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Newer programs, credits available

New homeowner credits are still available for longtime homeowners

As taxpayers prepare to meet the looming April 15 deadline to file 2009 income tax returns, one accountant provided insight to newer programs and credits available this year.

Becky Covington, a tax partner with Haddox, Reid, Burkes and Calhoun in Jackson, said there are several programs taxpayers should be aware of.

For example, Covington said new homeowner credits are available for longtime homeowners, as well.

“The credits are billed for first-time homebuyers, but there are credits for longtime homeowners, or those who have had the same principle residence for five years in an eight-year holding period,” she said.

New education credits are available for college students through the American Opportunity Credit program.

Covington said the program gives refundable credit to students in their first four years of an undergraduate degree program; in past years the education credit only offset tax liabilities.

Lastly, Covington said theft loss deductions are available for victims of a fraudulent investment scheme such as the Madoff or Stanford Ponzi schemes.

“Luckily, that’s not something we see every day,” she said. “But with the Stanford accounts, it is something we’re seeing more of.”

Although not an issue for 2009 filings, she said clients also are asking about converting traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs in 2010.

“It’s something they’re considering doing for 2010 because it’s something they’ve heard about on the news,” she said. “We can make calculations to see if it would be beneficial to them.”

As for late filings, she said she hasn’t seen specific issues causing taxpayers to file an extension.

“The ones who tend to put it off until the last minute are putting it off until the last minute,” she said. “The ones who file it in January filed it in January. And, as usual, (accountants) are the worst; we’re always filing an extension for our own.”

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