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How Do Your Deductions Stack Up?

Contributed by mm | March 6, 2005 9:07 PM PST

Have you finished your tax return? Do you want to know how your deductions compare to your fellow Americans? RIA, a subsidiary of The Thomason Corporation, compiled some 2003 tax data recently released by IRS. Take a look at its findings.

AGI Range / % Returns Itemized / Average Deductions for Itemized Returns

$0-15k / 5.2% / $13,138
$15-30k / 15.9% / $12,775
$30-50k / 36.6% / $13,648
$50-100k / 66.1% / $17,432
$100-200k / 90.2% / $25,902
$200k+ / 93.3% / $64,835

The same report also breaks out the average deduction amount in key deduction categories. For example, for AGI range $100-200k:

- Average deduction for itemizers who claimed medical expenses: $10,515
- Average deduction for itemizers who claimed (sales/property) taxes: $10,042
- Average deduction for itemizers who claimed (charitable) contributions: $4,000
- Average deduction for itemizers who claimed (mortgage) interest: $11,350

You might notice that these numbers do not add up to $25,902, the average total deductions for the income group. That is because not all filers claim all these deductions. For example, you are only entitled to deduct your medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your AGI, which means for people in the $100-200k income group, they need to accumulate a medical bill of $7,500 to $15,000 before they can claim medical deduction. As a matter of fact, RIA reported that only 4.59% of all returns in this income group claimed such deduction.

2003 is the last year such information is available. For 2004, the average deduction amount should grow because of the new sales tax deduction clause and continued refinancing boom in 2004.

But if the line 39 (total deduction) in your 1040 form is lower than the national average, you don't have to worry have to worry. I'm in the same boat and it's not necessarily a bad thing. My 2004 return will spell out an AGI around $120k and total deductions of about $16,000. Part of the reason why my deductions are lower is because I'm living in the state-income-tax-free State of Washington. My 1.5%-some sales tax deduction is much lower than most people with the same income pay in state income taxes where such taxes exist. If I had lived in such state in 2004, my tax return would probably show a higher deduction. But is it really good to get 25 cents back for every buck you pay out?

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