A tax break for pesky baggage fees -- yes, really!

Airlines seem to revel in driving travelers batty with extra fees for baggage, online booking and for changing travel plans.

Airline companies made a whopping $11 billion off of additional fees in 2015. And with premium economy seating, onboard meals, priority boarding and Wi-Fi services on the rise, airlines are expected to continue to beat that number year over year.

Several airlines like American and United have already announced extra fees for carry-on luggage for "basic economy" seats in 2017.

If you get burned by the extra costs, maybe Uncle Sam can help ease the pain. If you're self-employed and traveling on business, you can actually include those costs to your deductible travel expenses when filing for your tax return -- but be extremely careful when writing them off.

"The IRS does look closely at business travel expenses, because there is a lot of room for manipulation, the most common method being grouping personal travel expenses in with business travel expenses," Mark Minassian, a certified public accountant at Minassian Associates in Waltham, Mass, told USA Today.

Here's the bottom line -- anything that relates to your business is fair game. That includes airfare, gasoline, baggage fees, toll fees, taxis, lodging, meals, phone calls, dry cleaning and supplies -- but be meticulous in keeping track of your expenses, as you may be asked to substantiate your claim.

RELATED: How to avoid the worst fees in America

Worst fees in America — and how to avoid them
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Worst fees in America — and how to avoid them

Overdraft Fees

Spending or withdrawing more money than what's in your checking account will trigger a hefty overdraft penalty from your bank, even if you were short by just a few cents. Typical overdraft charges range from roughly $25 to $35.

How to avoid overdraft fees: Be hyper-vigilant about your account balance, and monitor your finances at all times. You can also use strategies to get the overdraft fee waived.

ATM Fees

Because banks prefer their customers to stay within their network, there will likely be a fee tacked on to a withdrawal you make from a different bank. But the worst part is you might be charged two fees for using an out-of-network ATM -- one by your bank, and the other by the bank whose ATM you're using.

How to avoid ATM fees: Stay within your network. If you find yourself constantly searching for a nearby ATM, find a local credit union that offers access to a shared network of ATMs. Or, switch to a bank that offers some type of ATM fee reimbursement. Ally, Bank of Internet USA and EverBank, for example, will do this if you meet certain requirements.

Checking Account Fees

Many banks put pressure on consumers to maintain a minimum monthly balance in their checking accounts; fall below the amount they specify, and you could be charged a fee.

How to avoid checking account fees: Protecting yourself from this fee might involve finding a bank account with lower requirements. Account holders of Capital One's 360 Checking, for example, don't have to pay any fees or minimums.

Early Account Closure Fees

Many people also don't realize that their bank will require them to keep their savings or checking account open for a minimum amount of time (often 90 to 180 days). Closing it before this grace period could subject them to an inconvenient fee -- sometimes as much as $50, depending on the bank.

How to avoid early account closure fees: If you have regrets about opening an account, minimize your activity and keep the account alive for as long as it takes to avoid being penalized. You can also close your account for free -- if you follow these four basic steps.

Statement Copy Fees

If you want an additional copy of a bank statement, you might have to pay for it. Some banks might charge you a few bucks if you pick it up at a branch or ask the bank to mail it to you. Or, the cost might be as much as $25 for a statement with check copies and deposit reconstructions.

How to avoid statement copy fees: Make your own copies of each bank statement you receive.

Paper Statement Fees

Some banks charge customers if they want to keep receiving paper statements. And some give account holders certain incentives, like higher interest rates, for going paperless.

How to avoid paper statement fees: Sign up for paperless, electronic statements. You'll save money, help the environment and have better access to your money 24/7.

Credit Card Fees

Credit cards are notorious for charging fees: annual fees, balance transfer fees, late fees and more. Sometimes, the fees are small. Other times, they can be a few hundred dollars, depending on your balance and the type of credit card you have.

How to avoid credit card fees: Always ask about the fees that come with your credit card. For example, does your credit card have a $0 annual fee? Or, if it's a card that comes with premium perks, you might have an annual fee that's more than $400. To better your chances of getting a low-fee credit card, take these steps before applying for one.

Debit Card Replacement Fees

Losing your debit card is a headache, but adding insult to injury is the fact that you might have to pay to replace it.

How to avoid debit card replacement fees: Keep careful watch of your debit card and don't lose it. If you do, try to take out cash through a teller and be patient until your replacement card arrives.

