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Schedule L, a new form for nonitemizers

Most taxpayers claim the standard deduction. One of the great things about using this amount, which is based on your filing status, is that you don't have to hassle with extra paperwork.

That's about to change. Thanks to new laws that allow add-ons to the standard deduction amount, millions of taxpayers now will have to substantiate their deductible supplements.

Starting with 2009 returns, the IRS is requiring these standard deduction claimants to fill out a new piece of paperwork, Schedule L, and send it along with Form 1040 or 1040A. 

Form 1040_sl_top_draft2009

As the schedule notes (or "cautions") in the line just below where you enter your name and Social Security Number, "File this form only if you are increasing your standard deduction by certain state or local real estate taxes, new motor vehicle taxes, or a net disaster loss."

Last filing season, additional standard deduction amounts for disaster losses and property taxes (the car tax write-off is new in 2009) were figured using the standard deduction worksheet found in the Form 1040 instruction book.  A similar worksheet was provided in the 1040A instructions for filers using that return and only adding property tax payments to their standard deduction. But in both cases, the IRS didn't demand to see the work product.

Next filing season, however, Uncle Sam wants the additional deduction details in writing on the new Schedule L.

How much you can add: In each of the three add-on instances now available, you start with 2009's standard deduction amounts:

  • $5,700 if you're single or married filing separately

  • $11,400 if you're married filing jointly or are a qualifying widow or widower

  • $8,350 if you're a head of household

To the appropriate standard deduction amount, nonitemizers can add a portion of property taxes they paid. The cap is $500 for single filers or $1,000 for filers who are married and file joint returns.

Folks who buy a new vehicle between Feb. 17 and Dec. 31 can add the sales tax paid on the first $49,500 of the auto's cost to their standard deduction.  

And filers who live in federal disaster areas can increase their standard deduction by any net casualty losses. In these cases, affected taxpayers also will have to complete Form 4684.

So while claiming the standard deduction will still be the most tax-saving way to go for most folks, Schedule L definitely is going to make the 2009 filing process a little less easy.

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Larry, sorry but this option expired at the end of 2009 and wasn't extended for the 2010 tax year.


The Schedule L for 2010 returns does not include real estate taxes. Where does one insert the $500 or $1000 real estate tax deduction?

Ollie Canfield

Is there a worksheet for Schedule L ?


Thank you! Trust me, I know how you can look at things too long. I take two or three days to finish our taxes; do them, take a break, check again. Always something new!Glad it all worked out for you and your mom.


Kay, you are a sweetheart! Between my own taxes and my mom's, I think my eyes have seen too much this year! When I checked "No" on line 2, I was supposed to skip line 3 and go straight to line 5. I ended up putting the $950 from line 3 where the $5700 should go on line 4. And now I'm all "lined" out for the evening! You were right, I just needed to take another look at it. Believe it or not, I've been doing this stuff for many years!
Anyway, thanks again, very much appreciated!


Schedule L asks for the standard deduction amount to start with (line 1), as well as adds in the extra for older and/or blind filers (line 5). So your total should have been more than the $2,850 you came up with since the standard amount for a single filer starts at $5,700. Did you fill out the full form, or just lines related to the property tax? You need to complete the full form, so I suggest working through it again. Don't figure your mom's standard amount separately, just fill out Schedule L and you should come up with $7,600 that covers the standard amount for a single filer, extra for her age and the $500 for her property taxes. I hope this helps. I really hate to see folks injure themselves at tax time!


If anyone can help me, I would appreciate it. I do my mother's taxes, and this pertains to form 1040A. Because she is a senior, I checked box 23a and figured her STANDARD DEDUCTION to be $7,100. BUT, since she did in fact pay real estate taxes, I worked through Schedule L and came up with an amount of $2,850 on that form. My question now is: Am I supposed to ADD that $2,850 to the $7,100 and put that total in box 24a? Nothing I have read makes that clear at all. Thanks in advance to anyone who can keep me from shooting myself...LOL.


Thanks for this. You will be happy to know that I missed this when I did my 2008 taxes. Today I went back and filed a 1040X for 2008 in order to get the increased standard deduction. Yes, it was another stupid form, but for an extra $150 refund it was worth the time. I was also a good lesson, to make sure that I check the What's New each year. I already have my Schedule L filled out as well as my schedule M.


Once again you have to be a tax expert to find the smallest of deductions.
I confess I missed this last year and I'm sure I'll miss something this year.
Simple is not in the IRS's vocabulary.

Larry Logan

I bought a 2008 model Ford Oct. 2009. It is new car for me. But it was not a 2009 model, can I still take the new car deduction?

Anthony J. Arcoraci

Need copy of Schedule L

Fritz Ehlers

It's well worth it to fill out a short form and get back two or three hundred dollars more in my return.


Yikes! But I'm sure this will all change when Obama's tax advisory panel shares its findings in December. Taxes will get simple. And I will win American Idol.

Jeff Day

How much do you think the IRS received from companies such as HRB to add this form? Nothing gained except another form to be able to charge for.

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