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Jobless should still file tax forms

If there's a silver lining to being unemployed, it's that at least you don't have to do your taxes, right?

Wrong!

According to a survey by the Tax Institute at H&R Block, nearly one in four unemployed or retired people doesn't plan to file his or her taxes this April. But that could be a costly mistake, according to the tax preparation chain.

Even people who are not working may be eligible to claim some beefy credits and deductions that could lead to much-needed refunds.

Here are a few examples from Michelle Lobuzzetta, a tax professional at H&R Block:

*Up to $800 for the Making Work Pay credit ($400 if not married-filing-jointly). For those receiving a paycheck, the credit would be orchestrated by making changes to withholding, which would most likely mean an increase in take-home pay. But for those who are out of work, the credit can be claimed on your taxes.

*An earned income tax credit could result in up to $5,667 for those with three or more qualifying children. To see whether you qualify for the credit and estimate the amount you could receive, use the EITC Assistant at IRS.gov.

To qualify, a married couple filing jointly with three qualifying children should not earn more than $48,279.

*A child tax credit of up to $1,000 for each child under the age of 17 you claim as a dependent. Married couples filing jointly would need a modified adjusted gross income of less than $110,000 to qualify.

*Up to $1,000 for home property taxes ($500 if not married filing jointly) for those who do not itemize.

*An American Opportunity tax credit of up to $2,500 for qualifying parents and students to help pay for college. To qualify, married couples filing jointly must have a modified adjusted gross income of less than $160,000. Individuals must earn less than $80,000.

*Job seekers may be able to claim costs associated with finding a job in the same field they left, as long as those costs exceed 2 percent of their gross adjusted income. Qualifying job-search expenses can include the cost of professional placement services, resume development and travel expenses incurred when interviewing, such as mileage, airfare and hotel.

*If you moved for work, you may be able to deduct moving expenses whether you itemize or not. You can deduct as long as you start working within a year of your move, your new job is at least 50 miles farther from your old home than your old job was, and you remain at the new job for at least 39 weeks of the first 12 months.

*Keep in mind, if you receive more than $2,400 in unemployment pay, it is taxable. If you don't want to pay taxes on it next time, you should call the unemployment office and arrange for taxes to be withheld.

For more information, visit www.IRS.gov.

e-mail: schristmann@buffnews.com

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