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I have some substantial deductions via donations and medical expenses. Unfortunately it does not seem like my income is high enough for them to be considered this year.

After going through the steps on TurboTax the deductions made 0 difference. Can I wait for a future year to reapply the deductions of the current year?

How can I tell if it would make a difference if my future income will increase?

  • 4
    Usually in most countries deductions can only be claimed in the tax year they occur in. – Victor Mar 15 '15 at 20:43
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I believe TurboTax is available only in the US and Canada, so I'll assume you're from one of those countries.

For personal expenses of cash-based taxpayers, most deductions must be claimed in the year they occurred. However, in some cases, if you're unable to actually benefit from the deduction (usually due to a cap on deduction amounts or NOL cases), you may be able to carry-forward or carry-back the unused portion.

In the US this happens, amongst other, for these frequent deductions:

  1. Charitable contributions: if you contributed more than you can deduct, you claim all the contributions in the year you contributed them, and then carry forward the unused part to the next year (and so on until it is used). Note that this is for contributions over the 50% income limit (or other statutory limitations, depending on the kind of the deduction), if you do not benefit from the deduction because it is less than the standard deduction - you cannot carry it forward.

  2. Capital losses: you can only deduct up to $3000/year of net capital loss, everything else gets carried forward.

  3. NOL - if you're in a NOL situation, you can carry it forward or back, depending on the situation.

  4. Foreign Tax Credit - if you cannot use the whole credit you have, you can carry it forward for 10 years or until used.

These are explicit cases, i.e.: these deductions/credits are explicitly allowed to be carried between years. Any deduction that is not explicitly allowed to be carried, cannot be carried and must be used in the year you incurred the expense. If it doesn't provide tax benefit - it is lost for you.

For most people, Schedule A deductions (in the US) will provide no benefit because the standard deduction will be higher.

  • Would there be any benefit in not claiming the the deductions in the current year and leaving them for a later year? – TheOne Mar 16 '15 at 13:30
  • @TheOne most definitely. If this year you don't have a lot of earnings, but next year you expect to - it would make sense to shift the deductions to the next year to get more tax benefit. This is exactly why it is not allowed. – littleadv Mar 17 '15 at 5:47

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