Average Itemized Deductions

Individual income tax filers have the option to claim either a standard deduction or the sum of their itemized deductions on the federal income tax Form 1040. The standard deduction is a fixed amount, based on filing status, available to all taxpayers. Alternatively, tax filers may claim itemized deductions. Tax filers who itemize must list each item separately on their tax returns and be able to provide documentation in the event of an IRS audit that the expenditures have been made. Whichever deduction a tax filer claims, the deduction amount is subtracted from adjusted gross income (AGI) in the process of determining taxable income.

Some itemized deductions can only be claimed if they meet or exceed minimum threshold amounts (also known as a floor). Floors usually come in the form of a limit based on a percentage of AGI. For example, eligible extraordinary medical and dental expenses must amount to 10% of AGI in order to claim an itemized deduction in 2013; total expenses less than this floor are not eligible for an itemized deduction.

Tax filers in different income ranges tend to claim different itemized deductions.  The table below shows the average amount claimed in 2011 for selected deductions and the share of total tax filers who itemized in each income class that claimed a particular deduction.

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Source: CRS analysis of the Internal Revenue Service’s Statistics of Income 2011 Data, Tables 1.4 and 2.1, at http://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats—Individual-Statistical-Tables-by-Size-of-Adjusted-Gross-Income