Procrastinators, rejoice: You still have time to cut your 2017 tax bill.
We're officially in the middle of tax season. Filers have until April 17 to submit their returns and pay Uncle Sam. The IRS predicts that it will receive more than 155 million returns this year.
More than 7 in 10 taxpayers are expected to scoop up refunds this year, according to the agency.
If you're holding off on sending your return, here's an incentive to get moving: You only have a few weeks to implement these tax-savings tactics.
"The strategies for reducing your tax bill for 2017 revolve around claiming all of the deductions and tax credits you legally deserve," said certified public accountant Debbie J. Freeman, director of financial planning at Peak Financial Advisors in Denver.
"Focus your attention on three separate items: deductions for adjusted gross income, tax credits and itemized deductions," she said.
Here are a few savings opportunities that are worth another look, according to Freeman.
These breaks are best because they're accessible to everyone, regardless of whether they itemize.
HSAs have a triple-tax benefit: Contributions are either tax deductible or pretax, savings grow on a tax-free basis and users can make tax-free withdrawals for qualified medical costs.
You can save up to $6,750 in this account if your family is covered in a high-deductible health plan. Contribution limits for self-only coverage is capped at $3,400.
Single filers with a modified adjusted gross income of up to $62,000 ($99,000 for married filing jointly) may deduct up to the amount of their contribution limit. Beyond those thresholds, filers with a MAGI of up to $72,000 if single ($119,000 if married) may collect a partial deduction.
SEP IRA: Put away as much as $54,000 into your SEP IRA if you run your own business. Be aware that the amount you can deduct for your own SEP IRA contribution will vary based on your net earnings. You have until April 17 — Oct. 15 if you file an extension — to make a contribution and have it count for 2017.
Insurance premiums: If you're an entrepreneur, you may be eligible to deduct premiums for health and dental insurance coverage. This is known as the self-employed health insurance deduction.
Student loan deduction: If you've paid at least $600 in interest on a qualified student loan, you may be eligible to deduct up to $2,500. Be aware that this break is subject to limits: It begins to phase out for single filers with modified adjusted gross income over $65,000 ($135,000 for married filing jointly).
Moving costs: If you moved, you may be able to deduct these expenses, provided you pass a three-part test.
Saver's credit: If you stashed up to $2,000 into an IRA or a 401(k), you may receive a credit of up to 50 percent of your contribution. Joint filers with adjusted gross income over $62,000 can't grab this break, and neither can single filers whose AGI exceeds $31,000. You have until April 17 to make a contribution and have it count for 2017.
Educational credits: If you have a child in college, consider the American opportunity tax credit, which offers a maximum annual credit of $2,500 per eligible student. There's also the lifetime learning credit worth up to $2,000 per tax return.
There's also the deduction for qualified tuition costs, which Congress revived for 2017: You may be able to deduct tuition, books and supplies for your studies by up to $4,000.
Medical: Gather your receipts, including info on long-term care insurance premiums paid. You may be able to deduct medical costs to the extent they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.
"Don't forget medical miles driven," said Freeman. "You'll need documentation of it."
The medical rate is 17 cents per mile.
Charity: You'd probably remember making a large donation of cash or appreciated stock, but don't forget to count your noncash items. Goodwill and the Salvation Army offer guides that will help you place a value on donated goods.
Donors also often overlook miles they drove to serve charitable organizations: When calculating your deduction, consider the rate of 14 cents per mile.
New home: You already know that mortgage interest and mortgage insurance premiums are deductible. If you bought a house in 2017, bring your closing statements when you meet with your accountant, said Freeman. You may be able to deduct mortgage points or prepaid interest, plus origination fees.
Last call for miscellaneous itemized deductions: This is the last year you can deduct such items as tax prep fees, investment management fees and unreimbursed employee expenses.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did away with these tax breaks, starting in 2018. "If you think you can get to the threshold to itemize, take everything you're legally allowed to take because they're going away," said Freeman.
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