Last-minute tips for 2008 tax returns

Last-minute tips for 2008 tax returns


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You only have six days left to get all of your tax information in order for the year. There are some last-minute things you can do to get a better return for 2008.

When it comes to tax deductions, accountants say the simple things are the most overlooked. For example, SC Accounting Tax Services Owner Sonia Cordero says you wouldn't believe how many people forget to track their charitable contributions.

"They don't ask for a receipt. Sometimes they don't keep the receipt," she said.

She says others get confused on which non-profit organizations allow you to write off deductions you make to them. Some will, some won't. You just need to ask the organization ahead of time.

"That's the rule. It's a little bit complicated, but it is what it is," she said.

But the IRS will be keeping an extra close eye on your contributions next year, making sure they're on the up and up.

Florez Tax and Consulting owner Rick Florez said, "They've hired about 26 new auditors this past year."

Another thing people get confused over is the $7,500 tax credit for purchasing a new home. Some accountants say their clients think it's free money, when it's actually a loan.

"It is interest free and you're only paying it back at $500 per year. What they do is they'll just take that out of your refund each year," he said.

For people who think they will owe taxes to the state, Florez says you should pay those off right away. "If you will pre-pay them before December 31st, you're going to get a deduction on your federal tax return," he said.

Florez says you can go online and fill out a TC-546 form and tell the state you're pre-paying for 2008. You can generally estimate how much you would owe by looking at last year's statement. Also, you can deduct up to $5,000 from your income if you put it into an IRA. With this, though, you have plenty of time.

"You can pay it on April 15th of 2009, but still deduct it on your 2008 tax return," Florez said.

He says people with children in day care should insist their day care providers claim their business expenses on their taxes, because if they don't, parents can't deduct what they pay for day care, either.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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