you may be able to deduct any medical expenses which exceed 7.5% of your income.
- Claim Tax Deductions for Family Business- If you employ your child less than 18 years old in a family business, you may not have to withhold Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment taxes from their salary.
- Contribute to Different Savings Accounts- As noted in the nontaxable income section, contributions to different savings accounts are often not taxable. When you contribute money, you directly take away from your taxable income for the tax year. Consider putting money into your 401(k) with a limit of $19,500 for 2021, IRA with a limit of $6,000 for 2021, SIMPLE retirement accounts (2021 limit $13,500), Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Savings Account (HSA), Medical Savings Account (MSA), or Coverdell (ESA) for education.
Deduct Charity Donations
Turn your kindness into cash back! See how you can save money on charitable donations:
- Claim Tax Deductions for Charity Donations- If you donate money or goods to charities or religious organizations, you may be able to deduct the value of your donations. Be sure to get receipts for any donation worth over $250. During the 2020 or 2021 Tax Year, an individual can give up to $15,000 to children or grandchildren without any gift tax (a couple could jointly give a gift of up to $30,000 tax-free). Any gift over that amount is subject to a gift tax, which is incurred by the giver, not the recipient.
- Deduct Charitable Mileage Expenses- If you used your vehicle for a charitable organization, you may be reimbursed a certain amount per mile driven.
Save Tax Money on these Other Expenses
- Report Gambling Winnings and Claim Losses- Whether you gambled and won or lost, it affects your taxes. All gambling winnings (poker, slots, etc.) must be reported as taxable income. Any gambling losses may be claimed as deductions up to the amount of your winnings. Winnings and losses must be reported separately. Additionally, report any and all winnings and losses you may have accrued during the tax year, such as stocks.
- Capital Gains- You can create a personal residence trust that transfers ownership of your home to your children, but allows use of the home for the life of the trust, usually 10-20 years. Creating the trust now allows your inheritors to gain your property at the currently depressed values while you still retain the property as your residence. The home’s estate tax value is locked in at the beginning of the trust, taking advantage of the currently depressed housing market. If you live longer than the trust, the home is no longer in your estate. Read more about Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets or Investment Income and Expenses in these IRS Publications, courtesy of eFile.com.
- Claim Deductions for Rental and Other Miscellaneous Income- Miscellaneous Tax Deductions have been eliminated after 2018. For the purpose of previous year tax returns, if you rent a safety deposit box to store stocks, bonds, and other paperwork for investments producing taxable income, you may be able to deduct the cost of the rental.
- Deduct Now and Pay Later- Deductions apply to more than the cash or debit purchases you made in the current tax year. You can also take deductions for the tax year in which you charged goods or services with a bank issued credit card even though you may pay for those charges after that tax year. This can be useful to small business owners or self-employed service providers that can claim depreciation on business property purchased on credit.
- Save Money in Other Ways- Around the house, going out, saving on travel and school, school tax credits, and everyday saving expenses. Consider this page on money-saving during hard times if you are faced with financial or personal struggle.
Put your tax planning into action and estimate your 2020 Tax Return with the easy to use eFile Tax Estimator and Calculator. To get the most out of your 2021 Tax Refund, prepare and e-File your 2020 Taxes with eFile.com and TAXercise your paycheck!
Keep up to date with changed, extended, or canceled tax breaks.
TurboTax® is a registered trademark of Intuit, Inc.
H&R Block® is a registered trademark of HRB Innovations, Inc.