Tax Deductions You Might Not Know About

Check out the Kiplinger’s guide to what items you can deduct from your tax return.

From business expenses, things you own, to charitable donations and more, there’s a lot you can deduct. For instance, did you know you can deduct gambling losses? Or 18 cents per mile for each mile you drove to your doctor’s office?

If you haven’t yet filed and want some ways to bring that tax bill down here, Kiplinger’s “taxopedia” is a great place to start. — BEN POPKEN

The Kiplinger Taxopedia [Kiplinger.com]
(Photo: dizznbonn)

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  1. tentimesodds says:

    I’m fairly certain that gambling losses are bucketed against gambling income. So if you win $15,000 on a slot machine (and therefore have to fill out a tax form) you can claim the $5,000 you lost at the racetrack. But you can’t offset your wage income.

  2. pdxguy says:

    Another one of those tax cats popping up again!

  3. Rajio says:

    enough with the cats please. you’d think this was ‘feline-ist’ or something! how long does it take you to find a tax related cat photo anyhow?

  4. thrillhouse says:

    On the flip side, forgiven debt is considered taxable income.

  5. RandomHookup says:

    @tentimesodds:

    Yep, that’s true. There was actually a case a few years ago where a lottery borrowed a friend’s cache of old lottery tickets for an audit. The lender got mad and sued when he didn’t get his tickets back.

  6. StarvingArtist says:

    Love the cats–don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! I’ve always assumed it’s not worth trying to deduct anything (except student loans) if you don’t own a house (can’t get over the minimum deduction. Anyone have any thoughts?

  7. KatieKate93 says:

    I love the cat pics, keep up the good work. Is that a Birman?

  8. FlashSandbox says:

    To deduct gambling you have to keep a detailed log of when, where, and what you gamble (down to the slot machine ID number in some cases).

  9. IndyJaws says:

    Most casinos will help make it much easier to help offset gambling winnings. Any year when I’ve had jackpots of $1200 or more and received a W-2G, I get profit/loss statements from the casinos I’ve visited that year. Each time, it’s been enough to offset the winnings (which either says I don’t win enough or lose too much!). You can also use non-winning lottery and/or scratch-off tickets to help offset as well.

    The thing that frustrates me is that the same tax rules for video poker don’t apply to blackjack. With either one, if you don’t know basic strategy, you won’t win consistently. But blackjack is considered a game of skill vs. video poker as a game of chance. Anyone who really knows video poker will tell you that it takes much more skill to learn basic strategy than blackjack. And if you master it, you can have a long-term expectation of 98% to 100.5%, not including comps.

    Slots, on the other hand? Strictly luck for the silly people who play them on a regular basis. Although I suppose anyone who gambles could be considered silly (or worse) for all practical purposes…

  10. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    Perhaps cats should be taxed, so there would be fewer of them showing up on Consumerist. The ratio of cats to dogs seems to be discriminatory.

  11. mariser says:

    love the picture of the cat. looks to be in the process of rolling up his eyes at the dumbitude of the human in the background.

    back to topic, if one os not self-employed and/or a house owner, there is hardly a point in itemizing.

  12. mac-phisto says:

    @FlashSandbox: if you’re a player’s club member at foxwoods or mohegan sun, they’ll log this info & send it to you annually – you just need to request it (& keep playing). i dunno about the other casinos.

  13. pestie says:

    @segfault: Hey, HEY!! Enough of that! I’m so sick of “dog people” and their stranglehold over most of America! Consumerist is an oasis of cat-friendliness and I hope it stays that way. Dogs are evil.

  14. LAGirl says:

    @StarvingArtist:

    not true, Staving Artist. you would be amazed how much more you can get back on your return if you itemize your deductions. it’s all about the Schedule A. and if you’re self-employed, the Schedule C.

    i never, NEVER take the standardized deduction. just as this post says, there are so many deductions that you can take. for example: your monthly cell phone bill, auto expenses (you can take standard mileage deduction or calculate actual expenses – usually better off w/standard deduction, which is 44.5 cents for 2006), dues + subscriptions (magazines, newspapers, etc), travel including hotels, meals + car rental, 50% of entertainment expenses that aren’t reimbursed – took a client out to lunch? took him to a hockey game? write if off! you can also write off job search fees i.e. resume costs.

    you can write off medical if it’s at least 7.5% of your gross income. this is a good one if you fill prescriptions on a regular basis, or see a shrink every week, or had major medical expenses that weren’t covered by your insurance. this includes x-rays, physical therapy, regular doctor’s visits, lab work, etc.

    depending on what profession you’re in, there many other types of deductions. for example, if you work in the entertainment business, you can write off DVD rentals + purchases, movie tix, theater tickets, books as research. dry cleaning work clothes (but not clothes purchased unless they are a specifc uniform for work i.e. you dress up as a clown for children’s parties). if you work as a waiter or waitress, you can write off tips to busboys, cost + care of uniform, equipment needed for job.

    those old clothes + housewares you donated to the Salvation Army? get an invoice from them showing you made the donation and itemize it. if you use TurboTax, they will walk you through all these steps.

    and yes, i am a professional.

  15. Dustbunny says:

    @Rajio:

    Nooo, I love the cats! Don’t stop using them in your pics. You better be nice to cats too, because once they develop opposable thumbs they’ll take over the world.

  16. minchua says:

    Please keep the cats! The world is unfairly biased towards dogs.

  17. Little Mintz Sunshine says:

    Damn, for a second I thought I was going to get clues on how to legally claim my cat as a dependent.

  18. synergy says:

    Now if only these kinds of things would get posted in February for those of us who don’t procrastinate…

  19. monkeyboy says:

    Do most people take the standard deduction? I’ve never been able to itemize. (Married, no kids) I have a low house note ($550) and I am not self employed. My medical bills are paid mostly through my medical insurance (no copay), and that is taken out of my paychecks pre-tax.

    Besides mortgage interest and medical bills, whats some other high $$ things that most people deduct?