The deadline for filing 2013 taxes has come and gone, and your tax return is filed. Did you make sure to include all the deductions you were eligible for? You may have overlooked some common tax-deductible items on last year’s taxes, but they could earn you more money back next year. From charities to educator expenses, make the most of your cash-back potential in 2014.
Sure, giving back to your community in some way is its own reward, but there’s nothing wrong with making out financially on the deal. The next time you donate your old clothes, furniture, electronic equipment or toys to a charity like Good Will or the Salvation Army, get a written receipt of the value of your stuff. Save that receipt for tax time and file it under charitable deductions. Any time you are reporting a charitable donation on your taxes, calculate a reasonable value based on the current value of the clothing. The Salvation Army even has a handy donation value guide to help you make fair calculations. In the case of non-cash charitable contributions, if you happen to get audited you must be able to produce a receipt in order to receive the tax deduction. If you’ve already thrown bags of your old clothing in a charity bin without a receipt, don’t fret. You can still deduct the cost of this charitable donation—you just won’t be able to prove it in the event of an audit which may mean it will be disallowed.
As an educator, you likely pay for many supplies for your classroom out of pocket. You may think this is a lost cause and something you can’t get reimbursed for, but the truth is, you can receive a deduction of up to $250 for any materials you bought the previous year that were used directly for educational purposes, such as books, supplies and computer software. If you teach PE or a health course, the materials deducted must pertain to athletics to qualify.
Under the American Opportunity Tax Credit you can get reimbursed for college expenses of up to $4,000 to cover not only tuition but also books, fees and educational supplies. This credit, if you qualify, is for taxpayers, their spouses or dependents who are taking full-time courses.
Have you been pounding the pavement looking for a job? Don’t forget to deduct the associated costs of that search, even if it didn’t result in an actual job offer. Your expenses may include the preparation and mailing of resumes, head hunter agency costs and travel costs. This deduction only applies to those seeking employment in the same occupation, so if you plan on switching careers in the upcoming year, you won’t be able to deduct the costs associated with finding your new position.
If you took a hit on some unlucky gambling bets in the last year, don’t stress too much about it. If you itemize your deductions, you can deduct some of these expenses. Keep in mind, though, that your losses can’t exceed your overall winnings, which you are obligated to report as taxable income. Be sure to keep all documentation to back up your claims, from receipts to tickets.
If you did not claim any of these deductions this past tax season, and feel you could have, no problem. You have three years to file an amended return to claim them. Contact an R&G Brenner professional today if you need any assistance. For the future, keep track of these and other commonly overlooked deductions so you can maximize your tax refunds next year and beyond.