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New Law Makes Education-Savings Tools More Flexible

Education

Various tax-advantaged savings options can help lower out-of-pocket costs of education.

From private preschool classes to college tuition, educating your family can be expensive. You can help lower the out-of-pocket costs by planning ahead with tax-advantaged education savings tools.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) retains most education-related tax breaks — and it even makes one saving plan more flexible. Read more

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The ABCs of Higher Education Tax Breaks

Education tax breaks

As you begin to shop for dorm supplies and other necessities, here’s some important information about tax breaks for higher education costs.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) includes many changes that affect individual taxpayers. But, in terms of tax breaks for higher education, the new tax law generally maintains the status quo, with a few minor tweaks here and there. Here’s the rundown on education-related tax breaks for 2018 and beyond. Read more

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Go Green, Save Green: Tax Breaks for Saving Energy

Saving Energy

“Going green” is a priority for many people — and the IRS offers breaks if you install qualifying energy-efficient equipment in your home or purchase a new plug-in electric vehicle.

Earth Day is April 22. This occasion reminds us to consider implementing changes to help reduce the amount of energy we consume. But “going green” isn’t just good for the Earth — certain energy-saving expenditures also may qualify for generous tax breaks that are good for your pocketbook, too.

Here are some tax credits for buying and installing certain types of energy-efficient residential equipment. Read more

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6 Last-Chance Tax Breaks: Do You Qualify?

Tax breaks

The new tax law will suspend or modify several popular tax breaks.

The new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) significantly changes some parts of the tax code that relate to personal tax returns. In addition to lowering most of the tax rates and increasing the standard deduction, the TCJA repeals, suspends or modifies some valuable tax deductions. As a result, millions of Americans who have itemized deductions in the past are expected to claim the standard deduction for 2018 through 2025.

The TCJA provisions for individuals generally take effect for the 2018 tax year and “sunset” after 2025. That means that they technically expire in eight years unless Congress takes further action. In the meantime, you still have a shot at several key tax deductions on your 2017 return before they’re scheduled to expire. This is the return you must file or extend by April 17, 2018.

Here are six popular federal income tax breaks that will be suspended or modified by the new law. Generally, prior law continues to apply to these deductions for your 2017 tax year, so you can write off the expenses with little or no limitation for 2017.

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Gain Employee Loyalty with Commuting Tax Breaks

Commuting Tax Breaks

Under the tax law, there are three categories of employer-provided fringe benefits for qualified transportation for 2018.

Commuting can be a nightmare for employees. Your company can help by offering your staff members some financial relief from their commuting hassles.

Employees appreciate this benefit and there’s a bonus for your company: You can save money on payroll taxes. Similar to a cafeteria plan election, staff members can have money deducted on a pre-tax basis to be applied toward the transportation benefits. Both the company and the employee avoid payroll taxes on the salary reduction. Read more

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Tax Breaks When Caring for Aging Parents

Aging Parents

Caring for aging parents can actually lead to tax relief.

As life expediencies continue to increase, it becomes much more likely that you will need to financially help an aging parent. If you find yourself in that situation, review the tax laws to determine whether you can obtain some tax relief.

The key is to determine whether you can deduct your parent as a dependent, which entitles you to an additional personal exemption on your tax return, reducing your taxable income by $4,050 in 2017 (unchanged from 2016). To do so, your parent’s gross income can’t exceed the exemption amount and you must provide over half your parent’s support. For purposes of the gross income test, Social Security benefits typically aren’t considered. Read more

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Strictly Speaking: Travel and Entertainment Recordkeeping

travel and entertainment

While tax breaks for business travel and entertainment can be awarded, the rules are very strict.

If you’re reporting travel and entertainment (T&E) expenses on your tax return and you’re audited, there’s a good chance an agent will take a hard look at those items.

Often the challenge won’t be whether the expense was appropriate for the business, but whether your records meet the letter of the law. And the IRS and courts take a strict position on recordkeeping — miss one element and the deduction is most likely to be disallowed. Read more

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Learn the ABCs of Higher Education Tax Breaks

higher education tax breaks

The pursuit of higher education may lead to tax breaks.

Back-to-school season is a good time to review the federal tax breaks that are currently available if you or a loved one will be attending college or graduate school this fall. After all, a higher education degree is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make.

Cost Overview

How much does an advanced degree typically cost? For the 2016-2017 school year, the College Board estimates that the average annual cost (including tuition, fees, and room and board) was $20,090 for in-state students at a public four-year school — and $45,370 for students at a private not-for-profit four-year institution. These estimates don’t include books, supplies, transportation and other expenses a student may incur.

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