The federal government offers tax deductions and credits to reduce taxable income under certain circumstances. There are several that are often overlooked, including deductions for job hunting, caregiver expenses for dependents and children while you work, a credit to reduce taxes for moderate- to low-income earners and the premium tax credit associated with the Affordable Care Act. TurboTax can help determine if you qualify for these credits and deductions.
Job hunting expenses
For tax years prior to 2018, job hunting expenses can be an itemized deduction on your taxes. Provided it is not your first job, and the job you’re looking for is in the same line of work as your previous one, you can deduct qualifying expenses such as:
- Mileage and transportation costs, including parking and tolls
- Cost of printing business cards, resumes, advertising and postage
- Recruiting and employment agency fees
- Food and hotel costs
However, you can only deduct these and any other miscellaneous expenses if they exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.
For tax years after 2017, job search expenses are no longer deductible.
Dependent care tax credit
You can claim a percentage of work-related costs to have a caregiver look after your qualifying child or dependent. This credit is capped at $3,000 for one child or dependent or $6,000 for two or more.
To be eligible for the child and dependent care credit, the dependent must be your child who is 12 years old or under; a mentally or physically incapacitated spouse who lives with you for at least half of the year, or: a mentally or physically incapacitated dependent who resides with you for at least half of the year.
A non-custodial parent is not eligible to be paid as a caregiver. Social Security numbers for all children, dependents and caregivers, along with addresses, must be included on your return.
Earned income tax credit
The earned income tax credit decreases the amount of taxable income for working individuals making a low to moderate income. It may also provide a refund in some circumstances. To qualify for the EITC, all of the following criteria must be met:
- You, and your spouse, if you file a joint return, must have a valid Social Security number
- You must be a U.S. resident or a year-round resident alien
- You must meet the EITC earned income limits
- You can't file as “married filing separately”
- You can’t be a qualifying child of another person
- You must have earned income from working, running a business or a farm
- You can’t have earned foreign income
You also must have a qualifying child or be between the ages of 25 and 65, living in the United States and not be a dependent of another person. For 2018, the earned income limits range from $15,270 for those with no qualifying children to $54,884 for those married filing jointly with three or more qualifying children.
Opt for the premium tax credit
If you purchase your health insurance from the Health Insurance Marketplace, don’t forget to claim the premium tax credit.
“If you qualify, you can estimate your income and opt to have the credit paid directly to the health insurance provider now,” explains Caroline Thompson, an accountant. “Or, you can wait and receive it at the end of the year.” To qualify for the premium tax credit, you are required to meet all of the following criteria:
- You must purchase a health plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace
- You can’t be claimed as another person’s dependent
- You fall within certain income limits
- You do not qualify for health insurance from the government or an employer
- You must file a joint return if you are married
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