Claiming certain deductions can lower your tax bill and put more money back in your pocket when it’s time to file. While most taxpayers are aware of the benefits of itemizing for things like mortgage interest and charitable donations, there are some less well-known deductions you could be missing out on. If you’re looking to get more bang for your buck this tax season, consider whether you can claim a deduction for these not-so-run-of-the-mill expenses. Before considering any of the deductions below, speak with your tax accountant, CPA, or tax attorney to avoid any potential troubles with the IRS since these are atypical tax deductions.
Relocating a Pet
If you’ve ever had to relocate for a job, you may already know that certain moving expenses are tax-deductible. What isn’t common knowledge is the fact that you can also write off moving expenses for your pet. According to IRS Publication 521, the cost of moving your pet to your new home is covered as long as your new job is at least 50 miles from your old home. If you’re planning a cross-country move, any shipping costs you pay to bring Fido along are covered.
Installing a Pool
For many homeowners, swimming pools are generally viewed as money pits because of their high maintenance costs. The upside of installing a pool is that you may be able to write off some of the costs by claiming it as a deductible medical expense. In Cherry v. Commissioner, the U.S. Tax Court allowed a taxpayer to deduct certain costs related to maintaining his pool since his doctor had recommended it for improving his health. Just keep in mind that your expenses are only deductible to the extent that the cost of installing and maintaining the pool exceeds the increase in your property’s value.
Kicking Bad Habits
Quitting smoking can not only add years to your life but it can also add more money back to your bottom line. That’s because the IRS allows you to deduct any costs associated with programs designed to help you stop smoking, with the exception of over-the-counter methods such as nicotine gum or patches. If you’re fighting a more serious addition to drugs or alcohol, you can also deduct your inpatient costs as a medical expense. This includes treatment as well as your meals and lodging while you’re at the facility. You can even deduct your mileage or other transportation expenses to and from Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Making Beautiful Music
Encouraging your child’s interest in music can be a costly endeavor but you could get some of that money back at tax time if you can claim the expense as a medical deduction. In 1962, the IRS allowed a taxpayer to deduct the cost of a clarinet and clarinet lessons on the grounds that it was recommended by an orthodontist to improve their child’s overbite. If your doctor advises piano lessons to help you deal with arthritis pain or music therapy for a child with emotional issues, you may be eligible for a write-off at tax time.
Going on Safari
As odd as it may seem, setting out on an African safari adventure is actually a deductible expense if you can prove you’re going for business purposes. According to Publication 535, the IRS allows you to deduct business expenses that are “ordinary and necessary”, including any money you have to pay for travel. As long as you can prove that the cost of the trip was relevant to your business’s operations such as marketing or promotion, you can write off your adventure in the wild. If the African plain isn’t ideal for doing business, you can also write-off business conventions to exotic destinations closer to home, including Bermuda, Barbados, Costa Rica and Jamaica. If you attend business meetings in Canada, Mexico or a U.S. possession, your travel expenses are deductible under the IRS guidelines.
When it comes to filing your taxes, taking advantage of every possible deduction is essential to minimizing your tax bill. Before you file your return, give your expenses a second look to make sure you’re getting all of the deductions you’re entitled to. Furthermore, before trying to claim any of the deductions above, talk with your tax accountant, CPA, tax attorney or licensed tax professional if you can do so.