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Get the Tax Refund You're Owed

How to get every deduction you can, especially if you're 50+

6. If your adjusted gross income, untaxed interest and half your Social Security benefit add up to less than $25,000 ($32,000 if married and filing jointly or qualifying widow), you'll pay no taxes on your Social Security income. After that level, a sliding scale kicks in. But you can take a little bit of comfort in knowing that no matter how much you make, 15 percent of your Social Security benefits will remain untaxable.

7. If you're in a tax bracket of 15 percent or lower, you'll pay no federal taxes on long-term capital gains you racked up during the year. Long-term means that you held the asset for more than a year before selling it.

8. If you turned 65 before Jan. 1, 2013, you're eligible to take a higher than normal standard deduction: single, $7,400; married filing jointly, $13,050 for one spouse 65 or older, $14,200 if both spouses are age 65 or older; head of household, $10,150. Be aware that if you take a higher standard deduction, you're not allowed to itemize deductions, so do the math and figure out which way is best for you.

9. If you pay all or some of your parents' medical bills, you can deduct those as health care expenses, even if they don't qualify as your dependent under income rules.

10. You may get a tax credit if you made certain energy-efficient improvements to your home, such as installing a new roof or insulated windows or exterior doors.

Carole Fleck is a senior editor at AARP Media.

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