When you file your tax return, you usually have a choice about whether to itemize deductions or take the standard deduction. Before you choose, it's a good idea to figure your deductions using both methods and choose the one that gives you the most benefit. Typically, the one that results in the higher deduction amount and allows you to pay a lower amount of tax. Here are four tips to keep in mind while you're deciding:

1. Figure your itemized deductions. Add up any deductible expenses that you paid during the year 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 however, so be sure to give us a call for additional details.

2. Know your standard deduction. If you don't itemize, your basic standard deduction for 2013 depends on your filing status:

  • Single $6,100
  • Married Filing Jointly $12,200
  • Head of Household $8,950
  • Married Filing Separately $6,100
  • Qualifying Widow(er) $12,200

Your standard deduction is higher if you're 65 or older or blind. If someone can claim you as a dependent, that can limit the amount of your deduction.

3. Check the exceptions. Some people don't qualify for the standard deduction and therefore should itemize. This includes married couples who file separate returns and where one spouse itemizes.

4. File the right forms. To itemize your deductions, use Form 1040 and Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. You can take the standard deduction on Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ.

Still not sure whether to itemize or take the standard deduction? No problem. Give us a call and we'll help you figure it out.