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Tax Tips from a Pro Comments

  • By Jean Chatzky
  • March 02, 2012

Dollar Bills

Getting a fat refund check from the IRS can feel like winning the lottery—but luck has nothing to do with preparing your tax return.

To help you make the most of your deductions this year, here are some Dos and Don’ts from personal finance maven Jean Chatzky:

    • DO file for job hunting costs if they amount to 2% or more of your gross income. That might sound like a lot, but if you’ve been out of work for a while and have spent money looking for a new job, this could help you out.

 

    • DON’T get tricked by the home office deduction. Yes, you can deduct a home office as a business expense, but the rules are strict: it has to be a space you use exclusively for business and it must be your principal office.

 

    • DO get help. When you use a pencil and paper and try to do it all on your own, you can miss out on deductions. Using programs like Turbo Tax or H&R Block can save you time, money, and aggravation.

 

  • DON’T let charitable contributions look out of whack with what you earn. Inconsistencies in your tax return could create a red flag for the IRS. (See box above!)

Powers of deduction. Do you itemize or use the standard deduction?

Jean Chatzky is a personal finance expert and education director for SavvyMoney. You can find more money tips and sign up for her newsletter, “This Week In Your Wallet,” at jeanchatzky.com.

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