7 Surprising Tax Deductions You Might Miss

By Christa Avampato on 6 April 2015 0 comments

It's getting serious: We're just days away from the tax filing deadline. If you haven't filed your taxes yet, your procrastination may pay off in spades. Here are some surprising deductions that you may be able to take this tax year. (See also: Often Overlooked Tax Deductions)

1. Professional Enhancement

Are any of your expenses related to your work? For example, if you're a music teacher, consider everything you do that enhances the knowledge that you communicate to your students. Do you attend concerts or musicals? Are you taking lessons to brush up your own music skills? These types of costs, while largely recreational and enjoyable, may also be tax deductions if you can show how they translate to your career.

2. Caring for Community Service Animals

While you could set bait and traps to keep pests such as snakes, rats, and other dangerous critters at bay, you could also use more natural methods such as caring for outdoor cats who take care of these pests for you. Believe it or not, the food that you feed these animals is a tax-deductible expense because these animals help make your property (and the community) safer by eliminating harmful pests.

3. Fostering Adoptable Animals

If you're an animal lover who fosters critters prior to adoption, your good deed will be rewarded in more ways than one. Many major animal charities and local shelters have foster programs. With proper documentation from the charity, you may be able to write off all of the expenses incurred when fostering animals, including food and any veterinary bills.

4. Company Giveaways

If you're a business owner, you know that promotional giveaways can often boost sales. The costs of these freebies and promotional items can often be deducted as business expenses because they helped promote, and hopefully grow, your business.

5. Volunteering

It can be tough to carve out the time and budget to volunteer — for example, if you have kids, you have to arrange for a sitter. The good news is that even though you're paying a sitter (and not making a direct donation to the nonprofit), the cost of the sitter is a tax deduction because it enabled you to volunteer your time and effort to the charity.

6. Volunteer Vacation

Volunteer vacations are a great way to immerse yourself in a culture and have a unique travel experience. Many organizations provide these types of trips. They coordinate housing, in-country cultural activities, and even pay for emergency insurance. Many of the expenses, including the donation you usually make to the nonprofit, can be deducted from your taxes because incurring these expenses enabled you to do the volunteer work.

7. Home Improvements for Medical Reasons

If your doctor advises you to get more exercise or make changes to your home for specific medical reasons, those costs may be tax deductible. That means adding in a gym, fitness equipment, or even a swimming pool if it's used for prescribed medical purposes, may qualify as a tax deduction.

As always, please check with your tax preparer to see if you qualify for certain tax deductions. Make sure that you keep precise records of all these expenses and any supporting documentation. Remember, taxes must be filed by April 15th!

Do any of these deductions apply to your tax situation?

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Guest's picture

Being a foster is a great way to get a tax break as well as helping an animal in need.