by Stefanie Powers
If there is any good news when it comes to doing your taxes, besides hopefully getting a nice refund, it lies in the often-obscure list of tax deductions available. Let’s consider some tax deductions that you might not know about. Who doesn’t need a little relief when it comes to taxes!
Most teachers will tell you that they have to occasionally use their own funds to purchase class supplies. The IRS allows qualified K-12 educators to deduct up to $250 for these items. That amount gets subtracted from your income, so you don’t have to itemize. You can claim a deduction for occupation-specific clothing. Any article of clothing that you only wear on the job that is not suitable for general wear qualifies. For example, if you are a healthcare worker, you can usually write off scrubs, medical shoes, lab coats, etc. And speaking of the health field, in many cases, course books, training and certification fees can also be deducted.
We all know that we can deduct donations given to charitable organizations—but it doesn’t stop there. Did you bake a pie for the church fundraiser? Create a piece of art for your favorite charity’s silent auction? You can deduct the costs of the ingredients/supplies. Save the receipts in case of an audit.
If you paid a daycare center, babysitter, summer camp, etc. to care for a qualifying child under age 13 or a disabled dependent of any age, you may qualify for a tax credit of up to 35 percent of qualifying expenses of $3,000 for one child or dependent, or up to $6,000 for two or more children or dependents. You must meet several criteria to qualify for the child and dependent care credit.
If your dog guards your jobsite, you may be able to deduct pet-care costs. Obviously, the breed and size of the dog is taken into consideration. (Your Chihuahua may be feisty, but sorry, he won’t make the grade.) If your cat keeps your business location rodent-free, her cat food may be deductible.
If you foster pets, you could qualify for tax benefits under charitable contributions. And if you have to move for work, your pet’s moving expenses should be covered.
Weight-loss expenses could be deductible if a doctor states that your life may be in danger if you don’t lose weight. A program such as Weight Watchers, and FDA-approved medications that help you slim down, improve your heart rate, or reduce your cholesterol might all be deductible. You also may be eligible to submit Lap-Band® or Gastric Sleeve procedures as a medical expense. You can only take the deduction once your expenses exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.
Cosmetic surgery is generally not covered. However, if it’s necessary for a personal injury due to an accident or for a disfiguring disease or congenital deformity, it might be. Then again, an exotic dancer had breast augmentation surgery and claimed it as a business expense. The IRS denied it, but she took it to Tax Court—and won! So, you never know…