3 Tax Tips for Deducting Your Educational Expenses

3 Tax Tips for Deducting Your Educational Expenses

If you have taken classes or online courses, remember to deduct them on your taxes! Here are three tips for deducting educational expenses

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Hello, I notice that a lot of women on TheOdysseyOnline.com are full or part-time students, or taking educational classes online. So, I'm here with some helpful information about what education expenses are tax deductible this tax season.

If you or your spouse are currently a student, or if you can claim a dependent who is, here are a few ways to reduce your taxable income:

1. Take the Tuition and Fees Deduction

The tuition and fees deduction for qualified education expenses can reduce your taxable income by up to $4,000, even if you don't itemize your deductions. You likely qualify unless you're above the IRS's income threshold, ($65k as of this year) or if you are married and file separately.

How much you can deduct will be based on your modified adjusted gross income, also known as your "MAGI." If you use a top brand tax software, they can help determine if you're eligible and calculate how much you can deduct.

2. Deduct Courses You Take for An Employer or Government Agency

If you're taking courses because your employer or a government agency requires it, you may also consider taking a deduction, although you'll need to itemize your deductions on Schedule A. You can only deduct the amount that exceeds 2% of your adjusted gross income.

So if 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $1000, and you paid $1500 for courses, you can claim $500 as a deduction.

You can claim the deduction whether you pay using personal funds or student loans.

Also, as a student you may even receive a service code from your school to use for a discount or even free download of tax software.

3. Deduct Courses You Take to "Maintain or Improve Skills" Needed for Your Work

You may be able to deduct courses you take that maintain or improve skills needed for your work.

For example: If you are a freelance web designer, you can deduct courses you take to keep up with the latest changes in web development, design, and SEO. If you study finance or economics, then something like a WSJ subscription might be a potential deduction. This could also include online courses, or premium site memberships.

OK, unfortunately it's already tax season, so for anyone taking classes or online courses relevant to their income, I hope that's helpful info! If you have questions about specifics, be sure to consult a qualified professional or check out the vast resources online through sites like TurboTax, H&R; Block, or of course, the IRS! (blech!)

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Growing Up Catholic And How It Shaped Me

"I like being able to believe there is more to life than our time on Earth."

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Ever since I can remember, I have attended church every Sunday morning. Not always at the same church, but always at the same time with all the same people. I've never known anything different.

Both of my parents are Catholic and so are their parents and so on and so forth. I attended religious education classes my whole childhood and when I was 15, I chose to get confirmed which basically says you are choosing to continue your faith.

As a kid, I didn't really understand why we went to church every Sunday and there were some Sundays where I just didn't want to get out of bed to go. When I'm on the verge of not going to mass I tell myself that it is just 1 hour of my time, 1 hour each week and that is all I have to give. Everyone has 1 hour to spare.

Now that I am older, I'm grateful my parents have introduced me to the Catholic Church. I like having something to believe in and being able to have faith. I'm a huge optimist in my daily life and a big part of that is because I trust God's plan for me, whatever happens is with his best intentions for me. I like being able to believe there is more to life than our time on Earth.

It seems that the word "Catholic" has a negative connotation nowadays and that makes me extremely sad. No one should be judged or profiled based on their religion.

Being Catholic to me means always striving to better myself and bring myself closer to God. Being Catholic might mean something else to another person and that's what is great about religion and faith, they affect everyone differently and it is up to you to decide what to do with these 2 things.

At the end of the day, I am grateful for being brought up in the Catholic family I was because it gave me my morals and made me the person I am today, whom I am proud of.

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5 Ways to Fight Fall Allergies Naturally

Sneezing in October? Here are some easy natural ways to fight allergies the natural way with no pills or medicines!

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Spring is typically considered the season for allergies. However, fall, due to the high amount of vegetation and increase in humidity from rain, brings with it its own set of allergens, such as pollen, ragweed, dust mites, and outdoor mold spores. If you find yourself constantly sneezing, coughing and having a stuffy nose this time of year, try some natural remedies instead of heading to the pharmacy to pick up antihistamines.

Here are 5 of the most useful natural ways to fight allergies:

1. Minimizing exposure

Ever sleep with the window open and wake up with a sore throat? It might sound obvious, but avoiding exposure to triggers is the best way to avoid allergic reactions. Keep your windows closed to stop pollen and mold spores from coming inside.

Wash your clothes, shower and wash your hair if you've spent a lot of time outdoors where you could have picked up pollen. Finally, air purifiers and vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters will remove any allergens such as pollen, mold, and dust that have made it into your house.

*Tip: If you do buy the top-rated HEPA filters, they'll stop most of the allergens but might slow down your A/C flow in the Summer!

2. Anti-inflammatory diet

Allergies are inflammatory reactions to which certain people are more predisposed to than others. Eating a diet rich in foods that are anti-inflammatory can counteract this tendency. Omega 3 fatty acids, found in fish, nuts, and flax, have been shown to reduce the frequency of asthma attacks in people with allergies. Other anti-inflammatory foods include green tea, curcumin, dark chocolate, and most fruit and vegetables.

3. Probiotics

Allergies can be a strong sign that your immune system is out of balance. A good way to fix that is to eat fermented foods rich in probiotics such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha.

Probiotics have been shown to have a number of health benefits including the ability to reduce the impact of seasonal allergies. Rich in friendly bacteria, these foods will help diversify your gut flora, which in turn will help balance your immune system and reduce the risk of allergic reactions.

4. Exercise

It might not sound fun to exercise if you have allergies, but moderate to intense exercise for 30 minutes 3-5 times a week has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory effects, reducing the risk of allergies and asthma attacks. Plus, regular exercise provides a host of other physical and mental health benefits including Vitamin D exposure.

If exercising outdoors increases exposure to allergens such as pollen and mold spores, it might be better to work out at home or in a gym until symptoms are reduced. *There's a surprising amount of pollen in areas you might not expect it, like in the city or even at the beach!

5. Local Honey

Immunotherapy is the process of exposing someone to a small amount of allergen, with the purpose of reducing their sensitivity to it and preventing future allergic reactions.

Eating large amounts of local raw honey, which contains diverse types of pollen, has been shown to help desensitize people with hay fever. It is crucial that the honey you eat was produced in the area where you live, and that it is raw. Pasteurized supermarket honey will not work, and forget that cheap stuff that's been boiled or imported from China!

Fighting Allergies Without Pills

If you like to spend a lot of time outdoors in the fall biking, walking, or apple-picking, allergies to pollen and mold spores can ruin your fun. Minimizing exposure to these allergens when indoors can help. Also, simple life changes such as exercising more, eating a diet that is high in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, and consuming probiotics, can reduce your chances of having allergic reactions.

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