Two weeks to go until your federal and state income taxes are due. Although tax brackets went down this year, many Chicagoans still feel their taxes are too high. If you haven’t filed, there are some ways you might be able to lower your tax bill.
About 20 percent of Americans wait until the last minute to file their taxes. If you’re down to the wire, you might want to turn to the web, where you can do your taxes online.
“The beauty of tax software is that it will help you seek out deductions. And what do people want more than anything else? They want to pay the least amount of tax, but pay it confidently, knowing they’ve done their taxes right,” says Fred Grant, www.turbotax.com.
Tax professionals say there are a number of things you can do to lower your tax bill this year like contributing to an IRA. Contributing to a tax deductible, tax deferred retirement account will reduce your income this year for tax purposes.
“If you’re under age 50, you can put in $3,000. If you’re age 50 or over, you can put in $3,500,” Grant says.
Of course, if you wait until 11:59 on April 15, you’d better have already set up your IRA account. But there’s another way you can lower your tax bill while saving for retirement: the Saver’s Credit.
“If you participate in virtually any retirement plan and if your income is $55,000 a year or less, you get a deduction but on top of that you get a credit which is a dollar for dollar reduction of your taxes,” Grant says.
On the IRS website www.irs.gov, look for form 8880. With interest rates continuing at historic lows, plenty of people refinanced once or even twice in 2003.
“Any points that you haven’t written off in prior years, you should be able to deduct those in 2003,” Grant says.
If you looked for a job or moved more than 50 miles to take a new job, you can write off those expenses. And if you donated clothing, furniture or appliances to a charity you can write off.
“14 cents a mile for driving donations to a charity,” Grant says.
And when it comes to your taxes, every cent you don’t pay counts.
If you doing your tax return by hand this year, be sure you put the right numbers on the right line. The IRS says the biggest mistake are mathematical errors.