The 10 Most Overlooked Tax Deductions

(May 2024)

The 10 Most Overlooked Tax Deductions

In This Article

When addressing tax filings, optimizing deductions plays a crucial role in shaping your overall tax liability. Effectively leveraging eligible deductions has the potential to minimize the taxes you owe or boost your tax refund. Unfortunately, numerous taxpayers frequently miss out on certain deductions that could lead to substantial savings.

This article delves into the significance of maximizing tax deductions and presents an overview of the top 10 commonly neglected deductions, shedding light on opportunities for potential financial benefits.

The 10 Most Overlooked Tax Deductions:

  1. Home Office Deduction
  2. State Sales Tax
  3. Charitable Contribution
  4. Medical and Dental Expenses
  5. Education-Related Expenses
  6. Job Search Expenses
  7. State Taxes Paid Last Year
  8. Energy-Efficient Home Improvements
  9. Student Loan Interest
  10. Moving Expenses for a New Job

1. Home Office Deduction

To qualify for the home office deduction, you must use a portion of your home exclusively and regularly for business purposes. This can be a separate room or designated area. If you are an employee, your home office must be used for the convenience of your employer.

There are two methods to calculate the deduction. The simplified method allows you to deduct $5 per square foot of your home office space, up to 300 square feet. Alternatively, you can calculate based on actual expenses, such as mortgage interest, rent, utilities, insurance, and repairs. Deduct the percentage that corresponds to your home office’s size compared to your entire home.

Keep records to support your claim, including documentation of exclusive and regular use, receipts for expenses, and detailed records of all relevant costs. Consult a tax professional or refer to IRS guidelines (Publication 587) for specific requirements.

Understanding the eligibility criteria, calculating expenses correctly, and maintaining accurate documentation will help you confidently claim the home office deduction and potentially reduce your tax liability.

2. State Sales Tax

You have the option to deduct state sales taxes instead of state income taxes on your federal tax return. This can be beneficial if you live in a state with no income tax or if you made significant purchases.

Use the IRS Sales Tax Deduction Calculator or refer to IRS Publication 17 to determine if it’s more advantageous for you. Eligible purchases include major items like vehicles, boats, and airplanes, homebuilding materials for a new home, large household items, and other taxable items like clothing and electronics.

Keep detailed records and receipts of your eligible purchases throughout the year to support your deduction. By comparing the potential deduction from state sales taxes to state income taxes and maintaining proper documentation, you can maximize your tax savings.

3. Charitable Contribution

When making charitable contributions, you can deduct cash donations and non-cash donations on your tax return. Cash donations can be made by check, credit card, or electronic transfer. Non-cash donations include items like clothing, household goods, furniture, vehicles, and stocks. For cash donations under $250, keep a bank record or receipt from the charity.

For cash donations of $250 or more, obtain a written acknowledgment from the charity. For non-cash donations under $250, keep a receipt or written communication from the charity. For non-cash donations of $250 or more, obtain a written acknowledgment.

Special rules apply for non-cash contributions over $500 and over $5,000, requiring additional forms and appraisals. Keep accurate records and documentation to support your charitable contributions on your tax return.

4. Medical and Dental Expenses

Medical and dental expenses can be deducted on your tax return, including costs for doctor and dentist visits, hospital stays, prescription medications, medical equipment, and more. To claim a deduction, the total expenses must exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). For example, if your AGI is $50,000 and you have $5,000 in eligible expenses, you can deduct the amount that exceeds $3,750.

Keeping detailed records of your medical and dental expenses is important for verification, calculation accuracy, audit protection, and reimbursement differentiation. Keep receipts and organize them in a dedicated folder or digital file for easy access during tax preparation. By understanding the eligibility requirements and importance of accurate record-keeping, you can maximize your deductions while complying with IRS regulations.

5. Education-Related Expenses

When it comes to education-related expenses, there are several deductions and credits available to help reduce your tax burden. Qualified tuition and fees, student loan interest, and education-related expenses for teachers are deductible.

You may also be eligible for education credits such as the American Opportunity Credit, which offers up to $2,500 per eligible student for the first four years of post-secondary education, and the Lifetime Learning Credit, which provides up to $2,000 per tax return for post-secondary education expenses. If you don’t qualify for credits, you can potentially deduct up to $4,000 in tuition and fees.

