Itemizing a federal tax return can be a hassle. Taxpayers who claim the standard deduction to make filing taxes easier can still claim some deductions to lower their tax bills.
Called “adjustments to income” by the IRS on an IRS 1040 tax form, they’re also called “above-the-line deductions” because on the 1040 form they’re noted above the adjusted gross income. The deductions are subtracted from total income and have no income limits.
Here are six above-the-line deductions to consider:
If you have a traditional IRA, this is where you get to deduct the contributions. Without getting into the specific numbers — which can change every year — check with your tax preparer on the contribution limits and know that you have until mid-April the next year to make IRA contributions for the current tax year.
If you’ve moved to change jobs and your new job is at least 50 miles from your old home, you can take this deduction.
These costs include gas and fees for parking and tolls, storage of household goods and personal belongings, and lodging when traveling from your old home to a new one. The cost of meals isn’t deductible.
Money paid to a former spouse where the payments are explained in a divorce agreement is tax deductible. Child support payments aren’t deductible.
Your ex-spouse must also report the same amount as taxable income. The IRS requires you to report your ex-spouse’s Social Security number so it can ensure the income is reported.
If you’re a teacher you can write off up to $250 each year for buying school supplies if you teach in K-12 and work at least 900 hours a year. Keep your receipts to prove the expenses.
Aides, counselors and principals can also claim this tax break. Home schoolers don’t get the deduction.
Health savings account
Funding a health savings account, or HSA, is tax-deductible if the contribution was made with after-tax money. In other words, only if your employer didn’t fund it through a payroll deduction with pretax money. You can’t double dip for a tax deduction.
Jury pay to your employer
Speaking of double dipping, some employers may not allow it if you serve jury duty.
If your employer paid you when you were on jury duty, you may be required to give them any jury pay you received. The IRS requires that jury fees be reported as taxable income, but the amount you give your employer is tax deductible.
The write-off goes on line 36 of Form 1040, where you can write in “jury pay” and the amount paid to your employer.
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