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Screw Uncle Sam – Take Your Tax Deductions!


Uncle Sam tries to screw you all year long. But tax deductions are your chance to get him back! The more deductions you can claim, the more cash you get back. And who doesn’t like getting a fat tax refund?!

Here are some tax deductions that you might have overlooked. Don’t leave a single penny on the table!

1. Medical mileage – You surely didn’t forget to add up your medical expenses, but what about mileage to and from appointments? You can deduct $0.20 per mile for medical trips, and you can also include parking fees and tolls (PDF: 2007 Publication 502).

2. Educator expenses – Are you a teacher? You can deduct up to $250 of out-of-pocket expenses for books and supplies. And you don’t even have to itemize!! Just put the amount on line 23 of Form 1040 (Tax Topic 458).

3. Student loan interest – Most young adults have at least a little school debt. At least you can deduct the interest you pay on those loans. If you paid more than $600 in interest during the year, your lender should send you Form 1098-E, detailing your interest. This is another cool deduction that doesn’t require itemizing (Tax Topic 456).

4. Donations of goods – Did you give some old household items to Goodwill? Be sure to get a receipt, and you can deduct the value of those items. There’s even a cool online program (It’s Deductible) that helps track and value those donations (Tax Topic 506).

5. Jury pay – Nobody likes jury duty, but at least you can deduct the pay! If your employer paid your full salary while you served AND you turned over the jury duty pay to your employer, you’re eligible to deduct it. You can even claim this deduction on Form 1040A!

6. Health insurance premiums – Everyone can add health insurance premiums to their medical expenses deduction. And if you’re self-employed, you can deduct 100% of these premiums without itemizing! You have to love easy deductions like that!

7. Moving expenses – Did you move more than 50 miles for a full-time job? Deduct it! This includes self-employment, as long as you fulfill the “time” test (working enough hours each week) (PDF: Publication 521).

8. Higher-education – Did you pay college expenses this year? If you earned less than $65,000, you can deduct up to $4,000 of those expenses above-the-line (Publication 970).

9. Job hunting costs – If you’re looking for work in the same field in which you’re currently employed, deduct your expenses. There are some nuances here, but it’s definitely worth accounting for (Publication 529).

10. Tax prep fees – These are typically deductible in the year you pay them. For your 2007 tax return, you can deduct your 2006 tax preparation fees. This includes the cost of your software, accountant, and even e-filing.

What’s your favorite tax deduction?

Photo by andrewtr

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22 Responses to “Screw Uncle Sam – Take Your Tax Deductions!”

  1. Brandon Hopkins
    February 14th, 2008

    Gotta love the student loan interest. My wife’s loan accumulated $875 in interest this year….Now I need to find some business deductions.

  2. Andrew Flusche
    February 14th, 2008

    Brandon – You and me both! The student loan interest deduction is definitely one to keep track of. And it’s really easy to add up & document. Business deductions are the tough ones!

  3. Dimitar Sivkov
    February 14th, 2008

    You will be surprised to know how many people have no idea they are entitled to a refund, especially among those who are in the US on a Work and Travel programs. Where do you think is the reason for that?

  4. Andrew Flusche
    February 14th, 2008

    Dimitar – I would bet that foreign-born professionals simply haven’t been taught about our income tax system. It’s not simple, and unless you’ve dealt with it for a while, it really is daunting.

  5. Modern Living Room Furniture
    February 14th, 2008

    Very informative post; did not know you could make deductions for job hunting! I say take every opportunity to avoid (not evade) paying taxes.

  6. Andrew Flusche
    February 14th, 2008

    Modern – Yeah, the job hunting expenses were a new one to me as well. They’re part of “unreimbursed employment expenses.” Not everyone will be able to deduct them, but it’s definitely worth remembering next time you’re looking for a new job!

  7. hank
    February 15th, 2008

    Love the site, love the post! I’m a big fan of tax deductions and I think I knew them all except the travel to and from medical expenses piece! I like it. First time visitor, but you’ve been RSS’d!

  8. Andrew Flusche
    February 16th, 2008

    hank – I’m glad I could point out something useful for you. There are so many tax deductions available that we can’t possibly remember them all. And thank you for subscribing!!

  9. Tejvan Pettinger
    February 20th, 2008

    Good to see Lawyers giving very useful advice :)

  10. Dimitar Sivkov
    February 20th, 2008

    Well it is not strange for lawyers to do that, but most of them usually charge you before that :)

  11. Andrew Flusche
    February 20th, 2008

    Dimitar – I don’t charge people coming IN the door, just people going OUT. ;)

    I’m glad to help out people any time!

  12. Dimitar Sivkov
    February 20th, 2008

    Hey Andrew, I have a question for you since you are so helping and all ;)

    Are US Non-residents eligible for all of these Tax Deductions? I am just curious if there is a double standard for citizens and non-residents?

  13. Andrew Flusche
    February 21st, 2008

    Dimitar – I don’t quite understand your question. U.S. citizens and resident aliens are typically taxed on their worldwide income, no matter where it was earned (IRS FAQ 13.7). And resident aliens are generally taxed in the same manner as plain ol’ U.S. citizens (Taxation of Resident Aliens). So resident aliens can claim the same types of itemized deductions as citizens.

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  17. Amber
    March 10th, 2008

    Another one to remember is any miles put on your car related to charitable work, including driving to and from a place you donate to regularly – as long as you remember to get receipts.

    Also, if you gamble at all, keep a record of your losses. You can deduct your gambling losses up to the amount of your winnings. Say you spend $100 on lottery tickets through the year – if you save the old tickets, then when you win $500 you only have to pay taxes on $400, because you can deduct the $100 you spent on losing tickets.

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  19. [...] you own a home business, you should be carefully in tune with your possible tax deductions. This can save you some serious money at tax time. And remember that April 1st isn’t the time [...]

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