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Utahns can save on taxes with these end-of-the-year tips
Contributions » Donating to charity or adding to a retirement fund can reduce your tax bill.

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Education benefits » Anyone who plans to enroll in higher education courses in January can take the education tax credit if they pay tuition in December.

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It’s possible to put that amount on a credit card and pay it off in January, but still take the deduction, Marti said.

Avoiding higher taxes or penalties » Taxpayers who want to save some money in taxes should also look to make sure their exemptions and withholdings are correct.

For individuals making at least $200,000 or couples making $250,000, the law for Medicare tax withholding has changed. People in those income brackets must have an additional percentage withheld. A good employer will do that for an individual, but if two spouses make less than $200,000 each, it’s important to check with employers to make sure those withholdings have been correct, accountant Bill Brough said.

"Even if enough hasn’t been withheld, you should start saving so you have the money when it comes down to paying," he said.

Another area to be careful with is health insurance requirements. Under the Affordable Care Act, there are penalties for people who do not have health insurance beginning next year, and the fines only increase each year, Bill Brough said.

"Sometimes it’s not how to look at benefits, but what can you do to avoid additional taxes and penalties," he said.

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Looking ahead » December is a good time to be thinking about planning for taxes next year because if you wait until January, you’ve missed the opportunity to maximize deductions.

"One of the things we say to people is the difference between tax planning and tax preparing is that if you wait to Dec. 31, it’s tax preparing," said Bill Brough.

But it’s not too early to start planning for 2014 taxes.

Anyone looking to replace major appliances or windows should look at energy-efficient models that can lead to a tax break, he said. Also, anyone shopping for a new car could consider an electric vehicle, which also comes with a tax break.

For charitable donations, Rob Brough recommends building a budget that allows taxpayers to make such donations either spread out over the year or to squirrel money away for December giving.

In any case, it’s important to know your own financial situation and what will benefit you most.

"If you can itemize, then there can be a benefit for you could lower your taxes," said Bill Brunson. "But it has to be usable. That’s the key."


Twitter: @sheena5427

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