Commonly Overlooked Deductions
Itemized Tax Deductions
If total itemized tax deductions are more than the standard deduction, it’s usually more beneficial to itemize. For most homeowners it is worthwhile to itemize deductions because they can deduct interest, real estate tax, and certain mortgage insurance premiums.
Here are some popular (and commonly overlooked) itemized deductions not related to home ownership:
- Medical expenses — This includes expenses spent on doctors, hospitals and medicine, some other tax deductible items include health insurance premiums, prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses, hearing aids, medical transportation, equipment for disabled people, and nursing home expenses. Medical miles can also be deducted.
- State and local income taxes — This category includes income tax and personal property tax.
- Charitable contributions — These include cash and property such as new and used household goods and items, securities, and vehicles donated to qualified charitable organizations. Volunteer expenses and miles can also be deducted.
- Casualty losses — If you suffered a loss because of theft, fire, storm damage or other casualty, you can deduct an unreimbursed loss if it is more than the sum of $100 and 10% of your adjusted gross income.
- Unreimbursed out-of-pocket job expenses — Tax-deductible expenses include vehicle expenses (other than commuting), travel expenses, uniforms, union dues and continuing education expenses.
- Miscellaneous expenses — Safe-deposit box fees, investment expenses, tax preparation fees and certain legal fees are examples of miscellaneous tax deductions. The tax deduction for this category of expenses is allowed only for the total of these expenses and unreimbursed job expenses that is more than 2% of your adjusted gross income. Note: There are a few miscellaneous tax deductions that are not subject to the 2% floor. These include repayments of amounts exceeding $3,000 that you previously included in your income, gambling losses, estate tax on income in respect of a decedent, and a decedent’s investment in a pension.
Above-the-line Tax Deductions
If you qualify, you can claim these tax deductions even if you don’t itemize. There are also above-the-line tax deductions for self-employed individuals.
- Student Loan Interest Deduction — up to $2,500
- Moving expenses — the cost of moving your family and belongings to a new job location
- Alimony paid
- Military reservists deduction — a tax deduction for unreimbursed travel expenses for reservists who travel more than 100 miles from home and stay overnight
- Traditional IRA contributions — the smaller of up to $5,000 ($6,000 if 50 or older) or the taxable compensation for the year
- Contributions to HSAs (health savings accounts)
Above-the-line tax deductions for self-employed individuals:
- Half of your self-employment (Social Security and Medicare) tax
- 100% of self-employed health insurance premiums for yourself and family
- Contributions to self-employed retirement plans, such as SEPs and SIMPLE plans
Schedule C Tax Deductions
If you own your own business, some additional tax deductions apply to you. These are claimed directly on your business schedule, called a Schedule C. (Note: Farmers use Schedule F and owners of rental property use Schedule E.)
- advertising and promotional costs
- business liability insurance
- legal and professional services
- car and truck expenses
- wages, employment taxes, employee benefit plans and contributions to employee retirement plans
- home office expenses
- depreciated property
For other tax deductible items, see the schedules. There are many rules and limitations pertaining to some of these tax deductions. Be sure to discuss them with your WWTS tax professional