Taxpayers like deductions because they're a key to lowering taxes. But not all deductions work the same way in the tax calculation. Those you are allowed to claim "above the line" can be especially powerful. On your personal tax return, abovethe- line deductions are subtracted from your income to arrive at your adjusted gross income, or AGI. AGI is a critical figure used to determine whether you're entitled to various tax breaks. For purposes of qualifying for tax benefits, you want to keep your AGI as low as possible. Above-the-line deductions help you do that. So which expenses are deductible above the line? Here are some of the more common ones.
Rental property/trade or business expenses. Owners of rental properties may deduct various expenses - utilities, repairs and maintenance, depreciation, etc. above the line on Schedule E. Sole proprietors deduct their trade or business expenses above the line on Schedule C.
Educator expenses. This deduction has been extended through 2013 and is capped at $250. It's for amounts educators spend out of pocket on books, supplies, supplementary materials, or equipment used in the classroom. To qualify for the deduction, you must be a grade K through 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide and work in school for at least 900 hours during the school year.
Health savings account (HSA) contributions. The maximum deductible HSA contribution for 2013 is generally $3,250 for individuals with self-only coverage under a high-deductible health plan and $6,450 for those with family coverage. Individuals age 55 or older who aren't enrolled in Medicare may contribute an additional $1,000.
Moving expenses. Costs associated with moving household goods and personal effects to a new residence and traveling from an old to new residence are potentially deductible if the move is because of a change in principal work location. Certain other requirements must be met.
For the self-employed. Retirement plan contributions, qualified health insurance premiums, and a portion of self-employment taxes are deductible above the line. Requirements and lirrilts apply.
Penalty on early withdrawal of savings. The deduction is for any interest or principal forfeited to a bank or other financial institution as a penalty for premature withdrawal from a time savings account, certificate of deposit, or similar deposit.
Alimony. To be deductible, payments must be made in cash pursuant to a divorce or separation instrument. They can't be required to continue beyond the recipient's death or be fixed as child support.
Individual retirement account (IRA) contributions. Your contribution of up to $5,500 ($6,500 if you're at least age 50) to a traditional (non- Roth) IRA may be deductible. In an interesting twist, your ability to make a deductible IRA contribution will depend on your pre-IRA-deduction AGI if you or your spouse actively participates in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. The rules are a little complicated, so talk to us first if you're interested i an IRA contribution.
Student loan interest. Up to $2,l of annual interest paid -on qualifie higher education loans is potentiaJl deductible. This deduction is also subject to income limits. For 2013, the deduction phases out for taxpayers with modified AGI between $125,000 and $155,000 (joint filers) or between $60,000 and $75,000 (single filers).
Tuition and fees. In 2013, higher education tuition and related expenses are potentially deductibl€ However, the deduction is capped at $4,000 or $2,000 depending on modified AGI (disregarding the deduction) and isn't available once your modified AGI exceeds $80,00
16 Individuals: Third installment of 2013 estimated tax due; file Form 1040-ES.
16 Corporations: Last day for filing 2012 income-tax return (Form 1120, 1120S) by a calendar-year corporation that obtained an automatic six-month filing extension. 16 Corporations: Due date for depositing the third installment of estimated income tax for 2013.
16 Partnerships: Last day for filing 2012 return (Form 1065) by a calendar-year partnership that obtained a five-month filing extension.
OCTOBER 15 Individuals: File 2012 federal incometax return and pay any tax due if you obtained a six-month filing extension.
31 Employers: File Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return, for the third quarter of 2013.
NOVEMBER 12 Employers: Deferred due date for Form 941, if timely deposits were made.
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