Surprising Tax Deductions

Tax deductions have many exceptions, so do your research before claiming any of them.
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The only thing certain besides death, taxes are an inevitable part of our lives. The United States tax code takes up thousands of pages and includes hundreds of different deductions meant to ease the tax burden for certain groups of people. Some of the most popular tax deductions go to people with kids, those paying a monthly mortgage and homeowners who make eco-friendly home improvements. Taxpayers might be shocked to learn about a number of other surprising tax deductions Americans claim each year.

Charitable Deductions

Falling under the category of charitable deductions, the stray animal deduction allows taxpayers to deduct up to $250 worth of expenses for taking care of stray cats and dogs. Taxpayers must have a letter from an animal shelter or other similar organization stating that the expenses they incurred, such as paying for food and litter, directly benefited that organization. Other surprising charitable-related deductions include any out-of-pocket expenses paid doing charitable work, such as travel expenses and mileage directly related to charity work or any supplies you needed to do charitable work.

Medical Deductions

Health Spending Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts allow taxpayers who hold those types of accounts to deduct certain medical expenses throughout the year, but taxpayers without those accounts can also deduct some medical expenses. Some of the more surprising medical deductions include contact lenses, including saline solution and cleaner, pregnancy test kits, weight-loss programs and lactation supplies like breast pumps, storage bags and bottles. Travel mileage to reach medical treatment, along with reasonable lodging expenses, can also be deductible if you had to incur them in order to receive treatment, and the deduction can include a key person traveling with the person who gets treatment, such as a parent traveling with a sick child. You can even deduct the cost of traveling to a medical conference as long as it focuses on a disease that affects you or a spouse or a dependent. While all these deductions exist, taxpayers can only deduct them if the expenses exceed 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income, and only if the expenses were not reimbursed by their HSA or FSA.

Job-Related Deductions

A number of surprising job-related deductions exist, including any expenses incurred for those looking for a job. As long as the job seeker is looking in the same line of work he used to work in, deductible items include employment agency fees, the costs of printing resumes or business cards and mileage traveling to job interviews. Taxpayers who moved for a new job can deduct unreimbursed costs of moving, as long as the new job is more than 50 miles farther from your home than your old job. Additionally, to claim the deduction, the employee must work at least 39 weeks in the first 12 months of the job.

Miscellaneous Deductions

Many taxpayers claim their children as dependents to receive the standard tax deduction, but many taxpayers do not know that they can also claim other relatives they care for. The qualifying relative may not be a dependent for any other taxpayer, must be either related to you or live with you as part of your household for the entire tax year and you must provide more than half of that person's total support for the year. With the complicated tax code, many taxpayers hire a professional tax preparer or service to help them file. Any fees the taxpayer incurs from hiring a professional are tax deductible, as well as any tax planning fees like legal or account fees, to the extent that they exceed 2 percent of the taxpayer's adjusted gross income.

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