Each year, you have the option of taking the standard deduction or itemizing your deductions. Tax deductions for various expenses incurred during the tax year are itemized deductions. When they exceed the standard deduction, itemizing can drastically reduce your tax bill.

However, itemized deductions may not always be a good idea. Here's what you need to know about itemized deductions on your tax return.

What are itemized deductions?

Itemized deductions are expenses excluded from adjusted gross income to lower the amount of tax bill charged on an income. The key advantage is to reduce the amount of income to be taxed. And this is related to each filer's tax bracket.

For a filer within a certain tax bracket, itemized deduction exempts a certain percentage from tax. For example, a $100,000 income earner may claim an itemized deduction of $17,000. The $17,000 exempted from the gross income yields $83,000 taxable income.

Itemized deductions and standard deductions are close options but the latter is not accessible in all cases. Not all taxpayers are eligible for standard deductions, and in such cases, itemized deduction becomes a viable option. Common criteria for each of the options include the eligibility of an individual to choose a standard deduction and a host of other requirements. 

The Purpose and Nature of Itemized Deductions

Itemsized deductions fall under a different category than above-the-line deductions, such as self-employment expenses and student loan interest. A below-the-line deduction is a deduction from an individual's adjusted gross income (AGI). Taxes are calculated on the Internal Revenue Service's Schedule A, and then the total is carried over to your 1040 form.

irs form 1040 example

After itemized deductions have been subtracted from your income, the remaining amount is your taxable income. The government created itemized deductions as a social engineering tool to provide incentives for taxpayers to do certain things, such as buying houses and donating to charities.

What it Means to Have Itemized Deductions on Your Tax Return

Basically, itemized deductions are expenses that can lower your taxable income that are allowed by the IRS.

You can choose from a variety of individual tax deductions if you itemize on your tax return instead of taking the flat-dollar standard deduction.

Taxpayers can lower their taxable income with itemized deductions. These deductions come in a variety of forms.

When your standard deduction is less than your itemized deductions, you probably should itemize. Taking the standard deduction and saving some time might be worth it if your standard deduction is greater than your itemized deductions.

Standard vs Itemized Deductions

By far most individuals have the option to itemize deductions or choose the standard deductions; whichever applies to their status except for non-residents and wedded people who are documenting independently and must have similar deductions. 

The choice should rely on which deduction type brings down your tax the most.

In the event that the citizen is registering as "married, documenting independently", and their life partner separates, at that point, the citizen can't claim the standard deduction. At the end of the day, a citizen whose companion claims itemized deductions should follow suit or claim zero standard deduction. The citizen must keep records needed to prove the itemized deductions. 

info icon Helpful Resource: What is the Standard Deduction?

In the event that itemized deductions and the standard deduction don't contrast a lot, the citizen may take the standard deduction to lessen the chance of adjustments by the Internal Revenue Service. The amount of standard deduction can't be changed after a review except if the citizen's recording status changes. 

If the citizen is generally qualified to record a more limited tax document like 1040EZ or 1040A, the individual in question would not like to plan (or pay to set up) the more confounded Form 1040 and the related Schedule A for itemized deductions. 

The standard deduction doesn't take into account computing the alternative minimum tax. On the off chance that the citizen claims the standard deduction for a conventional income, the person can't claim deductions for the alternative minimum tax. Accordingly, for a citizen who pays the alternative minimum tax, (meaning their alternative minimum tax is higher than customary expense), it very well might be smarter to itemize deductions, regardless of whether it delivers an outcome that is not exactly the standard deductions.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Itemizing Deductions

Every year, you should pick between claiming or taking the standard deduction. A consistent investigation is necessary to make a decision since the admissible deduction and their sums once in a while change from year to year. 

Advantages of Itemized Deductions

The itemized deductions might surpass the standard deduction. You'll pay less in taxes if you can deduct more, so many people itemize - their itemized deductions exceed the standard deduction.

Hundreds of deductions are available. Taxpayers can deduct a lot of things from their taxes, including medical expenses, property taxes, charitable contributions, and mortgage interest. The list goes on and on.

In certain circumstances, itemizing is especially advantageous. For example, if you own your home, your itemized deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes may easily exceed the standard deduction, saving you money.

Disadvantages of Itemized Deductions

It is important to know the rules. There are some hurdles with itemized deductions, of course. For example, you can only deduct medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

Preparing your tax return may take more time. When preparing your returns, you will need to set aside time to prepare the big enchilada of tax forms: Form 1040 and Schedule A, as well as the supporting schedules that feed into those forms.

Evidence is required. All deductions should be substantiated. This requires organization and keeping records. Start saving your receipts and other proof of your deductions now if you normally take the standard deduction but will itemize next year.

What are some examples of itemized deductions?

The most common expenses that qualify for itemized deductions include:

Home loan interest on the first $750,000 of obligation—or $1 million, on the off chance that you purchased the home before Dec. 16, 2017 
Altruistic commitments 
Clinical and dental costs (more than 7.5% of AGI in 2020) 
State and neighborhood pay, in addition to either property or sales taxes up to $10,000 
Betting loses 
Interest on investments
Up to $2,500 in educational loan interest 
Up to $250 for instructors purchasing classroom supplies 

Deductions Exempt from Itemization

Home loan interest on credit sums more than $750,000—except if you purchased your home before Dec. 16, 2017 
State and neighborhood pay, deals, and individual local charges past $10,000 
Divorce settlement payment 
Moving costs
Unreimbursed employees costs 
Tax arrangement costs 
Catastrophic event misfortunes (except if in a governmentally announced hazardous situation) 

The rundown of costs that can be itemized is broad, however, there are new limits and prohibitions. 

You can, for instance, deduct contract interest on a credit of $750,000 or less for any home purchased on or after Dec. 16, 2017. Already, you could deduct interest on a home loan of $1 million or less. (You can in any case renegotiate a home under the old standards in the event that it was bought before Dec. 15, 2017.


Allowances are accounted for in the duty year wherein the qualified costs were paid. For instance, a yearly enrollment expense for an expert affiliation paid in December 2009 for the year 2010 is deductible in the year 2009. 

The United States has a nearly enormous and convoluted number of deductions inferable from strategy creators' inclination to go approach through the tax code.

Requests to see them occur on the off chance that you are reviewed. Extra verification of costs could incorporate bank articulations, protection charges, hospital expenses, and duty receipts from qualified altruistic associations. 

Beginning in 2018, the multiplying of the standard allowance made organizing charge derivations less worthwhile for some citizens. 

The choice should depend on the computation of which allowance type brings down your duty risk the most.

Should I itemize my deductions or take the standard deduction?

You may save money by itemizing if your standard deduction is less than your itemized deductions. You might consider taking the standard deduction instead of itemized deductions if the standard deduction is more than your itemized deductions.

Calculate both ways. Consider taking the time to answer all the questions about itemized deductions that might apply to you if you are using tax software. Using software or an accountant, you can run your return both ways to see which method results in a lower tax bill. In any case, even if you choose the standard deduction, you'll still come out ahead.

It is important to keep in mind that you will lose the standard deduction if you itemize. When adding up your itemized deductions, make sure your itemized deductions total is greater than your standard deduction amount for your filing status. You will probably pay more tax if you itemize if it's not.

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