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 allow you to deduct certain expenses from your gross income to arrive at your adjusted gross income, or AGI.
• Above-the line deductions, including contributions to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), are generally deductible regardless of whether you claim the Standard Deduction or itemized your deductions.
• Below the line deductions are typically only available when you itemize deductions.
• If you don’t itemize deductions, you’re eligible to claim a Standard Deduction of $13,850 if you file Single, or Married Filing Separately; or $27,700 if you’re Married Filing Jointly; or $20,800 if you file as Head of Household (tax year 2023).
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 Deduction or itemize your deductions. 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 2023 for example, you can deduct up to $2,500 of student loan interest payments if your MAGI is less than $75,000. Your MAGI for this purpose 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 itemize your deductions. Many of these deductions will face separate limits that are determined by your AGI. For example, in most years, your annual charitable contribution deduction is limited to a percentage of your AGI depending on the classification of the receiving charity. A second example is your medical expense deductions you report as part of your itemized deductions. These expenses are only deductible to the extent they exceed 7.5 percent of your AGI. Using your AGI as a limitation ensures that you cannot eliminate your all of your income through deductions.
TurboTax Tip: 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.
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 you are able to claim as dependents, claiming both of them 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 dependent). 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 typically 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 2023, if you file single or married filing separately and under 65 years of age, your Standard Seduction is $13,850; if head of household, the amount increases to $20,800. If you are married and file a joint return, your combined Standard Deduction with your spouse is $27,700.
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.
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