10 New Tax Rules for 2008 Taxes

With each new year comes a new batch of tax rules and miscellaneous changes to the laws that taxpayers need to be aware of. There's no denying that the tax code in the United States is incredibly complex, and there are tons of changes. But here are some of the rule changes that are likely to affect the average consumer:

Recovery Rebate Credit – If you weren't eligible for an economic stimulus payment in 2008, you might still be able to get that money. The initial payments were based on your 2007 income, and if your income was too low or too high, you may have missed out. You can now use your 2008 income to collect, and the IRS is offering help in calculating whether you qualify.

AMT Exemption Increased – The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) is a law that was created to make sure high income earners didn't get out of paying income taxes. Now this rule is affecting more middle-income taxpayers, but the "bailout bill" upped the exemption amount for 2008 to spare more taxpayers from the AMT for one more year. The 2008 exemption amounts are $33,750 for individuals and $45,00 for married filing jointly. Don't worry if your income is around those figures, however. Those numbers are part of a much larger (and complex) calculation. You probably only need to worry about AMT if you're single and making more than $100,000, or married and making more than $175,000. (These are just rough guidelines, however. So if you're anywhere close to that range you should speak to a tax preparer.)

First Time Homebuyer Credit
– If you bought your first home between April 9, 2008 and June 30, 2009, you might qualify for a new credit. Taxpayers can get up to $7,500 from the federal government, which has to be paid back over 15 years at a rate of $500 per year. It amounts to an interest-free loan from Uncle Sam that can help you get your first house. More on this credit can be found in this article.

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