The 10 Most Overlooked Tax Deductions
During tax season, if there’s one thing that’s at the front of our minds more than paying our taxes, it’s getting whatever deductions we can to save money. Standard or itemized, it makes no difference — any tax break that keeps cash out of the hands of the IRS is fair game. You’ll be surprised at the crazy things you’re able to write off. Take a look at these 10 overlooked deductions you might be able to claim.
The Casualty Deduction – So a sinkhole swallows up your home, a tornado carries your car away, or an earthquake shakes the property inside your house beyond repair. What’s a taxpayer to do? If your insurance carrier doesn’t cover everything in these unfortunate events, you might be able to take what’s called a casualty deduction. This tax break allows you to write off some of the damages to your home, personal items, or vehicles that resulted from an unexpected natural disaster.
Energy-Saving Home Improvements – You may have made energy-efficient improvements around your house to save money on your utility bills, but did you know that these could also help you save on your taxes? The Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit may qualify you for up to $500 in deductions. However, keep in mind that when you fill out this deduction on Form 5695, you’ll need to adhere to certain spending limits. Some include $150 for high-efficiency furnaces and boilers; $300 for air conditioners and heat pumps; and $200 for replacement windows, according to Bankrate.com.
Job Search Expenses – If you were looking for a job last year and your total miscellaneous expenses exceeded 2% of your adjusted gross income, you may qualify for a tax break. A few of these job-hunting costs include transportation expenses and cab fares; food and lodging if you’re out of town interviewing; employment agency fees; and printing costs for resumes and business cards, according to Kiplinger.
Moving for a First Job – Recent graduates landing their first real job out of college may be eligible to deduct moving expenses if the position is at least 50 miles from home. As per IRS Publication 521, you may be able to get a tax break on the costs of transporting yourself and your property to your new domicile. And if it was a road trip by car, you can deduct 23 cents a mile, along with parking fees and road tolls.
The Dry Cleaning Tax Deduction – If you travel a lot for work, and you wear a lot of dry-clean-only business clothes, you may be able to deduct the costs of getting them cleaned, provided they aren’t reimbursed by your employer, according to The Fiscal Times. If these threads are for work purposes only, another tax deduction might be available, as long as you can show the IRS proof of your employer’s policies and receipts of your purchases. (Think police uniforms, hospital scrubs, protective gear, or theatrical garments.)
Jury Duty Fees Paid to Your Employer – You might be one of those lucky people who gets called into jury duty, can take off work, and have their job pay them for the time off. In some cases, employers ask that you reimburse them with the jury duty stipend the courts pay you for your civic duty, which is considered taxable income. Fortunately, you can make it a deduction on your tax return.
Additional Charitable Giving Deductions – Volunteering for a charity or nonprofit isn’t tax-deductible — it is volunteer work, after all. But additional charitable contributions that come as an expense to you may be eligible for a tax deduction. Some examples include the cost of gas while driving to and from your volunteer gig, or the total expense of supplies you’ve bought — like ingredients for a soup kitchen dish you donated, or stationery used for a fundraising campaign. Keep in mind that if your contributions are more than $250, you’ll need an A-OK from your volunteer group in order to proceed with the IRS.
Vision-Related Deductions – Here’s a deduction you ought to be able to see clearly. If you bought corrective lenses (including eyeglasses and contact lenses) or hearing aids within the last year, you can apply for a tax deduction on the cost if it wasn’t already covered under a medical insurance plan or paid for by a pretax flexible spending account.
Gambling Losses – That unlucky night in Vegas last year wasn’t a complete loss after all. If you lost a bit of coin gambling, you can deduct your losses, just as long as they aren’t more than your winnings, according to U.S. News & World Report. If you lost $6,000 and won $3,000, you can deduct the $3,000 — essentially, you’re able to deduct your winnings under the guise of losses. The publication says that to make your claim, you’ll need to be able to provide the IRS with the right documentation, such as receipts, tickets, and other records.
Baggage Fees – When you fly these days, you encounter standard baggage fees, overweight luggage penalties, and multiple bag charges. If you’re a self-employed professional traveling for business purposes, however, these fees may be tax-deductible. Simply add them on to your existing travel deductions when filing.