Buying Itemized Deductions
Yes, I said “BUY” deductions. They do cost you money, you know.
Did you know that our government has a FREE deduction for most of us?
That free deduction is called the STANDARD deduction. I say it’s ” free” because you don’t have to spend a dime to claim this one. The amount of your standard deduction does change from year to year and is based on your filing status. Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head-of-Household status – each one has a different standard deduction.
There are various categories of deductions that are allowable on 1040 tax return form Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. These different categories are:
- Medical and Dental Expenses
- Taxes You Paid
- Interest You Paid
- Gifts to Charity
- Casualty and Theft Losses
- Job Expenses and Certain Miscellaneous Deductions
- Other Miscellaneous Deductions
In deciding whether to take the standard deduction or whether to itemize deductions, I ask my clients if they own their own home. And if that answer is yes, I ask if they have a mortgage on their home. The reason…Interest paid on a home mortgage is usually the largest of deductions. If you own your own home, you also pay real estate taxes. If you live in a state that has an income tax, those taxes you paid or had withheld from your paycheck are deductible. Since there are states that do NOT impose an income tax, the government allows us to choose to deduct sales taxes paid instead of income taxes paid. And if you have a car, you may also be able to deduct the license plate registration fee.
Unusually large medical expenses can also shift you from taking the standard deduction to itemizing deductions. I tell my clients that this is NOT the big deduction I want them to have. Amounts you pay for medical insurance, doctor and dentist visits, prescriptions and lab fees are the common deductions. There are costs that are deductible and there are costs that are NOT deductible. How do you know which is which? Talk to your trusted tax advisor.
If you know you want to itemize, then you will also want to look at the gifts you gave to a qualifying charity during the year. These gifts can be money and they can be what I call “stuff.” Money does not just mean paid by cash. Money means cash, check, credit card. The important key is to get a RECEIPT for your gift. The Internal Revenue Service is paying much closer attention to this deduction because of fraudulent deductions claimed every year.
Deductions take money OUT of your pocket. Is your expense ordinary and necessary? Is your expense one you decided you needed only because you wanted to lower your tax bill?
Did you know that if you are in the 15% tax bracket and you spend $1000 on an “elective” deduction, you might save $150 of tax, but you are still out $1000! If you don’t need this deductible expense, don’t spend the $1000. Pay $150 more in taxes and you still have $850 in your pocket! If you have a choice, what is YOUR choice?