Expiring credits, deductions extended by Congress

Experts say taxpayers preparing to file their 2012 returns should seek some guidance this year because the delay in congressional action on fiscal cliff legislation could mean confusion over what credits and deductions still exist.

The alternative minimum tax or AMT has been patched - permanently - and several tax credits and deductions that technically expired at the end of 2011 were extended as part of the fiscal cliff legislation.

The Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting returns Jan. 30, an eight-day delay necessitated by the late congressional action.

The standard deduction has been adjusted higher for inflation, to $11,900 for married couples filing jointly, $8,700 for heads of households and $5,950 for single taxpayers.

Each personal exemption is worth $3,800 this year, up from $3,700 in 2011.

And taxpayers will have the choice of deducting state and local sales taxes instead of state and local income taxes -- good for states that don't have an income tax.