Should I Itemize Deductions?

Each taxpayer is allowed a "standard deduction", based on their filing status. The standard deductions are:

 
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
Single
$ 4,250
$ 4,300
$4,400
$4,550
$4,700
$4,750
Married Joint
$ 7,100
$ 7,200
$7,350
$7,600
$7,850
$9,500
Head of Household
$ 6,250
$ 6,350
$6,450
$6,650
$6,900
$7,000
Married Separate
$ 3,550
$ 3,600
$3,675
$3,800
$3,925
$4,750

Who Should Itemize

You should itemize deductions if your total deductions are more than the standard deduction amount. Also, you should itemize if you do not qualify for the standard deduction.

You should first figure your itemized deductions and compare that amount to your standard deduction to make sure you are using the method that gives you the greater benefit.

CAUTION! You may be subject to a limit on some of your itemized deductions if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is more than $139,500 ($69,750 if you are married filing separately). See IRS Publication 17, Chapter 22 and the instructions for Schedule A (Form 1040), line 28, for more information on figuring the correct amount of your itemized deductions.

When To Itemize

You may benefit from itemizing your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040) if you:

  1. Do not qualify for the standard deduction, or the amount you can claim is limited,
  2. Had large uninsured medical and dental expenses during the year,
  3. Paid interest and taxes on your home,
  4. Had large unreimbursed employee business expenses or other miscellaneous deductions,
  5. Had large uninsured casualty or theft losses,
  6. Made large contributions to qualified charities, or
  7. Have total itemized deductions that are more than the standard deduction to which you otherwise are entitled.
  8. If you decide to itemize your deductions, complete Schedule A and attach it to your Form 1040. Enter the amount from Schedule A, line 28, on Form 1040, line 37.

Itemizing for state tax or other purposes. If you choose to itemize even though your itemized deductions are less than the amount of your standard deduction, write “IE” (itemized elected) next to line 37 (Form 1040).

Changing your mind. If you do not itemize your deductions and later find that you should have itemized — or if you itemize your deductions and later find you should not have — you can change your return by filing Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Married persons who filed separate returns. You can change methods of taking deductions only if you and your spouse both make the same changes. Both of you must file a consent to assessment for any additional tax either one may owe as a result of the change.

You and your spouse can use the method that gives you the lower total tax, even though one of you may pay more tax than you would have paid by using the other method. You both must use the same method of claiming deductions. If one itemizes deductions, the other should itemize because he or she will not qualify for the standard deduction.



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