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Many people pay more taxes than they have to simply because they don’t know better. So here are a few suggestions for getting the most out of your tax return.

First, claim all deductions. A deduction is a qualified expense that reduces your taxable income. A few that aren’t well known include:

  1. Fees and dues to professional societies
  2. Job search expenses
  3. Unreimbursed business travel expenses 

Second is to claim credits. Credits are netted directly against the amount of income tax you owe, instead of merely reducing your amount of taxable income. Credits can result in refunds even in cases where there were no withholdings. Potential credits include:

  1. The earned income tax credit, for those who earn less than a certain amount.
  2. The child and dependent care credit, which applies to expenses for the care of kids younger than 13 or a disabled spouse while you work or look for work.
  3. The child tax credit and additional child tax credit. Both are available if you have qualifying children.
  4. Education tax credits, which offset educational costs.

And itemize your deductions if it results in a lower taxable income than if you claim the standard deduction. Itemizing is recommended if you:

  1. Incur substantial medical and dental expenses
  2. Pay interest or taxes on your home or other personal property
  3. Have large unreimbursed casualty or theft losses
  4. Donate large contributions of cash or tangible goods to charity

The bottom line is a little research can result in large savings. The IRS website has detailed information, and if things get too complicated, hire a tax pro. It can be money well spent.

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