These popular tax deductions are still worth claiming

Among the many changes the 2017 tax law enacted are new limits on previously deductible items. But filers who typically itemized deductions in the past can still take some popular items as deductions on their 2018 tax return. If they total more than your standard deduction, you can cut your tax bill or increase your refund. Here are some that are still claimable:

Medical and dental expenses

This includes your unreimbursed expenses for medical and dental services and related equipment. It also includes the miles you drive to and from medical care at a rate of 18 cents per mile.

For taxpayers who expect to have a considerable amount of out-of-pocket medical expenses, this is a potentially valuable tax-saving opportunity. That’s because taxpayers who itemize can deduct qualifying medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2018. In 2019, the income threshold will return to 10 percent.

Taxes you paid

There was a big change to a popular deduction for state and local taxes, or SALT, which had been widely claimed by those reside in high-tax states. This deduction includes a range of taxes including income, real estate and sales tax. Although SALT can still be claimed, it will benefit fewer taxpayers in 2018 because the new tax law capped the deduction at a maximum of $10,000.

The rule still says you must choose between deducting sales or income tax but not both. Also, taxes paid on property owned outside the U.S. are no longer deductible.

Home mortgage interest

The deduction for interest you paid on loans secured by your home can still be claimed for 2018. In some cases, this deduction may now be limited, but most taxpayers won’t be affected by the new limits. In the past, you could deduct interest on mortgage loans of up to $1 million, if the mortgage was used to acquire a first or second residence. You could also deduct interest on home equity loans of up to $100,000.

The new law caps the limits on new loans used to buy a house to a total of $750,000, and it no longer allows the deduction for interest on new home equity loans (unless used for home improvements).

Many homeowners with mortgages and home equity loans taken out before 2018 won’t be affected because the old tax rules are still in place for them. Also, since the new limits don’t affect homeowners who take out a new mortgage of less than $750,000, not much changes here for most filers.   

Gifts to charity

The deduction for donations to charity was preserved, with a few changes. The AGI limitation on cash donations to qualified charities was expanded from 50 percent to 60 percent, so even larger donations will be deductible.

But if you donated to a college and received tickets to an athletic event, you’re now required to reduce the amount of your charitable donation deduction by the value of any tickets you receive. Surprisingly, this reduction wasn’t required in prior years.

Casualty and theft losses

You can still claim deductions for property losses you incurred — but only if the loss was due to a federal declared disaster. Previously, if you incurred uninsured losses of property due to any fire, flood, earthquake, vandalism, etc., your out-of-pocket costs over $100 and 10 percent of your AGI could be claimed as a deduction.

Source: © 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.