1. TurboTax /
  2. Tax Calculators & Tips /
  3. Tax Tips Guides & Videos /
  4. IRS Tax Return /
  5. What Is My Income Tax Deduction Based On?

What Is My Income Tax Deduction Based On?

Updated for Tax Year 2019


OVERVIEW

Tax deductions allow you to reduce the amount of your income that is subject to income tax. These deductions are based on a variety of factors. Some relate to expenses you pay during the year while others are fixed by the government and have no relation to any costs you incur. Since each deduction has different criteria, the amount you claim is also based on whether you can satisfy all of the requirements.


Above the line deductions

The tax laws allow a number of deductions from your gross, or total, income to arrive at your adjusted gross income, or AGI. If you qualify for any of these deductions, they are generally deductible regardless of whether you claim the standard or itemized deduction. A couple of these deductions include student loan interest and deductible contributions to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).

Often, these deductions are limited if your modified adjusted gross income amount is too high. In 2018 for example, you can deduct up to $2,500 of student loan interest payments if your MAGI is less than $65,000. Your MAGI equals the AGI you report on your tax return increased by the amount of your student loan interest deduction. In other words, it is what your AGI would be if you did not claim a deduction for student loan interest.

Below the line deductions

There are many deductions that are only available when you qualify to itemize. Many of these deductions will face separate limits that are determined by your AGI. For example, your annual charitable contribution deduction cannot exceed 50 percent of your AGI. A second example is your medical expense deductions you report as part of your itemized deductions. For 2017 and 2018, these expenses are only deductible on the portion that exceeds 7.5 percent of your AGI.  Beginning in 2019, these expenses have to exceed 10 percent of your AGI before the first dollar is deductible. Using your AGI as a limitation ensures that you cannot eliminate your entire tax bill through deductions.

Claiming exemptions

Through 2017, each dependent you claim on the return allows you to reduce your taxable income by a set exemption amount. For example, if during 2017 you have two minor children who reside with you and for whom you provide all financial support, claiming both of them as dependents allows you to take two exemptions. These exemptions work like deductions in that they reduce your taxable income by $8,100 ($4,050 for each child). However, you may not claim any dependents, even for your children, if you are eligible to be a dependent of another taxpayer.

Beginning in 2018, there are no longer any dependent exemption deductions. Instead, you can claim a credit for each person that is claimed as a dependent.

Your filing status and deductions

Every taxpayer who does not itemize their deductions is eligible to claim a standard deduction. Federal law determines the amount of these deductions each year and bases the amount you can claim on your filing status.

In 2019, if you file single or married filing separately, your standard deduction is $12,200; if head of household the amount increases to $18,350. If you are married and file a joint return, your combined standard deduction with your spouse is $24,400.

When evaluating whether to itemize your deductions instead of taking the standard deduction, you must compare your total expenses to the appropriate standard deduction amount for your filing status. If your itemized deductions exceed the standard deduction, then you can usually enhance your tax savings by itemizing and attaching a Schedule A to your tax return.

When you prepare your taxes with TurboTax, we’ll recommend the filing status that gets you the best tax outcome.

Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $60$40*
Start for Free

Looking for more information?

* Important Offer Details and Disclosures

TURBOTAX ONLINE/MOBILE

  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. $0 federal (for simple tax returns) + $0 state + $0 to file offer only available with TurboTax Free Edition; offer may change or end at any time without notice. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice. Savings and price comparisons based on anticipated price increase. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.

  • QuickBooks Self-Employed Offer with TurboTax Self-Employed and TurboTax Live Self-Employed: To receive your complimentary subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed through 4/30/21, you must pay for your 2019 TurboTax Self-Employed or TurboTax Live Self-Employed return by 4/15/20 and sign-in and access your QuickBooks Self-Employed account via mobile app or at https://selfemployed.intuit.com/turbotax at least twice by 7/15/20. You will have the option of renewing your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription by 4/30/21 for another year at the then-current subscription rate. You may cancel your subscription at any time from within the QuickBooks Self-Employed billing section. See QuickBooks.com for price comparison. Offer not valid for existing QuickBooks Self-Employed subscribers already on a payment plan.

  • Pays for itself (TurboTax Self-Employed): Estimates based on deductible business expenses calculated at the self-employment tax income rate (15.3%) for tax year 2019. Actual results will vary based on your tax situation.

  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard data rates apply to download and use mobile app.

  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary. The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.

  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: A $40 Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.

  • TurboTax Help and Support: Access to a TurboTax specialist is included with TurboTax Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed and TurboTax Live; not included with Free Edition (but is available as an upgrade). TurboTax specialists are available to provide general customer help and support using the TurboTax product. SmartLook on-screen help is available on a PC, laptop or the TurboTax mobile app. Service, area of expertise, experience levels, wait times, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.

