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Tax Breaks Reauthorized for Tax Year 2014

In late December Congress finally took action, passing the tax extender bill, officially known as the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (H.R. 5771), which was signed into law by President Obama.

The good news is that these tax provisions are retroactive to January 1, 2014. The bad news is that they expired on December 31, 2014. Even so, you might be able to take advantage of them when you file your 2014 tax return.

In addition to the tax extenders, there's also good news for people with disabilities. Attached to the extender bill is the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act that allows people who were disabled before the age of 26 (and including family and friends) to contribute up to a combined total of $14,000 a year to an ABLE account. Accumulated earnings are tax free. Also, money held in the account would not disqualify the disabled person from receiving federal assistance benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income--provided it is not used to pay for housing, transportation, education and wellness.

Some of the tax provisions most likely to affect taxpayers when filing their 2014 tax returns.

family in front of home holding thumbs up

Mortgage insurance premiums (PMI) are paid by homeowners with less than 20 percent equity in their homes. These premiums were deductible in tax years 2012, 2013, and once again in 2014; however, this tax break ended on December 31, 2014.

Whether it will be extended for 2015 is unknown. Mortgage interest deductions for taxpayers who itemize are not affected.

Exclusion of Discharge of Principal Residence Indebtedness

Typically, forgiven debt is considered taxable income in the eyes of the IRS; however, this tax provision, which was extended through and expired at the end of 2014, allows homeowners whose homes have been foreclosed on or subjected to short sale to exclude up to $2 million of cancelled mortgage debt. Also included are taxpayers seeking debt modification on their home.

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Taxpayers who are age 70 1/2 or older can donate up to $100,000 in distributions from their IRA to charity. Some people do not want to take the mandatory minimum distributions (which are counted as income) upon reaching this age and instead can contribute it to charity, using it as a strategy to lower income enough to take advantage of other tax provisions with phaseout limits.

Note: Be sure to review the Sales Tax deduction that was extended. Because it is based on income tables, this deduction would go down if your income goes down.

Donation of Conservation Property

Also extended through 2014 was a tax provision that allowed taxpayers to donate property or easements to a local land trust or other conservation organization and receive a tax break in return.

Teachers' Deduction for Certain Expenses

Primary and secondary school teachers buying school supplies out-of-pocket may be able to take an above-the-line deduction of up to $250 for unreimbursed expenses. An above the line deduction means that it can be taken before calculating adjusted gross income.

State and Local Sales Taxes

Taxpayers that pay state and local sales tax can deduct the amounts paid on their federal tax returns (instead of state and local income taxes)--as long as they itemize. In other words, if you're thinking of buying a big ticket item such as a boat or car and live in a state with sales tax, you might want to think about buying it this year.

Have a tax question? Contact one of our Tax Advisors!
Buddy Fricke, EA

Buddy Fricke, EA

Accredited Tax Advisor

Buddy Fricke, EA

Accredited Tax Advisor
Buddy Fricke, EA

Buddy is a graduate of Auburn University. He holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Mathematics.

Direct Phone: (256) 586-4141
Mary L. Penton, EA

Mary L. Penton, EA

Tax Department

Mary L. Penton, EA

Tax Department
Mary L. Penton, EA

Mary is a graduate of the University of Alabama Huntsville. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Accounting.

Direct Phone: (256) 586-4135
Anthony Nash, CPA

Anthony Nash, CPA

Chartered Global Management Accountant

Anthony Nash, CPA

Chartered Global Management Accountant
Anthony Nash, CPA

Anthony is a graduate of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Accounting.

Direct Phone: (256) 586-4153
Jonathan R. Neighbors, EA

Jonathan R. Neighbors, EA

Tax Department

Jonathan R. Neighbors, EA

Tax Department
Jonathan R. Neighbors, EA

Jonathan is a 2005 graduate of the University in Tuscaloosa. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting.

Direct Phone: (256) 586-4157