Your mid-year checkup: Get savvy about lowering your taxes

Are you still owing the IRS in taxes every year? Not a great situation to be in, is it? But there is still hope for this year. You have almost six months, in some cases a little longer, to make certain you owe less tax, and possibly no tax, next year. Here's a blueprint that outlines the keys to lowering your taxes and remaining audit proof. Follow these keys and you're guaranteed to lower your taxes by hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars! Key #1: Consider a Home Office Deduction Many taxpayers have avoided the home office deduction because it has been regarded as a red flag for an audit. If you legitimately qualify for the deduction, however, there should be no problem. You are entitled to write off expenses - such as rent, utilities, insurance, and housekeeping - associated with the portion of your home where you exclusively conduct business. A middle-class taxpayer who uses a home office and pays $1,200 a month for a two-bedroom apartment could easily save $1,200 in taxes a year. People in higher tax brackets with greater expenses can save even more Key #2: Organize your Records Good organization may not cut your taxes. But there are other rewards, and some of them are financial. For many, the biggest hassle at tax time is getting all of the documentation together. How do you get started?