Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” Never does this seem more true than in the first few months of a new year as the Internal Revenue Service tax filing deadline of April 15 looms.

Families throughout Maine can take advantage of several tax exemptions and deductions this year, whether they are filing themselves using programs such as TurboTax or working with a professional.

Jason Roy, certified public accountant at R&A Wealth Management, said families should prepare early and keep track of important documents and records throughout the year.

“It is very important for folks to gather their data in an organized and complete manner,” he said. “Be patient and wait until you’re certain that you have all of the tax documents you expect to receive.”

Roy said not rushing means preparers such as himself can be more effective and efficient, which could decrease the preparation cost.

The cost of having taxes prepared by a professional depends on the complexity of work being done. For example, it costs someone with rental properties, businesses or major investments more than someone who works one job and didn’t have any major life changes the year before, such as adding children or purchasing a home. Roy said fees can range from $225 to more than $1,000, but most personal income tax returns average between $225 and $500.

Several “significant” changes to tax laws and requirements have taken place in the past few years, Roy said. Among those for families and individuals filing for 2014, are new health-care- related forms for people who did not have the minimum essential health coverage required by the Affordable Care Act.

One thing to keep in mind as well, is that several deductions and credits are lost at different levels of income. Individuals with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 and married people filing jointly with incomes of $110,000 or more for example, face a reduction or elimination of the child tax credit. In addition, Maine has a $27,950 limit for itemized deductions regardless of AGI.

Roy said it’s hard to say whether families or individuals save more on their taxes because of the variables involved. However, he said families typically have more exemptions and itemized deductions than individuals but there are some thresholds for married couples that are not equivalent to double the individual amounts.

“This is what prompted the phrase ‘marriage penalty,’” Roy said.

Headed to do your 2014 taxes? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Child tax credit: Parents can claim $1,000 per child up to age 17.

College savings plan deduction: If parents have opened a 529 account or another type of state-sponsored college fund for a child, money saved in the account during 2014 can be claimed as deductions.

Child-care deductions: Parents who work and pay for child-care may be able to deduct some of that expense. The total depends on a couple’s income and type of day-care center.

Medical expenses: If family health care costs exceed 7.5 percent of a household’s AGI, they can be deducted from taxes. Expenses can include things like hospital stays, medications and physical therapy, but not insurance premiums.

Education expenses: Qualified education expenses include money paid for tuition, fees or other costs related to an eligible student. The expenses must have been paid by you or your spouse, a student claimed as a dependent or a third party like relatives or friends. Expenses include anything paid for by cash, check, credit card or with money from a loan.

Natalie Feulner

Natalie Feulner is a journalist and “semi-crunchy” cloth diapering momma to a rambunctious toddler named after a county in California. She drinks too much tea and loves to climb rocks but not at the...