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7 Most-Missed Tax Deductions and Credits

From job search expenses to gambling losses, don't overlook these ways to reduce your tax bill.

7 Most-Missed Tax Deductions and Credits
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By Lisa Greene-Lewis

Tax deductions and credits can save you money at tax time, but many taxpayers miss them because they don't realize things they do in their everyday life can give them more money back.

One thing you should know is tax deductions and credits help your tax situation in two different ways: Tax deductions can save you money by lowering your taxable income. Tax credits directly reduce the taxes you owe, and if you qualify, you can claim a credit whether you itemize your deductions are not.

Here are seven of the most-missed tax deductions and credits you don't want to overlook:

Lisa Greene-Lewis is a certified public accountant and TurboTax tax expert. She has more than 15 years of experience in tax preparation, including positions as a public auditor, controller and operations manager. For more tax-related tips, go to blog.turbotax.intuit.com.

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Cities with the Lowest Tax Rates

The total amount of tax you pay reaches far beyond what you owe the federal government. Depending on where you live, most likely you're required to pay additional taxes, including property and sales tax. The disparity between the amount of tax you pay in a low-tax city and that in a high-tax city can be dramatic. Living in any of these 10 cities could save you a bundle, although the exact amount may fluctuate based on your income and lifestyle choices.

Cities with the Highest Tax Rates

Much ado is made in the press about federal tax brackets, but cities can carry a tax bite of their own. Even if you live in a state that has no income tax, your city may levy a variety of taxes that could eat away the entire benefit of living in an income tax-free state, including property taxes, sales taxes and auto taxes. Consider all the costs before you move to one of these cities, and understand that rates may change based on your family's income level.

Great Ways to Get Charitable Tax Deductions

Generally, when you give money to a charity, you can use the amount of that donation as a deduction on your tax return. However, not all charities qualify as tax-deductible organizations. While there are many types of charities, they must all meet certain criteria to be classified by the IRS as tax-deductible organizations. There are legitimate tax-deductible organizations in many popular categories, such as those listed below.

A Freelancer's Guide to Taxes

Freelancing certainly has its benefits, but it can result in a few complications come tax time. The Internal Revenue Service considers freelancers to be self-employed, so if you earn income as a freelancer you must file your taxes as a business owner. While you can take additional deductions if you are self-employed, you'll also face additional taxes in the form of the self-employment tax. Here are things to consider as a freelancer when filing your taxes.

Tax Deductions for Voluntary Interest Payments on Student Loans

Most taxpayers who pay interest on student loans can take a tax deduction for the expense ? and you can do this regardless of whether you itemize tax deductions on your return. The rules for claiming the deduction are the same whether the interest payments were required or voluntary.

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You will not miss any deductions if you use the Turbo Tax program!

March 16 2014 at 6:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

BTW, your bounceback college grad can qualify you for head of household status. It's the equivalent of half a deduction. Even if they worked, when they live under your roof you can qualify.

March 16 2014 at 11:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I had no idea that gambling LOSSES were tax deductable.
My question is...How do you get a receipt for gambling losses??

March 16 2014 at 4:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Joy's comment

You don't. You can deduct only as much as you won, so in other words, you can't fake it in this category. And if you won more than you lost, you pay income taxes on the net winnings. It's an old one.

It is similar to people who make things for a hobby and sometimes sell them (cakes, crafts, etc). The can deduct the expenses of that hobby UP TO THE AMOUNT they made selling stuff.

March 16 2014 at 9:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

since you always lose more than win you deduct loses equal to your winnings unless your winnings ae obviously more than you have lost - if you win thousands the you better have good recors of your loses

March 16 2014 at 6:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I had my taxes fradulently filed in my name and social security number and the number of victims is rising rapidly- Good luck to those of you in my shoes that have to wait over 6-12 months to get YOUR OWN earned wages owed to you. GOOD LUCK

March 14 2014 at 10:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to airbag444's comment

Funny how the Government can tell us who we've called, what we said to them, when we called, but can't be arsed to make sure it's really us who filed a tax return to get *our* money back.

