Top 10 ways that the IRS might help you

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This week our guests are from the IRS, answering your questions about tax breaks for people going through financially challenging times.

It's been a rough year financially, are there any tax breaks available for you if you've lost your job, your home, your business?

Your investments lost their value- what are the tax consequences?

What's new for 2009 tax filing?

Top 10 things the IRS may be able to help you with during financially challenging times:

1. Recovery Rebate Credit: If you didn't get an economic stimulus payment this past summer and didn't file a tax return, you may be eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit . See for details.

2. The Alternative Minimum Tax has been 'PATCHED". For 2008, the exemption amounts are $69,950 for married couples filing jointly and $46,200 for single individuals . More information is available at

3. Cancellation of Debt income: If you have had or will have a home foreclosure, check out the tax rules at Things may not be as bad as you think.

4. Commuting: If you ride your bike (bicycle) to work in 2009, it could be worth $20 a month, tax free from your employer. See for more.

5. Deductions: The new additional standard deduction for non-itemizers can be as much as $500 or $1,000 if you are married, filing a joint return. Go to for details.

6. Election to Deduct Sate and Local General Sales Tax: You have an option when itemizing. Claim either State and local general sales taxes paid or state and local income taxes paid, but not both. has more.

7. Mileage: The standard mileage rate is changing from 59.5 to 55 cents per business mile as of Jan. 1, 2009. More information at

8. Homebuyer Credit: The new "First Time Home Buyers Credit" is for a home purchased after April 8th, 2008 and before July 1st, 2009 and could be worth as much as $7,500. Do you qualify? See

9. Residential Energy Property Credit: This credit has been re-instated for 2009 and is worth up $500 for up-grading your home with certain energy efficient items. See if you qualify at

10. Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit: Buy a new plug-in electric car and get a credit of $2,500 or more. See about this today.

And one more for "tax credit":

11. Record Keeping: Make sure you don't omit or forget an item so you pay only the correct amount of tax - no more, no less. See for more details.