Here are six provisions to help filers of 2012 returns
Thanks to the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA), many tax provisions that expired in 2011 were retroactively extended (or made permanent) and are beneficial to taxpayers filing 2012 returns this year. Here are six of these provisions:
1. Education-Related Tax Deductions
ATRA extended, through 2017 and retroactive to 2012, two popular and widely used education-related tax benefits that expired in 2011: the deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses, and the deduction for certain expenses of elementary and secondary school teachers. Both are above-the-line deductions, which means that they can be taken before calculating adjusted gross income (AGI).
2. Limited Nonbusiness Energy Property Credits
Nonbusiness energy credits expired in 2011 but were extended (retroactive to 2012) through 2013 by ATRA. For 2012 (as in 2011), this credit generally equals 10 percent of what a homeowner spends on eligible energy-saving improvements, up to a maximum tax credit of $500 (down significantly from the $1,500 combined limit that applied for 2009 and 2010).
Because of the way the credit is figured however, in many cases, it may only be helpful to people who make energy-saving home improvements for the first time in 2012. That’s because homeowners must first subtract any nonbusiness energy property credits claimed on their 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 returns before claiming this credit for 2012. In other words, if a taxpayer claimed a credit of $450 in 2011, the maximum credit that can be claimed in 2012 is $50 (for an aggregate of $500).
The cost of certain high-efficiency heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters and stoves that burn biomass all qualify, along with labor costs for installing these items. In addition, the cost of energy-efficient windows and skylights, energy-efficient doors, qualifying insulation and certain roofs also qualify for the credit, though the cost of installing these items do not.