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Standard versus itemized deduction: Which one should you claim? If this question is weighing heavily on your mind as you file your taxes, now that all the new tax reforms have taken effect, let this guide help you decide.
Itemizing your deductionsâparticularly if you’ve bought a home recentlyâcould save you major bucks when you file. But, more than ever, you need to understand what you can and can’t do. We’ll break it down to help you make the decision on whether to select a standard or an itemized deduction.
What is the standard deduction?
The standard deduction is essentially a flat-dollar, no-questions-asked reduction to your adjusted gross income. When you file your tax return, you can deduct a certain amount right off the bat from your taxable income.
For 2019, the standard deduction is $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. (The standard deduction nearly doubled as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which went into effect in 2018.)
Here are some of the benefits to takingÂ a standard deduction:
- It allows you a deduction even if you have no expenses that qualify as itemized deductions.
- It eliminates the need to keep records and receipts of your expenses in case youâre audited by the IRS.
- It lets you avoid having to track medical expenses, charitable donations, and other itemizable deductions throughout the year.
- It saves you the trouble of needing to understand the fine nuances of tax law.
What are itemized deductions?
Although claiming the standard deductionÂ isÂ easy and convenient, choosing to itemize can potentially save you thousands of dollars, saysÂ Mark Steber, chief tax officer at the Jackson HewittÂ tax service.
âDonât be lulled into thinking the standard deduction is always a better answer,â Steber says. That advice especially applies to homeowners.
âBuying a home has the single largest impact on your tax return,â he adds, noting that a home purchase is âan anchor item that can move someone into the itemized taxpayer category.â
Itemizing your deductions may enable you to deduct these expenses:
- HomeÂ mortgage interestÂ (note the exceptions below)
- Real estate and personalÂ property taxes (note the cap below)
- State and local income taxes or sales taxes (but not both)
- Gifts to charities
- Casualty or theft losses
- Unreimbursed medical and dental expenses
- Unreimbursed employee business expenses
Why itemizing often makes sense for homeowners
Under the new law, current homeowners canÂ continue to deduct interest on a total of $1 million of mortgage debt for a first and second home.Â But new buyersÂ can deduct interest on only $750,000 for a first and second home.
It’s still possible that if you own a home, your mortgage interest aloneÂ might exceed the standard deduction, saysÂ Steve Albert, director of tax services at the CPA wealth management firm Glass Jacobson. In this case, it’s a no-brainer to itemize your deductions.
This is particularly true if you bought a house recently, sinceÂ most mortgages are front-loadedÂ to pay mortgage interest rather than whittle down the principal (which is the amount you borrowed).
For instance: If you have a 30-year loan for $400,000 at a fixed 5% interest rate, in the first year of your mortgage, you’ll pay off only $5,901 in principal and a whopping $19,866 in interest.
That alone exceeds an individual’s standard deduction of $12,000 deduction for 2019. So if you’re filing taxes this year, itemizing would make total sense.
Plus: If you bought your house in 2019 and paid pointsâwhich are essentially a way to prepay interest upfront to lower your monthly mortgage billsâthese points count as mortgage interest, too, amounting to more tax savings.
On the other hand, if you’ve owned your home for a while, then your mortgage interest may not amount to much. By the 25th year of that same $400,000 loan, you’ll pay only $6,223 in interest.
However, keep in mind that your property taxes of up to $10,000 are an itemized deduction, tooâand combined with mortgage interest and other deductions, could push you over the top into itemizing territory.
Itemized vs. standard deduction: Which is right for you?
Not sure how much you paid in mortgage interest and property taxes last year? To get a ballpark, you can punch yourÂ info into an onlineÂ mortgage calculator.
Also, early in the new year, your mortgage lender should have mailed you a mortgage interest statement (Form 1098) showing the total you paid during the previous year.
âAnd if you had your property taxes impounded in your loan, your taxes will appear on your 1098 as well,”Â saysÂ Lisa Greene-Lewis, a CPA and tax expert atÂ TurboTax.
Another DIY approach for seeing whether your combined itemized tax deductions are higher than your standard tax deduction is to fill out the IRS Schedule AÂ form, which outlinesÂ all federal itemized deductions line by line.
You can alsoÂ consult an accountantÂ (you can search for a tax professional in your area using theÂ IRS directory of tax return preparers). But as a general rule, if you bought a home recently, you could be a prime candidate for itemizing, so don’t let these potential savings pass you by without checking!
The post Standard vs. Itemized Deduction: Which One Should You Take? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
With the turning of the calendar comes the start of tax season, where people collect their W-2s and 1099s and prepare for the process of filing income tax returns. For many, a big part of that tax filing process is deductions, and here are three reader questions on that topic. 1. What if you donât […]
The post Tax Season Is Approaching â We Answer 3 Questions About Deductions appeared first on The Simple Dollar.
