Last year, I spent hours working on all our itemized deductions, only to have TurboTax tell me in the end that we'd get a bigger refund with the standard deduction.

Is there anyway of doing some back of the envelop calculations ahead of time to see whether or not it will be worth it to go through all of that again this year or whether we should just take the standard deduction.

Our standard deduction this year is $12,600 (married filing jointly). Our main deductions -- mortgage interest; property tax and charitable donations will work out to around $11,000. I'm using TurboTax, so I don't see the actual tax form itself and I haven't entered all the data for various charitable donations and other. Is there any complexity to the calculation that the IRS/TurboTax does? Are certain deductions weighted differently? Or is $1 of itemized deductions (no matter what kind) = $1 of standard deduction.

I'm also thinking that however the deductions are calculated, our spending has not significantly changed from last year (and in fact is probably a little less, since the amount we paid toward mortgage interest was lower), so the result will probably be the same.

So, just go with the standard deduction, right? This is what I'm thinking, but it sure feels like copping out and not doing all the hard work I feel like I am supposed to do for my taxes.