10 Taxpayers On The Biggest Thing They Didn’t Know They Could Write Off

By | Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Monday was officially tax day, and I was still waiting on a phone call from my accountant to verify a few things on my documents. I got the call I was waiting for around 2 PM, corrected something, and then left to send the checks I’d prepared a couple days before. Tax payments had to be postmarked by Monday, April 18, and I really don’t like cutting it close, especially when I’d had all my materials ready to go a few days before. Nonetheless, sometimes shit happens, and at 2:28 PM, when I got to the mailbox, it told me the last pick up at the mailbox was 2 PM. Seeing as my checks absolutely had to be postmarked on that day, I had no choice but to run to the post office (11 blocks away), checking every mailbox’s pick-up time on my way, to make sure my checks were sent from somewhere that would stamp them on April 18. (I was successful, but super winded after my run.)

Taxes weren’t a ~super fun time~ for me this year. I’d put all the money I had accounted for taxes away, so paying them wasn’t what I was worried about. But write-offs were definitely a source of stress, and I had what seems like several thousand discussions with an accountant to verify what I could and couldn’t write off. Now that the storm has passed, and we’ve all (hopefully) submitted our tax payments, or are awaiting a great return, I asked 10 taxpayers about the expense they didn’t realize they could write off. Hopefully, this will keep us all more informed for our tax returns next year! (However, I should say that these responses are from a collection of 20 and 30-something professionals — some freelance, some full-time employees — and not from financial experts, and these responses have not been verified by my accountant. If you are going to pursue any of these write offs next year, I strongly suggest consulting a financial professional.) Enjoy, and happy we-got-through-tax-season season!

1. “I didn’t realize I could write off my office supplies. I work from home, but up until this point, I worked out of my living room, so I didn’t claim any of my apartment as an office space. But this year, I moved into a place that allowed me to have an office, so the things I bought specifically for my office (decorations, notepads, pens, and a printer) could have been written off. By the time I found out, I had long since gotten rid of my receipts for the poster here, or Staples trip there. Next year, I intend to be more diligent about keeping any office-related receipts. But it would have been a good write-off this year, because I bought a relatively expensive printer.” — Jane

2. “I’m a designer for a magazine, and this year one of my coworkers told me she wrote off her magazine expenses for the year. Yes, this isn’t a ‘big’ expense, but I honestly spend a couple hundred bucks a year on magazines, both for myself and people I work for, and I don’t get to expense them through my company. It’s a professional expense I incur on my own, and I wish I had mentioned it to my accountant.” — Shannon

3. “I am a professional actor, and I had no idea that I could be writing off things like makeup, costumes, and potentially even some travel expenses. I’m three years out of college, and this is embarrassing, but my parents do my taxes every year, and I’ve never asked any questions, and beyond providing my stubs and tax forms, I am very removed from the whole process. So when my friends told me I was missing out on all these write-offs, I decided to make an appointment with an accountant so that I could verify and start saving my 2016 receipts.” — Kaytie

4. “This year, I took a photo class to help improve my side hustle work, and it didn’t even occur to me that I could write the class off. It wasn’t a cheap class, and it would have been incredibly helpful. When I talked to other people in my class, they reminded me that if I were taking this class for a big company, I would likely get to expense it, so it was worth asking my accountant if I could write it off as a personal business expense. Next year, I’ll definitely be bringing it up.” — Alexander

5. “My volunteer program coordinator JUST mentioned that I should be writing off the miles I drive to get to the hospital I volunteer at. I wrote off my charitable donations for the year, but didn’t write off my ‘charity miles.’ I only started this volunteer gig in November, so it was only two months of write-offs missed, but I am definitely keeping those miles in mind for next year.” — Kerry

6. “I work an overnight shift sometimes, and I did not know I could write it off when I take a cab or Uber to the office late at night. I have spent quite a lot of money on cabs and ride shares, and I could not BELIEVE I’d missed the opportunity to write those off.” — Luis

7. “I am an Über driver, and this year, I wrote off the miles I drove. But I was talking to another friend who always drives, and he said that I can be writing off my car washes, and anything I buy specifically for the people I drive in my car, like candy, snacks, and water.” — Jeremiah

8. “I spent about $600 on cleaning fees for my apartment, before and after Airbnbing my place, and I didn’t write it off. I, of course, declared my earnings, but I did not declare cleaning products, occasionally hiring a cleaner, or any other specifically Airbnb-related expenses.” — Claire

9. “I moved for a new job last year, and I didn’t know I could write off my moving expenses. I graduated college last year, and because my parents were still helping support me, they claimed me as a dependent for the last time. So I’m honestly not sure if the write-off would have helped, or not, but I wish I had at least known that it was an option, especially if it could have gotten my parents or me a better return. My company did not cover my relocation costs, and I incurred about $700 in moving costs.” — Mary

10. “I totally did not know I could be writing off car expenses if they were work-related. Commuting into New York City from New Jersey meant that I could write off things like my EZ-pass and all that mileage, etc. I have still yet to get this verified by an accountant, but I need to talk to someone soon, and download a mileage tracker so I can stay on top of this for 2016.” — Julia

Image via Unsplash

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