Much to the delight of my parents and therapist, 2011 was pretty steady for me. I didn’t get married or have any children. I also didn’t relocate (for once), change jobs, go to school, open up a business or undergo major surgery. Maybe stability is all part of growing up. It’s weird and I’m not sure how I feel about it.
Anyway, when I filed my tax return, I took the standardized deduction. Again. But out of curiosity, I looked through this year’s list of eligible deductions to see what could have been. I found a whole slew of things that I or someone I know could have claimed on my tax forms in years past. I also found some things I couldn’t use, but I thought were somewhat intriguing. I wanted to share these with you in case you could get a better refund by itemizing your deductions.
- Work clothes/uniforms– clothing necessary for your job, but totally unsuitable for everyday wear can be deducted. So professional athletes, mail carriers and the questionable fellow with the feather in his cap who is working the kissing booth at the Renaissance Faire can all capitalize on this.
- Commuting costs between two jobs – If you work in two places in one day, you can deduct the mileage or transportation expenses between the two locations. This would have come in handy that one summer I was doing a super fun, but unpaid public relations internship while working at my church because I couldn’t afford to only do a super fun, but unpaid public relations internship.
- Business gifts up to $25 – If you ever have to endure the frustration of buying a gift for a business associate who you just can’t stand, take solace in the fact that you can deduct up to $25 in gifts for one individual each year. My recommendation? A Starbucks gift card. It’s professional, unisex, and definitely says, “I know we work together and it’s your birthday, but I don’t like you enough to get you a gift that requires thought.”
- Wisdom teeth extractions– For some people, wisdom teeth extractions aren’t so bad. I am not one of those people. My face swelled up and I was eating lukewarm oatmeal for months. I couldn’t even benefit from the awesome painkillers you get because they only made me sick.
I wish I had known that the high cost of the extractions that caused me so much grief were actually tax deductible! It would have been like getting a visit from t
he tooth fairy, but less creepy and with much more money involved.
- Work-related education – If you take a course that maintains/improves your current professional skills or is required to keep your current job, you can deduct the cost of tuition, books, lab fees, etc. This can come in handy if your employer doesn’t offer tuition reimbursement.
- Educator expenses – I love teachers. They believe the children are our future. And they cultivate that future at the risk of varicose veins, worry lines, and premature graying (totally kidding). For all you teachers out there, you can deduct up to $250 a year in educational expenses – books, supplies, posters, etc.
- Job search expenses – Job hunting, to put it lightly, sucks. It’s demoralizing, exhausting and sometimes costly. But you can deduct the cost of employment agencies, travel and even resume preparation. Even if your search isn’t successful, these purchases still qualify.
- Charitable Taxidermy– In case the moose head mounted on the wall in your log cabin doesn’t match your new microfiber couch, give it to Goodwill. You can deduct the cost of preparing, stuffing, and mounting it.
- Relocation costs – The tough job market has influenced a lot of people to relocate for work. If you moved more than 50 miles away for a job, even if it’s your first one, you are entitled to deduct your moving costs.
- Tax preparation fees – If you think you might get a better refund out of itemizing your deductions, but the thought of going through all that paperwork makes your stomach turn, just head over to a tax preparer. Tax preparer costs, including debit and credit card convenience fees to pay for the tax preparer, are all tax deductible.
These deductions come with a few explanations and exceptions. I recommend that you look through the full list of itemized deductions at the IRS website. It may seem like a lot of reading, but with proper navigation of their table of contents, you may even find a few interesting or relevant deductions of your own. At the very least, you’re bound to find few random trivia facts to bring up the next time you meet a hot investment banker at happy hour. Feel free to thank me later.