Deductions in Bunches

July 6, 2012 — 1 Comment

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Does this problem sound familiar? Your expenses fall just short of the income thresholds they must meet in some deduction categories.  Decreasing your ability to reduce your tax bill and wasting all the effort you put into saving all of those receipts.  So to get around this tax-reduction roadblock try bunching your expenses. It’s too late to help cut your 2011 tax bill, but by setting up this strategy now, you can ensure that your “nearly” deductible expenses become full-fledged tax breaks next filing season.

The Internal Revenue Service allows some deductions only after they exceed a minimum amount tied to your adjusted gross income.

Medical expenses, for example, are of no use until they total more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. Similarly, miscellaneous deductions, such as unreimbursed employee expenses, must surpass 2 percent.

If your adjusted gross income is $50,000, these limits mean your medical costs must be more than $3,750 and your miscellaneous expenses have to exceed $1,000 before you get any Schedule A deductions in these categories.

Pay attention to these costs throughout the year. If you find you’re getting close to the limits, think about bunching as many deductible costs as you can into this tax year.

And if this whole deduction process is just too taxing for you and you pay a professional to figure it out, here’s a final itemizing gift from the IRS: Fees paid to tax preparers are also deductible as a miscellaneous expense that can further cut your tax bill.

There are, however, a couple of downsides to this tax strategy.

Some items you might bunch into one tax year could cost you if you end up facing the alternative minimum tax. Some prepaid items, such as property and state income taxes, aren’t deductible under AMT rules.

Also, bunching deductions usually helps you out only every other year.

Generally, if you bunch your expenses into one year, you will find you don’t have enough to be of use the following year. In those “off” tax years, your itemized expenses will just be smaller or, for some taxpayers, it might be more worthwhile to claim the standard deduction those years.

But getting the breaks only on alternate tax filings is still much better than missing out on them every year.

JDKatz, P.C. is a full-service law firm focused on tax law and estate planning. We are dedicated to minimizing your existing liability and risks while providing valuable tax planning to streamline your tax issues in the future. Please call us at 301-913-2948 to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our trusted attorneys.

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