Taxpayers can itemize their deductions if they meet certain criteria regarding filing status and the total amount of deductions. If all criteria are met, a taxpayer can decide whether itemizing or taking the standard deduction is the best option.
To decide between itemizing or using the standard deduction, taxpayers need to determine if they are eligible for the standard deduction, per the Internal Revenue Service. For example, a married person filing separately would have to itemize if the spouse itemized deductions.
Taxpayers who are eligible to use the standard deduction but still prefer to itemize should calculate the total amount of itemized deductions. Items eligible include mortgage interest, property taxes, unreimbursed medical or business expenses, casualty or theft losses, and gifts to charities. If the total of the itemized deductions is greater than the taxpayer's standard deduction, then the taxpayer can opt to itemize, according to the IRS. Standard deductions are $6,100 for Single and Married Filing Separately, $12,200 for Married Filing Jointly and Qualifying Widow(er), and $8,950 for Head of Household.
To file using itemized deductions, taxpayers must file the correct forms. Form 1040 and Schedule A are the documents required for itemized deductions, 1040A and 1040EZ cannot be used. Once the taxpayer has completed the return, it can be filed electronically or mailed to the appropriate location.