Let’s play a game. I’m going to give you a list of topics and you have to tell me what they have in common. Ready? Here are the topics: mortgage insurance, medical travel expenses, and license plates.
What were you able to come up with? Anything? Upon first review, it may not seem like the three are related in any way. However, the three topics share at least one thing in common. Before you give yourself a migraine trying to figure it out, I’ll just give you the answer. All are tax deductions that people often overlook, which can lower your tax refund.
If any of you out there guessed correctly, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. For those of you who had no idea, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. With less than 10 days left in February, tax season is in full swing. That’s why I took some time to contact Vicki Mazurek, an H&R Block tax professional to ask her a few questions about tax returns.
According to Mazurek, there are a lot of tax deductions that people don’t know about.
“When it comes to medical expenses, a lot of people don’t know that hearing aids, prescription drugs, and walking canes can be tax deductible,” Mazurek said. “Travel expenses to get to medical care can also be deducted, too.”
“Even though it might not be a large sum of money, as long as you keep track of your travel, you may be eligible to get something back.”
People who own their own business may also be able to catch a break when it comes to deducting the cost of license plates. For example, a small business owner who purchases a car and uses it mainly for the business can mark the cost of the license plate, registration and other vehicle costs as a business expense.
While Mazurek didn’t want to speculate on the number of people that miss out on such deductions, she thinks she knows why the errors occur.
“A lot of people use programs that allow them to file their own returns,” Mazurek said. “Sometimes they don’t always read all of the instructions and other times they just don’t have the knowledge of what is really being asked.”
“If the person doesn’t call for help, they may miss out on some deductions. Sometimes it’s hard to do your own returns.”
Now that you know of three little-known tax deductions, let’s take a look at some other ones that people often overlook:
Relocating for a new job
If your new job is at least 50 miles away from your old home (and you decide to move), you can deduct the cost of moving your household goods to the new home. Also, if you used your own car to move goods to your new home, hopefully you kept track of your miles driven and any parking and tolls you paid along the way, as those are deductible, too.
It seems like every year I go through my closet and find clothes that don’t fit. My first reaction is to ask my brother if he wants them. If he turns them down, I usually just toss them in the garbage. Talk about a stupid decision. Instead of throwing your old clothes away, take them to your local Goodwill or any other tax-exempt charity and you’ll receive a tax deduction for the items. Along with clothes, you can also donate furniture, electronics, and household appliances.
Before you start adding up all your volunteer hours in the last year, let me explain what part of your volunteer work can be deducted. While you won’t receive a deduction based on your volunteer hours, you can receive a deduction if you spent any of your own money while volunteering. Examples include the miles you drove to get to the volunteer site, parking fees, and materials needed to volunteer.
During our conversation, Mazurek did more than educate me on some of the most overlooked tax deductions. She also had some advice for anyone that hasn’t filed their taxes yet.
“After you’ve filled everything out, come to H&R Block for a second look,” Mazurek said. “We don’t charge for a second look. If something isn’t filled out correctly, we’ll let you know and give you some options.”
Did everyone know about all of these little-known tax deductions? If so, are there any other deductions that you want to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!