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5 Mistakes People Make When Filing Old Tax Returns!

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5 Mistakes People Make When Filing Old Tax Returns!

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2013 Tax Law Highlights

High Income Household
If you are a high-income household making more than $400,000 (single) or $450,000 (married filing joint), your tax bracket will be up to 39.6% from 35%. However, this will not affect your 2012 income tax return. Those in the new high tax bracket will also be subject to a capital gains rate of 20% – up from 15% as well as the 3.8% surcharge from the Affordable Care Act.

Phase-out Thresholds
In the fiscal cliff legislation, the Pease itemized deduction phase-out is reinstated and the personal exemption phase-out will be reinstated. The thresholds are $300,000 for married filing joint, $275,000 for head of household, and $250,000 for single. This means that if you make that kind of money, you will not be allowed to take all of your itemized deductions. Your personal exemptions – another subtraction from your income before taxes are calculated – will be reduced.

Employees Net Pay
Employees’ net pay is also now 2% lower as the payroll tax holiday was allowed to expire. This means the full 6.2% of Social Security will now be withheld from your pay. The holiday lasted two years, and this increased percentage will help continue funding to the Social Security system. The wage ceiling on which Social Security is taxed has been increased to $113,700. Medicare tax is unlimited, but if you earn more than $200,000 an additional 0.9% will be withhold.

Congress patched the Alternative Minimum tax and adjusted it for inflation, which will keep taxes lower for the 60 million Americans that would have been affected.


  1. Discharge of qualified principal residence exclusion. Filers going through a foreclosure or short sale who may have had loan forgiveness should look into this as it will exclude most, if not all, of the forgiven amount from taxable income.
  2. Educators may continue to deduct $250 in related job expenses as an adjustment to income.
  3. Mortgage insurance premiumsmay be deducted as mortgage interest
  4. The deduction for state and local sales taxes may still be taken
  5. The $1,000 Child Tax Credit, the enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit, and the enhanced American Opportunity Tax Credit will all be extended through 2017.
  6. Tuition costs may be deducted as an adjustment to income
  7. IRA-to-charity exclusion from taxable income remains including a special provision that allows transfers made in January 2013 to be treated as made in 2012.

Mileage Rates
Beginning on Jan. 1, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be 56.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, 24 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, and 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

2007 Tax Law Highlights

Summary of 2007 Tax Changes:

  • Tax relief is available to struggling homeowners whose mortgage debt is forgiven.
  • Retirement savings incentives expand.
  • A new deduction is available for some mortgage insurance premiums. And
  • New recordkeeping rules apply to cash donations to charity.

AMT Exemption Increased for One Year
For tax-year 2007, Congress raised the alternative minimum tax exemption to $66,250 for a married couple filing a joint return, up from $62,550 in 2006. The exemption rises to $33,125 for a married person filing separately, up from $31,275, and it rises to $44,350 for singles and heads of household, up from $42,500. Under current law, these exemption amounts will drop to $45,000, $22,500 and $33,750, respectively, in 2008. Form 6251  

Extender Tax Breaks Reappear on IRS Forms
Eligible taxpayers will no longer have to follow special instructions in order to claim the deduction for state and local sales taxes, the educator expense deduction and the tuition and fees deduction.

Those who itemize, rather than taking the standard deduction, can choose to claim state and local sales taxes on Form 1040 Schedule A, Line 5.

The educator expense deduction is reported on Form 1040, Line 23 or Form 1040A, Line 16.

Taxpayers who choose to claim the tuition and fees deduction must fill out and attach new Form 8917. The resulting deduction is reported on Form 1040 Line 34 or Form 1040A Line 19. Note that many who qualify for the tuition and fees deduction may reap greater tax savings by instead claiming the Hope credit or the lifetime learning credit for a particular student. Figure these credits on Form 8863Publication 970 has details.

Contribution Limits Rise for IRAs and Other Retirement Plans
More people can make tax-deductible contributions to a traditional IRA. The deduction is phased out for singles and heads of household who are covered by a workplace retirement plan, with incomes between $52,000 and $62,000, compared to $50,000 to $60,000 last year. The phase-out range is $83,000 to $103,000, up from $75,000 to $85,000 last year, if the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan. Where an IRA contributor, not covered by a workplace retirement plan, is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $156,000 and $166,000, up from $150,000 to $160,000 in 2006. The phase-out range remains $0 to $10,000 for a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a retirement plan at work. Use the worksheet in the line instructions for Form 1040 Line 32 or Form 1040A Line 17 to figure the IRA deduction.

