TODAY   |  March 21, 2014

How to save money on your taxes

With the tax deadline less than a month away, CNBC personal finance correspondent Sharon Epperson joins TODAY to offer some valuable tax strategies for various life stages.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> 8:46 with "today's" money. this morning, saving on your taxes. the filing deadline is less than a month away. it's important to remember that major life events can affect how much you owe. sharon epperson is cnbc's personal finance correspondent. good morning.

>> good morning.

>> start with the year. give us the broad scope of what people need to know about taxes.

>> well, a lot of people don't like tax time, of course. but most people will not see significant changes from the tax laws in terms of taxes. it's the high-end earners that are going to get hit harder.

>> let's break it down into categories and give tax advice . starting with recently married. do you file separately or jointly?

>> well, you need to do it both ways to see what's the best savings for you. but generally, working couple, it's a greater savings if you filing married jointly. itemizing your deductions. a lot of single people take the standard deduction . you want to see if you can itemize.

>> all right. let's keep it moving. parenting. parents are preoccupied, maybe new babies, give us idea and tax breaks they can do if you're new parents.

>> you get a personal exemption , $3,900, and then there's credits you want to look at, as well, the child tax credit , $1,000 for your child 16 or under. there are some phaseouts depending on your income. but that's one to look at. dependent care credit, also something to look at if you paid for day care or for at home care or even summer day camp while you're working, you need someone to care for your kids. think about that.

>> good to know. what about longer term, thinking about your kid in college, what should you know about that?

>> that's where the american opportunity credit comes in. you want to look at that as an opportunity credit of about $2,500 you could qualify for the first four years. there are other ones, lifetime learning credit, there's a division and fee deduction. but this is often the american opportunity credit, the one that a lot of parents want to go for first.

>> good to know for new parents. and finally, retirement, walk us through retirement, tax breaks . just for people who are leading into their retirement.

>> well, the first thing to remember is april 15th is the deadline. but there's still time to put money in a traditional i.r.a. use that catch-up contribution, put in $6,500. everyone else it's $5,500. you may want to roll over some of your money into a roth i.r.a. you take that money out in retirement tax free. and for seniors, very important to think about the health care expenses that you've accumulated. you still get to use that lower threshold of 7.5% of your adjusted gross income in terms of deducting the medical expenses. everyone else, it's gone up 10%.

>> we asked our viewers to write in. tamron, what do you got for us?

>> couple of questions. the first one from jodi. she says my husband is laid off, so we took an i.r.a. withdrawal. can we claim it as a hardship withdrawal?

>> well, actually, in terms of the ira tax rules, there's no such thing as a hardship withdrawal. and any money you take out of a traditional i.r.a. , unfortunately, you've got to pay taxes on that money. that's taxable income . so you're going to have to pay a penalty if you took it out early, probably. there are just a few exceptions to that. and then you're going to have to pay taxes on that money that you've taken out of that traditional i.r.a.

>> good stuff. one more from tamron in the o.r.

>> this one from carey. my husband has w-2s from 17 different states. do we have to file in each one?

>> probably you do have to file in every state. you want to check with the different states to make sure. but you definitely have to put all of those on your federal return. they'll have a lot of work come tax time. get cracking.

>> sharon epperson , thank you very much. sharon's going to head over to the orange room to continue to answer your tax questions. tweet away, use