10 overlooked tax breaks
The goal of every taxpayer is to make sure the Internal Revenue Service gets as little as possible. For that to happen, you need to take every tax deduction, credit or other income adjustment you can.
Here are 10 tax breaks -- some for itemizers only, others that any filer can claim -- that often get overlooked but could save you some tax dollars.
And yes, even though you got an extension until Oct. 15 to file your 2012 tax year Form 1040, you can still claim any of these tax deductions or credits that apply to your situation.
1. Additional charitable gifts
Everyone remembers to count the monetary gifts they make to their favorite charities. But expenses incurred while doing charitable work often aren't counted on tax returns.
You can't deduct the value of your time spent volunteering, but if you buy supplies for a group, the cost of that material is deductible. Similarly, if you wear a uniform in doing your good deeds, for example as a hospital volunteer or youth group leader, the costs of that apparel and any cleaning bills also can be counted as charitable donations.
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To make sure the IRS gets as little as possible, taxpayers need to claim every tax deduction, credit or other income adjustment they can. But it's easy to miss some.
Here are two overlooked tax breaks that could save you some tax dollars.
If you're looking for a new job in your current professional field, keep track of all your search expenses. Resume copies, employment agency fees and even travel to job interviews count. If you accumulate enough to help you exceed the 2 percent itemized deduction threshold, you can claim them as itemized deductions.
You got the job. Congratulations. Now let Uncle Sam help pay for your move to your new office across the state. Job-related moving expenses can be deducted. Even better, you don't have to itemize to claim them. Just enter your eligible moving costs directly on Form 1040.
So can the use of your vehicle for charitable purposes, such as delivering meals to the homebound in your community or taking the Boy Scouts or Girls Scouts troop on an outing. The IRS will let you deduct that travel at 14 cents per mile.
2. Moving expenses
Most taxpayers know they can write off many moving expenses when they relocate to take another job. But what about your first job? Yes, the IRS allows this write-off then, too. A recent college graduate who gets a first job at a distance from where he or she has been living is eligible for this tax break.
3. Job hunting costs
While college students can't deduct the costs of hunting for that new job across the country, already-employed workers can. Costs associated with looking for a new job in your present occupation, including fees for resume preparation and employment of outplacement agencies, are deductible as long as you itemize. The one downside here is that these costs, along with other miscellaneous itemized expenses, must exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income before they produce any tax savings. But the phone calls, employment agency fees and resume printing costs might be enough to get you over that income threshold.
4. Military reservists' travel expenses
Members of the military reserve forces and National Guard who travel more than 100 miles and stay overnight for the training exercises can deduct related expenses. This includes the cost of lodging and half the cost of meals. If you drive to the training, be sure to track your miles. You can deduct them on your 2012 return at 55.5 cents per mile, along with any parking or toll fees for driving your own car. You get this deduction whether or not you itemize, but you will have to fill out Form 2106.