When you file your taxes, you have the option to claim either the standard deduction for your filing status or the sum of your itemized deductions. If you only have a few small itemized deductions, it might not be worth giving up your standard deduction. However, once you decide to itemize, there's nothing holding you back from claiming all the itemized deductions you're entitled to, regardless of how small they are.
You can deduct qualified medical expenses in excess of a threshold percentage of your adjusted gross income. Qualified expenses include costs you aren't reimbursed for -- these can include costs for health insurance, doctor's appointments, preventative care, treatments, surgeries and other necessary medical treatments. You can include not only the costs you pay for yourself, but also costs for your spouse and dependents.
You can deduct various state, local and foreign taxes when you itemize your deductions. You have the option to deduct either the state and local income taxes or state and local sales taxes. You can also deduct state, local and foreign real estate taxes and state and local personal property taxes as long as the taxes are based on the value of your property and assessed annually. All of these taxes must be paid during the year. For example, if you pay your 2012 state income taxes in 2013, that payment is deductible on your 2013 tax return.
The mortgage interest allows you to write off interest on up to $1 million -- $500,000 if married filing separately -- of home acquisition debt. Home acquisition debt includes any debt you take on to buy, build or improve your home that is secured by the home. If you have home equity debt, which is debt for which you pledged your home as collateral and which you didn't use to buy the home, you can deduct the interest on up to $100,000 -- $50,000 if married filing separately -- of that debt.
When you donate money or property to a qualified charitable organization, such as a temple, orphanage or non-profit school or hospital, you can deduct the value of those donations on your taxes. However, your deduction is limited to no more than 50 percent of your adjusted gross income, though this limit is lower for certain types of charities and certain types of donations. In addition, certain contributions cannot be deducted, such as donations of your time or donations made to specific individuals rather than organizations.
Theft and Casualty Losses
You can deduct certain qualifying theft and casualty losses when you itemize your deductions that aren't reimbursed by insurance. For example, you can take a deduction if a tornado destroys your car or a robber steals valuables from your home, but you cannot take a deduction for normal wear and tear. When figuring the deduction, you have to deduct $100 from each occurrence and then subtract 10 percent of your adjusted gross income from the total. For example, if you lose $20,000 from hail damage to your home and you receive no reimbursement from an insurance company, and if your adjusted gross income is $100,000, you could deduct $9.900.
- Internal Revenue Service: Topic 502 - Medical and Dental Expenses
- Internal Revenue Service: Topic 503 - Deductible Taxes
- Internal Revenue Service: Publication 936 - Home Mortgage Interest Deduction
- Internal Revenue Service: Topic 515 - Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Losses (Including Federally Declared Disaster Areas)
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