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Frequently Asked Questions - Itemized and Standard Deductions

Q: If I were to make a gift of money to a friend or family member in financial difficulties, would I be able to declare it as a charitable gift on my tax return?

A: No. Gifts to individuals are not deductible as charitable contributions. Only amounts contributed to qualified organizations, such as nonprofit groups that are religious, charitable, educational, scientific, or literary in purpose, or that work to prevent cruelty to children or animals are tax deductible.

Q: How are deductions handled when married persons file separate returns? Most of the expenses come out of a joint account; must they be split in half?

A: Expenses paid out of a joint account are assumed to be equally split unless there is evidence presented that the actual ownership of the funds differs from the title on the account.

If you file married filing separate and one person itemizes, the other must also itemize.

Q: I was not able to itemize my mortgage interest last year since I didn't have enough deductions to itemize. Can I add this interest to this year's amount and deduct them both?

A: No, you cannot deduct last year's mortgage-interest expense this year. Itemized deductions for any tax year can only reflect payments you made in that year.

Q: My husband and I have a mortgage on our home, an RV, and a time-share. I was wondering if we can claim the interest we paid on all three of these as deductions.

A: Mortgage interest is deductible on your primary residence and on a second home. The loans must be secured by those properties. Though under certain circumstances, mortgage interest is deductible on certain types of time-shares, you are limited to first and second homes in your deduction. Of course, you must itemize your deductions on Schedule A to claim this deduction.

Through the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program, AARP Foundation is providing online tax counseling as a public service, and cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided. Your taxes are your responsibility. You are solely responsible for what you do in your own tax situation.

The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program is a volunteer-run, free tax-preparation and assistance service offered to low- and middle-income taxpayers with special attention to those age 60 and older. Our volunteers are trained and IRS-certified to understand individual federal-tax issues. Our volunteers provide tax assistance as a public service and cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.