The 17 Most Overlooked Tax Breaks

Kathleen Wong | Feb 14, 2020 Money
The 17 Most Overlooked Tax Breaks
Image: jacoblund/iStock


jacoblund/iStock

After the cheer and joy of the holidays, love fills the air during Valentine's Day. Then before we know it, it's St. Patrick's Day, followed closely by colored eggs and the Easter Bunny. Unfortunately, the next holiday is not as fun: Tax Day. Usually falling sometime in mid-April, Tax Day is the term for the deadline individual income tax returns are due to the US federal government.

Since 1955, those living, working and therefore filing taxes in the US have had to gather up all their tax documents and pay stubs summarizing their income earned in the previous year before Tax Day. However, the government usually starts accepting tax returns starting in January. 

Even though we had to take algebra and world history in high school, personal finance was rarely in the curriculum. In other words, filing tax returns ain't always easy for most people. So here are 17 overlooked tax breaks that may save you some cash. 

  • Donations to Charity

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    people donating to charity
    monkeybusinessimages /iStock

    Hey, Good Samaritans! Good news! Besides helping others and our community be better, it turns out being altruistic can benefit our tax return. Charitable contributions can be claimed as deductions as long as we have our receipts. This applies to more than just cash donations, including gas from driving to and from the soup kitchen and any items we donated. 

  • Money Spent Job-Hunting

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    job interview
    AntonioGuillem/iStock

    Job hunting is never fun -- but at least we can get some tax benefits out of it. People who looked for a new job in same industry as the current or most recently held job can write off anything spent during the hunt. This includes transportation, printing costs, and business cards.  

  • A Move of More Than 50 Miles

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    family moving truck
    monkeybusinessimages /iStock

    If a new job made us move over 50 miles away, then we can write off some of our moving expenses, such as hiring movers. This is helpful since as anyone knows, moving is expensive.

  • Child Care Services

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    daycare
    Lordn/iStock

    Having young children and working a job is a difficult task and sometimes we have to enlist external help. Enter the godsend of child care. Tax credits can take care of up to 35% of our child care costs.

  • Jury Duty Income

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    jury duty
    Image Source/iStock

    Sometimes duty calls -- jury duty that is. While sitting in court for sometimes days on end isn't exactly everyone's idea of fun, we can get a tax break out of it. We can deduct the income we missed out on while serving on the jury, if our employer did not pay us.

  • Being a Full-Time College Student

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    college student laptop
    jacoblund/iStock

    Being a full-time college student sure isn't easy. Thankfully, there are tax breaks! The American Opportunity Credit covers the first $2,000 we spend on college expenses. They'll cover up to $2,500 per year if we make less than $80,000 if single or $160,000 if married. 

  • Professional Development

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    young professional woman
    fizkes/iStock

    Learning doesn't stop when we leave school. If we took professional development classes to further our job skills, then we may be eligible for the Lifetime Learning Credit. If we qualify, which is based on our income, we can get 20% of those expenses covered. 

  • Business Trip Baggage Fees

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    man carrying luggage
    EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER/iStock

    Baggage fees add up, don't they? If we took a business trip and had to check our bags, we can deduct those fees and write them off as a travel expense. Take that, airline fees!

  • Electric Car Purchase

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    electric car charging
    Ziga Plahutar/iStock

    Electric cars are good for the environment -- and our tax returns, apparently! Most popular models are eligible for a tax credit up to $7,500. But restrictions apply, so make sure to research before purchasing a new vehicle. 

  • Birth Control

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    woman holding birth control
    Rattankun Thongbun /iStock

    For people who had to pay for a birth control prescription out-of-pocket in the past year, listen up! There may be a tax deductible in sight as long as the contraception wasn't purchased using pre-tax dollars in a flexible spending account.

  • Alternative Energy Sources

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    solar panels on a house
    Animaflora/iStock

    People who upgraded their home with an alternative energy source can get a credit of up to 30% of the expenses to make that eco-friendly change. As if we needed a better reason to go solar. 

  • Elderly Care

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    home caretaker and elderly person
    izusek/iStock

    Having our parents get older can be a difficult and tricky situation, and elderly care often becomes expensive. If our parents qualify as a dependent on our taxes, we can write their home care expenses as a tax deductible. 

  • Teacher Supplies

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    teacher in front of classroom
    FatCamera/iStock

    Hey teachers, we have good news for you! Teachers who purchased classroom supplies with their own money and weren't reimbursed by the school are eligible for a $250 tax deduction each year.

  • A Church or Historical Site Wedding

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    church wedding
    valpasc/iStock

    Weddings sure aren't cheap, so for people who got married in the past year, listen up. Those who got married in a church or other historical, nonprofit site can write off those fees as a charitable contribution. 

  • Telecommuting

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    mother working from home
    Morsa Images /iStock

    Telecommuting is becoming more popular. Those who work from home may get some tax breaks, such as itemizing a home office. However, this has to be legit and our principal place of work, so just because we sometimes write a few emails from our den doesn't mean it's a home office. 

  • Timeshare Property Taxes

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    beachside timeshare vacation home
    rmcguirk /iStock

    Vacations are nice, but tax breaks are nicer. Those who own a timeshare can deduct the property taxes they pay for it as an itemized deduction. 

  • Breastfeeding Equipment

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    mother breastfeeding
    LightFieldStudios/iStock

    New mothers who had to purchase breast pumps and other breastfeeding supplies in the past year can write them off as medical expenses. 

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