Tax Preparation Checklists To Help You Get Your Tax Documentation In Order

Taxpayer Tax Deductions Checklist

Standard Deductions: If you opt to file for the standard deduction, the deducted amount is based on your tax filing status. As of 2018 The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) almost doubled the standard deduction amounts. The 2018 standard deductions are:

  • $12,000 for single or married filing separate status.
  • $24,000 for married filing jointly.
  •  $18,000 for head of household.

Itemized Deductions: While choosing the standard deduction for your filing status is easy, you may be able to reduce your tax bill by itemizing your deductions. If your total itemizable deductions for 2018 adds up close to your standard deduction amount, consider making additional expenditures before year-end to exceed your standard deduction. Those prepayments can help lower this year’s tax bill, and you can claim the standard deduction next year.

When you itemize your deductions you list them on Schedule A to fie with your tax return. If your itemized deductions add up to more than your standard deductions, you can save money on your tax bill by taking extra steps to itemize your expenses.

Individual Taxpayer Tax Deductions Checklist

There are two main types of deductions: Standard deductions and itemized deductions and as a taxpayer you may only file one way or the other, so it’s important to consider your options thoroughly to determine which is your best choice for tax purposes.

Top 10: Taxpayer Common Tax Deductions Checklist

click to print taxpayer tax deduction checklist

401(k) Contributions Deduction: The IRS allows a portion of taxpayer income to be diverted tax free directly from your paycheck into a 401(k). For tax year 2018, you can funnel up to $18,500 into such an account. If you’re age 50 or older, you can contribute up to $24,500. These retirement accounts are usually sponsored by employers, although self-employed tax filers can open their own 401(k)s.

Charitable Donations: Did you make some generous donations to charities this year? By tallying up your charitable donations, you could lower your tax bill this year. For a check or cash donation you must keep a bank record or written record from the charity including the organization name, and the amount and date of the contribution. You may even deduct the fair market value of items that you have donated to charity. You can write off out-of-pocket costs you incur while doing good deeds. If you drove your car for charity in 2018, you can deduct 14 cents per mile.

Education Expenses: Did you take class related to work to improve your job skills? it may be deductible. Education expenses like tuition, books, supplies, lab fees and certain transportation and travel costs may be deductible. Student loan interest paid by Mom and Dad, If Mom and Dad pay back the loan, the IRS treats it as though they gave the money to their child, who then paid the debt. So a child who’s not claimed as a dependent can qualify to deduct up to $2,500 of the student loan interest that was paid by their parents.

Health Savings Account Contributions: Contributions to HSAs are tax-deductible, and the withdrawals are tax-free -- if you use them for qualified medical expenses. For 2018, if you have self-only high-deductible health coverage, you can contribute up to $3,450. If you have family high-deductible coverage, you can contribute up to $6,900.

Homeownership Deductions:

  • Points are prepaid interest on home mortgages and these points may be deductible as home mortgage interest when you itemize your taxes.
  • Property taxes, However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act put a $10,000 annual cap on the deduction starting in 2018.
  • Mortgage insurance. Homeowners can deduct this entire amount. Mortgage insurance premiums are an itemized tax deduction reported on line 13 of Schedule A.
  • Refinancing mortgage points: When you refinance a mortgage, you have to deduct the points over the life of the loan. That means you can deduct 1/30th of the points a year if it’s a 30-year mortgage.
  • Pay off your loan: If you sell your house or refinance again—you get to deduct all the points not yet deducted, unless refinanced with the same lender.

IRA Contributions: You may be able to deduct contributions to a traditional IRA, though how much you can deduct depends on whether you or your spouse are covered by a retirement plan at work and how much you make. This IRA Contribution Calculator makes quick work of determining your contribution amount.

Jury pay paid to employer: Some employers continue to pay employees’ full salary while they are doing their civic duty, but ask that they turn over their jury fees to the company. If you give your jury money to your employer you have a right to deduct the amount so you aren’t taxed on money that simply passes through your hands.

Medical & Dental Expenses: Did you have a lot of medical costs this year? You may be eligible to deduct the costs of medical and dental care costs for you and your family. You can only deduct the amount of your total medical and dental expenses that exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income, or 7.5% if you or your spouse is age 65 or older.

Reinvested dividends: Its not really a tax deduction, but it can save you a lot of money. If you have mutual fund dividends automatically invested in extra shares, remember that each reinvestment increases your “tax basis” in the stock or mutual fund. This in turn, reduces the amount of taxable capital gain (or increases the tax-saving loss) calculated when you sell your shares. Forgetting to include the reinvested dividends in your cost basis means you're overpaying your taxes. TurboTax Premier and Home & Business tax preparation solutions include a very cool tool—Cost Basis Lookup—which will determine your basis for you so you get credit for reinvested dividends.

State Income and SalesTaxes: You must choose between deducting state and local income taxes, or state and local sales taxes. For most citizens of income-tax-states, the income tax deduction usually is a better deal. IRS has tables for residents of states with sales taxes showing how much they can deduct.

State tax you paid last spring: Beginning in 2018, the deduction for state and local taxes is limited to $10,000 per year. Report your state tax itemized deduction on your 2018 return, along with state income taxes withheld from your paychecks.

If you purchased a vehicle, boat, or airplane, you get to add the state sales tax you paid to the amount shown in the IRS tables for the state you live in -- to the extent the sales tax rate you paid doesn’t exceed the state’s general sales tax rate. The same goes for home building materials purchased.

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