How to Write Off Sales Taxes

Updated for Tax Year 2019


OVERVIEW

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. Beginning with tax years after 2017, the amount of state and local taxes, including sales tax, is limited to a maximum of $10,000.


Step 1: See if you are eligible to itemize deductions

Determine if itemizing your deductions on Schedule A will produce a large deduction than the standard deduction for your filing status. The deduction for your sales tax payments is only available if you 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 should likely 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

Determine the amount of sales tax paid during the year by going through all of your purchases.

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

Tips

  • 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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