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Deductions some taxpayers overlook

Staff writer

Sometimes there is money to be saved hidden in the forms that can bewilder some taxpayers.

Professional tax preparer a Woody Crawshaw Jr. said one common deduction taxpayers can claim but tend to overlook is gas expenditures related to business, medical, or charitable miles driven.

“Mileage to and from doctors appointments and prescription pick-ups can be deducted as a medical expense,” Crawshaw said. “Even if they know about it, some people think that they don’t make that many trips, so it won’t add up to be that much, but it is always more than they think it is.”

Even when it’s claimed, taxpayers only get a percentage of what they pay for gas, he said, but every little bit counts.

A business mileage deduction is similar to medical mileage, but relates to trips taken related to an individual’s business, he said, and charitable miles can be claimed if an individual is performing community work, mission work, or driving to do volunteer work.

“A lot of small businesses are afraid they’ll get audited if they claim these deductions, but you don’t get the deduction if you don’t take it,” Crawshaw said. “What it comes down to is appropriate record keeping.”

In each case, he said the IRS likes to know beginning and ending trip mileage, the date of the trip, and the trip’s purpose.

“What it comes down to is record keeping,” he said. “Sticky notes won’t cut it. There are specific forms you can get to help keep track of your mileage.”

Ken Koslowsky, another professional tax preparer, said teachers could also claim an “educator’s expense” for personal money they spend to educate their class if they haven’t been reimbursed by the school.

“It’s good for up to $250, but educators typically don’t get a form to remind them,” Koslowsky said. “So, some forget about it, even if they know about it.”

Both Koslowsky and Crawshaw mentioned personal property taxes paid on things like automobiles, boats, jet skis, motor homes, and motorcycles, as another deduction people may know about but forget to claim.

“I’ve found that some people forget because they only pay that tax once a year,” Crawshaw said. “They put the receipt in the glove box with the registration, and just don’t think about it.”

Last modified April 1, 2015

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