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The Standard Deduction

The standard deduction is a dollar amount that reduces the amount of income on which you are taxed. This ensures that taxpayers will have at least some income that won’t be taxed.  But you cannot take the standard deduction if you claim itemized deductions.

For the year 2020, the standard deduction you can claim is $12,400 if you are single or married filing separately, and $24,800 if you are filing jointly. For heads of household, the standard deduction is $18,650.

Additional Standard Deductions

In some cases, your standard deduction can consist of two parts: the basic standard deduction, and additional standard deduction amounts for age, or blindness, or both.

The additional amount for age will be allowed if you are age 65 or older at the end of the tax year. The IRS will allow the blindness adjustment if you are partially or totally blind. But you will need to show a certified statement from your eye doctor attesting this fact.

For 2020, the additional standard deduction for a single taxpayer who is 65 or over or blind is $1,650. Married taxpayers 65 or over or blind will get an additional deduction of $1,300

If you or your spouse were 65 or older or blind at the end of the year, be sure to claim the additional standard deduction amounts by checking the appropriate boxes on Form 1040 or 1040A.

Special Circumstances

Certain individuals are not entitled to the standard deduction. They are:

  1. Married individuals filing a separate return whose spouses itemize deductions
  2. Individuals who were nonresident immigrants or dual-status immigrants during any part of the year
  3. Individuals who file returns for a period of less than 12 months due to a change in their annual accounting cycle

Itemize or Standard Deduction?

As stated above, you have to either itemize or use the standard deduction. So, you should take time to look at your income and costs to see which one will give you a better deduction amount. For example, if you paid property taxes on your home or made a significant charitable contribution, you may want to consider itemizing.

Have Questions on Standard Deductions? Speak to an Attorney

Standard deductions can be a great benefit for taxpayers. So, it's important to make sure you get the most out of these deductions. If you are not sure whether to use standard deductions or have questions about the process, speak to a tax attorney near you. 

For more information, refer to IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.

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Next Steps

Contact a qualified tax attorney to help you navigate your federal and/or state tax issues.

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