Most taxpayers claim the standard deduction when they file their federal tax return. However, some filers may be able to lower their tax bill by itemizing when they file their 2017 tax return. Before choosing to take the standard deduction or itemize, it’s a good idea to figure deductions using both methods and choose the method with the most benefit. The IRS offers the following tips to help taxpayers decide:
- Figure Itemized Deductions. Taxpayers who itemize basically add up the year’s deductible expenses to arrive at their total deduction. Deductions include:
- 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 and employee business expenses above certain amounts
- Know the Standard Deduction. For taxpayers who don’t itemize, the standard deduction for 2017 depends on their filing status:
- Single — $6,350
- Married Filing Jointly — $12,700
- Head of Household — $9,350
- Married Filing Separately — $6,350
- Qualifying Widow(er) — $12,700
If a taxpayer is 65 or older, or blind, the standard deduction is more, but may be limited if another person claims that taxpayer as a dependent.
- Use IRS Free File. Taxpayers who earned $66,000 or less in 2017 qualify to use free, brand-name software to prepare and file their federal tax returns electronically. IRS Free File software helps taxpayers determine if they should itemize. Taxpayers who can’t use Free File have other e-file options.
- Check the Exceptions. There are some situations where the law doesn’t allow people to claim the standard deduction. This rule applies to married taxpayers who file separate returns, and either spouse itemizes. In this case, the standard deduction is zero and they should itemize any deductions.
- Use IRS.gov Tool. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov. There are several tools that can help people determine whether to itemize or take the standard deduction.
- File the Right Forms. For taxpayers to itemize their deductions, they must file Form 1040 and Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. Filers can take the standard deduction on Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ.