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Don’t overlook these tax deductions

2013 was a great year for many investors, but there's a downside. All those market gains may have left you with a lot more income to report.

Successful investing isn't exactly a problem, but it does mean that it's especially important not to overlook useful tax deductions when you prepare your paperwork for the IRS.

(Read more: Get busy: Advisors urge clients to be proactive with 2014 tax planning)

One of the most important things to do when calculating your possible deductions is to go over your major life changes in the past year. Many families go through events—divorce, a college graduate moving back home—that can make them eligible for important tax deductions.

"Dependents are probably my number one overlooked deduction," said Mark Steber, chief tax officer at Jackson Hewitt. "We live in a modern world with modern family rules. Dependents, whether they are your children or a spouse's parent or a foster child or an ex-spouse's child—make sure your tax expert understands both the rules and your situation."

A natural disaster can also leave you with a deduction. If you suffered a loss from an event that becomes a federally declared disaster, you can deduct the loss. Be careful, though: Any compensation from an insurer or someone else for the loss will reduce or eliminate your deduction.

(Read more: Munich Re expects more natural disasters)

"It's sheer speculation on my part, but I think a lot of taxpayers may accidentally deduct things that they don't realize are going to be paid by insurers," said Melissa Labant, director of tax advocacy for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. "They truly are trying to do the right thing, but they may not know that insurance is going to cover it."

If you donate goods in the course of a year, you can take deductions equal to their value. Just be careful not to be too generous in your valuations: The IRS and others publish guidelines on how much to deduct for clothing, household items and other goods you give away.

(Read more: It's the way you donate that counts)

Self employed workers, whose ranks have been swelling, have additional opportunities for deductions. For example, medical, dental, or long term care insurance costs may all be deductible.

"I'm not sure people realize how good that is," said Cathy Curtis, president of Curtis Financial Planning. "Now it's 100 percent of your premium. It's a fantastic benefit." You may also be able to deduct health insurance for an adult child under age 27.

Many of us have elderly parents to care for, and the government makes that just a little easier with a tax deduction. Taxpayers can claim a credit equal to a percentage of the work-related expenses—the payments that enable the taxpayer to work or continue working—for the caregiver. This credit can be as high as $3,000, according to Curtis. "I"m sure that is a biggie for a lot of people now," she said.

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