Saturday, February 28, 2009

"Bunching" of itemized deductions to save $$'s on your federal taxes

If you find that you are always on the cusp of the standard deduction/itemized deduction limit each year, you should work to “bunch” your deductions every other year in order to try and minimize your tax liability every other year. In the off year, you can simply claim the standard deduction since you are entitled to that amount regardless of what your deductible expenses are for that year. The most common and significant itemized deductions are home mortgage interest, property taxes, state and local income taxes, medical expenses, unreimbursed job-related expenses. charitable deductions and casualty losses.

While you don't have much control over the timing of your mortgage interest payments, you do have some control over the timing of property taxes on your personal (and a second) residence since you are typically billed by your County for property taxes in December that are not due until January. Pay this bill a few weeks early and you could push your itemized deductions over your standard deduction amount for that year. While we're talking property taxes, don't forget that even if you cannot push your total itemized deductions over your standard deduction, starting with your 2008 tax return (and recently expanded through 2009), you can deduct up to $500 (single/married filing separately/head of household) or $1,000 (married filing jointly) in property taxes paid on your main or second home over your standard deduction.

The other deduction that you have some control over is the medical deduction since you do have some control over the actual payment of these types of expenses. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get over the 7.5% of adjusted gross income threshold that you would need to meet to deduct any of these expenses.

In short, taking advantage of additional tax deductions every other year is certainly better than never realizing the savings at all!

For more free tax tips, please visit TaxSmarty's Online Tax Guide.

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