Ask Alanis


Wondering what deductions you can cash in on this year? How about how much money you may be getting back or maybe you have tax questions and don't know where to turn? Alanis has made it easy by having done some of the research for you. Take a look at these tips taken directly from the IRS website ( and click on the links to research each fact further.

Mortgage Debt Forgiveness

If you are a homeowner whose mortgage debt is partly or entirely forgiven during tax years 2007 through 2012, you may be able to claim special tax relief and exclude the debt forgiven from your income. Normally, debt forgiveness results in taxable income. However, under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, you may be able to exclude up to $2 million of debt forgiven on your principal residence. The limit is $1 million for a married person filing a separate return.

For more information click here

Job Seekers' Deduction

Many taxpayers spend time during the summer months updating their résumé and attending career fairs. The IRS reminds job seekers that you may be able to deduct some of the expenses on your tax return. Expenses spent on job searching may be tax deductable, however, is the amount you can claim is limited. You can deduct amounts you spend for preparing and mailing copies of your résumé to prospective employers as long as you are looking for a new job in your present occupation. If you travel to an area to look for a new job in your present occupation, you may be able to deduct travel expenses to and from the area.

For details about this deduction click here

Home Energy Credits

Home energy credits have become more limited than in the past years; however, they still can provide substantial savings. Homeowners' installing energy efficient improvements such as insulation, new window and furnaces can be entitled to tax credits. The credit lifetime has a limit of $500 so if you've cashed in on this credit in the pas,t take this fact into consideration as you may not be entitled to more.

For more about this tax credit click here

IRS Withholding Calculator

Get your recent paystubs ready and calculate how much the IRS anticipates you getting back. This is your opportunity for a sneak peak into the future and awareness to make adjustments to your W-4 if needed. While it's a little late for changes on your W-4 to affect your return for 2011, you can get a head start for 2012.

To utilize the IRS Withholding Calculator click here and click "IRS Withholding Calculator"

Four Ways to Find FREE Tax Help
  • Visit the IRS website

  • Taxpayer Assistance Centers. To locate a center near you visit Just go to the Individuals tab and click on the link for Contact My Local Office in the left tool bar section under IRS Resources.

  • Community Resources Free tax preparation is available through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs in many communities. Volunteer return preparation programs provided through IRS and its partners offer free help in preparing simple tax returns for low-to-moderate-income taxpayers. For a list of the 2011 VITA sites you can visit, or call 800-906-9887. You may also call AARP — the largest TCE participant — at 888-227-7669 (888-AARPNOW) or access to find the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site.

  • Telephone Call the IRS Tax Help Line for Individuals, 800-829-1040, to get answers to your federal tax questions. To hear pre-recorded messages covering various tax topics or check on the status of your refund, call 800-829-4477. TTY/TDD users may call 800-829-4059 to ask tax questions or to order forms and publications. To order free forms, instructions and publications call 800-829-3676.

You can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant available on the IRS website to determine if the cancellation of debt is taxable. The ITA tool is a tax law resource that takes you through a series of questions and provides you with responses to tax law questions.

I hope that helps!

Talk to you soon.