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The first step in completing your taxes is calculating your adjusted gross income. Here’s how.

First, determine your income. Use the salaries and income on your W-2 or 1099 forms, plus income from self-employment. Other sources of taxable income can include:

  • Refunds, credits or offsets of state and local income taxes
  • Alimony
  • Business income
  • Capital gains or losses
  • Other gains or losses
  • Distributions from taxable retirement accounts
  • Rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporations and trusts
  • Farm income
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Social Security benefits
  • And other income not reported elsewhere on your tax return

Add these to get your total income.

Then, subtract deductions and expenses. They can be:

  • Eligible educator expenses up to $250
  • Certain business expenses for reservists, performing artists and fee-based government officials
  • Health savings account deductions
  • Moving expenses
  • The deductible part of self-employment taxes
  • Self-employed SEP, SIMPLE and qualified plans
  • Self-employed health insurance deductions
  • The penalty on early withdrawals of certain savings
  • Alimony
  • Deductions for contributions made to your traditional IRA
  • Student loan interest deductions
  • Tuition and fees
  • Domestic production activities deductions

Be careful, because special requirements apply to each. For example, to deduct moving expenses, your new workplace must be at least 50 miles further from your old home than your old job location was from your old home.

Although you can save money by preparing your tax returns yourself, it’s always a good idea to have a tax professional look them over before you file.

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