It’s never too early to start working on our income tax return for next year, as keeping our records as organized as we can will make the process much easier. Besides, taking the time to do a little research might allow us to find some surprising tax breaks that we should know about before actually filing our taxes. After all, who wouldn’t appreciate having to pay a little bit less on taxes?
Here you will find some surprising tax breaks you may haven’t heard of before. These include charity work expenses, gambling losses, jury duty pay, and guard dog expenses.
Charitable donations are quite common among taxpayers who are looking to get a tax deduction while helping others. However, others like to volunteer and work at different charity organizations instead. If we drive to the location of the organization, the costs generated by parking, toll fees, and even gas (14 cents per mile) can be deducted. Also, if we bought any supplies for such organizations, including food or kitchen utensils, for example, those expenses are deductible, too. If your deduction is more than $250, we might need documentation from the charitable organization.
Many of us are not that lucky when it comes to gambling and betting. Thus, losing money during a trip to Las Vegas or Atlantic City feels more possible than winning. If we ended up coming back home almost penniless, there might still be a bright side. We can deduct these losses if we go for an itemized deduction. Qualifying losses from casinos, racetracks, bingo, lottery, even raffle tickets count. However, we can’t deduct an amount that exceeds any winnings we claim as income.
Being summoned for jury service is quite an important civic duty that almost 15% of American adults get to fulfill every year. Having to report for jury duty means days off work, even when the court may pay for your time and services. If your employer offers regular pay or paid leave and receive jury duty pay, this money counts as taxable income. If your employer requires you to hand over any jury duty pay, such pay would still count as taxable income. However, you can claim jury duty pay as a deduction, which would then result in a zero-net gain.
It is no surprise that some business expenses can be deducted from our federal tax report, such as home office and transportation, However, one of the most surprising tax breaks comes with guard dog expenses. If we use a dog to guard the premises of our business, and it is a certified guard dog, its expenses can be deducted. Costs of food, medical attention, training, etcetera, can qualify for such deduction. Keep in mind it should be of a traditional guard dog breed like Rottweilers and German Shepherds.