Commonly missed tax deductions

The search for tax deductions is a year-round effort, and it's a search that often includes oversights. Many times, returns are prepared the same way every year, but there are some frequently overlooked deductions that can be used if you keep good records.

For example, you may know to keep a file folder of receipts for donations to charitable organizations. You may not know that there are other ways your good work can be rewarded as tax deductions.

Among them is claiming 14 cents a mile for any driving you do on behalf of a charity. Other out-of-pocket expenses like meals, parking and donations of silent auction items may be deducted if incurred while you are performing services for a 501(c)3 (tax exempt) organization.

Finally, if you have an unrelated student staying in your home, such as a foreign exchange student, you can deduct $50 a month for unreimbursed expenses. You would, however, need to have a written agreement with the charitable organization sponsoring that student.

What else is frequently missed?

  • Unreimbursed classroom expenses of $250 a year. Teachers frequently pick up something for use in their classrooms and should keep track of those purchases.

  • Gambling losses can be itemized against the amount of your gambling winnings if you itemize deductions on a Schedule A form.

  • Investment property expenses for management, conservation and maintenance of property that is used to produce income. An example would be attorneys' fees resulting from meeting with a lawyer to seek advice about rental property.

  • Computer software for business use.


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