Taxes 101


Standard Deduction Or Itemized Deductions? Learn The Best Fit For You

6 Min Read

Maximize Your Tax Savings with the Standard Deductions



Diving into the world of taxes might seem like navigating a maze in the dark, but there's a light switch called the standard deduction that can simplify the journey. This beacon, offered by the IRS, helps illuminate the path for many taxpayers, allowing them to reduce their taxable income with a single flick.

Whether you're single, married filing separately, or pondering over the maze's puzzles as a single filer, the standard deduction offers a straightforward escape from the complexity of itemizing every deduction. The standard deduction is a fixed dollar amount that’s a key tool in your tax toolkit, enabling you to lower your federal income tax by subtracting this set amount from your gross income.

But before you race toward this seemingly easier route, remember that the choice between claiming the standard deduction or deciding to itemize your deductions hinges on which option throws the most tax savings.

This article highlights the details of the standard deduction on your federal taxes, helping you easily navigate the federal tax landscape, ensuring your adjusted gross income doesn't get lost in the shadows.

Want an easier way to file your taxes? