In addition to standard and itemized deductions, there is a third group of tax-reducing options known as above-the-line deductions.

The name comes from their paperwork placement: They are found on page one of Form 1040, just above the line where adjusted gross income is tabulated. (A few of these tax breaks also are found on the slightly shorter Form 1040A. They’re not on Form 1040EZ.)

Around a dozen above-the-line deductions are found on the 1040 (the precise number varies each tax year depending on any tax law changes); only four are found on the 1040A. Eligible taxpayers, regardless of whether they itemize or claim the standard deduction, can take these deductions.

Itemizing Considerations

Common (and popular) above-the-line deductions:

  • Classroom expenses incurred by teachers
  • Contributions to a traditional individual retirement account
  • Interest paid on a student loan
  • Health savings account contribution
  • Costs of moving to take a new job
  • Several items related to self-employment costs
  • Alimony payments

In most cases, all you have to do is enter the deductible amount directly on the form, although a worksheet or other form is required for some above-the-line deductions.