For 2007 and 2008, the elective deferral (contribution) limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b) and most 457 plans rises $500, to $15,500. The catch-up contribution limit for those aged 50 to 70-½ remains at $5,000. For SIMPLE plans, the limit is also up $500, to $10,500, and the catch-up limit remains $2,500.
This year income limits for the saver’s credit are adjusted for inflation. The saver’s credit supplements other tax benefits available to low- and- moderate income taxpayers who save for retirement. Begun in 2002 as a temporary provision, the saver’s credit is now a permanent part of the tax code. Use Form 8880 to claim the credit. 

Mortgage Insurance Premiums May be Deductible
Some borrowers may be able to deduct mortgage insurance premiums paid on mortgages taken out or refinanced during 2007. A borrower who prepays premiums for later years may deduct only the premiums that relate to 2007, except for prepayments for guarantees made by the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Rural Housing Service. Only mortgage insurance contracts issued during 2007, 2008, 2009 or 2010 qualify for this new itemized deduction. Proceeds of the mortgage, secured by a first or second home, must be used exclusively to buy, build or improve these homes, or alternatively, to refinance a mortgage, secured by the home and used for these purposes. Home-equity loans used for other purposes are not eligible. The deduction for mortgage insurance premiums is phased out for taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $100,000 ($50,000, if married filing separately). Claim this deduction on Schedule A, Line 13. Further details are in Publication 936. 

New Rules for Giving to Charity
To deduct any charitable donation of money, taxpayers must have a bank record or a written communication from the recipient showing the name of the organization and the date and amount of the contribution.  Taxpayers are already required to keep records to support their contribution deductions.  See Publication 526. 

Standard Mileage Rates Adjusted for 2007
The standard mileage rate for business use of a car, van, pick-up or panel truck is 48.5 cents a mile, up 4 cents from 2006.

The standard mileage rate for the cost of operating a vehicle for medical reasons or as part of a deductible move is 20 cents a mile, up 2 cents over last year.

The standard mileage rate for using a car to provide services to charitable organizations is set by law and remains at 14 cents a mile. 

Inflation Adjustments for 2007
A complete rundown of inflation changes can be found at 2007 Inflation Adjustments Widen Tax Brackets, Change Tax Benefits.

Popular items adjusted include the following:

  • The value of each personal and dependency exemption is $3,400, up $100 from 2006. Most taxpayers can take personal exemptions for themselves and an additional exemption for each eligible dependent. An individual who qualifies as someone else’s dependent cannot claim a personal exemption, and personal and dependency exemptions are phased out for higher-income taxpayers.
  • The standard deduction is $10,700 for married couples filing a joint return and qualifying widow(er)s, a $400 increase over 2006; $5,350 for singles and married individuals filing separate returns, up $200; and $7,850 for heads of household, up $300. Higher amounts apply to blind people and senior citizens. The standard deduction is often reduced for a taxpayer who qualifies as someone else’s dependent. Nearly two out of three taxpayers take the standard deduction, rather than itemizing deductions, such as mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and state and local taxes.
  • The maximum earned income tax credit is $4,716 for taxpayers with two or more qualifying children, $2,853 for those with one child and $428 for people with no children. Last year’s maximums were $4,536, $2,747 and $412, respectively. Available to low and moderate income workers and working families, the EITC helps taxpayers whose incomes are below certain income thresholds, which in 2007 rise to $39,783 for those with two or more children, $35,241 for people with one child and $14,590 for those with no children. One in six taxpayers claim the EITC, which unlike most tax breaks, is refundable, meaning that people can get it even if they owe no tax and even if no tax is taken out of their paychecks. 

Other Changes
Taxpayers can exclude up to $2 million of debt forgiven on their principal residence. The limit is $1 million for a married person filing a separate return. This provision applies to debt forgiven in 2007, 2008 or 2009. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure qualifies for this relief.

Employees working for employers who failed to withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes should use new Form 8919 to report and pay their share of these taxes. This includes section 530 employees — that is, people who work for employers claiming relief from federal payroll taxes under section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978. It also includes employees who are treated as independent contractors but who have received a determination letter from the IRS whic