Five Of The Most Important Tax Deductions You Cannot Forget

by Hank Coleman

Income Tax DeductionApril 15th will be here before you know it. If you are like me, you may be dragging your feet on filing your income tax return. There are many income tax deductions that you may inevitably qualify for, but you do not want to miss them. Make sure that you pay that taxes you owe, but do not pay more taxes than you have to.

In 2009, more than 45 million Americans itemized deductions on their tax returns to the tune of $1.2 trillion dollars of savings and deductions. But, the real question is: how many income tax deductions did we miss? Did we claim all of the deductions that were owed to us? Or, did we miss a few that could ultimately cost us hundreds of dollars in savings that we could have claimed on our income taxes.

Far too many people overpay on their income taxes and do not claim all of the income tax deductions that their family qualifies for when filing your income tax return. Do not miss important income tax deductions that you can claim. Here are five important income tax deductions that you shouldn’t forget to claim if you are eligible.

Five Income Tax Deductions You Can’t Forget About

1. Mortgage Interest. The mortgage interest deduction is one of the most important income tax deductions and one that most people consider when they file their taxes. It is often the one deduction that will move you from the standard deduction camp into itemizing your income tax return.

You are allowed to deduct the amount of money you paid throughout the year in mortgage interest. You can also deduct the amount of interest that you paid on home equity loans and home improvement loans.

2. Charitable Gifts. You can reduce the amount of taxes you owe through charitable giving if you itemize your income tax deductions. Make sure that you have the receipt and proof though. You need a canceled check or receipt for any cash gifts that you give a charity. You should also receive a receipt in writing from a charity for large gifts. And, large non-cash gifts that are worth more than $5,000 typically require you to get an appraisal in order for you to use the charitable gift tax deduction.

3. Education Expenses. You may be able to claim an income tax deduction for a portion of your college tuition. There are income limits that you must meet though. You may be able to deduct some of your tuition costs from your taxes if your adjusted gross income is $80,000 or less if you are filing single or $160,000 if you file a joint income tax return.

You can also typically deduct up to $2,500 from your taxes on the interest you pay for qualified higher education loans. This is if your adjusted gross income is under $75,000 if you are filing single or $150,000 if you are married and filing joint.

Even though they are tax credits and not income tax deductions, you should not forget to see if you qualify for the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit (See IRS Publication 970). These two tax credits can be an excellent resource for tax payers who are still taking college classes.

4. State Taxes, Local Taxes, and Sales Tax. Tax payers are typically allowed to deduct the amount that you pay in property and state and local income taxes from your federal income tax return. If you would like to deduct the amount of sales tax that you have paid instead of state and local taxes, you often get that option instead of claiming the deduction for state and local income taxes paid. You typically do not need to have receipts proving the amount of sales taxes that you have paid throughout the year. There is an IRS table or online calculator that is typically used to determine how much sales tax you should claim if you choose that method instead of deducting your state and local income taxes paid.

5. Out Of Pocket Teacher Expenses. I grew up in a family of teachers. So, I know firsthand full well how much teachers, their aides, and our educators spend to give the best instruction to our children. So, please do not miss the opportunity to claim the $250 income tax deduction for teachers, aides, counselors, principals, and other educators who teach kindergarten through 12th grade who spend money out of their own pocket for an enormous amount of school supplies and instruction materials.

This income tax deduction should be so much higher because the teachers typically spend a lot more than that $250 on their students throughout the year. But, it is what it is, and you should not miss this tax deduction if you provided supplies that were purchased for your classroom in 2012.

BONUS: Job Related Moving Expenses. If you moved in order to start a new job, you may be able to qualify for an income tax deduction for your moving expenses. There are several rules that you must meet though. Your new job must be at least 50 miles away from your old job or home. You must also work full time after you arrive in the area at your new job. Also, the moving expenses that can be claimed are typically any that you have suffered above and beyond what an employer has paid to move you on your behalf.

The problem is that claiming income tax deductions is difficult for most people because the rules are often complicated. But, using TurboTax and other tax filing software makes it simple and easy to claim all of the income tax deductions that you are authorized. File online with TurboTax: #1 rated and #1 selling tax software!

Have you ever missed a deduction that you felt like you deserved? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and is currently pursuing his Certified Financial Planner credentials. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 497 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

John S @ Frugal Rules

I don’t know that we ever missed a deduction, but there can be so many to remember. Since we run our on business we’re always looking for ones that we can legitimately take.
John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Happy Six Months to Frugal Rules!My Profile

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Hank Coleman

It may be a good idea to have a checklist of all the ones that you possibly may qualify for in order to make sure you do not forget any.
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Tie the Money Knot

Good catch on the out of pocket teacher expenses. While I don’t have an educator in the family who is still working (one is retired), just the mention of this speaks to the notion that one should be aware of the opportunities to save via deductions. How about bloggers? :)

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KC @ genxfinance

There’s a lot of things to consider that you can help but forget a thing or two. Yeah, a checklist would always come in handy.

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Ron Sample

Great list of tax deductions. The college tuition one is especially important if you are putting kids through college on an already tight budget. With college tuition as high as it can be, any way to save on taxes or in general is exciting news. I also look for any and all deductions that I can legitimately take. It takes effort to keep abreast of the moving deduction target, but it has been worth my time each and every year.

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Connor Harley

These are wonderful list of tax deductions. We should all be aware as this could save as hundreds of dollars or more.
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