Top 5 in Real Estate Network® Members are dedicated to providing you with the most up-to-date, helpful real estate information. This monthly newsletter, "Real Estate Matters," offers articles on a range of topics that will inform you in your real estate pursuits.

Lower Your 2009 Tax Debt

As a Top 5 in Real Estate Member, I counsel many clients on a wide range of financial concerns, not just their real estate investments. As 2009 comes to a close, I wanted to alert you to some important information that could save you money come tax time.
In addition to the $8,000 tax break for first-time home buyers and the newly expanded tax credit that includes move-up buyers, new tax-relief bills passed in 2008 provide for a number of other tax breaks that may lower your 2009 tax debt. Plan now and review these breaks with your accountant to see if they could help reduce your tax liability in 2009 and beyond:
• Payroll Tax Credit. For 2009 and 2010, Congress gave workers a 6.2% credit on earned income, applied as lower income tax withholding (there are caps based on income). Recipients of Social Security, Railroad Retirement benefits or Supplemental Security Income, some federal workers, and veterans with disability pensions will get a one-time $250 check. Self-employed workers may be able to reduce quarterly estimated payments to get advance benefits.

• Larger Personal Exemptions.
For 2009, each personal exemption you can claim is worth $3,650—up by $150 over 2008.

• Higher Standard Deductions.
The standard deduction for married couples filing jointly rises to $11,400 up by $500 from 2008. For singles, the amount increases to $5,700—up by $250 over last year, and heads of households can claim $8,350, a jump of $350.

• Tax Credit for College Tuition.
For 2009 and 2010, the Hope credit is replaced by a new credit of up to $2,500 per student a year for four years of college, not just the first two years. It now also covers the cost of books, but begins to phase out based on higher incomes.

• Child Tax Credit.
If the credit exceeds the filer’s tax liability, all or part of the credit will be refunded if the filer earns more than $3,000 – down from $12,550 in 2008. (Also, for families with three or more children, the maximum earned income tax credit for 2009 and 2010 rises by $628.50)

Other changes that could affect you include higher income limits for deductible IRAs and Roth IRAs, higher estate tax and gift tax exemptions, credit for energy-saving home improvements, and partial exclusion of unemployment benefits.

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