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How to Determine if You Can Itemize Tax Deductions

1.

Determine your filing status and the standard deduction for your status and age.

2.

Add together state and local income taxes, vehicle registration taxes and real estate taxes paid during the year.

3.

Total your home mortgage interest and points paid.

4.

Calculate both monetary contributions and the fair market value of goods donated to charitable organizations.

5.

Determine if you can deduct medical expenses. Multiply your total income by .075. Subtract that number from your total medical expenses to obtain the amount of your deduction.

6.

Determine if you have miscellaneous deductions. Multiply your total income by .02. Subtract that number from employee-related expenses and tax-preparation fees to obtain your deduction.

7.

If you had a personal casualty or theft loss, multiply your total income by .1, add $100, then subtract that total from your loss to obtain your deduction.

8.

Add together allowable deductions and compare the total with your standard deduction.

Tips and Warnings

  • If your itemized deductions come close to your standard deduction, reread IRS instructions or consult with an experienced tax preparer to see if you have overlooked any deductions.
  • Keeping records prevents omission of valid deductions and often puts you over the threshold.
  • Alternating use of the standard deduction and itemized deductions from year to year is permissible. Tax law allows you to use the most beneficial method.
  • You may be able to itemize for federal purposes only or for state purposes only. For example, high-income single persons can often itemize on their federal returns due to high state income taxes paid, but may not be able to itemize on the state return.
  • If you file married filing separately and your spouse itemizes, your standard deduction is zero. To claim any deduction, you must itemize. Keep records.


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