Federal income tax deductions are one of the tax incentives every taxpayer can use to minimize the total amount of their income tax bill. There are two ways to file for items eligible for tax deductions. The option you can choose depends on your condition and your filing status.
Standard deductions decrease the sum of the taxpayer's taxed income by subtracting the fixed amount set by the IRS for standard deduction. The amount that can be deducted for each qualified filing status differs. Example, for 2009, the standard deduction for single or married filing separately is $5,700, married filing jointly or widow/widower is $11,400, and head of the household is $8,350. Individuals who are 65 years old or older, are blind, pay real estate tax to state and local government or victims of disaster losses get higher amounts of the deduction.
Itemized Deductions (Schedule A)
Taxpayers whose filing status does not qualify for standard deduction or whose itemized expenses are higher than the amount established for the other option should file for Schedule A of Form 1040. Some examples of expenses an individual can itemized are medical expenses, home mortgage interest, charitable contributions and allowable taxes.
A taxpayer cannot file for standard deductions if he applies for itemized deductions. Also, married couples who file separately are not allowed to file different types of deductions.