15 Surprising Tax Breaks to Keep More Money In Your Pocket


Understanding and leveraging little-known tax deductions is essential for optimizing your tax strategy and minimizing your tax burden. By exploring these deductions and credits, individuals can ensure they’re taking full advantage of all available tax-saving opportunities, allowing them to keep more of their income and achieve greater financial stability.

1. Out-of-Pocket Charity Contributions

Charitable Contributions Deduction
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Small acts of kindness can add up. If you buy supplies for a nonprofit event or incur costs while volunteering, these expenses might be deductible. Many overlook this because receipts for small purchases get lost. A quick tip: keep a dedicated envelope for these receipts in your car.

2. Energy-Efficient Home Upgrades

Two young technicians mounting heavy solar photo voltaic panel
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Going green saves more than just the planet. Installing solar panels or energy-efficient windows can qualify for significant tax credits. It’s a win-win. You cut down on utility bills and enjoy a break from Uncle Sam. Make sure to save those installation bills and Energy Star labels.

3. Educational Expenses

Investment in Education
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The IRS website provides details and limitations on claiming educational expenses. Investing in yourself pays off. Tuition and fees for courses related to your job can be deductible. This includes improvement courses, not just degree programs. It’s a boon for lifelong learners. Just remember, the course must be relevant to your current job to qualify.

4. Health Savings Account Contributions

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged financial account to help individuals and families save money for medical expenses
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HSAs are the unsung heroes of healthcare savings. Contributions are tax-deductible, and the account grows tax-free. Plus, it’s not just for medical bills. Dental and vision expenses are also covered. If you have a high-deductible health plan, don’t miss out on this. Learn more about HSAs on the IRS website.

5. State Sales Tax

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This one’s a sleeper hit. You can opt to deduct state sales tax instead of state income tax. It’s a game-changer for residents in states without income tax. Also, big-ticket items like cars or boats can significantly increase your deduction. Keep your major purchase receipts.

6. Job Search Expenses

Job Search Expenses
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Landing a new job can come with hidden tax breaks. Expenses like resume preparation, travel for interviews, and fees paid to job placement agencies can be deductible. This only applies if you’re looking for a job in your current occupation. A smart move for those on the hunt.

7. Moving Expenses for a First Job

man working on a computer glasses
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Starting fresh at a new job? If you moved more than 50 miles for it, those moving expenses might be deductible. This includes costs like hiring movers and travel to your new home. It’s a one-time perk for new job starters. Make sure to track those miles and receipts.

8. Home Office Deduction

Portrait of modern senior man using laptop at home working
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For freelancers and remote workers, the home office deduction is a gem. The space must be used regularly and exclusively for business. It can lower your tax bill by allowing deductions for a portion of rent, utilities, and home repairs. A clear division between home and office space is key.

9. Dependent Care Credit

Ignoring Long-Term Care Needs
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Families can breathe easier with the Dependent Care Credit. It’s for expenses paid towards the care of dependents, allowing parents to work or look for work. These costs encompass daycare, summer camps, and after-school programs. It’s not just a deduction but a credit, offering a direct reduction in taxes owed.

10. Legal Fees for Alimony

Person Found Hidden Fees In His Contract
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Navigating through a divorce is tough, but there’s a silver lining when it comes to alimony. Legal fees and other costs related to collecting alimony are tax-deductible. This doesn’t make the process any easier, but it does provide some financial relief. Documentation is crucial, so keep detailed records.

11. Lifetime Learning Credit

Financial Planning
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Expanding your education horizon comes with perks. The Lifetime Learning Credit offers credit for tuition and fees for courses taken to acquire or improve job skills. Unlike other educational deductions, it’s not limited to degree programs. Whether you’re taking a single course or pursuing a degree, this credit can help cover costs.

12. Adoption Expenses

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Building a family through adoption is a journey with its own set of challenges and expenses. Thankfully, the IRS offers credit for adoption-related expenses, including court fees, adoption agency fees, and travel costs. This credit can be substantial, making the adoption process a bit easier on the wallet.

13. Disaster and Theft Losses

Job loss concept concept
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Life’s unexpected events can sometimes lead to financial relief at tax time. If you’ve suffered property losses due to a federally declared disaster or theft, you may be able to claim a deduction. It’s a way to recover some of the costs not covered by insurance. Documentation and understanding of the specific IRS rules are crucial here.

14. Teacher Educational Expenses

Smiling senior teacher teaching in the classroom on chalkboard.
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Teachers often reach into their own pockets for classroom supplies. The IRS acknowledges this dedication. Educators can deduct out-of-pocket expenses for classroom materials. This deduction is directly available, without needing to itemize. It’s a small token of appreciation for those shaping the future generations.

15. Investment Interest Expense

Automate Your Savings
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Investors can take a sigh of relief knowing some expenses are on their side. The interest paid on money borrowed to make investments can be deductible. This doesn’t apply to investments that produce tax-exempt income, but it can be a boon for those heavily invested in the stock market or other taxable investment ventures.

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