It's a pretty good feeling to get that tax return check in the mail, but a pretty bad one to realize you forgot to include a tax deduction that would have lowered your tax bill or increased your returns. With the ever-increasing complexity of the tax laws, filing taxes just gets more and more complicated. To help simplify things, we assembled a list of some of the most commonly overlooked tax breaks you should take advantage of.
Student Loan Interest
Student loan payments can be a significant part of your monthly expenses, but luckily you can claim up to $2,500 in interest paid on student loans for higher education. This deduction is available to you if you're paying interest on a student loan for yourself, your spouse, or a dependent child.
Health Insurance Premiums
Health care is expensive, and only getting more expensive. Luckily, the IRS takes this into account. Deductible medical expenses have to exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI) to be claimed as an itemized deduction in 2019, but if this is true of you, you're looking at some major savings.
Social Security Tax By the Self-Employed
Every employed American has to pay into social security, including the self-employed, who are then eligible for a deduction on a portion of this tax. Usually, employers pay a portion of social security, but when you're self-employed you're paying the portion of the employer and the employee, which amounts to 12.4% on up to $128,400 of earnings.
Unusual Business Expenses
It may seem obvious that you can write off the cost of business expenses, but you may not know how many different kinds of business expenses that include. As Turbotax points out, "A junkyard owner, for example, might be able to deduct the cost of cat food that encourages stray cats to hang around and keep the mice and rats away. A bodybuilder got approved to deduct the body oil he used in competition."
While most taxpayers probably know that you can write off major charitable donations, many don't know that you can also write off smaller ones. Additionally, it's possible to write off expenses paid out of pocket that allowed you to spend time working for a charity, such as hiring a babysitter for your children so you can volunteer at a soup kitchen. Or, if you drove your car to charitable activities, you can deduct 14 cents per mile, plus parking and tolls paid.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
While a large portion of Americans qualify for the EITC, 25% of people don't claim it. This is actually a tax credit, ranging from $519 to $6,431 for 2018. You likely qualify for this credit if you're low income, or if you recently lost a job, took a pay cut, or worked fewer hours during the year.
According to the affordable care act, taxpayers under 65 who accrue medical expenses greater than 10% of their annual income can earn a significant tax deduction. To reach this 10% threshold, you can tally up medical expenses that may not seem obvious, like transportation costs to and from the hospital.