Your Deductions – What’s Missing?

After reading an article titled “10 Most Overlooked Tax Deductions” from Investopedia I felt it was my duty as a professional to make sense of this.

Despite all the tax services and software claiming maximum refunds and the most comprehensive review there are still many deductions that are overlooked. Even worse, there are improper deductions taken as a result of either preparer inexperience or user input error that lead to the worst possible scenario- an audit!

Keep in mind for the 2010 Tax Return practically all of these deductions are only available if you file a Schedule A for Itemized Deductions instead of taking the Standard Deduction for your chosen filing status. In addition, most of these deductions have thresholds, which means that they need to meet a certain percent of your Adjusted Gross Income(AGI) before they can be deductible.

So on to the 10 most overlooked deductions, which are:

1. Selling Your Home

While the profit from your home sale can be taxable, the expenses incurred can be deductible from real-estate brokers’ fees to closing costs. In addition, any real estate taxes paid during the year of sale are deductible on that year’s tax return.

2. New Car Sales Tax

For a new vehicle purchased up until Jan 1st 2010 there is still a possibility of deducting the sales tax in addition to any state or local taxes paid if the sales tax was paid any time in 2010.

If the vehicle was purchased after Jan 1st 2010 you might be able to deduct the sales tax in lieu of state and local taxes paid. Check with one of our Tax Patriots to make sure which deduction is more beneficial for you.

3. Car Registration Fees(based on the value of the vehicle)

In our home state of Arizona the annual registration of a vehicle is dependent on the price of the vehicle. The portion of this fee that is based on the price is what the IRS calls “Personal Property Tax” and can be deducted on Schedule A.

4. Non-Cash Charitable Contributions

We donate a lot to the local Goodwill. These donations can be deductible, but only if we have an appraisal of the items donated if the value is over $500. In addition to the value of items being donated, the actual appraisal fees can be deductible.

5. Miles Driven For Charity/Volunteer Events

The value of your time is not deductible. Any cash spent for volunteering purposes as well as transportation costs, however, can be deductible. Mileage, parking and tolls might be deductible as well as any public transportation costs incurred.

6. Laundry/Dry-Cleaning Costs for Business Trips

Most business travelers only keep receipts for the major items like air travel and hotel stays, however, staying dressed and pressed for your business meetings can also be a deductible expense. So keep those dry cleaning receipts, but remember, these are only for expenses that your employer does not cover or reimburse.

7. Shipping/Baggage Costs for Business Purposes

On top of laundry, if there are any documents you have to ship or if you have to pay those dreaded baggage fees, don’t worry, they can be deductible.

8. Business Phone/Internet Use During Business Trips

If you don’t have a smart phone or you are traveling abroad and need to pay extra to use a phone or internet connection these expenses can be deductible. If you hate paying $2/min for a local call and $5/min for long-distance, keep those receipts for tax time to get a break on your taxes.

9. Medical Insurance Premiums

Most employees have premiums taken out of their check before taxes are calculated. If this is not the case or you just pay your own then you might have a deduction. Medical expenses are the highest threshold at 7.5% of your AGI so you need to have a pretty sizable expense before you can deduct, but chances are with the cost of health insurance that you will benefit come tax time.

10. Medical Mileage/Transportation Costs

Not only are your surgeries, doctor visits and prescription costs potential deductions, but so too is your transportation for medical purposes. Keep a mileage log or receipts for any public transportation or air travel necessary for medical services performed within the US so you can write it off at tax time.

Bottom line, after looking at these items I know as a professional and most readers probably know that “if it seems deductible, chances are it is worth keeping the receipt”. Just keep in mind that there are thresholds and limits, thus it is essential to talk to a Tax Patriot to figure out how much of your 2010 expenses are deductible and how you can plan for tax year 2011 to get the best tax advantage for your common expenses.


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