Deduce You Say
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Can I Still Claim This? 13 Popular Tax Deductions

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Deduce You Say
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deduce you say

Determining what expenses to deduct on a tax return can be difficult. For starters, it may make more sense to use the standard deduction than to itemize. For the 2018 tax year, the standard deduction has been nearly doubled to $12,000 for a single filer, $24,000 for married couples filing jointly, and $18,000 for someone filing as head of household (all slightly higher for the blind and elderly). Many purchases or activities may technically be deductible, but if the total doesn't exceed the standard deduction, it's likely better to take the simpler route. This is especially true now that the standard deduction has increased so dramatically.

For taxpayers who are itemizing, some potential deductions can be confusing. When is tuition deductible? What about moving costs? Here's a look at several expenses or activities that may be deductible and as well as ones that you may have deducted before but are no longer an option under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Commuting
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commuting

The costs of commuting to and from work, whether by car or public transportation, are not deductible. Parking costs at a daily workplace aren't deductible either. People who are self-employed can still deduct travel costs by taking either a flat 54.5 cents-per-mile deduction or calculating the actual cost by adding up the cost of fuel, depreciation, repairs, maintenance, and insurance associated with each trip. Employees are no longer allowed to deduct unreimbursed travel expenses due to the 2017 tax law.

Job Hunting
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job hunting

Looking for a new job may bring expenses to prepare or make copies of a résumé, hire an employment agency, or travel to interviews. In the past, these expenses were deductible, even when the activity did not result in getting a job. These deductions are now suspended because of the tax reform law.

Pet Care
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pet care

Pets may be loved members of a family and can offer many perks, 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 still 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.

Homeowners' Expenses
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homeowners' expenses

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. The rules here changed this year, too. If you bought a home and had the mortgage in place before Dec. 15, 2017, you are still eligible to deduct interest on up to $1 million in mortgage debt. If you happened to sign on that date or later, though, your threshold drops to $750,000.

Rent
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rent

The cost of renting a home, apartment, or condo is not deductible. An exception is for self-employed people using part of the space exclusively and regularly for business. Self-employed tax filers can determine the home office deduction based on the relative expenses and size of the business area to the entire home. (A simplified option lets the filer deduct $5 per square foot, up to 300 square feet, used for business purposes.)

Summer Camp
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summer camp

The cost of summer camp is not directly deductible, put parents qualifying for a child and dependent care credit may be able to offset some of the expenses. The child must be 12 or younger and, while overnight camps do not qualify, specialized day camps (such as football or science camp) sometimes do. Among other requirements, the parent must work, or be looking for work, full-time.

Unreimbursed Business Expenses
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unreimbursed business expenses

These deductions are also casualties of the 2017 tax law. In the past, 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 — could deduct the expenses. Starting this year, that is no longer the case.

Medical Expenses
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medical expenses

Medical and dental expenses may be deductible, but only the amount beyond 7.5 percent of the filer's adjusted gross income. 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. Next year, however, the threshold will jump: Only the amount above 10 percent of the filer’s AGI will be deductible.

Unreimbursed Business Expenses
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private school tuition

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).

Charitable Donations
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charitable donations

Donations to qualified charities, including 501(c)(3) nonprofits and some churches, are deductible. The donation can be cash, investments, or physical goods such as clothes, a vehicle, canned goods, or furniture. But donors who receive something in exchange for their donation, such as a T-shirt or tickets to an event, must subtract the fair-market value of the benefit from their deduction. Giving time by volunteering is not tax-deductible, although taxpayers can deduct the costs associated with driving to or from a volunteer opportunity or donation. For tax year 2018, the standard mileage rate is 14 cents a mile. Filers can also deduct the cost of paying a babysitter while volunteering.

State and Local Tax Deduction
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state and local taxes

State and local taxes are still deductible, but within limits. Under the tax law, deductions for state and local taxes (property tax and sales or income tax) are now capped at $10,000 from 2018 through 2025. Previously, that deduction was unlimited.

Moving Expenses
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moving expenses

For most people, moving expenses are no longer deductible, with exceptions for members of the Armed Forces making permanent change-of-station moves. In fact, if an employer reimburses a worker for moving expenses, such payment can now be subject to income and employment taxes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

A Wedding
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a wedding

Weddings expenses are not deductible, but newly married couples may be able to recoup some costs by donating leftover flowers, food, decorations, or even the wedding dress. The donations must go to eligible organizations such as nonprofit hospitals, churches, food banks, or secondhand stores. Brides for a Cause is a nonprofit that accepts donations of wedding dresses and bridal accessories and helps needy couples have a wedding or vow-renewal ceremony. The deductible amount is the fair market value of the donated items — likely less than the retail cost.