No topic causes more confusion with taxpayers than itemized deductions. You might have a change in some of your circumstances one year, or an unplanned financial issue and before you know it your friend, neighbor or lawyer is advising you, "No worries, just write it off your taxes." This might leave you wondering how you can and should do this.
In order to find out if you can or should deduct certain things from your taxes, remember this:
1--You can take a deduction in two ways--a standard deduction, a set amount based on your filing status and itemized deductions, which are the amounts spent on certain things.
2--To calculate your standard deduction you have to claim your filing status, like single, married, married filing separately, etc. Then you go to Part 5, Section 20 to figure out the determined amount of your standard deduction. The amounts change from year to year, so be sure to check for the right number.
3--To figure your itemized deductions, you'll have to think about and look up what you spent on a variety of things, like medical bills, state and local taxes you've paid, mortgage interest, charitable contributions, job expenses and other miscellaneous deductions, and other possible things like casualty and theft losses, (like for flood, fire, or other disasters), and a few other areas like gambling losses.
In order to figure out the value of your charitable deductions, you may wish to ask the organization to which you gave your stuff. Many large charities have a value guide to help you. For job expenses, you can keep track of unreimbursed employee business expenses like union dues, work boots, safety goggles, work gloves, uniforms and/or uniform cleaning, fees for licenses and certifications, and other items that you need to do your job efficiently that your employer does not pay for. In this section you might also deduct tax preparation fees, the cost associated to rent a safety deposit box, and some investment related expenses.