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Tax Breaks You Might be Missing

Popular tax breaks such as deductions on home office, charitable contributions, and IRAs are used by thousands of taxpayers. There are also certain lesser-known tax deductions that can lower your liability.

To pay less in taxes and get a bigger refund this filing season, you may review these often overlooked tax deductions as shared by Las Vegan Review Journal:

“1. Alimony

tax-breaks“Breaking up is hard to do, but it can be tough on your pocket book, too — particularly if you’re responsible for making spousal support payments. The good news: Alimony is a secret tax write-off filers might not know about.

“‘Alimony payments are a hard-fought battle in many divorces, and no one wants to pay them,’ said Michael Eckstein of Eckstein Tax Services in Huntington, N.Y. ‘But, for the person stuck paying them, they’re tax deductible.’

“To qualify to deduct spousal support payments, you and your ex must be legally separated and live in separate homes. The payment must not be considered as child support or as part of a property settlement.

“2. Miles Driven Between Jobs

“‘If you drive your car between two different employers, that mileage is deductible, provided you drive from one employer location to a different employer location,’ said Kenneth Reid of MasterType Accounting and Business Services in Chicago, Ill. If you work a day job at General Electric, for example, but after work head over to Target for your part-time gig, that mileage can be deductible.

“‘If you drive your vehicle while at work for your employer, this mileage is deductible,’ added Reid. ‘For example, you work in an office, and you are required to drive to the office supply store to purchase office supplies, or if you are required to drive your vehicle to make deliveries to customers while on the clock.’

“Still, miles spent commuting are not deductible. The standard business mileage deduction for 2015 is 57.5 cents.

“3. Uniforms

“Wearing a uniform to work might not be fun, but it can add a boost to your tax return when April rolls around. It’s one of the hidden tax breaks many workers don’t know about.

“‘Many times, people are required to purchase uniforms that are only appropriate to wear at work. The cost of these uniforms and the cost of cleaning the uniforms are both deductible,’ said Reid.

“To deduct the cost and upkeep of work clothes, they must be worn as a condition of employment, and can’t be considered suitable for everyday wear. A button-down shirt and a tie probably won’t qualify. However, scrubs, police officer uniforms and hard hats likely will.

“4. Tools and Supplies

“‘Some people are required to purchase tools in order to perform their jobs, and the cost of the tools are deductible,’ said Reid. That is, so long as the cost incurred totals at least 2 percent of your adjusted gross income for the year.

“Auto mechanics, construction workers and landscape architects can easily incur expenses that exceed the 2 percent threshold. So can teachers, who ‘often must purchase school supplies in order to do their job,’ said Reid, who added that teachers do receive a small $250 deduction for the purchase of school supplies. Even so, that ‘deduction is often far less than what the teacher actually spends for the school supplies that are needed throughout the school year.’

“5. Investment-Related Fees

“There are certain secret tax breaks for those who work with a financial professional, so long as those investment expenses exceed 2 percent of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income.

“‘A typical client who uses a financial planner or investment advisor can deduct IRA custodial fees, investment advisory fees, safety deposit box fees — if the box is used to store investment-related storage — and even transportation costs to your investment advisor’s office,’ said Matt Hylland, financial planner and investment advisor for Hylland Capital Management.

“You can also deduct the cost of tax advice and preparation, as well as losses on traditional or Roth IRAs (upon distribution). In addition, any legal fees incurred while collecting taxable income or getting tax advice can also be deducted.

“6. Local and Sales Taxes

“There are even hidden tax breaks for your local or sales tax paid during the year. ‘You’re permitted to deduct state or sales tax on your federal return,’ said Ryan Saltz, Esq., licensed tax professional at Tax Defense Network. ‘This can be incredibly helpful, particularly if your state does not tax your income.’ Note, however, that you can’t deduct both.

“If you’re not sure which deduction would be a better bet, the IRS offers a sales tax deduction calculator, so you can estimate your spending tax. You’ll need a record of your receipts to prove your spending and the sales tax you paid throughout the year.

“7. Gambling Losses
“What happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas, but the is [sic] that they can bring home hidden tax breaks from any losses incurred.

“‘Since hardly anyone makes money gambling, people often forget that casinos will send them a W-2G as income for their gambling winnings,’ said Micah Fraim, independent CPA in Roanoke, Va. ‘To offset this, taxpayers can also deduct losses on their Schedule A, up to the extent of their winnings.’

“Still, you can only deduct gambling losses to offset winnings during the same year. ‘You don’t get a tax break for getting too optimistic at the poker table,’ he said.”