President Obama extended several tax credits through 2011, including a number of home improvement energy efficiency tax credits. Many of the energy efficiency tax credits allowed in 2011 and beyond are lower than they had been previously. Last year, tax credits for energy efficiency improvements were as high as 30% of the improvement (up to $1,500), but for 2011, most of the tax credits are only 10% of the improvement (up to $500).

If you were a first-time homebuyer and claimed the first-time homebuyer tax credit (FTHB) when you purchased your home in 2008, it is time to start paying the government back in most cases since repayment of the credit starts in the 2nd taxable year following the year of purchase. Therefore, starting with your 2010 return, you now have 15 years to pay back the credit you earned on your 2008 return. If however, you took advantage of the homebuyer tax credits later on say in 2009 or 2010, you most likely will not need to pay back the homebuyer tax credit that you received (there are certain exceptions).

One of the best things you can do for your finances and your tax efficiency is to take a look at your tax options near the beginning of the year and see what might be available.

Few Americans these days dispute the fact that times are tougher and continued education is imperative to take advantage of new opportunities as they emerge. The cost of college tuition nationwide has gone up, closing the door for many students who cannot afford the exorbitant amounts without serious financial aid. It is this fact that has led to the availability of various tax credits that were conceived specifically to assist with the payment of high education.

A few years ago, the government announced that taxpayers could spend money to install energy-efficient systems and receive tax breaks. Those tax credits have been set to expire for some time, but Congress has renewed them for another year. In some cases, the tax credits have been renewed for even longer.

As the year draws to a close, it’s time to squeeze in some tax deductions and credits that might save you money come April 17th.

One of the most popular tax credits out there is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC or EIC). This is a credit aimed at helping low to medium income taxpayers. The biggest advantage of the EITC is that it is refundable. This means that if the amount of the credit exceeds the tax liability of the taxpayer, he or she receives a refund for the difference.

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 that was passed late last year extended an eligibility requirement change through 2012 that was created under The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The eligibility requirement change allows workers to claim the credit as long as their income was $3,000 or more. This is what people are referring to when they talk about the “additional child tax credit.” In essence, individuals who are paying no taxes, are eligible to receive a tax refund. So how does this all work?

Keeping up with your taxes is a year-round proposition. This is especially true when you encounter situations that result in a change to your income over the course of a year. This year, the big surprise for some workers is related to the fact that, if your income has increased since you applied for subsidized health insurance under the PPACA, you might actually owe money back.