Five Most Common Tax Deductions

Don't miss out on these five most common tax deductions
Don't miss out on these five most common tax deductions

It's rare that the decision to itemize or take the standard deduction hinges on some of the smaller deductions that you can claim on your federal form 1040, Schedule A. This is because the deduction thresholds are fairly high. For 2010, the standard deduction for married couples filing a joint return is $11,400. The standard deduction for individual taxpayers and married couples filing separate returns is $5,700. The standard deduction for heads of household is $8,400.

With numbers like those, big ticket items tend to drive the decision of whether to itemize. To help you figure out whether itemizing makes sense for you, here's a list of five of the most common itemized deductions:

1. Home Mortgage Interest. You can generally claim the home mortgage interest deduction for interest you pay on a loan secured by your home. The loan must be on your main home or a second home and includes a mortgage, a second mortgage, a line of credit or a home equity loan. You must have an ownership interest in the home (meaning that you can't take the deduction for paying the mortgage for a home owned by someone else) and you must be obligated to pay the loan.

If you pay $600 or more of mortgage interest during the year on a mortgage, your lender will generally issue a form 1098, which shows the total interest paid during the year, the amount of any mortgage insurance premiums paid and, if you bought your home during the year, the deductible points paid during the year, including seller-paid points. Those amounts are generally deductible to you. Be aware, however, that income limits and other restrictions may apply.

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