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10 Commonly Overlooked Tax Deductions

By Robert Flach

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Most taxpayers probably know that the key to getting the best possible refund (or at least the lowest possible tax burden) is to milk the deductions to their absolute maximum, taking advantage of every single one for which they qualify.

But the more complicated process of itemizing deductions doesn't really pay unless the total you can deduct exceeds the Standard Deduction for your filing status -- $5,800 for single filers or married taxpayers filing separately, $11,600 for married couples filing jointly and for qualifying widow(er)s, and $8,500 for those filing as head of household.

These commonly overlooked deductions can ensure you get the most back possible.

The additional standard deduction for people 65 or older and/or blind taxpayers are $1,450 for single and head-of-household filers and $1,150 for married filers (joint and separate) and qualifying widow(er)s.

As a general rule, remember that medical expenses are only deductible to the extent that the total exceeds 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income, and most Miscellaneous Deductions are allowed only to the extent the total exceeds 2% of AGI.

>>The Most Commonly Asked Tax Questions

If you're one of those taxpayers who will benefit from itemizing your deductions on Schedule A, don't forget the following 10 often-overlooked deductions.

Travel expenses
Travel expenses to and from doctors, dentists, hospitals and other health care providers to get medical care and round-trip travel costs to visit a sick spouse or a dependent are deductible if the visits are recommended by a doctor as part of the patient's treatment.

If you take a taxi, bus, train or ambulance you can deduct the actual expense of the trip, and if you drive you can deduct 19 cents per mile traveled between Jan. 1 and June 31 and 23.5 cents per mile driven from July 1 to Dec. 31, plus any parking fees and tolls.

The cost of lodging you (or anyone accompanying a patient, such as a parent or spouse) while away from home for medical care is also deductible, up to a maximum of $50 per person per night. Note that you can deduct the cost of the hotel room, but not the dinner bill.

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