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TheStreet Open House

What You Need to Know for Tax Season

WASHINGTON ( TheStreet) - First, the bad news: it's getting harder than ever to stay up to date on the latest tax regulations and requirements. Last year brought a flurry of changes to the tax code, as politicians rushed to bring tax relief to ordinary Americans hurt by the recession.

Now here's the good news: Some of those new rules might end up saving you money, if you know to claim them.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included a number of tax-related provisions aimed at both individuals and small businesses. If you're willing to take on a little extra paperwork, you might be able to lower your tax bill significantly.

Deductions for big-ticket items

Anyone who bought a house for the first time in 2009 wins big come tax time, thanks to a first-time homebuyer credit of $8,000. The credit has provided such a boost for home sales that it has been extended to buyers through April 30 of this year.

Anyone who bought a new car last year will also get a break. For the 2009 tax year, buyers can deduct the state and local taxes paid on the purchase. Taxpayers in states with no local sales tax can deduct any other fees assessed on car sales by their state or local government. The deduction is limited to purchase prices of up to $49,500, and there is an income cap (below $250,000 if filing jointly and $125,000 for single filers).

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