Bankrate's 2009 Tax Guide
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taxes
2008 deduction amounts

Standard deductions for dependent taxpayers

Sometimes you might file a return, for example, to get a refund of withheld money, even though you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else's return.

In this case, a dependent taxpayer who is younger than 65 and not blind can take as a standard deduction the greater of $900 or his or her earned income plus $300. This deduction amount, however, cannot exceed the basic standard deductions for the dependent taxpayer's filing status, which in 2008 is $5,450.

Itemized deductions

Although most taxpayers claim the standard deduction, all taxpayers may choose to itemize deductions and claim that amount if it is larger than their allowable standard deduction amount.

You must file Form 1040 and Schedule A to itemize.

Some itemized deductions are limited based on a taxpayer's adjusted gross income. For 2008, the following limits apply to itemized deductions:

Limits on itemized deductions
Medical expensesAmount exceeding 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, or AGI, is deductible
Mortgage loan interestGenerally fully deductible for loans totaling $1 million or less on your primary residence or second home
Home equity loan interestGenerally deductible for loans up to $100,000 that are secured by your home
Charitable contributionsMost are fully deductible as long as the gift amount does not exceed 50 percent of AGI
Casualty lossesDeductible after subtracting insurance reimbursements, 10 percent of your AGI and $100
Miscellaneous expensesAmount exceeding 2 percent of AGI is deductible

In addition, overall itemized deductions also could be reduced if a taxpayer's AGI exceeds a certain amount, adjusted annually for inflation. For 2008 returns, the reduction of total itemized deductions begins for a taxpayer with an AGI of $159,950. This income level applies to single, head of household and married filing jointly taxpayers. Taxpayers who are married but file separate returns will see their itemized deductions reduced on AGI of $79,975 or more.

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