Is the IRS on your gift list? You might not think so, but if you don’t take all the tax deductions that you’re entitled to, then you’re just giving your money away. There are many tax deductions and credits that are not well known.
How much money are you giving to the IRS that could be happily filling your wallet instead?
Consider these commonly missed tax deductions:
1. Non-cash donations to charities. We all know to deduct the checks we write to our favorite charity, but most of us forget to deduct other things. Items like automobiles, clothing, food, furniture, and more are all deductible.
- You’ll need to show receipts if you get audited, so be sure to collect your receipts.
2. Mortgage refinancing points. If you’ve refinanced your mortgage, you can deduct those points. In many cases, they have to be deducted over the life of the mortgage. So if the mortgage is for 15 years, you can deduct 1/15 per year. It’s not much each year, but it adds up.
3. Medical insurance premiums. If you spent more than 7.5% of your income on medical expenses, you can likely deduct the cost of your medical insurance premiums.
- If you’re self-employed, you can deduct 100% of your medical insurance premiums without meeting the 7.5% requirement.
4. Energy savings home improvement. You can get a 30% credit for any energy-saving improvements you make to your home. This is a credit, not a deduction. So you not only get to take 30% of the cost of the improvements directly off your tax bill, but you also get to save money on your utilities. You win both ways.
5. Retirement tax credit. Contributions to retirement plans are typically untaxed at the time of the contribution. If your income falls below a certain level, you can also get up to a 50% tax credit to boot!
6. Disaster. If your area was officially declared a disaster area, you can deduct your losses.
7. Tax and investment expenses. The total cost of these expenses must exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income before taking this write-off. These include things like tax preparation, any legal advice on tax matters, and all your investing expenses. Investing expenses include:
- Your fees and other costs for the investments
- The mileage to drive and see your investment guru
- The cost of publications and subscriptions for investment research, like investment-oriented magazines and The Wall Street Journal.
Taxes are likely your biggest expense each year, so spend some time to familiarize yourself with tax deductions. How many of these deductions apply to you? See your tax professional if you’re unsure if you qualify.
Keep as much of your money as possible. After all, you probably worked pretty hard to earn it.
If your financial situation is complicated, it would be wise to find a real expert. Don’t try to wade through all the tax changes every year by yourself. The extra money you save on taxes can be well worth your time.