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What Do Others Claim on Their Tax Returns?

September 7, 2015

The IRS publishes data on our tax returns each year. A few months ago they published figures for 2012 income tax returns. You can find data for several years’ returns at www. irs.gov. Search the term ”tax return statistics”.

The IRS reports that 145 million tax returns were filed in the tax year 2012 reporting $9.1 trillion of adjusted gross income with total income tax at greater than $1 trillion! Total income tax increased by 13.7% from the previous year. To be included in the top 1% of taxpayers by adjusted gross income (not taxable income) in 2012 required an adjusted gross income of $434,682. The top 3% of adjusted gross income tax returns accounted for more than half (51.7%) of the total income tax paid for 2012.

At the IRS website, you can view taxpayer average deductions grouped according to their adjusted gross income. For instance, folks in the $45,000 - $50,000 range deducted $3,427 of real estate taxes and $2,495 for charity. The $75,000 - $100,000 group claimed $3,514 and $3,098 respectively.

When looking at these figures remember that only about 33% of these returns elected to use “itemized deductions”. This means that the other 67% of returns used the “standard deduction” and are not included in these averages.

What was the largest deduction for returns with $75,000-100,000 of adjusted gross income? Deductions for mortgage interest head the list at 36% of all deductions. Deductions for taxes came in second at 34%. Contributions accounted for 12% and medical deductions were 6%. If you check these out, be wary! These are only averages. You can’t say that you will claim the “standard” or “average” amount in the charitable deduction category. You should claim what your records show.