Wire Transfer Fees

Wire transfer fees are usually between $15 and $35, depending on the bank and where the money is going. Foreign wire transfers can easily pass the $50 mark.

How to avoid wire transfer fees: Alternative payment methods like PayPal or the old-fashioned paper check are fee-free ways to send money.

Deposited Item Returned Fees

Now you see some money, now you don't -- and now you've been charged a fee for it. A deposited item returned fee penalizes the recipient of a check when the check writer doesn't have enough funds in his account to cover the transaction.

How to avoid deposited item returned fees: The best recourse you can take to bypass this fee is to contact the check writer first to verify that he has enough funds to clear the transaction. Should you be charged this fee in the future, negotiate with your bank, much like you would with an overdraft. Some financial institutions might realize you weren't really at fault, especially if you have a good track record with them.

Early Withdrawal Fees

Certificates of deposit (CD) accounts are great financial tools to build your savings long term because they tend to offer higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts. The catch: You're usually required to leave your money in the account for a specified amount of time. If you withdraw your money before your CD's term ends, you can get hit with a withdrawal penalty fee.

How to avoid early withdrawal fees: Once you sign up for a CD account, it'll be difficult to avoid the penalty if you withdraw your funds too soon. Your best bet is to find a no-penalty CD.

Investment Fees

You might stand to earn some money on that new investment, but you'll also lose some in fees. According to Advisory HQ, investors are typically charged about 1 percent each year on their first $1 million being managed.

How to avoid investment fees: Cutting your costs and fees might be as simple as looking for a new advisor with cheaper rates. Or, try a new investment approach.

Ticket Change Fees

Changing or canceling your airplane ticket at the last minute can be so expensive that the price you paid for your flight might seem like pennies compared to what you'll pay in fees. For example, Delta Airlines might charge you $200 if you change your ticket.

How to avoid ticket change fees: Planning your schedule ahead of time minimizes the chances of a ticket cancellation fee. But in the event that your itinerary is prone to spontaneity, choose an airline that doesn't charge ticket change fees -- like Southwest.

See: Hidden Fees Airlines Charge You

Baggage Fees

Many airlines charge baggage fees, and many raise those fees for extra and overweight luggage. It's not just checked baggage, either; some airlines charge for carry-on bags as well.

How to avoid baggage fees: Unless you can find a way to travel with only the clothes on your back, pack light to reduce your fees. Items like toiletries and other essentials that weigh your baggage down can easily be purchased once you reach your destination. And, of course, find an airline with no baggage fees.

Airline WiFi Fees

While that cross-continental trip might be the perfect opportunity to get some work done, prepare to pay for your internet connection. American Airlines and Delta, for example, both charge $16 for an all-day pass on domestic flights.

How to avoid airline WiFi fees: If your business is that imperative, take advantage of free WiFi at the airport. Or, book your flight with an airline that's offering a free WiFi promotion.

Pet Travel Fees

We want our pets to travel with the same comforts we have, and airlines won't let us spare any expenses. Depending on your airline, pet travel fees can cost more than $100. 

How to avoid pet travel fees: Is it possible to leave your pet at home with a family member or friend while you're away? Look into options at home before you bring your pet with you.

Unaccompanied Minor Fees

Even the most well-behaved, low-maintenance children aren't exempt from the high unaccompanied minor fee. Pass over American and United if you don't want to pay a $150 fee.

How to avoid unaccompanied minor fees: Do your research before booking. As always, price compare airlines to see which one offers the lowest fees.

Room WiFi Fees

WiFi connectivity is a luxury -- even at a luxury hotel. Depending on where you stay, you could possibly spend an extra $15 or so per day for internet access in your room.

How to avoid hotel WiFi fees: Research the hotel chains you're interested in, compare their in-room internet prices -- and aim lower.

Find Out: 20 Secret Ways to Save on Your Next Hotel Stay

Resort Fees

The dreaded resort fee is one of the worst. Costing you as much as $50 at some hotels, resort fees are especially annoying because you'll still incur them even if you don't take advantage of the hotel's amenities, such as WiFi or the gym.

How to avoid resort fees: Call ahead to any hotel or resort you're considering, and ask if it charges a resort fee. If the answer is yes, pass on staying there.

Gratuity Fees

What once was optional is now typically expected. Depending on where you stay, gratuities might be mandatory.

