Last-Minute Tax Moves That Can Still Save You Money
Life + Money

Last-Minute Tax Moves That Can Still Save You Money

With the deadline to file income taxes less than a month away, you may think you’re stuck with last year’s receipts and documents. But there are a few key contributions you can still make before April 15 depending on your individual situation. Here are some tax moves to consider right now:

Individual Retirement Accounts
Despite their benefits, IRAs are at the bottom of the list in terms of where Americans stash their savings. IRAs fall behind saving for a house, saving for college or even saving for vacations, according to a TIAA-CREF survey released Wednesday. Yet even this far into March, it’s not too late to open an account and reap the benefits.

Related: 4 Tax Deductions That Can Save You Big Bucks

You can set up and contribute to an IRA or a Roth IRA (or both) until April 15 and benefit on your 2014 taxes as long as you stay within the contribution limit – $5,500 for 2014 – and as long as there’s earned income to match.

“A lot of people don’t know they can make a contribution to an IRA even if they have a 401(k) at work,” said Kristen Mossmiller, a financial planner at Partnership Financial in Columbus, Ohio.

If you aren’t covered by a retirement plan, or even if you are but your income is below a certain amount, you can benefit from a federal credit of 10 to 50 percent of eligible contributions to an IRA.

The IRA contributor must be younger than 75; there’s no age limit with a Roth IRA. Even self-employed people can open a simplified employee pension plan (SEP) IRA that works like an individual 401(k). Contributions to it can be made until April 15.

Related: The 7 Taxes We Hate the Most

Health Savings Account (HSA)
If you had a high deductible medical plan in 2014, you can contribute to a health savings account until April 15 as long as you’re under 65 (after 65, you can only make withdrawals).

“These have become a lot more popular, especially among people who are healthy,” said Mossmiller.

The amount you can contribute to your HSA depends on the type of high deductible health plan coverage you have. These contributions can be deducted from your taxes unless they were made by your employer.

529 College Savings Plans (in some states)
Although you can’t claim a federal deduction for your contributions to a 529 account, 33 states as well as the District of Columbia offer a full or partial tax credit or a deduction on 529 contributions.

Related: The 10 Best States for Taxes in 2015

Most states have established a Dec. 31 deadline for making contributions, so it might be too late to benefit on your 2014 taxes. But if you live in any of these six states – Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina or Wisconsin – you have until April 15 to make contributions that can be deducted from your 2014 taxes.

Cash Donations to Charity (in certain circumstances)
When a major natural catastrophe occurs between Jan. 1 and April 15, the IRS can enact special legislation allowing taxpayers to treat cash contributions made before tax deadline as if they were made before Dec. 31.

This was the case last year when typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in March: The IRS allowed taxpayers to receive a tax benefit from the cash contributions if they itemized the deduction. The IRS also made an exception for 2009 taxes after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. So far this year, the IRS hasn’t enacted such a law.

Then there are a slew of credits and deductions you may qualify for based on your specific situation. Check in with a tax professional asap.

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