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What to Know About Itemized Deductions & How They Work?

What to Know About Itemized Deductions & How They Work?

Tax season has many people wondering what itemized deductions are and their role in tax preparation. Itemized deductions offer an alternative to standard deductions and can reduce taxable income. Some standard deductions may not consider one-time taxes or tax filings, but itemized deductions may change your tax liability.

Once you understand how itemized deductions work and see some examples of itemized deductions, you'll be able to determine if they might be useful for your taxes or if a standard deduction might be the best option.


How do itemized deductions work?

To itemize something is to present it in distinct and separate parts in a list rather than presenting them as a complete unit. Therefore, the itemized tax deductions on the federal income tax return are a record of the specific expenses and deductions you wish to claim. This is different from the standard deduction, known as the standard deduction, which is an easier way to claim tax deductions because you don't have to provide a list of all itemized deductions.

Taxpayers who wish to itemize their deductions must submit a Schedule A tax form along with Form 1040. Be prepared to provide a list, while saving documents or records, of eligible expenses if you intend to itemize deductions, including mortgage interest and property taxes.


Examples of Itemized Deductions

There are several common examples of itemized deductions to choose from. Please note that they may be modified each financial year, as well as other elements of tax legislation. Here are current examples of expenses eligible for an itemized deduction:

  • Charitable donations

  • Gambling Losses 

  • Losses due to casualties or theft

  • National and local taxes

  • Property taxes

  • Residential Mortgage Interest

  • Unreimbursed medical expenses (including dental expenses)

These are some of the common expenses you can list as deductions. There may be others that apply to your personal financial situation.


When does it make sense to itemize deductions?

People who itemize deductions usually do so because it results in a lower tax burden than they would receive with the standard deduction. Itemizing items can make sense when the itemized deduction total is greater than the standard deduction amount. This can happen if there are occasional events, such as flight losses or unusually high medical bills.

Some taxpayers may not be able to use the standard deduction. For example, if you are married and you are filing separately from your spouse, and your spouse itemizes the deductions, you will also need to itemize the deductions. Nonresident aliens or those with dual-status during the relevant tax year may also be required to itemize their deductions. If you are not sure whether to itemize or go for the standard deduction, consider contacting a financial or tax professional.


Standard Deductions vs. Itemized Deductions

Itemizing deductions is an alternative to the standard deduction when filing a tax return. This may be a better measure if it results in a lower level of taxable income than you would get with the standard deduction.

  • Itemized deductions: a list of expenses and losses accumulated during a year that can be included in taxable income. Sometimes itemized deductions can reduce adjusted gross income more than the standard deduction.

  • Standard Deduction: A certain amount of money that reduces taxable income for that fiscal year. The standard deduction is often easier to account for than itemized deductions, which require more record-keeping.

The default deduction varies by registration status. Couples who present themselves together benefit from a higher standard allowance than those who present themselves as single or heads of household. Also, you cannot make the standard deduction and the itemized deductions at the same time. You must choose an option when filing your returns.

The default deduction number may change each year. For example, the default deduction for the fiscal year 2021 was lower than for the fiscal year 2022:

  • Tax year 2022: $12,950 (for single or married filing separately); $19,400 (for head of household); $25,900 (for married filing jointly)

  • Fiscal year 2021: $12,550 (for single or married filing separately); $18,800 (for head of household); $25,100 (for married filing jointly)


Speak to a tax professional to choose the right one for you

Contact a tax professional if you are unsure whether itemized deductions are right for you. They can help you determine whether it would be better to itemize or go with the standard deduction based on your finances and other relevant circumstances. Knowing how to manage your deductions can help put you in the strongest possible position before you file your tax return, reducing your taxable income as much as possible.


Summary

  • Itemized deductions are an alternative to the standard IRS tax deduction.

  • Sometimes, itemizing deductions may reduce adjusted gross income more than the standard deduction, which may result in lower tax payable.

  • Not everyone can claim a standard deduction, so itemizing is needed.


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