Can I Claim This? 12 Potential Tax Deductions
For taxpayers who are itemizing, some potential deductions can be confusing. When is tuition deductible? What about moving costs? Here's a look at 12 expenses or activities that may be deductible, and ways to lower the burden when they're not.
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Pets may be loved members of a family, but they are not dependents -- and expenses associated with caring for them can't be deducted. One exception: guide or service animals. In that case, the costs to buy, train, and care for a pet (including food, grooming, and vet visits) are deductible. Pet owners might also be able to deduct the costs associated with caring for a foster pet on behalf of a nonprofit shelter or rescue agency.
Most homeowners can deduct property taxes and mortgage interest payments on their primary (and, with limits, a second) home. Depending on income, private mortgage insurance payments may be deductible as well. However, homeowners insurance premium payments and homeowners association fees are not deductible.
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Employees who did not get reimbursed for an expense -- perhaps a meal while traveling for work, a passport for a business trip, association dues, or work supplies -- can deduct the expenses. Only the portion that exceeds 2 percent of their adjusted gross income is deductible, though.
Medical and dental expenses may be deductible, but only the amount beyond 10 percent of the filer's adjusted gross income (7.5 percent for taxpayers 65 or older and their spouses). Some examples of expenses include fees to doctors, psychologists, and nontraditional medical practitioners; prescription drug and insulin payments; pregnancy tests and breast pumps; and prescribed dentures, contacts, or glasses.
Private kindergarten and grade school tuition are not deductible. If a child attends a special school for health reasons, the tuition might be deductible as a medical expense. Higher education tuition and fees may be deductible if the student attends an eligible school -- defined as a college, university, vocational, or postsecondary institution eligible to participate in the U.S. Department of Education's student aid program (that's most accredited institutions).
Moving expenses are deductible, but only if the move is necessary for a new job or because of a transfer to a new location with the same employer. Moving within the same city or town may not qualify; the new work location must be at least 50 miles farther from the taxpayer's old home than the old job was. And the job has to be full-time for at least 39 weeks during the first year. (Exceptions apply to members of the Armed Forces.) Deductible expenses include moving insurance, packing supplies, professional mover fees, and travel expenses but not meals.