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Standard vs Itemized Deduction: What Should I Choose?

Written By: MB Group

At the MB Group, one of the most common questions we receive during tax preparation is whether a business owner or individual should choose standard vs itemized deductions on their tax returns. The answer always depends on the business or individual's situation. While both deductions are designed to reduce your taxable income, itemized deductions offer greater potential for more savings. Let's take a deeper look at standard vs itemized deductions and how MB Group can help you decide.

The Standard Deduction

In the most simple sense, the standard deduction is a fixed amount that can be used to lower thestandard vs itemized deductions amount of income you're required to pay taxes on. Your standard deduction can vary based on your age, income, filing status, and whether you're blind. To make matters more confusing, the standard deduction changes every year. Standardized deductions allow you to:

  • Avoid itemizing deductions like charitable donations and medical expenses
  • Take the deduction even if you do not have qualifying expenses
  • Reduce the number of receipts and records you're required to keep in the event of an audit.

While the standard deduction may immediately be attractive, not everyone can claim it. You may fall into this category if:

  • You file as married filing separately and your spouse has itemized deductions
  • You're filing a return for less than 12 months due to a change in the yearly accounting period.
  • You were a dual-status alien or a nonresident alien during the tax filing year.
  • You are a trust or estate, common trust fund, or partnership.

Because of the simplicity involved, an estimated 9 out of 10 taxpayers choose to claim the standard deduction.

Itemized Deductions

Itemized deductions are also designed to reduce your taxable income. You should consider using the itemized deduction if your allowable itemized deductions are greater than the standard deduction or if you have no choice. In either case, the seasoned tax professionals at MB Group are experts in helping small business owners and high-net-worth individuals optimize their returns by using itemized deductions, which may include:

  • Amounts you've paid for sale taxes or state and local income taxes
  • Personal property taxes
  • Real estate losses
  • Mortgage interest
  • Charitable donations
  • Losses from a Federally declared disaster
  • Medical expenses
  • Dental expenses

And if you are a small business owner, taking itemized deductions is all but certain. Some of the most common itemized business deductions for sole proprietors, partnerships, and LLCs, include:

  • Promotional and advertising expenses. Any expenses associated with promoting your business may be 100% deductible.
  • Business interest and bank fees. If you've taken out a loan or used credit cards for your business, you may be able to deduct the interest paid or any fees charged by the bank for your business account.
  • Professional and legal fees. If you use accounting software for your business or use a professional tax preparer, you may be able to deduct the associated expenses.
  • Business meals. Did you take clients to lunch or work from a coffee shop? If so, you may be able to deduct up to 50% of the costs.
  • Home office. If you use part of your home exclusively for business, you can write off the expenses associated with that part of your home. You may also be able to include homeowners' or renters' insurance.
  • Business use of your vehicle. When you use your vehicle for business, you may be able to deduct the costs associated with its operation. However, the amount of the deduction depends on if you use the vehicle for personal and business use or solely for business.

Should I Itemize Deductions or Take the Standard Under New Tax Law?

Deciding whether to itemize or take the standard deduction can be a relatively complex decision. One simple way is to add up all of the potential expenses you plan on itemizing. If the expenses are more than the standard deduction, itemization may be the way for you.

However, itemizing your expenses is a very time consuming and tedious process. It requires you to keep solid records throughout the year. In addition, you should keep the receipts after you file in the event of an audit. Because of the extra work, many people and business owners leave substantial "money on the table" and choose to go the standard route.

Contact MB Group for Optimized Tax Planning and Filing

Whether you're a high-net-worth individual or a small business owner, you shouldn't ever "leave money on the table." Yet, you may not have the time or expertise required to effectively itemize your tax return. And this is where the experts at MB Group can help.

We specialize in helping high-net-worth individuals and business owners maximize their tax return through our strategic process of planning. We'll work closely with you to ensure we have everything we need to make tax planning and tax filing a less taxing affair. Contact the MB Group today.


Tags: Taxes Tax Preparation

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