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Hi ShadoRydr:

I'm really not trying to argue with you per se, perhaps just the position of our govenment

Nor am I trying to argue with you. I am just stating the way the law is written whether or not it makes sense to you. It does make some sense in that (for example) say my brother does not have enough deductions to itemize but makes sizable charitable contributions. I decide that even though I did not PAY for those contributions it isn't fair that they are "wasted" so I will take them. We have the same last name and I even have the letter that says Dear Mr. X thank you for your contribution so I have documentation!! Will I get caught? Maybe not. Is it legal? NO

I also just got of the phone with an IRS technical agent during my lunch. According to him, the person who's social security number is on the 1098 (and there will be only one) can take the entire deduction if its decided to do it that way. If you decide to split the deduction, the person who's SS number isn't on the 1098, will need to reference the return of the persons who's number is, in order to substantiate the deduction they are claiming. Since there is only 1 social security number to cross reference, only that persons return is subject to scrutiny. If they decide not to take the deduction, that is up to them.

If your question is "will I get caught if my SSN is on the 1098 and I take the full deduction even though I cannot prove that I (alone) made all of the interest and tax payments?" then your arguments are correct and the likelihood of that being the trigger for an audit or that you will be caught as in the above example is extremely low.

But, if the question is as the Original Poster asked "is it legal?" then the answer as Phil stated previously is "NO". And if you were to be subject to a full random audit and could not prove you made the payments (in all likelihood) the deduction would be split between those that did the actual paying.

Deciding not to take a deduction you are entitled to is the taxpayers business, but deciding to take a deduction you are not entitled to is something totally different.

cjbb
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