Internal Revenue Service

Back to: News
March 18, 2014
Follow News

To itemize or not to itemize your taxes

When you file your tax return, you usually have a choice whether to itemize deductions or take the standard deduction. Before you choose, it’s a good idea to figure your deductions using both methods. Then choose the one that allows you to pay the lower amount of tax. The one that results in the higher deduction amount often gives you the most benefit.

The IRS offers these six tips to help you choose.

Figure your itemized deductions. Add up deductible expenses you paid during the year. These may include expenses such as

Home mortgage interest

State and local income taxes or sales taxes (but not both)

Real estate and personal property taxes

Gifts to charities

Casualty or theft losses

Unreimbursed medical expenses

Unreimbursed employee business expenses

Special rules and limits apply. Visit and refer to Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax for more details.

Know your standard deduction. If you don’t itemize, your basic standard deduction for 2013 depends on your filing status:

Single $6,100

Married Filing Jointly $12,200

Head of Household $8,950

Married Filing Separately $6,100

Qualifying Widow(er) $12,20

Your standard deduction is higher if you’re 65 or older or blind. If someone can claim you as a dependent, that can limit the amount of your deduction.

Check the exceptions. Some people don’t qualify for the standard deduction and therefore should itemize. This includes married couples who file separate returns and one spouse itemizes.

Use the IRS’s ITA tool. Visit and use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool to help determine your standard deduction.

File the right forms. To itemize your deductions, use Form 1040 and Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. You can take the standard deduction on Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ.

File Electronically. You may be eligible for free, brand-name software to prepare and e-file your tax return. IRS Free File will do the work for you. Free File software will help you determine if you should itemize and file the right tax forms. It will do the math and e-file your return – all for free. Otherwise, you may file electronically

Stories you may be interested in

The Nevada Appeal Updated Mar 18, 2014 06:27PM Published Mar 18, 2014 06:27PM Copyright 2014 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.