The Internal Revenue Service isn't particularly generous toward single taxpayers who have no children or other dependents and who aren't homeowners. If you fall into this category, you'll pay taxes on a lot of the money you earn. If you choose to itemize your taxes, you can qualify for a few deductions, but taking them might not save you tax dollars.
The Standard Deduction
The Internal Revenue Service gives taxpayers the option of claiming a standard deduction or itemizing several other available deductions. You can't do both. The standard deduction for a single taxpayer for the 2012 tax year is $5,950. If you don't have this much in itemized deductions, you'll pay taxes on more income if you itemize. Both the standard deduction and itemized deductions come off your taxable income, reducing it. Most taxpayers use the standard deduction, but you'll want to choose the option that lowers your taxable income the most.
If you elect to itemize your deductions, you can subtract from your income some of the money you spend for medical care, dental care and health insurance premiums. Your total medical deductions must add up to more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, and you can only deduct the costs above that figure. For example, if 7.5 percent of your AGI is $4,500, and if your total medical expenses for the year are $4,750, you can deduct $250. You can only deduct your insurance premiums if you pay them yourself; anything your employer contributes doesn't count.The 7.5 percent threshold increases to 10 percent in 2013.
Business and Employment Expenses
Whether you're self-employed or work for an employer, you can deduct some costs of working or doing business. If you're self-employed, you can deduct a wide array of business costs, and you can take the standard deduction as well. Your business-related deductions are listed on Schedule C, not as regular itemized deductions on your return. If you work for someone else, your deductions are limited to unreimbursed expenses you incur in doing your job that add up to more than 2 percent of your AGI. Mileage is deductible for both self-employed and employed taxpayers, but it doesn't include commuting. Miles you drive to get to your place of business or employment don't count.
If you're detail-oriented and don't mind saving up all your receipts for the year and tallying up the sales tax portions, you can deduct this as well. Both state and local sales taxes are deductible when you itemize, as well as any taxes you pay your state for your vehicle. You can also deduct what you paid in state income tax. However, you have to make a choice. If you deduct the sales taxes you paid during the year, you can't deduct your income tax as well.
If you're the generous sort and if you itemize your deductions, you can include any charitable contributions you make during the tax year. The IRS imposes some rules, however. You must make the gift to a qualified charitable organization, not to a friend, family member or other individual. If you receive anything in return for the gift, you must subtract its fair market value from your donation. For example, if you win a $1,000 television in an auction for charity, and if your high bid was $350, you can't deduct the $350 because it's less than the TV's value. If the television is worth $300, you can deduct $50. Individual contributions exceeding $250 require signed confirmation from the charity.
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.