5 Deductions to Increase Your Tax Refund

It’s officially tax season in the US. I don’t know about you, but I’m already thinking about all the things I plan to put my return money toward this year, including some of these! But at the same time, I’m wishing I could just opt out of taxes altogether and have all the extra money year round. Anyone else?!

I recently read that the average tax return is nearly $3,000! That kind of blows my mind since my return never seems to get anywhere near that range, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to take advantage of any and all deductions I’m eligible for to increase my tax refund. I’m sure I can’t be the only one, so I’ve rounded up five deductions to help you increase your tax refund!

5 deductions to increase your tax refund


Are you in school or taking some non-degree seeking courses to expand your knowledge? You can deduct up to $4,000 in tuition-related expenses if you’re a student or up $2,000 per year for any skill-developing classes you take! And if you’re paying off student loans, that interest you’ve been paying is also able to be deducted (up to a certain amount)!

Your Home

This is one of the biggest reasons I’m excited to become a homeowner this year! If you own a house, you’re able to deduct your mortgage interest and property taxes, which are pretty big expenses! Also, if you make energy-saving improvements to your house, you’re eligible to deduct up to 30% of the total cost of installation!

Charitable Donations

Cash donations are a more obvious tax write-off, but did you know you can also deduct items you donated, such as clothes and furniture? And while you can’t deduct anything for volunteering your time, you can deduct travel expenses for your commute to the volunteer location! While you’re starting to do your new year/spring cleaning, be sure to get receipts from the charities you donate to and save them for next year’s taxes too!

Self-Employment/Remote Job

If you own your own business or work remotely, you’re able to deduct home office expenses, including a portion of your rent/mortgage and utilities. Additionally, if you’re a business owner, you can deduct subscriptions, office supplies, books, technology, travel, and any other expenses that help you run your business.


Parents – if you paid a daycare, babysitter, camp, or any other childcare expense for a child under 13, you’re eligible for a deduction of up to 35% of your care expenses up to $3,000 (1 child) or $6,000 (2+ children). I don’t have kids but I do know childcare is pretty pricey so this is a great one to take advantage of if you can.


I hope this info has been helpful for you in taking advantage of all of the tax deductions available to you! Please note that I’m not a tax expert by any means, so if you have questions specific to your case or are unsure if you’re eligible for a certain write off, I highly recommend reaching out to your accountant or consulting a tax expert!

Do you take advantage of these tax write-offs? What do you plan to put your return money toward this year?

May the odds be ever in your favor of a high tax return!

  • Tia

    My goal is to have my taxes taken care of early this year. I am working to make sure I do not miss any deductions, thanks for sharing your list.

    • Good for you! I always end up getting them done later in the season.. hopefully next year I’ll get them in a little earlier. Hope you’re able to find some more deductions this year!

  • Cue the crying as I generally always owe. You need to be very, very, careful with the self employment deductions for things that you get dual use out of. The rules around that are pretty tight.

    • Oh no! I think it’d be great if we could just get rid of taxes entirely, haha. You’re so right about them being complicated too. Why can’t they make it easy on us?!

  • Candy Kage

    These are great reminders as we all prepare to do the deadly taxes for the year. Will remind the husband as he always takes care of this.

    • Thanks, Candy! Here’s to hoping for a nice return!

  • In the past, I deducted my college related stuff and wow I got a big refund that year! My blog has been a “business” (according to IRS anyway) for a few years now, but I never buckled down enough to track my home office expenses.. but I’m doing that this year lol. Yay!

    • That’s awesome! There are definitely deductions I’ve missed out on over the years. I definitely need to take advantage of them all this time around!

  • Rachel Dean

    Thank you! I have two small businesses so I can deduct a lot of things.

  • Love these! So glad that I’m able to deduct certain things for my blog!

    • Aren’t they the best?! I’m so thankful for that too!

  • This is great! Definitely always a good thing to get some money back after you put so much in during the year! ;)

    • Totally agree! Time to start thinking about what to splurge on when the return comes back :)

  • I definitely take advantage of the child care and house deductions. I just with the child care deduction was more. Day care is EXPENSIVE!

    • Awesome! I don’t have kids but I’ve heard day care expenses are crazy! It’s a good thing they let you deduct for it!

  • Laina Turner

    $3000…no way:) I definitely don’t see that much. I’m always afraid to deduct something and get in trouble- haha. Great tips.

    • Right?! I’m not sure who gets that but it’s never been me, haha. They really need to make the tax stuff simpler!

  • Wow, great tips. I’d love to see a tax return that size.

    • Thanks, Kaitlyn! I would too! What’s crazy is they say that’s the average – which mean there are some people that get even more than that!

  • The self employment ones are huge for me nowadays!

    • I believe it! Hopefully you’ll get a good return!

  • I can’t even think about taxes this year without feeling overwhelmed! I hope we get a good refund this year.

    • Me too, girl! I’m really hoping to maximize my deductions to make it happen!

  • I’m not ready to think about taxes. My husband is self-employed so it’s always a process! We are homeowners for the first time so I’m interested to see how that plays into our return.

    • Me either! Do you do your own taxes? Hopefully the homeowner deductions will help you get a better return this year!

      • We gather all of the pieces and itemize everything but a CPA puts it all together for us. ;-)

  • Emily Bendler

    I definitely have education to deduct and mortgage payments. I have child care as well plus I produced an additional dependent last year, so I’m interested in seeing how that impacts my tax return!