If your coronavirus checks are long gone, you could have more stimulus money coming your way, even if Congress doesnât do another thing. And if you didnât qualify for a check based on your past tax return, you could get stimulus money if you file a tax return for 2020 that shows youâre eligible.
Hereâs why: Both the first stimulus check and the second stimulus check are an advance on a temporary 2020 tax credit. But because of the urgency of the situation, the IRS was directed to get us that money ASAP, using information from our 2018 or 2019 returns.
That means if your tax situation changed through the course of the year, you could get stimulus money if your 2020 return shows that youâre eligible.
8 Reasons You Could Get Stimulus Money With Your 2020 Refund
If one or more of these scenarios apply, you might get more coronavirus money in 2021 by submitting a tax return. And relax: You wonât owe more at tax time or get a smaller refund as the result of receiving a check.
1. Youâre No Longer Claimed as a Dependent
Attention, Class of 2020: If your parents or someone else claimed you as a dependent in 2019 but they donât in 2020, you could get an $1,800 credit â $1,200 from the first check and $600 from the second one â provided that you file a tax return.
Generally, you can be claimed as a dependent if youâre under 19, or youâre under 24 and a student, if your parents provide at least half of your support.
2. You Had a Child in 2020
The parents of any bundle of joy who arrives in 2020 will be eligible for an $1,100 child coronavirus credit: $500 from the first round and $600 from the second. Theyâll have to wait until they file their 2020 tax return, since the IRS doesnât have record of these new additions yet.
3. Your Child Was Born in 2019, but You Took Advantage of the Tax Extension
If you had a child in 2019 but got a late start on filing your 2019 return due to the coronavirus tax extension or you filed on paper, the IRS probably processed your first payment using your 2018 return. Youâll get the extra $500 child credit next year when your 2020 return is accepted. But provided that your 2019 return has been accepted, you may receive $600 for your child from the latest round with your second stimulus check.
4. You Get Social Security or SSI Benefits and Have a Dependent Child
The IRS automatically processed coronavirus checks for people who arenât required to file a tax return and receive Social Security, Railroad Retirement, SSDI, SSI or VA benefits.
But in many of these situations, the IRS only received the information needed to send the recipient the $1,200. They didnât get information about dependent children who qualified for $500 coronavirus child credits unless the recipient provided it using the non-filer tool on the IRS website within a pretty narrow timeframe.
If you got a $1,200 payment for yourself but didnât receive the extra payments for dependent children under 17, youâll need to file a 2020 tax return to get the extra $500, even if you donât normally need to file. The same applies if you donât get the $600 credit with your payment in the latest round.
5. Your Income Dropped in 2020
A lot of people will no doubt have a lot less income to report in 2020 than they did in 2018 or 2019. If you didnât qualify for the first check because your previous income was above the $99,000 threshold for singles or $198,000 for married couples, you could qualify based on your 2020 income. The second check has a lower phaseout because itâs smaller, so you wonât receive one if youâre single with an income above $87,000 or married with an income above $174,000.
Likewise, if your payment was reduced because your income was above $75,000 if youâre single or $150,000 if youâre married, youâd get the difference when you file your 2020 return.
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6. You and Your Childâs Other Parent Take Turns Claiming Them for Taxes
The Washington Postâs Michelle Singletary reported on this odd quirk of stimulus payments: It appears that in situations where divorced, separated and never-married parents take turns claiming their dependent children on taxes, each parent could wind up with a $500 payment.
Whoever claimed the child for 2019 probably received both the $500 and $600 payments with their stimulus check. But since the payments are technically a credit for 2020 taxes, there could be a loophole that allows the other parent to get the credit for the same child when they file next year.
7. You Increased Your Retirement Contributions in 2020
Suppose youâre a single filer who earned $80,000 in 2019 and your income stays the same in 2020. You would have gotten a $950 coronavirus check in the first round, because payments are reduced by 5 cents for every $1 of income over $75,000 if youâre single. In the second round, youâd get $350.
But if you reduced your 2020 taxable income to $75,000 by contributing an extra $5,000 to your 401(k) or traditional IRA (sorry, a Roth IRA wonât work), youâd get the additional $250 coronavirus payment from both rounds, so $500 total.
8. Youâre Married to Someone Without a Social Security Number
If you have a Social Security number but youâre married and file a joint tax return with someone who doesnât have one, neither of you initially qualified for a stimulus check under the CARES Act. But the latest relief bill changes the rules so that anyone in the household with a Social Security number will qualify for the second payment â and it also makes the change retroactive to the first round.
That means if youâre in a mixed-status household, you could get a $1,200 credit for yourself, plus $500 for each dependent child 16 and younger who has a Social Security number.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to DearPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Being a victim of tax related identity theft can leave you scrambling to take the proper steps to set things right. Here’s are the things you need to do.
The post A Guide For Victims Of Tax Related Identity Theft appeared first on Bible Money Matters and was written by Peter Anderson. Copyright Â© Bible Money Matters – please visit biblemoneymatters.com for more great content.