Several changes Congress mandated for the 2008 tax year will change the way many taxpayers fill out Internal Revenue Service exemption forms 6251, 8917, 8859 and 5695 as well as how they use the exemptions available on the standard tax return From 1040a.
For the tax-year 2008, Congress raised the alternative minimum tax exemption to the following levels: $69,950 for a married couple filing a joint return and qualifying widows and widowers, $34,975 for a married person filing separately, and $46,200 for singles and heads of household.
Under current law, these exemption amounts should have dropped to $45,000, $22,500 and $33,750, respectively, in 2009.
In addition, several popular tax breaks that expired at the end of 2007 were renewed for tax-years 2008 and 2009. As a result, eligible taxpayers can claim: the deduction for state and local sales taxes on Form 1040 Schedule A , Line 5, the educator expense deduction on Form 1040, Line 23 or Form 1040A, Line 16, the tuition and fees deduction on Form 8917 and The District of Columbia first-time homebuyer credit on Form 8859.
In addition, the residential energy-efficient property credit is extended through 2016. Basically, solar electric, solar water heating and fuel cell property qualify for this credit. Starting in 2008, small wind energy and geothermal heat pump property also qualify. Use Form 5695 to claim the credit.
The non-business energy property credit for insulation, exterior windows, exterior doors, furnaces, water heaters and other energy-saving improvements to a main home is not available in 2008 but returned in 2009.
Nearly two out of three taxpayers choose to take the standard deduction rather than itemizing deductions such as mortgage interest and charitable contributions. The basic standard deduction is: $10,900 for married couples filing a joint return and qualifying widows and widowers, a $200 increase over 2007, $5,450 for singles and married individuals filing separate returns, up $100 and $8,000 for heads of household, up $150.
Higher amounts apply to blind people and senior citizens. The standard deduction is often reduced for a taxpayer who qualifies as someone else's dependent.