Keep documentation such as Form 1098-T from educational institutions, receipts, and student loan interest statements to support your claims.

6. Job Search Expenses

When it comes to job search expenses, there are several deductible items that can help reduce your tax liability. These include costs for resume preparation, job search websites, employment agency fees, travel expenses for interviews, lodging and meals during your job search, networking expenses, printing and postage, and career counseling fees.

To qualify for deductions, the job search must be in the same field as your previous employment, the expenses must be reasonable and necessary, and you must actively be looking for a job.

Keep receipts, invoices, a mileage log, job application records, and proof of payment to support your deductions. It’s important to note that job search expenses are subject to limitations and restrictions, such as itemizing deductions and exceeding 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Consult IRS guidelines or seek advice from a tax professional to understand your eligibility and maximize your deductions.

7. State Taxes Paid Last Year

When it comes to deducting state taxes paid last year, there are a few key points to keep in mind. You may be eligible to deduct state and local income taxes paid, including taxes withheld from your paycheck, estimated tax payments, and additional payments made during the year.

This deduction is available if you choose to itemize deductions instead of taking the standard deduction. Alternatively, if you live in a state with no income tax or made significant purchases subject to sales tax, you have the option to deduct state and local sales taxes instead.

Additionally, property taxes paid on real estate can also be deducted. To support your deductions, keep important documents such as Form W-2, Form 1099-G (if applicable), property tax statements, and records of eligible purchases and sales tax paid.

By understanding the available deductions and maintaining accurate records, you can potentially maximize your tax savings. For specific details and requirements related to state tax deductions, consult IRS guidelines or seek advice from a tax professional.

8. Energy-Efficient Home Improvements

Making energy-efficient home improvements can not only help reduce your environmental impact but also provide potential tax benefits. Eligible improvements include insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, HVAC systems, solar panels, geothermal heat pumps, energy-efficient roofing, and appliances.

You may qualify for tax credits such as the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit and the Non-Business Energy Property Credit, which can help offset the cost of these improvements. To claim these credits, you will need documentation such as manufacturer’s certification statements, receipts, and invoices.

9. Student Loan Interest

If you’re paying interest on qualified student loans, you may be able to deduct up to $2,500 of that interest on your federal tax return. This deduction can help reduce your taxable income and potentially save you money on your taxes.

However, the deduction is subject to income limitations, and eligibility depends on various factors such as the amount of interest paid and your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). Keep important documents such as Form 1098-E, loan statements, and payment records to support your claim for the student loan interest deduction.

For the 2022 tax year, the deduction begins to phase out for single filers with a MAGI above $85,000 and joint filers with a MAGI above $170,000. If your MAGI exceeds $70,000 for single filers or $140,000 for joint filers, you are not eligible to claim the deduction.

10. Moving Expenses for a New Job

If you’re moving to start a new job or work at a different location for your current employer, you may be eligible to deduct certain moving expenses on your federal tax return. Qualified moving expenses include transportation costs, storage costs for up to 30 days, and travel expenses.

However, it’s important to note that the deduction for most employees’ moving expenses is currently suspended until 2026, except for members of the Armed Forces on active duty and certain military-related moves.

To be eligible for the deduction, your new workplace must be at least 50 miles farther from your old home than your previous workplace was from your old home. You must also meet a time test by working full-time for at least 39 weeks during the 12 months following your move.

Keep important documents such as receipts, travel records, employer documentation, proof of residence, and time test documentation to support your claim for moving expenses. While the deduction is currently suspended, it’s still valuable to keep accurate records in case you qualify for an exception or if the deduction becomes available again in the future.

Conclusion

Discover valuable deductions that are often missed by taxpayers like yourself. By taking advantage of these deductions, you can potentially reduce your tax liability and increase your savings.

Some key deductions include state sales tax, reinvested dividends, student loan interest paid by parents, medical expenses, job search expenses, energy-efficient home improvements, child and dependent care credit, charitable contributions, state tax paid last spring, and gambling losses.

Remember to consult IRS guidelines or seek advice from a tax professional to ensure eligibility and maximize your deductions. Don’t overlook these opportunities to optimize your tax return and keep more money in your pocket.

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. . For comprehensive tax, legal or financial advice, always contact a qualified professional in your area. S’witty Kiwi assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

Become a

S'witty Kiwi Credit Insider!

Get the latest credit tips and hacks in your inbox!