Among the few bright spots in the current economy are some tax breaks that homeowners may want to keep in mind during this tax filing season.
In addition to real estate tax benefits that can be applied to 2008 income tax returns there are also benefits that will be available for 2009, according to Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, an industry insider.
"Homeowners want to make sure that when they visit with the tax preparer, they bring along all pertinent home-related documents," says Mark Steber, vice president of tax resources at Jackson Hewitt.
"Knowledgeable tax preparers will not only walk [them] through the credits and deductions they may qualify for this year, but also alert them to the documents that will be important [in 2009]."
This year’s benefits include an additional standard deduction for homeowners who are not eligible to itemize deductions. For 2008, they can increase their standard deduction amount by the lesser of either the real estate taxes paid in 2008 or $500 ($1,000 if married and filing jointly).
A first-time homebuyers credit of $7,500 is also available this year.
For 2009, there are new benefits to those who want to make improvements to their homes.
They include an energy credit whereby homeowners can claim 30 percent of the cost for energy-saving improvements to their main home.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 67 percent of U.S. residents owned homes at the end of 2008.