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Just because you're eligible for a great tax break doesn't mean it will be around next year. The 2014 tax season may be the last time you can take advantage of some important tax credits and deductions that could potentially save you thousands of dollars. Unless Congress extends these provisions, they'll go away—so this could be your last chance.
Here are 3 money saving tax breaks to try to claim before the April 15 tax filing deadline.
You can deduct state income tax on your federal tax return. But if you live in a state without income tax—Florida, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Nevada and South Dakota—or a state with low income tax, you can take a deduction for the sales tax you paid all year instead. If you live in a state with income tax, you still may want to claim the sales tax deduction instead of the state income tax deduction if you made a big purchase, like a car or boat.
If you didn't save all of your receipts, don't worry. The IRS has a formula to help you figure out what is an allowable deduction based on your residence and adjusted gross income.
If your son or daughter was in college last year (or you or your spouse), you may be able to deduct tuition and other qualifying expenses. You can deduct up to $4,000 for qualifying qualified expenses, (tuition, fees, books, supplies, equipment, and other required course materials, but not room and board). You may be eligible for this deduction even if you paid the expenses with a loan—and you don't need to itemize to claim it on your return.
Did you make an energy saving home improvement last year? If you installed new windows around your home or got a new roof, air conditioning system or furnace, you could get a tax credit of up to $500 for making energy-efficient home improvements. The improvements have to be on your primary residence and the deduction is 10 percent of the cost of the improvements, up to $500. There are dollar limits ($200 for windows, $150 for hot water boiler) for certain improvements.
But remember a tax credit is potentially an even bigger money saver than a deduction, since it will reduce your tax bill dollar-for-dollar instead of just shaving some money off your taxable income.