What’s the Difference Between a Standard Deduction and an Itemized Deduction?

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When you file your federal income tax return, you have two choices: take the standard deduction or itemize your deductions. According to the IRS, most taxpayers use the option that lowers their tax liability the most; however, changing tax laws mean that people who itemized in the past might want to switch to the standard deduction.

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Here is some more information about your two options:

Standard Deduction

The standard deduction is a specific amount that taxpayers can subtract from their taxable earnings. The amount increases slightly each year and varies by filing status, whether the taxpayer is 65 or older — or blind — and whether another taxpayer can claim them as a dependent. Here are the standard deductions for the 2021 and 2022 tax years:

  • Single: $12,550 for 2021 and $12,950 for 2022.
  • Married, filing jointly: $25,100 for 2021 and $25,900 for 2022.
  • Married, filing separately: $12,550 for 2021 and $12,950 for 2022.
  • Head of household: $18,800 for 2021 and $19,400 for 2022.

Related: Inflation and Your Taxes — How Do Higher Prices Impact Your Tax Bracket?

Not everyone can take the standard deduction. These taxpayers include:

  • A married individual filing as married filing separately whose spouse itemizes deductions.
  • An individual who files a tax return for a period of less than 12 months.
  • An individual who was a nonresident alien or a dual-status alien during the year. Nonresident aliens who are married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien can take the standard deduction, but only in certain situations.
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Most filers can find the standard deduction on the first page of Form 1040. For filers using Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors, the standard deduction is on page 4.

Itemized Deductions

If you itemize deductions, you lower your taxable income from a list of qualifying expenses that were approved by the IRS.

You can itemize deductions by filing Schedule A, Form 1040, Itemized Deductions. Itemized deductions that may be claimed include:

  • State and local income or sales taxes.
  • Real estate and personal property taxes.
  • Home mortgage interest.
  • Mortgage insurance premiums on a home mortgage.
  • Personal casualty and theft losses from a federally declared disaster.
  • Donations to a qualified charity.
  • Unreimbursed medical and dental expenses that exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income.

Learn: Child Tax Credit: I Received Money, But Don’t Usually Submit a Return — Do I Need to File Taxes This Year?
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Before making itemized deductions, review the instructions for Schedule A Form 1040 for more information on IRS limitations.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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