How to avoid gratuity fees: See if your hotel or resort offers all-inclusive packages that include gratuities. And don't pay twice in gratuity. Always ask if your hotel charges a mandatory gratuity fee before leaving extra cash out for housekeeping.

Shipping Fees

Online shopping is convenient, but it can get pretty expensive -- especially if you have to pay a shipping fee of $20 or more on top of your expensive purchase.

How to avoid shipping fees: Sometimes, you can get free shipping during a retailer's promotional period or if you spend a specific dollar amount. But, you can always pay less for shipping if you shop at retailers that offer year-round free shipping.

Facility Fees

Visits to the doctor's office or hospital can be pricey, even if you have insurance. But another expense, known as the "facility fee," could increase the price of your medical bill even more. These fees are used to cover hospital stays, lab tests, X-rays and more.

How to avoid facility fees: Protect yourself from the possibility of incurring a facility fee by looking up the medical centers in your area. Their websites should have information on the services, costs and fees they charge. Also, double-check with your healthcare provider to see if it covers these fees under your plan.

Early Termination Fees

If you choose to break your cellphone contract and cancel your service before your term ends, you might have to pay an early termination fee. This fee can range from around $150 to more than $300, depending on your carrier.

How to avoid early termination fees: The Federal Communications Commission suggests finding out as much as you can about a carrier's ETF, how much it costs and if it's prorated. Also, ask about trial periods, which typically allow customers service without any ETFs.

Activation or Upgrade Fees

You might have to pay an upgrade fee if you purchase a new mobile device to replace an old device, or an activation fee when you get a new line of service. Verizon, for example, charges a $30 upgrade fee. And, AT&T charges $20 for activation and upgrade fees if your device was purchased with an installment agreement.

How to avoid activation fees: Check with your cellphone provider about any fees before you make changes to your plan. And don't forget to look into more affordable plans.

College Application Fees

It's no secret that attending college is expensive, but prospective university-bound students should keep in mind that they'll be paying for their education even before setting foot on campus. Apply to several schools on your short list, and application fees can really add up. Stanford, Columbia and Yale all charge fees ranging from $80 to $90, for example.

How to avoid college application fees: Don't apply to a school you wouldn't want to go to. By narrowing down your list of favorite colleges, you'll reduce the number of applications and save money.

Student Exchange Fees

Studying abroad can be a valuable experience, but it's also an expensive endeavor. According to ExchangeStudentWorld.com, the cost of a year-long exchange typically ranges between $9,000 and $10,000.

How to avoid student exchange fees: If your heart is set on an exchange program, look into alternate funding methods. Look for groups that sponsor local students, and don't forget to look into scholarships that can help ease the financial cost.

Test Registration Fees

Getting into graduate school is all about the testing, and those fees alone are enough to send anyone into the red. To take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), you'll pay a $205 fee. Register late, and pay an extra $25; change your testing location, and tack on another $50.

How to avoid test registration fees: These fees are as standard as the test itself, but they're also only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to paying for graduate school. Undergrads who are serious about continuing their education should start saving up for the inevitable test -- and take studying for it very seriously. And ask yourself: Is graduate school really worth it?

Sorority and Fraternity Fees

For many, joining a fraternity or sorority is part of the college experience. But before rushing in, remember that pledging isn't cheap. Depending on the organization, you can expect to pay a few thousand dollars in fees.

How to avoid sorority and fraternity fees: Really ask yourself if Greek fees are worth it. If the answer is yes, there's not much you can do to avoid it. But, picking up a part-time job and learning how to budget can help you afford them.

HOA Fees

HOA fees are like the resort fees of homeownership. Residents of gated communities, condominiums and the like typically belong to a homeowners' association (HOA) and owe between $200 and $400 per month for neighborhood, building, pool or tennis court upkeep and other amenities. The more exclusive the community, the higher the fees.

How to avoid HOA fees: When house hunting in an HOA community, find out what your monthly dues are. It's also recommended to ask for a record of community HOA fees over the last several years to track how they've increased over time.

Mortgage Junk Fees

Nothing is worse than making the investment of buying a new home and being saddled with a bunch of "junk fees." These can include application and inspection fees, underwriting fees, processing fees and more, according to Realtor.com.

How to avoid mortgage junk fees: Understand all of the estimated costs of getting a mortgage loan. Ask for a loan estimate, which should include your interest rate, monthly payment, total closing costs and more, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This form will help you compare loans and pick the best mortgage for your situation.


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