Should I Itemize?

Generally, you must decide whether to itemize deductions or to use the standard deduction. The standard deduction is a dollar amount that reduces the amount of income on which you are taxed. You should itemize deductions if your allowable itemized deductions are greater than your standard deduction. Some taxpayers must itemize deductions because they cannot use the standard deduction.

You cannot use the standard deduction if:

  • You are married filing as married filing separately, and your spouse itemizes deductions,
  • You are filing a tax return for a period of less than 12 months because of a change in your annual accounting method, or
  • You are a nonresident alien or a dual-status alien during the year. (If you are a nonresident alien who is married to a U.S. citizen or resident at the end of the year, you can choose to be treated as a U.S. resident. If you make this choice, you can take the standard deduction. For additional information, refer to Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens).

In addition, an estate or trust, common trust fund, or partnership cannot use the standard deduction. For additional information, refer to Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.

You may benefit from itemizing your deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF) if you:

You may be subject to limitations on some of your itemized deductions. Please refer to the Form 1040 Instructions or Form 1040, Schedule A Instructions for the limitation amounts.

For more information on the difference between itemized deductions and the standard deduction, refer to the Form 1040 Instructions, or Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax.

Source: Internal Revenue Service
Last reviewed: September 22, 2013