If you can track my phone calls and internet usage, please take the trouble to make sure you're sending my refund *to me*! Jeez!

March 15 2014 at 11:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good luck. A friend of mine got snarled in this mess and he's waited over a year to get his refund back. The only advice is: if you are due a refund, file as early as humanly possible. Like within hours of getting your W-2s.

March 16 2014 at 11:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Republicans, people who cannot think for themselves and rely on big money of the GOP to tell them what to say and do. Shameful.

March 14 2014 at 10:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ah, I see DF removed my comment about EITC. It is a lump-sum welfare payment from taxpayers, nothing more.

Sorry if that's offensive. Maybe you should grow some thicker skin.

March 14 2014 at 1:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jj2301's comment

You really shouldn't be posting unless it is to boast of your ignorance.

March 15 2014 at 1:32 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to clwgeorgetownlaw's comment

Whatever there, G'town law.. You favor income redistribution, also known as equal outcome over equal opportunity.

It must be nice to play on the side of jealousy, envy and laziness.

March 17 2014 at 11:34 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down

Yes, it may be government sponsired welfare but it serves a purpose for people who simply do not earn up to the poverty level. And there are a lot of these people.

March 16 2014 at 11:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bdgrizcp's comment

but.. but.. It's welfare, in a lump-sum payment.

Call it what it is. It's not a refund; it's stealing from people like me and giving it to someone who didn't pay as much (if any) in taxes.

March 17 2014 at 11:36 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down

EITC is *not* a tax credit it is a transfer payment, from those who actually pay taxes to those who are essentially a drain on the system. It may be called a credit, but it's a lump-sum welfare payment, courtesy of real taxpayers.

March 14 2014 at 1:38 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jj2301's comment

Your ignorance is stunning. The Earned Income Tax Credit was designed to offset undercompensated individuals in society. EITC has been supported by both Democrats and Republicans and is sound economic theory. Wages are not a zero sum game. The most valuable members of society are often times those in the lower income brackets. It is a fact of capitalism that those in the higher income brackets make their fortunes on the labor of lower income individuals. If you want to keep society in some type of harmony and avoid revolution & unrest, it is vital to help compenstate the lower income individuals when then marketplace has failed to do so. These individuals work thus the term "earned income credit" is appropriate. Or do you also believe that capitalism is perfect and there are never failures in the marketplace? In that case, the economic term for you is "caveman"........ Seriously, your lack of knowledge of the system is stunning and you really shouldn't be posting unless it is to boast of your ignorance.

March 15 2014 at 1:11 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Mark Boknecht

Careful Daily Finance. First you point out that your deduction for losses cannot exceed your winnings. Then you confuse some of the unsuspecting readers that they can only deduct $2,000 in your example. But that's only true if they have Already included/reported their winnings. Otherwise, it's like you originally reported. If they reported no winnings, then they can't collect a deduction for losses. It can only be used to offset winnings.

March 14 2014 at 10:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why should you be able to take a deduction for your own stupidity? You gamble, you lose...your loss.

March 14 2014 at 10:26 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Rob's comment

Ummmm. Maybe because if you win then it is treated as income. So why wouldn't the reverse scenario earn a deduction? Thanks for playing Einstein....

March 15 2014 at 1:23 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to clwgeorgetownlaw's comment

You can only deduct gambling losses up to, but not exceeding winnings. You either have to keep a diary of your gambling wins and losses or find losing tickets, like at a sports book trash bin.

March 16 2014 at 2:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

It's really not for the average tourist visitor to Vegas or Atlantic City. This tax issue is aimed at professional gamblers. Why shouldn't they be able to take a deduction for losses if they are paying income tax on their winnings?

March 16 2014 at 9:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gramos555's comment

any winnings for which a 1099 form is given need to be reported

March 16 2014 at 6:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down