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Ten Overlooked Tax Breaks

To make sure your IRS bill is as low as possible, you need to take every tax deduction, credit or other income adjustment you can. Here are 10 tax breaks -- some for itemizers only, others that any filer can claim -- that often get overlooked but that could save you some tax dollars.

Taxes
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Taxes

1. Additional charitable gifts

Everyone remembers to count the monetary gifts they make to their favorite charities. But expenses incurred while doing charitable work often aren't counted on tax returns.

You can't deduct the value of your time spent volunteering, but if you buy supplies for a group, the cost of that material is deductible. Similarly, if you wear a uniform in doing your good deeds, for example as a hospital volunteer or youth group leader, the costs of that apparel and any cleaning bills also can be counted as charitable donations.

So can the use of your vehicle for charitable purposes, such as delivering meals to the homebound in your community or taking the Scout troop on an outing. The IRS will let you deduct that travel at 14 cents per mile.

2. Moving expenses

Most taxpayers know that they can write off many moving expenses when they relocate to take another job. But what about your first job? Yes, the IRS allows this write-off then, too. A recent college graduate who gets a first job at a distance from where he or she has been living is eligible for this tax break.

3. Job hunting costs

While college students can't deduct the costs of hunting for that new job across the country, already-employed workers can. Costs associated with looking for a new job in your present occupation, including fees for resume preparation and employment of outplacement agencies, are deductible as long as you itemize. The one downside here is that these costs, along with other miscellaneous itemized expenses, must exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income before they produce any tax savings. But the phone calls, employment agency fees and resume printing costs might be enough to get you over that income threshold.

4. Military reservists' travel expenses

Members of the military reserve forces and National Guard who travel more than 100 miles and stay overnight for the training exercises can deduct related expenses. This includes the cost of lodging and half the cost of meals. If you drive to the training, be sure to track your miles. You can deduct them on your 2009 return at 55 cents per mile, along with any parking or toll fees for driving your own car. You get this deduction whether or not you itemize, but you will have to fill out Form 2106.

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