ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Now that tax season is in full swing, many people are looking for tax breaks to beef up their refund or reduce what they owe.
Can you claim the cat food you put out for feral cats in the community? Not exactly. What about the charitable contribution for volunteering at church? Nope. But there are four quirky tax breaks that you wouldn't believe exist.
Tax breaks are only given based on the facts surrounding your circumstances.
According to Investopedia, a tax break provides savings through tax deductions tax credits, tax exemptions, and other incentives.
Tax breaks can greatly reduce a taxpayer's liability. Deductions are expenses that can be subtracted from gross income to reduce taxable income; credits reduce tax liability, dollar-for-dollar and have a greater impact than deductions; exemptions occur where a tax for a certain item or type of income is reduced or eliminated.
So here are four tax breaks you won't believe are real.
A couple who owned a junkyard were allowed to write off the cost of cat food they set out to attract wild cats. The feral felines didn't just eat, they also took care of snakes and rats on the property, making the place safer for customers.
This is considered a tax break because the business expense was directly related to the operation of the business.
"It has to be directly related to the operation of your business, and the wording in the tax law is ordinary and necessary business expense," explained Mauldin & Jenkins CPA, John McDuffie.
Read more on Section 162.--Trade or Business Expense here.
Cat food can also be treated as a charitable contribution.
A woman used her own money to care for feral cats that she fostered in her home for a charity that specialized in the neutering of wild cats. Those expenses totaled to more than $12,000 of her own money.
You can claim the expense but it's important when partnering with charities that you get a written acknowledgment from the organization each time you spend $250 or more.
If you don't have all of the proper documentation, you can't deduct all of the costs incurred by the organization.
"You can't just do that out of the goodness of your heart, you really need to do something like this in conjunction with a qualified charity," added McDuffie.
Read more on Section 170.--Charitable, etc., Contributions and Gifts here.
Gas station owners who offer beer with a fill-up or any other promotion to drivers can also deduct the cost of the beer as a business expense.
Refer to section 162 above.
Babysitting fees can also be written off, but like the others, there's one caveat.
A parent, not the babysitter must document all of the times you hired a babysitter when you needed to leave home to volunteer for a charity. Even though the money didn't go to the organization, it's still considered a charitable contribution.
Refer to section 170 above.
"You just need to be very careful that you can both substantiate what you've done and that you've got a good basis for taking those deductions," said McDuffie.
Remember when hunting for tax breaks, it all depends on the facts of the circumstances. Be sure you can substantiate what you've done, and you've got documentation to back up those deductions.