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Tax Tips You Might Be Missing

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – They say nothing is certain in life but death and taxes, but tax rules seem to change every year.

And this year, thanks to some last minute changes by Congress, you could be saving a bundle.

When Mike and Ela started planning their new home, they decided to build it completely green.

“We used high efficiency water heater, high efficiency heat pump, double paned argon filled windows that are insulated,” Mike said.

Now, in addition to saving energy, they’ll also be saving money on their taxes, according to Elaine Smith, a tax expert with H&R Block.

“The home energy efficiency credit is an up to $1,500 credit you can get by making improvements to your home that increase its efficiency,” Smith said.

This particular credit expired at the end of last year, so you need to claim it on your 2010 return or lose it forever.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

Another expiring credit you may be able to claim for 2010 is the “Making Work Pay” credit.

“It is $400 for single people and $800 for married filing jointly,” Smith said.

“It’s a credit for people who worked, even if they worked a little. It was one of the most commonly missed credits last year.”

There are also last-minute tax changes that may work in your favor.

An inflation adjustment, for example, will increase the standard deduction and the income tax credit you’ll get.

And that’s not all.

“Taxpayers stand to get thousands of extra dollars and credits and deductions this year, such as the educator’s expense, where teachers are paying for their own expenses for their classrooms, or the tuition and fees deduction which will help a lot of parents and students,” said Peggy Riley, spokeswoman for the Internal Revenue Service.

So how do you make sure you’re getting all the deductions you deserve?

For starters, file electronically so you’ll always be using the latest up-to-date forms.

Said Riley: “The electronic programs will automatically ask you questions about credits and deductions that you may not even be aware of and it will definitely help you get the best refund you can get.”

As for Mike and Ela, they’re excited to help save the environment and have extra money to do more.

“With the tax money that we receive, we’re definitely going to put it back into improvements for the property,” Ella said.

A word of caution.

Some of these tax law changes were made so late that the IRS was not able to update their systems by the first of the year.

They say some taxpayers might have to delay filing until the end of February to get all the benefits they qualify for.

And before you file your taxes, make sure you check the Internal Revenue Service web site for all the latest tax information.

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