William Byrnes' Tax, Wealth, and Risk Intelligence

William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Posts Tagged ‘Standard deduction’

Deciding Whether to Itemize Deductions or Use the Standard Deduction?

Posted by William Byrnes on February 17, 2016

Most people claim the standard deduction when they file their federal tax return, but you may be able to lower your tax bill if you itemize. You can find out which way saves you the most by figuring your taxes both ways. The IRS offers these six tips to help you choose:


Figure Your Itemized Deductions. Add up deductible expenses you paid during the year. These may include expenses such as:

  • Home mortgage interest
  • State and local income taxes or sales taxes (but not both)
  • Real estate and personal property taxes
  • Gifts to charities
  • Casualty or theft losses
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses
  • Unreimbursed employee business expenses

Special rules and limits apply to each type of itemized expense which may lead to less of a tax deduction than the actual expense.

Know Your Standard Deduction. If you don’t itemize, your basic standard deduction for 2015 depends on your filing status:

  • Single $6,300
  • Married Filing Jointly $12,600

If you’re 65 or older or blind, your standard deduction is higher than these amounts. If someone can claim you as a dependent, your deduction may be limited.

IRS YouTube Videos: Standard vs. Itemized DeductionsEnglish

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How to Lose a Charitable Deduction

Posted by William Byrnes on October 21, 2011

As an advisor, your clients look to you for competent advice in planning their charitable giving. It would be terrible to find out that the gift you thoughtful suggest cannot be deducted due to an avoidable paperwork mistake. Although the IRS sometimes forgives these minor errors, others are unforgivable, as illustrated in recent IRS email advice.

The IRS was not so forgiving with a taxpayer, who made what would otherwise qualify as a tax-deductible charitable gift. The problem was that the taxpayer “failed to get a contemporaneous written acknowledgment” from the charitable organization. In its advice the IRS said it will deny the taxpayer’s charitable deduction even if the taxpayer takes remedial measures and the charity amends its Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax) to acknowledge the donation and include the information required by the Code.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of charitable deductions in Advisor’s Journal, see Qualified Charitable Distributions from an IRA (CC 11-03) & IRS Takes Qualified IRA Charitable Distributions off the Table for 2010 (CC 11-15).


For in-depth analysis of the charitable deduction under Section 170, see Advisor’s Main Library: B6—The Income Tax Charitable Deduction—I.R.C. §170.

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Year-End Tax Planning Series: Charitable Deductions

Posted by William Byrnes on December 22, 2010

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Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Discusses charitable contributions for individuals.  May assist wealth managers plan client contributions made to charities this year.

Generally a deduction is allowed to “individuals, corporations and certain trusts for charitable contributions made to qualified organizations, subject to percentage limitations and substantiation requirements.”

The law allows for such charitable contributions as itemized deductions, as “an incentive to encourage charitable contributions”, to certain charitable organizations.

Assuming all other factors equal, “it is usually better for the donor to make a charitable gift during life than at death, because the gift can generate an income tax charitable deduction for the donor.”

How much is the deduction?

The charitable contribution income tax deduction for an individual taxpayer can be classified as not to exceed 50 percent or not to exceed 30 percent of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI), depending on the donee charity.

For a discussion of Adjusted Gross Income or AGI, see AdvisorFX—Deductions in Determining Adjusted Gross Income and Taxable Income (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

To read this article excerpted above, please access www.AdvisorFYI.com

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