It’s tax season. The tax deadline is less than six weeks away. Like many dads and moms, I find tax returns a little confusing — especially when there are last minute legislative changes. To help my readers get started on their tax returns, H&R Block (Twitter | Facebook) is giving away six promo codes for their online tax preparation product, H&R Block At Home Premium ($50 value). H&R Block also sent me a list of the top things that taxpayers should know before they file their tax return. Read on to find out more information about the tax tips and the giveaway.
Seven Things You Should Know Before You File Your Tax File
American opportunity credit
The American Opportunity Credit was extended. Taxpayers can claim $2,500 for the first four years of college education for each student. The tuition and fees deduction also was extended and could provide a reduction in taxable income of up to $4,000.
The lifetime maximum for the energy property credit is reduced from $1,500 to $500. Taxpayers who never claimed the credit can claim the entire $500. Taxpayers are not eligible in 2011 for this credit if they claimed $500 or more for the 2009-2010 and/or the 2006-2007 energy credits. Eligible improvements include external windows and doors, insulation, roofing, HVAC and non-solar water heaters meeting specific energy guidelines.
For 2010 and 2011, the Adoption Credit can be claimed for qualified expenses up to $13,170 and $13,360 respectively. In addition, the IRS will refund the amount of the credit that exceeds the adoptive parents’ tax liability.
Tax relief for supporting parents
Taxpayers can receive a $3,650 qualifying relative exemption if they support both their parents and their own children. Taxpayers must contribute over 50% of the financial support for eligible expenses such as food, lodging, clothing, education, medical and dental care, recreation and transportation.
First-time homebuyer credit
Taxpayers who claim the 2008 First-time Homebuyer Credit has to begin repaying it with their 2010 tax returns. Taxpayers must repay $500 a year for 15 years. If the taxpayer no longer lives in the house, then the credit must be repaid in full in the next tax return. Taxpayers who claimed the credit in 2009 and 2010 will not have to repay it unless the house is sold or no longer their principal residence within three years of purchase.
Federal filing deadline extended
Thanks to Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia on April 15th, the tax filing deadline for federal tax returns is April 18th this year (note: some state returns are still due on April 15th).
No relief for the unemployed
All unemployment benefits will be taxed this year (the first $2,400 was tax-free last year).
H&R Block Giveaway
Thanks to H&R Block, I’m giving away six promo codes for H&R Block At Home Premium. The giveaway is limited to USA readers only. The winners will be randomly selected. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment letting me know if you expect a tax refund this year. The deadline to enter the giveaway is Tuesday, March 22nd (Pacific time).
Four Bonus Entries (leave a separate comment for each entry)
- Subscribe to my blog via email:
— don’t forget to click on the confirmation link after you subscribe. Note: you still have to be subscribed when I announce the winner.
- Follow Daddy Forever on Twitter and tweet out a message like this (or use the retweet button below): “I want to file my tax return with H&R Block ~ http://daddyforever.com/2011/03/08/tax-returns/” (include your Twitter URL or username in the comments area for verification). Note: you can tweet multiple times, but you can only claim one bonus entry for the tweets.
- Click on the Facebook like button below and then write on my Facebook fan page to let me know if you e-file your tax returns
- Write about this giveaway on your blog or Facebook page with a working link to this page: http://daddyforever.com/2011/03/08/tax-returns/ (include your blog post URL or Facebook username for verification)
[Disclosure: I did not receive anything for hosting this giveaway. H&R Block is not a sponsor or administrator of the giveaway. However, they are responsible for the giveaway prize. Daddy Forever (me) is not liable for the prizes. As always, the opinions expressed are mine and I am not obligated to write a positive review.]