Luckily for taxpayers, the spending bill signed into law by President Barack Obama on Friday locks in a number of key tax breaks that were set to diminish or expire. The Joint Committee on Taxation projected a $622 billion budget effect over 10 years, and "those are dollar-for-dollar tax savings for individuals," Steber said.
But there are dozens of provisions in the new legislation, so taxpayers need to get their records in order so they can claim what applies to them.
Take the deduction for sales taxes, for example. Temporary regulations were allowing taxpayers to deduct the sales taxes they have paid or their state and local taxes, whichever is higher, but it was only being authorized year to year. The new spending bill makes that option permanent, and it stands to benefit people living in states with sales taxes but no income taxes, including Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
Then there is the qualified charitable distribution. People over age 70½ are required to take a minimum distribution from their IRA, but in the past they were allowed to simply give up to $100,000 of it to a charity and avoid having it count as income. That provision had repeatedly expired and been renewed, but the new legislation made it permanent.
"A lot of people have been waiting to see if they can take advantage of that," said Alison Flores, a principal at The Tax Institute at H&R Block.
Teachers can also benefit from the spending bill. They used to watch every year to see if a provision allowing them to deduct up to $250 for classroom supplies would be extended, and it has now been made permanent. It will also be indexed to inflation starting in 2016.
"You have probably already paid those expenses if you are a teacher," Flores said. "Start going through your records."