Tax Credits and Deductions for Families

As you prepare to file your taxes, please keep in mind some helpful tax deductions and credits that may apply to your family.

Cutting taxes

What’s Better – A Tax Credit or Deduction?

First off, many families filing are a bit confused over what exactly tax deduction and credits are. While they can both help you with your tax obligation, there are differences.

Tax deductions lower your income that is eligible to be taxed. This helps you as it may lower your tax bracket. Tax credits, on the other hand, actually reduces your taxes owed, dollar for dollar.

There are two types of credits: non-refundable and refundable. A non-refundable tax credit will decrease your income tax owed and possibly eliminate it. You do not get a refund from it if your credit is more than your income tax owed. With the refundable tax credit, as the name implies, not only can you reduce or eliminate your income taxes, if it totals more than you owe, then you get a tax refund for the difference.

Tax Deductions for Families

If you’re looking at reducing how much of your income is taxed, here are some deductions you may want to check out to see if you qualify for them.

  • Exemptions for Dependents: If you have dependent, such as a child, then you can claim an exemption worth $3,800 with your taxes. You must provide a social security number for the dependent.
  • IRA Deductions: If you’ve contributed to your traditional IRA in 2012, you may receive a deduction, up to $5,000.
  • Charitable contributions: Many of us keep receipts for charitable donations, but did you also include the supplies you purchased to help a non-profit organization?
  • Personal property taxes: You may have received a state and local tax bill during the year for your personal property like a recreational vehicle. While it’s a chunk of change out of your budget, the good news is that state and local property taxes related to personal property is tax deductible.

Tax Credit for Families

While there are many tax credits available, the most common that affect families are Earned Income Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Child and Dependent Care Credit. I’ll briefly discuss the benefits of each, so you can get an idea of whether they apply to your family’s situation or not.

  • Earned Income Credit: Depending on your income and your family size, you may be able to take advantage of this big tax credit. For example for 2012 taxes, the maximum credit for a family with 3 or more qualifying children is $5,891.
  • Child Tax Credit: For parents meeting the income requirements ( currently for couples whose MAGI is under $110,000 or $75,000 for a single parent), this credit can be worth $1,000 for each qualifying child you claim on your taxes.
  • Child and Dependent Care Credit: If you paid for child care for your dependents (under 13) while you worked or went to school, you may use this credit to claim up to 35% of expenses up to $3,000 for one qualifying dependent or $6,000 for two or more dependents.
  • Adoption Credit: Those households who expanded family through adoption can use the adoption credit worth up to $12,650.
You may meet these qualifications to claim these valuable credits.  TurboTax software made it easier for us to see what credits we qualified for.

Thoughts on Tax Deductions and Credits for Your Family

By using all of the tax deductions and credits that you’re family is eligible for, you can minimize your tax obligations and perhaps increase your refund. I’d love to hear from you about which tax credits and deductions your family have used.

Elle Martinez

Elle helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second.

Comments (1) Leave your comment

  1. I filed my son’s taxes after using TURBO tax for the past 10 years…..and this year for some reason they messed up and RE-charged him the 381.00 he had to pay for unemployment from 2011 that he paid in 2012. NOW they are taking his refund plus saying he owes the other 194.00 cash even though he DID pay that last year??? WHAT IS WRONG WITH TURBO TAX>?

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