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Charitable-tax-deduction-formOverlooked tax deductions don’t do consumers any justice, resulting in either less of a tax refund owed to them or a larger tax bill owed by them to the IRS. The government won’t stop you from handing them more money. They will only stop you when you try to get away with not paying enough taxes. Don’t let that scare you out of getting the money that is owed to you.

You work hard, and you pay your taxes. Perhaps you’ve overlooked deductions because you didn’t quite fully understand them. Or, maybe you’ve overlooked them because you’re not sure if they apply to you. Maybe you’ve overlooked deductions because you simply just don’t know they are out there to claim. No matter the reason, it’s time to get all the tax deductions owed to you.

Did you know that you can claim medical expenses on your taxes? The way this works is that you get to claim anything over 7.5 percent of your total income. Remember when you come up with this number, it’s the adjusted gross income that you use. What is covered? Imagine getting all your mileage covered for driving to those doctor’s appointments.

Those deductions can start adding up, and they can make a significant impact or your tax return or the amount of tax you owe annually. If you’re thinking that you aren’t getting all the deductions owed to you, maybe it’s time to have a professional do your taxes. Sure, you have to pay the tax professional, but if what you get back in deductions exceeds what you pay the tax professional, then you’re a winner.

Charity work is something else to look at while you’re totaling up those deductions. Most people that do charity work know that the actual work itself can’t be claimed. However, what are your personal expenses for the charity, and what is your mileage? Again, you’re totaling up that mileage and getting reimbursed.

As you can see, it makes sense to know these deductions ahead of time so that you can track them throughout the year. You’ll learn more about tax deductions as the year goes by, so make sure you keep meticulous records about everything. That doesn’t mean you have to live, eat and breathe taxes, but you just need to be sure that you pay attention to your expenses. Are they tax deductions? If you’re not sure, save the receipts anyway. Calculate your mileage for things that you do in case you can claim that mileage on your taxes. As you can see, sometimes you can!

There are more tax credits to homeowners than you might think. Yes, you can claim your mortgage interest, but did you know there is simply a home buyer tax credit? This not only applies to people who buy their first home, but it applies to people buying a home in general. The one for first time home buyers is more than the one for general home buyers, but either one is still a whopping tax credit.

Remember that you’re looking for your total deductions to exceed two percent. Why? This is what allows you to itemize your deductions, and you’d be surprised to find out that new types of deductions are always made available. You might have thought you were claiming everything, but all the sudden you find out there are more to claim. Once you get over that two percent threshold, the itemization of your taxes is going to really start paying off, and you’re going to wish you had done this much sooner.

tax-refundHow tax revenues are spent by the government is a source of eternal and sometimes vicious political debate, as is sometimes tax rates themselves. Yet, when April 15th rolls around every year, most Americans unite in their desire to minimize their personal tax liability, and at times are even in a situation where they are getting a refund. A sudden windfall of money given to you never hurts, so it makes dollars and sense to do whatever you can in the hopes of maximizing your tax refund. Keep reading to learn 7 methods you can use in this understandable pursuit.

1) Take advantage of retirement plans available to you. If you have 401(k) or 403(b) options at your place of employment, the contributions to such plans are typically pretax, meaning you pay no taxes on them at that time. If you do not have such plans available, consider making IRA contributions, which are tax deductible to certain annual limits. Those limits vary be age and income.

2) Make sure that your deducting all possible donations. Anything you give to nonprofits, charitable organizations, religious groups and even educational institutions can all be written off as deductible donations. Contributions that you can deduct can be more than just cash you give, as stocks and bonds, personal property, and even personal expenses you accrue on volunteer trips all count. The IRS lets you deduct up to half of your overall income in this manner, if you can provide the right paperwork.

3) Double check your filing status. Everyone is entitled to a standard deduction, but the amount of the deduction varies. Married couples that file jointly get to claim twice the standard deduction as single filers or even married individuals who file separately. Single individuals can sometimes get larger than the standard deduction if they meet the criteria for filing as a head of a household.

4) Increase your withholding at work. Talk to human resources and see if you can drop one or two of your exemptions. This will increase the amount of your paychecks that are withheld for taxes and boost your chances of getting money back in the spring.

5) Don’t neglect financial obligations to your family, as certain expenses are deductible. Child care expenses so a parent can work count, as do out-of-pocket medical expenses. Alimony and care for an elderly parent or relative also counts. Unfortunately, health insurance premiums do not count.

6) Track your professional expenses. Most things that you spend money on for work but don’t get reimbursed for can be written off when doing your taxes. These kinds of items include dues to professional organizations, uniforms or clothing you don’t wear off-duty, and car maintenance and use when performing work. Be careful here though and only claim the appropriate deductions, as gas and mileage while doing deliveries would count, but your daily commute to and from work does not count.

7) Make sure the IRS knows if you are operating a small business within your home. Portions of utilities used for the small business, such as electricity, telephone and Internet, can be deducted, as can square footage used for small business activities. In some cases, even percentages of your mortgage payments can be deducted.

Now that you know these 7 methods for maximizing your tax refund, you can be sure to get or save every dollar you can from the federal government for yourself. Apply any of these methods that are relevant to your personal circumstances so that you can sleep at night knowing you did all that you could.