moneyI recently received my W-2 form from my employer and it held a bit of nice news. Working in concert with my employer I managed to shield about $3,000 of my income from being taxed. Through various changes in the tax code made during the Bush administration, we can now have a number of different payouts made with pretax dollars. My employer puts these savings under a heading called a "cafeteria plan." Here's how it helped me to reduce my tax bill.

My employer takes the deduction for my health insurance premium pretax. That's $49 per week untaxed. My employer-provided life insurance premium is paid pretax. That's another $4 untaxed. My company-sponsored IRA account gets $5 per week untaxed, as well as the untaxed contributions which my employer makes to my IRA, out of the goodness of their hearts.

There are other payments which you can make with pretax dollars also. Consult with your employer to see if they enable these types of benefits. As far as I know, the law doesn't require employers to provide these options but many employers do because they can improve workforce morale. It might also be advisable to consult with a tax preparation professional regarding the long term effects and conditions of these types of benefits. Pretax deposits to IRA accounts can later become taxable if you access them before you reach certain age thresholds.

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Essential Tax Forms for the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as Obamacare, affects how millions of Americans will prepare their taxes in the new year. The law now includes penalties for all who haven?t obtained health insurance -- and those penalties are expected to be paid at tax time. The ACA also provides tax credits to help people pay for insurance, and you can claim those credits when you file your taxes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has introduced a number of tax forms to accommodate the ACA.

Are You Exempt From Health Care Coverage?

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is an individual mandate that requires all eligible Americans to have some form of basic health coverage by 2014. Those without insurance will receive a penalty when they file their tax returns ? that is, unless they have an exemption. TurboTax's Exemption Check can help you find out whether or not you qualify for an exemption.

Mortgage Refinance Tax Deductions

When refinancing a mortgage to get a lower interest rate or obtain more favorable loan terms, you're really just taking out a new loan and using the money to pay off your existing home loan. In general, the same tax deductions are available when you're refinancing a mortgage as when you're taking out a mortgage to buy a home.

How to Determine if You Have Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC)

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires most Americans to have health insurance that meets a government standard known as "minimum essential coverage," or MEC. Whether your insurance qualifies as MEC depends not on the plan itself, but on how you obtained your coverage.

Rental Property Deductions You Can Take at Tax Time

Rental property often offers larger deductions and tax benefits than most investments. Many of these are overlooked by landlords at tax time. This can make a difference in making a profit or losing money on your real estate venture. If you own a rental property, the IRS allows you to deduct expenses you pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the property, conserving and managing the property, and other expenses deemed necessary and associated with property rental.

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