How to protect yourself from overpaying tax

Let’s look at some things that often lead to overpaying taxes. One example that you are paying too much tax is the size of your refund. The average refunds early in the filing season tend to be well over two thousand dollars as the people who know they are getting money back hurry to file and the filer hasn’t had time to adjust withholding. But life can be changed late in a tax season: marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, a job loss, etc. If you’re getting several thousand back year after year, however, then you are paying too much in taxes. In fact, instead of waiting for the return and adjusting your W-4 for the year ahead, you can work through the IRS’s own withholding calculator and even run some scenarios.

Most tax preparers aren’t the tax experts everyone thinks they are. Millions of business owners and investors pay billions in needless taxes because of it.

Here are some facts:

  • Every year, more than 2 million taxpayers overpay their income taxes.
  • 93% of business owners overpay their taxes. 
  • Business owners overpay their taxes by $50 billion each year.

And you need to understand what’s on your tax return this year to make sure you’re getting every credit you can. Most frequently forgotten credits and deductions are:

State and local sales tax deduction: People who live in states that don’t have an income tax, can benefit from writing off their state and local sales taxes instead. Even people who live in states that do charge an income tax may be better off taking the sales-tax deduction if, for example, they paid more in state and local sales taxes than in state and local income taxes, because of big purchases such as a car or a boat. 

All education-related tax breaks: Taxpayers who took college classes last year, even if they weren’t working toward a degree, can write off up to $4,000 in tuition, books, and other related expenses. 

Job-search costs: Job-search expenses, such as traveling to job interviews and any fees paid to an outplacement firm, can be included among other itemized deductions. 

Moving expenses: People who moved last year for work may be able to write off transportation costs, storage fees, and other expenses. The new job must be at least 50 miles farther from the taxpayer’s old home than their previous job was from that home.

Non-cash charitable contributions: Claiming this break is easier if you keep a detailed inventory of the donated items and get a receipt from the organization receiving the donation. 

Gambling losses: Losses incurred at the blackjack table can be written off along with other itemized deductions — but only to the extent that they can offset gambling winnings, which are taxable. 

Mortgage-interest deduction: Homeowners should remember that the mortgage fees known as “points” that they pay in order to get a lower interest rate when they purchase or refinance a home can be deducted.

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