  • Tax Advice, Expert Review and TurboTax Live: Access to tax advice and Expert Review (the ability to have a Tax Expert review and/or sign your tax return) is included with TurboTax Live or as an upgrade from another version, and available through December 31, 2020. These services are provided only by credentialed CPAs, Enrolled Agents (EAs) or tax attorneys. Some tax topics or situations may not be included as part of this service, which shall be determined in the tax expert’s sole discretion. For TurboTax Live, if your return requires a significant level of tax advice or actual preparation, the tax expert may be required to sign as the preparer at which point they will assume primary responsibility for the preparation of your return. Intuit may offer a Full Service product to some customers. For the Full Service product, the tax expert will sign your return as preparer. Administrative services may be provided by assistants to the tax expert. Payment by federal refund is not available when a tax expert signs your return. On-screen help is available on a desktop, laptop or the TurboTax mobile app. Unlimited access to TurboTax Live CPAs and EAs refers to an unlimited quantity of contacts available to each customer, but does not refer to hours of operation or service coverage. Service, area of expertise, experience levels, wait times, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.

  • Smart Insights and My Docs features: Included with TurboTax Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed, TurboTax Live or with PLUS benefits and is available through 10/31/2021. Terms and conditions may vary and are subject to change without notice.

  • Tax Return Access: Included with all TurboTax Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed, TurboTax Live or prior year PLUS benefits customers and access to up to the prior seven years of tax returns we have on file for you is available through 10/31/2021. Also included with TurboTax Free Edition after filing your 2019 tax return. Terms and conditions may vary and are subject to change without notice.

  • Easy Online Amend: Included with TurboTax Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed, TurboTax Live or with PLUS benefits. Make changes to your 2019 tax return online for up to 3 years after it has been filed and accepted by the IRS through 10/31/2022. Terms and conditions may vary and are subject to change without notice.

  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2018 TurboTax products.

  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.

  • CompleteCheck: Covered under the TurboTax accurate calculations and maximum refund guarantees.

  • TurboTax is the #1 rated "easiest to use" and the "tax software with the best advice and options": Based on independent comparison of the best online tax software by TopTenReviews.com from June 12, 2019

  • Get tips from Turbo based on your tax and credit data to help get you to where you want to be: Tax and credit data accessed upon your consent.

  • 1099-MISC Snap and Autofill: Included in TurboTax Self-Employed and TurboTax Live Self-Employed. Available in mobile app only. Covers 1099-MISC within Schedule C. Feature currently available for new TurboTax filers with 1099-MISC income.

  • Year-Round Tax Estimator: Included in TurboTax Self-Employed and TurboTax Live Self-Employed only. This product feature is only available for use until after you finish and file in a self-employed product.

TURBOTAX GUARANTEES

  • 100% Accurate Calculations Guarantee: If you pay an IRS or state penalty or interest because of a TurboTax calculation error, we’ll pay you the penalty and interest.

  • Maximum Refund Guarantee - or Your Money Back: If you get a larger refund or smaller tax due from another tax preparation method, we'll refund the applicable TurboTax federal and/or state purchase price paid. TurboTax Online Free Edition customers are entitled to payment of $30.

  • 100% Accurate Expert Approved Guarantee: If you pay an IRS or state penalty (or interest) because of an error that a TurboTax CPA, EA, or Tax Attorney made while providing topic-specific tax advice, a section review, or acting as a signed preparer for your return, we'll pay you the penalty and interest.

  • Audit Support Guarantee: If you received an audit letter based on your 2019 TurboTax return, we will provide one-on-one support with a tax professional as requested through our Audit Support Center. If we are not able to connect you to one of our tax professionals, we will refund the applicable TurboTax federal and/or state purchase price paid. TurboTax Free Edition customers are entitled to payment of $30. We will not represent you or provide legal advice. Excludes TurboTax Business.

  • TurboTax Free Guarantee: $0 Federal + $0 State + $0 To File offer is available for simple tax returns with TurboTax Free Edition. A simple tax return is Form 1040 only, without schedules 1, 2, or 3. Situations covered include:

    • W-2 income
    • Limited interest and dividend income reported on a 1099-INT or 1099-DIV
    • Claiming the standard deduction
    • Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC)
    • Child tax credits

  • Satisfaction Guaranteed:
    • If you use TurboTax Online or Mobile:
      Satisfaction Guaranteed — or you don't pay. You may use TurboTax Online without charge up to the point you decide to print or electronically file your tax return. Printing or electronically filing your return reflects your satisfaction with TurboTax Online, at which time you will be required to pay or register for the product.
    • If you bought or downloaded TurboTax from a retailer:
      Try TurboTax software. If you're not satisfied, return it to Intuit within 60 days of purchase with your dated receipt for a full refund.
    • If you bought or downloaded TurboTax directly from us:
      Try TurboTax software. If you're not satisfied, return it within 60 days of shipment with your dated receipt for a full refund (excluding shipping & handling).

TURBOTAX CD/DOWNLOAD

  • Installation requirements: Product activation required via Internet. Install on up to 5 of your computers. Download option requires free online Intuit account. You must accept the TurboTax License Agreement to use this product. Not for use by paid preparers. Not for use by paid preparers.

  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for e-filing state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase. Prices subject to change without notice.

  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary. The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.

  • Pay for additional TurboTax services out of your federal refund: A $39.99 Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice. This benefit is available with TurboTax Federal products except TurboTax Business.

  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support vary by time of year.

  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2019 TurboTax products.

  • Data Import: Imports financial data from participating companies; may require a free Intuit online account. Quicken and QuickBooks import not available with TurboTax installed on a Mac. Imports from Quicken (2017 and higher) and QuickBooks Desktop (2017 and higher); both Windows only. Quicken import not available for TurboTax Business. Quicken products provided by Quicken Inc., Quicken import subject to change.