    • That’s awesome! It sounds like you have some good deductions – hopefully that means a good return!

  • Abbey Phipps

    We bought a house this past year, so I’m excited to learn that we can deduct our property taxes! YEAH!

  • Sarah Jean

    This is the first year I have to keep track of blog expenses and income for my tax return. It is both daunting and exciting!

  • Courtney Patterson

    We have education and day care deductions so yeah – two excited people in our home! Show me the money!!

  • I used to stress out about tax seasons and taking advantage of all the write offs I could. Last year we decided to hire someone (my husband works in multiple states and it was too much for me!) and our refund tripled in size. Totally worth the small investment (which, btw, you can deduct the following year!)

    • Wow, really?! That’s crazy! I didn’t realize you could write off the accountant expenses. And tripling your return?! Totally worth it!

  • Last season was eye-opening as my husband and I filled together! After reading this I feel more prepared!

    • Thanks, Alexa! There always seems to be something new to learn each tax season!

  • Diana

    Thanks for the tips!! Very timely :)


    • Thanks, Diana! Hopefully you can take advantage of some of these!

  • Thanks for these tips! We bought our first home in 2016, so I’m curious to see what impact that will have on our tax return!

    • Hope you find them helpful, Erin! Let’s keep our fingers crossed for good returns this year!

  • Just in time. Having a panic attack over taxes!

    • They’re never fun to deal with :( Hopefully you can take advantage of some of these deductions!

  • Stephanay Jnote

    Yup. Education should be added. I was even surprised that you can deduct the books required for your classes from your taxes. That was something I missed for years until I wen tto a great accountant.

    • I learned the hard way about that too! I don’t even want to think about all of the money I missed out on over the years!

  • This was super-helpful! My hubby is in grad school and I am excited to know that we can deduct some of it!

    • Thanks, Kristin! Hopefully it’ll help out with your return this year!

  • Now that I’ve made real money off of my at-home travel agent job and blogging, I need to figure in all those expenses! It will take some time but hopefully it will pay off.

    • Sounds like you have a lot of expenses you can take advantage of this year! I definitely think they’ll pay off – literally!

  • The home deduction has me SO HYPED this year. I am ready for my refund. hahaha!

    Coming Up Roses

    • Woohoo! Hopefully you’ll get a fab return this year!

  • Kari Jonard

    Great tips! Thank you! I have just about all of the documents for this year.

    • Thanks, Kari! Good for you! Rounding up the docs is always crazy!

  • Feeling so sad to know you can use charitable donations….considering how many things I have donated! :( I will definitely know for next year, haha! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this!

    • You got it, girl! I definitely missed out on some deductions over the years. Now I’m ready to make sure I get them all – and you do too!

  • Dia

    Love the comic. I don’t know how you knew I was in need of this! I am excited that I’ll be able to deduct some of the course I’ve taken for my business this. I’m just hoping to break even lol

    • Yay! I hope your return ends up being even better than breaking even!

  • Hi, Rachel. Yes, tax time is here. For businesses (self-employed) they pay taxes quarterly AND on the 15th of April. Seems like a double tax but really it isn’t. Most people don’t notice the taxes they pay because it is usually taken out automatically by their employer.

    Freelancing has opened my eyes to why it’s tough for small businesses to stay afloat in high tax states like California.

    I’ve always like that little comic. LOL

    Enjoy your day,

    Sara @ SaraDuggan.me

    • It’s so complicated, isn’t it?! I think you really have to be on top of things year-round as a business owner vs. the spring scramble for things in the regular tax season that most people have!

      • Definitely. Quarterly taxes keeps you on your toes.

  • Aghhh tax time! I always feel like I’m ahead of the game until right about now when I realize I’m more behind than I realize ;) I’ve run my own businesses for about 12 years now and it really doesn’t get easier, but I’m all about deductions! This is a great list of them!

    • I’m so with you, Marlynn! Having owned your own business for so long you must really be in a good groove with knowing what you need to do (even if the gathering things part is a bit more complicated). Here’s to hoping for a great return!

  • Melissa Dow

    ”Tis the season for taxes… these are great tips! Thanks for sharing these.

    • Indeed it is! Thanks so much for reading, Melissa!

  • such great tips! thanks for putting this together Rachel!

    • You got it, girl! Hope you’re able to take advantage of some of these this year!

  • I can’t wait to buy my house this year just for the tax deductions haha. I’m sure it won’t make a difference until i’ve been a year though. Congrats on your house!

    • I’m SO with you, Leanna! Time to stop throwing our money away on rent!

  • This is super interesting! I work from home and should write off some of this!

    • Oh you definitely should! Hopefully you’ll see an increase in your return :)

  • Adriana

    Okay, I actually had NO IDEA you could deduct the interest on student loans! I just graduated in May 2016 and started paying off my loans in mid-September. My mom is an accountant so she does my taxes (thank GOD!) so I need to tell her this! AH!

    • Yeah! Definitely make sure you take advantage of as much as you can! So awesome that your mom’s an accountant and can help you out with all of it. It’s complicated stuff!

  • I dread tax season – I’m so bad at filing myself! These are great tips!

    • You and me both! Plus, there’s so much stuff to gather. I wish it was all automatic!

  • Education has been such a key deduction for me these past few years!

    ​xx katie // a touch of teal

    • That’s awesome! I missed out on it last year but definitely plan to take advantage this time around!