What Can I Deduct On My Taxes?

Ah, it’s tax season again! One of my favorite times of the year! Just kidding- I hate tax season. But it definitely helps to know what I’m doing before I file- and I have an accountant. But accountants can only do so much if I’m completely disorganized. So hopefully you have all your w2s/1099s in order and are ready to go. But are you taking the tax deductions you deserve?

Deductions are basically items you’ve paid for that somehow relate to the job you do. So if you’re self-employed and have a modeling business and you’ve bought a bunch of make up and hair products for shoots, those are deductions. But there are countless other deductions for every profession- and you don’t have to be self-employed to take them. Before I list them all,just a quick reminder about the standard deduction- that’s the amount you’ll get to deduct from your income if you don’t itemize deductions separately. So you’ll always get to deduct something.

For example, if you made $40,000 this year and are filing as a single person or are married filing separately, the standard deduction for 2016 is $6,300. So it’s as if you only made $33,700 this year- and will only be taxed on that $33,700. So if you don’t have itemized deductions totaling more than $6,300, then you should take the standard deduction and that’s that. The standard deduction if you’re married and filing jointly is $12,600, and if you’re filing as head of household (meaning you have a dependent), your deduction is $9,300 this year. 

So if you think you can possibly itemize deductions adding up to more than that, here are a few deductions you can try:

-Do you own a home? There are deductions you can take that relate to your home including what you’ve paid in property taxes, interest on a home equity loan, and possibly any home improvements made for medical care.

Were you in school or paying off a student loan in 2016? You can deduct some of your tuition and loan interest!

-Did you have a child in 2016? You’re eligible for tax deductions!

Are you self-employed and have a home office? You can deduct a portion of your rent and utilities! If you’re self-employed you can deduct a lot more though. See Mashable’s article on deductions for the self-employed. I’m too tired to write a whole new article on this, even though I’m self-employed- theirs is quite good.

Did you move for a job? You can potentially write off your moving expenses EVEN IF YOU DON’T ITEMIZE DEDUCTIONS!

Also, if you had large healthcare bills (even dental bills) in 2016, or donated to charity, you can potentially write off a portion of these expenses as well!

So don’t leave money on the table this tax season- no matter how nice you aren’t you don’t need to pay Uncle Sam extra money you don’t actually owe!

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Standard Deduction vs Itemized Deductions, The Most Common Tax Questions in Your Thirties- Part 2

It’s still tax time! If you finished your taxes already, kudos to you!

For everyone else, lets get some more questions answered..(and for the record, I haven’t finished mine either, so don’t worry).  🙂

Also, if you didn’t get to read Part 1 of Tax Questions Answered, click here.

I do my parents’ taxes every year and just finished their 2014 filing this weekend. However, I recently realized that even though they always take the standard deduction, I still spend time calculating their itemized charitable contributions- even though that particular type of contribution (charitable) doesn’t factor in on your taxes if you take the standard deduction.

If the paragraph above made no sense to you, let me clarify below. We’ll start with some terminology I feel like I should know all of this now that I’m thirty, but some of it I actually had to dig into a bit, so I’ll explain it pretty piecemeal here:

Gross Income= What you make in a year, including EVERYTHING, from Jan 1 to Dec 31 (you, of course, probably already know this one).

Adjusted Gross Income= Your taxable income after you subtract certain ADJUSTMENTS but before you subtract either the Standard Deduction or your Itemized Deductions (you can only subtract one or the other of those two types of deductions)).

Standard Deduction= An amount you can always subtract from the gross income you’ll be taxed on, as long as you don’t subtract your itemized deductions instead. The standard deduction for the 2014 tax year is:

  • Single or married filing separately: $6,300
  • Married filing jointly: $12,600
  • Head of household: $9,250

Itemized Deduction (not the standard deduction kind)= These are deductions you can take if you decide NOT to take the standard deduction. These include but aren’t limited to: medical and dental expenses that exceed 7.5% of your AGI (Adjusted Gross Income), property taxes, your state and local income or sales taxes, charitable donations you make, work related travel, union dues. 

So if you’re trying to decide whether to take the standard deduction or itemize your deductions, you want to basically choose whichever one is larger.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you’re unmarried with no children and make $50,000…And you can itemize these deductions:

  1. $1000 in work related unreimbursed travel
  2. $500 in medical expenses
  3. $400 in state and local taxes
  4. $100 in clothes donated to goodwill

This equals $2000 in Itemized donations. If you chose to itemize deductions, you’ll be taxed on $48,000 (50,000-$2000). If you took the standard deduction, you’ll be taxed on $43,700 ($50,000-$6,300). So you’d want to take the standard deduction for sure, because you want to be taxed on less income and pay less money 🙂

I’ll stop here for now, but hope this was somewhat helpful! Next time, I’ll talk about Adjustments and Credits, and how they can reduce your tax bill even further!

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or anything to add. Thanks!

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