taxes

Cut your taxes without itemizing

10. IRA deduction. If you contribute to a traditional IRA, you might be able to deduct at least a portion of your contribution from your income. Precisely how much you can claim on line 32 of Form 1040 depends not only on your contribution amount, but also on your adjusted gross income and whether you or your spouse participates in a company-sponsored retirement plan. It requires some calculation, but run the numbers. This above-the-line deduction could help lower your taxable income.

11. Student loan interest. Up to $2,500 of the interest you paid on a qualified student loan can be subtracted on line 33. The loan can be for you, your spouse or a dependent. Note that there are income limits and married taxpayers who file separate returns cannot claim this adjustment.

12. Tuition and fees. The higher-education tuition and fees adjustment could reduce your taxable income by as much as $4,000. You'll need to complete Form 8917 and then enter on line 34 the amount of tuition and fees deduction calculated.

This is another tax deduction that applies, so far, only to the 2014 tax year. In order to be claimed on 2015 tax returns and subsequent tax years, it must renewed by Congress.

13. Domestic production activities. This above-the-line deduction was created to encourage "made in the U.S.A." manufacturing efforts. U.S.-based businesses that manufacture products domestically instead of sending the work overseas might be able to deduct up to 9 percent of the money earned or 50 percent of the wages paid in connection with the production effort, whichever is less. This tax break applies not only to such expected occupations as construction or farming, but also is available to certain creators of software, films or recordings.

You'll need Form 8903 to figure the exact credit that goes on line 35 of your Form 1040.

We're out of designated adjustment lines as we reach the bottom of Page 1, so that's the end of the nonitemizing tax breaks, right? Wrong.

Some specialty adjustments

Although line 36 simply instructs you to total your entries on all the previous adjustment lines, curious taxpayers who take a closer look at Form 1040 instructions will find even more possible ways to whittle away some of their taxable incomes.

Sure, several of these adjustments, such as reforestation amortization or repayment of specific supplemental unemployment benefits or court costs for certain unlawful discrimination cases, are for relatively limited tax situations. But a couple of the adjustments affect quite a few taxpayers.

Line 36 is where you enter any pay you got for serving on a jury, but then turned it over to your boss because you got your regular pay while at the courthouse.

Contributions to special medical savings accounts offered by some small businesses also are accounted for here. If you have an Archer Medical Savings Account, you'll also need to fill out Form 8853 to determine the amount to enter on this catchall line.

So take a moment to check out all these other possible above-the-line deductions. Details are in the Form 1040 instruction book. If you're one of the select group of taxpayers to whom these apply, claim the amount and add the special notation spelled out in the instructions to line 36. The extra adjustments could really pay off.

Now it's time to add all these specially annotated line 36 amounts to the deductions claimed on the preceding 13 income adjustment lines. This final number goes on line 37. Once entered there, it's subtracted from the total income amount you entered on line 22. The result: your adjusted gross income.

A few also on 1040A

What if you don't want to or need to use the long Form 1040? You still get a chance to reduce your income if you file Form 1040A instead.

Four of these above-the-line adjustments -- educator expenses, IRA contributions, student loan interest and tuition and fees -- also can be deducted on lines 16 through 19 of that slightly shorter tax return.

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