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Itemizing vs. Standard Deduction; IRS gives Five Tips to Help You Choose

Internal Revenue Service - IRSWashington, D.C. – When you file your tax return, you usually have a choice whether to itemize deductions or take the standard deduction. Before you choose, it’s a good idea to figure your deduction using both methods.

Then choose the one that allows you to pay the lower amount of tax.

The IRS offers these five tips to help you choose.

Five Tips

1. Figure your itemized deductions.  Add up deductible expenses you paid during the year. These may include expenses such as:

  • Home mortgage interest
  • State and local income taxes or sales taxes (but not both)
  • Real estate and personal property taxes
  • Gifts to charities
  • Casualty or theft losses
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses
  • Unreimbursed employee business expenses

Special rules and limits apply. Visit IRS.gov for more details.

2. Know your standard deduction.  If you don’t itemize, your basic standard deduction for 2013 depends on your filing status:

  • Single $6,100
  • Married Filing Jointly $12,200
  • Head of Household $8,950
  • Married Filing Separately $6,100
  • Qualifying Widow(er) $12,200

Your standard deduction is higher if you’re 65 or older or blind. If someone can claim you as a dependent, that can limit the amount of your deduction.

3. Check the exceptions.  Some people don’t qualify for the standard deduction and should itemize. This includes married couples who file separate returns and one spouse itemizes. Visit IRS.gov and use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool to help you determine your standard deduction.

4. File the right forms.  To itemize your deductions, use Form 1040 and Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. You can take the standard deduction on  Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ.

5. Use IRS e-file.  IRS e-file is the easiest way to file because the tax software does the work for you. It will help you decide if you should itemize or not. It will also help you figure the correct amount and complete the right forms.

For more information about itemizing deductions, visit www.IRS.gov.


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