You could fill a fat book with often-overlooked tax breaks — in fact, many such guides jockey for shelf space at bookstores throughout...

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You could fill a fat book with often-overlooked tax breaks — in fact, many such guides jockey for shelf space at bookstores throughout the tax season.

Here are dozens of deductions, credits and other tax-saving ideas that could be worth exploring more deeply.


• Excess payroll deductions for state disability insurance if you held two or more jobs.

• Job-hunting expenses if you sought work in your current occupation.

• Labor-union dues.

• Education expenses required by law or your employer.

• Moving expenses.

• Protective clothing required at work.

• Teachers may deduct up to $250 spent on books and classroom supplies.

• Transit passes and parking fringe benefits may be tax-free perks, not income.

• Cellphones used for the convenience of the employer.


• The child tax credit is $1,000, for kids 16 and under.

• Up to $4,000 in college tuition and fees under the higher-education tax deduction.

• Up to $1,650 of college tuition and fees under the Hope credit, or $2,000 under the lifetime learning credit.

• Working single parents and families in which both parents work are eligible for the child and dependent-care credit worth up to $2,100.

• Parents can claim a credit for up to $11,390 of adoption expenses.

• Appraisal fees for charitable contributions and casualty losses.

• Appreciation on goods donated to a charity.

• Legal fees stemming from collecting or obtaining alimony.

• The earned-income-tax credit is worth up to $4,716.

• Interest payments on student loans can be deducted from gross income.

• Alimony payments.

• Couples can file a joint return for the full year even if they wed Dec. 31, 2007.


• The savers credit is worth up to $1,000 for low-income taxpayers who stashed at least $2,000 in an IRA or retirement account.

• Fees for a safe-deposit box that holds stock or bond certificates.

• Investment-advisory fees.

• Write off securities that became worthless in 2007.

• Up to $3,000 of capital losses that exceed your gains.

• Up to $4,000 in contributions to an IRA and $15,500 to a 401(k), plus more for “catch-up” contributions if you’re 50 or older.

• Leftover Alternative Minimum Tax credit triggered by misplayed stock options.

• Choose between a credit or a deduction for foreign taxes withheld by mutual funds that earn dividends outside the United States.

• Interest on savings bonds may be tax-exempt if spent on certain education expenses.

Medical expenses

• Contact lenses, glasses, hearing aids, laboratory work and some hospital services.

• Doctor-prescribed weight-loss programs and stop-smoking classes.

• Prescription contraceptives, a vasectomy or, in the event either failed, childbirth classes.

• Certain long-term-care insurance premiums.

• Up to $5,650 in contributions to a health-savings account.

• Private-school tuition for deaf, blind or dyslexic children.

Real estate

• Certain mortgage-insurance premiums.

• Commissions and closing costs from the sale of a property.

• Mortgage-prepayment penalties and late fees.

• Points on a mortgage and certain refinancings.

• Points paid by the seller of a home.

• Real-estate taxes resulting from the sale or purchase of a property.

• A legitimate home-office allows you to deduct mortgage interest, real-estate taxes, utility bills and other expenses, and potentially the cost of driving to work sites.

Small business

• The self-employed can deduct 50 percent of self-employment tax and health-insurance premiums.

• Self-employed taxpayers with children may qualify for the employer-child-care contribution credit if they have no employees.

• Charitable contributions sometimes can be written off as advertising.

• Some travel bills can be deducted if you spent part of a business trip on vacation.

• Life insurance, retirement- plan benefits, transportation perks and other fringe benefits can be deductible if you hired your spouse.


• Tax-preparation fees and audit representation.

• A deduction or credit for income taxes imposed by a foreign country.

• You may deduct state and local sales tax on your federal return if you forgo deductions for state and local income taxes.

• You may be able to claim a credit on your state return if you also paid income tax in another state in 2007.

• An alternative minimum tax credit left over from a previous year could reduce your regular tax this year.

• A portion of vehicle-license fees.


• Mileage and out-of-pocket expenses related to charitable activities.

• Gambling losses that are offset by winnings.

• Theft or embezzlement losses.

• Attorney fees and costs in discrimination lawsuits can be deducted from gross income.

Sources: “J.K. Lasser’s Your Income Tax 2008,” “The Ernst & Young Tax Guide 2008” and Spidell Publishing