By Mario McKellop
Most Americans are aware that expenses related to the purchase of a new home and relocating are eligible for tax deductions. However, the four million word document that governs the U.S. taxation system is filled with all kinds of odd and little-known deductions. Here's a rundown of seven unusual deductions that can help lower your tax burden.
Weight Loss Treatment
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, 35.9 percent of the adult American populace are obese. If you are one of those Americans and your doctor has determined that your excessive weight is a serious threat to your health, you may be able to deduct certain expenses related to getting healthy. If a doctor recommends that you enroll in a weight loss program to treat a weight-related medical condition such as obesity, hypertension and high blood pressure, you can claim its membership fees as an itemized deduction. However, your weight loss expenses must represent at least 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI).
If you are the sole proprietor of a home–based small business, you may be able to deduct some of your landscaping expenses. The logic behind the deduction is that maintaining a vibrant lawn, perfectly trimmed hedges and a handsomely painted fence can play an essential role in the operation of your business. To qualify for this deduction, you must meet with customers in your home and have a valid reason why quality landscaping helps you attract and retain clients.
In an effort to help millions of American kick the habit, the IRS offers tax deductions for the costs associated with quitting smoking. To be clear, stop smoking aids like nicotine patches and gums are not applicable. However, the cost of a smoking cessation program can be deducted, provided that it represents 10 percent of your AGI. Seeing as such programs have been found to be among the most effective ways of beating the addiction, enrolling in one is a good idea for your physical and financial health.
Pet Relocation Expenses
It's common knowledge that certain non-employer covered job relocation expenses can be claimed as itemized deductions. However, what many people may not know is that they can count pet relocation costs among their claimed expenses. Applicable fees include the cost of an airline ticket for your pets or for a door to door pet relocation service.
If you are suffering from an ailment that causes chronic pain, such as severe arthritis, you may be able to claim the cost of getting a swimming pool on your taxes. It should be noted that a deduction for swimming pool has only been claimed in the past in instances where taxpayers have been able to prove that swimming was a medically prescribed treatment, the pool was only used for therapeutic purposes and that their condition was serious enough to prevent them from regularly visiting an off-site aquatic center.
If you're a teacher at a K-12 school, you probably went out of pocket more than a few times to purchase some much-needed classroom supplies. If so, you'll definitely want to hold onto those receipts, because the IRS allows select educators to claim a $250 itemized deduction for teaching materials.
If you had a bad run of luck at the track or at a casino, you may be able to deduct some of your gambling losses. That said, it's important to be aware of the fact that whatever you claim in gambling losses cannot exceed the amount of money you won gambling.
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