I always taught my kids to never settle for being average. Mathematically, average is the best of the worst and the worst of the best. However, there are some occasions that it’s helpful to know the range of average deductions for your income level.
Even though there is no “average” amount that IRS will allow you without proper documentation, it can be a helpful indicator that you may have missed giving us some information.
Toward that end, we’ve obtained the latest data from IRS on average itemized deductions. IRS calculated the average a little differently from how you or I would. For example, in the Medical category, only returns with an amount on Schedule A for medical expense are included. In essence, IRS uses the median value of all the returns that have an amount for the deductions listed in the table below. The higher your income, the more the amounts tend to approach the arithmetic mean or average.
Remember that you’re not bound by these numbers if your receipts and documentation are greater. As long as you can prove the numbers, you should claim every dollar of every deduction on your return.
As one of my favorite judges once stated:
“Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury.
There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.
Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister
in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone
does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any
public duty to pay more than the law demands.”
-Judge Learned Hand (1872-1961) Judge US Court of Appeals
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