The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) permits you to write off either your state and local income tax or sales taxes when itemizing your deductions. People who live in a state that does not impose income taxes often benefit most from this deduction. However, you might also be better off deducting sales taxes instead of income taxes if you make large purchases during the year and your total sales tax payments exceed those for state income tax. You can use either the actual sales taxes you paid or the IRS optional sales tax tables.
The article below is accurate for your 2017 taxes, the one that you file this year by the April 2018 deadline, including a few retroactive changes due to the passing of tax reform. Some tax information below will change next year for your 2018 taxes, but won’t impact you this year. Learn more about tax reform here.
Step 1: See if you are eligible to itemize deductions
Determine your eligibility to itemize deductions on Schedule A. The deduction for your sales tax payments is only available if you are eligible to itemize. To make this determination, add up all of your expenses that are eligible to be itemized, including your sales taxes. If the total amount is greater than the standard deduction amount for your filing status, then you can itemize on Schedule A and claim the sales tax deduction. If not, then you can still itemize but are probably better off claiming the standard deduction where you cannot deduct the sales tax.
Step 2: Gather your receipts
Gather all receipts for your purchases this year. If you decide to calculate the actual sales taxes you paid during the year, then you must have a receipt for each purchase. Add the sales tax payments from each receipt.
Step 3: Calculating the deduction
Calculate your deduction using the optional sales tax tables. At the end of the instructions to the Schedule A attachment you will find sales tax tables for each state. Find your state and determine the allowable sales tax deduction for your range of income. Compare this amount to the actual total you calculate in Step 2. Since you can calculate your deduction using either method, choose the one that gives you the larger deduction.
Step 4: Where to report the deduction
Report your sales tax deduction on Schedule A. In the section entitled "Taxes You Paid" be sure to check the box indicating your choice to deduct state sales tax instead of state income tax and enter the amount of your deduction.
TurboTax can help you with determining your eligibility, calculating the deduction and reporting it on all the correct forms.
Things You'll Need
- Schedule A
- Form 1040
- If you receive any sales tax refunds during the year, be sure to reduce your deductible sales tax payments if not using the optional sales tax tables to calculate your deduction.
- The IRS allows you to deduct the sales tax you pay when you lease a car even though it's not ordinarily considered a purchase.
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