Internal Revenue Service United States Department of the Treasury
Level Basic Advanced Military International

Standard Deduction and Tax Computation

Standard Deduction vs. Itemizing

Who should itemize?

As discussed previously, some taxpayers are required to itemize. Taxpayers should take the higher of the standard deduction or the itemized expenses deduction if they are not required to itemize.

In general, taxpayers benefit from itemizing their deductions if they have mortgage interest, qualified charitable contributions, or if unreimbursed medical/dental expenses are large compared to their income. During the interview, ask the taxpayer if any of the following were applicable during the tax year:

  • Large out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses
  • State and local income taxes, real estate taxes, and/or personal property taxes
  • Mortgage interest
  • Gifts to charity
  • Casualty, theft, and certain other miscellaneous deductions

If the taxpayer's expenses qualify, itemizing may be a better choice.

Caution

Casualty and theft losses are outside the scope of the VITA/TCE programs and are mentioned here for your awareness only. Taxpayers with these issues should be referred to a professional tax preparer.

Tax Software Hint

For software entries, go to the Volunteer Resource Guide, Deduction tab, Form 1040, Page 2 — Deductions.

Top of Schedule A—Itemized Deductions.