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U.S. Individual Tax-Itemized Deduction or Standard Deduction?

U.S. Individual Tax-Itemized Deduction or Standard Deduction?

There are two ways you can take deductions on your federal income tax return: you can itemize deductions or use the standard deduction. Deductions reduce the amount of your taxable income. You should choose the deduction method, which is the most tax advantageous to you.

The standard deduction amount varies depending on your income, age, whether or not you are blind, and filing status and changes each year. For 2020, the standard deduction for married filing jointly is $24,800. For single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately, the standard deduction is $12,400, and for heads of households, the standard deduction will be $18,650 for tax year 2020.

Please note that certain taxpayers cannot use the standard deduction:

  1. A married individual filing as married filing separately whose spouse itemizes deductions.
  2. An individual who files a tax return for a period of less than 12 months because of a change in his or her annual accounting period.
  3. An individual who was a nonresident alien or a dual-status alien during the year. However, nonresident aliens who are married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien at the end of the year and who choose to be treated as U.S. residents for tax purposes can take the standard deduction.
  4. An estate or trust, common trust fund, or partnership.

You should itemize deductions if your allowable itemized deductions are greater than your standard deduction or if you must itemize deductions because you cannot use the standard deduction.

You may be able to reduce your tax by itemizing deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040 or 1040-SR). Itemized deductions include amounts you paid for state and local income or sales taxes, real estate taxes, personal property taxes, mortgage interest, and disaster losses from a Federally declared disaster. You may also include gifts to charity and part of the amount you paid for medical and dental expenses. You would usually benefit by itemizing on Schedule A (Form 1040 or 1040-SR), if you:

  1. Cannot use the standard deduction or the amount you can claim is limited
  2. Had large uninsured medical and dental expenses
  3. Paid interest or taxes on your home
  4. Had large "Other Itemized Deductions" (line 16 on Schedule A (Form 1040 or 1040-SR))
  5. Had large uninsured casualty or theft losses from a Federally declared disaster, or
  6. Made large contributions to qualified charities

In summary, you should choose the method that can give you the more tax benefits based on your situation.


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