In order to understand what the best route would be for your personal tax return, let’s first address some basics:
- -The standard deduction is a flat-dollar amount set by the IRS. The amount is determined by your filing status and reduces your adjusted gross income (AGI). The new 2018 rates are:
- -Itemized deductions are specified deductible expenses. The most commonly used qualified expenses include, but are not limited to:
- Home mortgage interest
- Property, state, and local income taxes
- Charitable contributions
- Medical expenses
- -You can either take the standard deduction or itemized deductions, but not both.
- -It is recommended you use the method that gives you the highest deduction since these deductions reduce your taxable income. You should itemize deductions if your allowable itemized deductions are greater than your standard deduction or if you are required to itemize.
- -You are required to itemize if you are a non-resident alien or your filing status is married filing jointly and your spouse itemizes.
- -Itemized deductions may be limited and/or phased out if your adjusted gross income exceeds the threshold set by the IRS
In the past, people used to find that itemizing deductions was more beneficial. Due to the 2018 tax reform, many taxpayers are finding that the standard deduction is proving far more reliable than in past years. Those who find that they haven’t quite spent enough in charitable donations and home mortgage interest, as well as property and state taxes, will find that they will receive results by taking the standard deduction.
In previous years, the average figures when using itemized deductions far outweighed the past fixed amount from standard deductions. However, accountants are strongly suggesting their clients look more closely at claiming itemized deductions.
Here are some questions to ask when deciding whether to claim the standard deduction or itemized deductions:
- How much did you contribute to qualified charities?
- How much did you pay in mortgage interest?
- How much did you pay in property, state, and local income taxes?
- How much did you pay in large medical and dental expenses?
- How much did you spend on unreimbursed expenses as an employee?
- Did you have excessive casualty (flood, wind, fire) or theft losses? How much?
- Do your itemized deductions total more than the standard fixed amounts?
After considering all the items above, the main question boils down to: Do your itemized deductions listed above equal more than the standard deduction? If the answer is yes, then you should use Schedule A to itemize deductions. Otherwise, re-think using the standard deduction and embrace the higher rates set with the new tax reform.
To learn more about how the itemized deductions and standard deductions changed during the 2018 tax reform read “How the standard deduction and itemized deduction changed under the new law”
If you have any questions or concerns, here at Private Tax Solutions we aim to bring you peace of mind. Give us a call at 844- 774- 8829.