Millions of us overpay our taxes each year because we overlook common deductions that could save us money. Regardless of whether you’re a Day-to-Day Decision-Maker sifting through lunch receipts, or a Confident Planner prepping for your regular review with a CPA, you’re liable to miss a deduction or two. Or 10. Beyond the usual suspects, there are so many overlooked deduction opportunities that are hiding in plain sight, like Pokémon Go® creatures, just waiting to be nabbed. To help you catch the many tax breaks you’re entitled to, here’s a guide to some of the most frequently-missed write-offs. Happy hunting!
Loves bookstores, thrift shops, and pizza joints
Student loan interest for higher education is deductible up to $2,500. And if you’re working, the cost of books and other educational materials required for your job is deductible.
Hides in vending machines and soft drink aisles
There’s a bright side to tooth decay. If dental and other medical bills exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, they’re deductible (as long as they’re not paid by insurance or a flexible spending account).
Frequently seen at race tracks, casinos, and pawn shops
Gambling losses are deductible up to the amount of your winnings. But to claim your losses, you have to declare your winnings.
Haunts employment search sites
If you’re trying to land a new position in your current profession, you can deduct search-related expenses, like fees for resume preparation and outplacement services.
Easily recognized by name tag and big smile
Time and expenses involved in volunteer activities can be deducted—such as mileage for meal delivery or the cost of art supplies for the kids’ fundraiser. Be sure to check the tax-exempt status of the organization.
Drawn to campfires and poison ivy
Summer camp is a blast—from nature hikes to marshmallow treats—and it may provide a deduction. If you send your kids to day camp, you may be able to claim child-care credits.
Watches DIY shows when not touring open houses
Did you know you can deduct the points paid when you refinance a mortgage? (And don’t forget about your mortgage interest!)
Craves dark spaces and shiny objects
If you store investment documents in a safe-deposit box, the rental fees are deductible. But if you mix in your Pokémon cards, gold, jewelry, and other valuables, it won’t qualify.
Hangs around closets, guard shacks, and ERs
Do you have to wear uniforms for work? Clothing you can’t use for everyday? Then you can probably deduct the cost to buy and clean them.
Known to swarm moving vans and UPS stores
If you relocate for your job, Uncle Sam may help you pay for the moving expenses, such as the cost of packing supplies, professional movers, and mileage. Some restrictions apply, so check it out.
And now that you know where those delightful little money-savers hide, imagine how tax-savvy you’ll be going forward. As always, the smart move when preparing your taxes is to consult with a financial expert who can recommend tax strategies that are right for you.
* Guardian's Living Confidently survey, 2017.
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