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Common Federal Income Tax Deductions

Written by Nickel - 21 Comments

Over the weekend, I spent a couple hours pulling together tax records and wracking my brain to make sure that I don’t forget anything. Since I’m sure I’m not alone in this, I thought I’d put together a list of common tax deductions that many people qualify for. Keep in mind that this list is just a start, and that you’ll also want to verify that your eligibility before claiming them.

First up, some common federal tax deductions that you can take whether or not you itemize (as Curtis points out, these are technically ‘adjustments‘ as opposed to deductions):

  1. Retirement contributions (Traditional or SEP-IRA, 401(k), etc.)
  2. Student loan interest (up to $2,500/year on qualified student loans)
  3. Capital losses (realized losses can offset unlimited capital gains or $3,000 in income)
  4. Business expenses (business owners and employees with certain un-reimbursed expenses)

Next, some common deductions that you can take if you itemize:

  1. Home mortgage deduction (deduct interest paid during the year)
  2. Home equity loan deduction (deduct interest paid during the year)
  3. State and local taxes (or sales tax if that works out better for you)
  4. Charitable contributions (cash and property donated to a qualified organization)
  5. Medical expenses (deduct those in excess of (7.5% of your AGI)
  6. Personal casualty and theft losses (deduct your loss minus insurance payments)

Note that some of these deductions are subject to income limitations or other restrictions. For a more complete list of federal income tax deductions and adjustments, as well as details relating to each of those listed above, see IRS Publication 17.

Update: I’ve also put together a list of twelve commonly missed income tax deductions.

Published on January 29th, 2008
Modified on June 23rd, 2011 - 21 Comments
Filed under: Taxes

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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21 Responses to “Common Federal Income Tax Deductions”

  1. 1
    Lisa Spinelli Says:

    You may not be aware thatif your adjusted gross income for 2007 was less than $54,000, you can use Free File at the IRS website to process and file your federal tax return at no charge.

  2. 2
    Saving Freak Says:

    I greatly dislike the income restrictions that are put on these deductions and tax credits. It seems my wife and I edge ourselves out of most of them just for being successful. Why penalize those who do the most for our economy? This is the kind of tax code that brought us the 70’s.

  3. 3
    saladdin Says:

    If you did not pay more taxes then who would?
    Someone has to. That is the reason for tax codes, to generate revenue.


  4. 4
    Curtis Says:

    Your first list are actually not deductions, but adjustments. I posted last week about the three categories of tax write-offs. Adjustments come off from your Gross Income. Deductions from your Adjustested Gross Income if you are above the standard deduction. And Credits come off of the total tax due.

  5. 5
    Ron@TheWisdomJournal Says:

    I don’t need deductions, I need CREDITS!

    (good luck with that)

  6. 6
    Llama Money Says:

    I might be able to deduct my sales tax this year ( finally! ). I think I paid enough mortgage interest to itemize deductions. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. 7
    Gen Says:

    This was very helpful to me! I don’t usually itemize my deductions, because I’m young and single with no kids and not a homeowner. Even though I give a decent amount to charity, it never adds up to more than the standard deduction. I used to just use 1040EZ (or telefile before they did away with it).

    This year I am in a fellowship instead of a regular job, so I have been paying for my own health insurance and contributing to my retirement out of pocket. I need to use the real 1040 this year!

    Thanks for your article! I was able to add to adjustments – the IRA deduction and student loan interest deduction (which I could have been doing for years!). I also checked my medical expenses, but it doesn’t exceed the 7.5%.

    Anyway, I am happy because I am able to add some adjustments without the hassle of itemizing, and I still get the standard deduction. Thanks again!

  8. 8

    I read in the paper Sunday that if you own your home. therefore, paid property taxes, but cannot itemize, that you can increase your standard deduction. Can you tell me more on this subject?

  9. 9
    Cindy Says:

    with obama giving out free grants, if a person qualifies for one to pay bills, is that amount granted, considered as income on your income taxes for that year?

  10. 10
    Geneal Says:

    I heard on TV I think it was on Good Morning America, a lady who gives financial advice. She said if you own your home you would be eligible for $1500 deduction. If you were a first time home buyer you could receive $7000 tax credit which had to be paid back over a period of 15 years at $500. My tax preparer does not know anything about the $1500 deduction allowed for home owners. Where could I find this info.

  11. 11
    SKS Says:

    Does everyone realize how many taxes there are on every person throughout their careers? They include sales tax, income tax, state tax, local tax, excise tax, inheiritance tax, capital gains tax, gas tax, and literally dozens more!

    Think about it……..100 years ago there were zero, zilch, nada, zippo taxes and everyone got along just fine in life.

  12. 12
    Ryan Says:

    SKS – Everyone got along just fine? I’m not sure where you got your information from but I don’t believe things were “just fine”….

  13. 13
    Lynn Dufort Says:

    I am ordering a headstone for my wife and me. Is the total cost deductible ? Is there any tax break, the stones are very expesive ie. small marble is going to cost 5,300.00.
    L Dufort

  14. 14
    Erica Says:

    I am paying to have my home hooked up to the city sewage. Is this tax deductible?

  15. 15
    pasen01 Says:

    Hi, how can I deduct “maintenance/upkeep” on annualized “pet expenses” as I claimed two dependents (both my cat and dog) this year.

    If mid-year I obtained a fish / bowl, can I write off the bowl and sprinkle-food I buy?

    o.O “woof woof”

  16. 16
    linda wilson Says:

    can i deduct interest paid on my credit cards?

  17. 17
    NovineGuy Says:

    “100 years ago there were zero, zilch, nada, zippo taxes and everyone got along just fine in life”

    Repeating that false claim again? There’s been taxes since before the US was a country. Sounds like you should have invested in an education.

  18. 18
    Doug Schmidt Says:

    I have already filed my taxes this year (Thank you AARP) and found $279.00 in medical expense that I did not claim. What form do I use to file this, I did not go short form. I used an itemized tad deduction.
    Thank you!

  19. 19
    Jewel Says:

    When I travel for business, I must pay a petsitter. My company does not cover these expenses as part of my travel. Can I itemize this necessary expense? May be a silly question, but it ends up being big bucks each year.

  20. 20
    John Olmscheid Says:

    I use my Medicare supplement insurance premiums to bunch by pre – paying in December for the coming year plus the normal deposit I make at the beginning of the current year. My tax advisor says I can’t use the insurance costs to bunch.

    Thank you

  21. 21
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    all your genuine details in addition to then submit that
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