1. State sales taxes: You have to choose between deduction state and local sales tax OR income tax. You can’t do both, sadly. For you lucky duckies living in Florida…or Wyoming, South Dakota, Texas, Alaska, Washington and Nevada, this is a no-brainer. But for the rest of us in the other 43 states, this is a bit of a pickle that you should spend some time exploring because you could be winning with the sales tax route, especially if you saved your receipts like good boys and girls or if you had a big juicy purchase like a car, home (including homebuilder materials) or a boat. There’s a handy dandy calculator on the IRS website that lets you see based on income and your states tax levels what you can deduct if you go the sales tax route, but that’s not including big-ticket items which you can tack on on top of that.
2. Tickets to sporting events: These have been allowed in many cases as long as business was discussed during the game and the taxpayer could prove attending the game was directly related to the promotion of business. However, the IRS has limited the amounts to fair market value or customary costs. For example, if an average major league baseball ticket costs $60 and you decided to pay for the skybox at Yankee stadium, only $60 would be deductible.
3. Job-hunting costs: If you’re out of work and have spent more than 2% of your adjusted gross income on job-hunting expenses (including food, lodging, transportation, cab fares, employment agency fees, and printing costs for resumes and business cards) you can write it off. Remember that the deduction does not apply if you are searching for a first job (sorry, students!)
4. Job moving expenses: Although job-hunting expenses are not deductible when looking for your first job, moving expenses to get to that job are. To qualify for the deduction, your first job must be at least 50 miles away from your old home. If you qualify, you can deduct the cost of getting yourself and your household goods to the new area. If you drove your own car, your mileage write-off depends on when during 2011 you moved. For moves from January 1 through the end of June, the standard mileage rate is 19 cents a mile; for moves during the second half of the year, a 23.5 cents a mile rate applies. In either case, boost your deduction by any amount you paid for parking and tolls.
5. Baggage fees: We all miss the days of free checking while flying, but if you’re self-employed the addition cost hurts even more. If you’re self-employed and traveling on business, remember to add those costs to your deductible travel expenses. You can deduct any fees incurred by making changes to your itinerary, too.
6. Out-of-pocket charity contributions: Of course you’re not going to overlook the major gifts and contributions you may have made this year, but don’t forget the small stuff, too. You can write off any out-of-pocket costs incurred while doing work for a charity, including ingredients for food you make for a nonprofit’s potluck dinner or stamps you purchase for the humane society’s fundraising mailings. If driving is part of your charity work, such as delivery food or clothes to the needy, you get a deduction for that, too — $0.14 per mile plus parking and tolls. Keep your receipts, and if your contribution totals more than $250 you’ll need an acknowledgement from the charity documenting these services.
7. Jury duty pay: Did you serve jury duty this year? If so, chances are your employer required you to return your pay from that time served back to the company. The problem is that the IRS demands that you report those jury fees as taxable income. To even things out, you get to deduct the amount you give to your employer. Keep in mind that there’s no line on the Form 1040 labeled jury fees. Instead the write-off goes on line 36, which purports to be for simply totaling up deductions that get their own lines. Add your jury fees to the total of your other write-offs and write “jury pay” on the dotted line to the left.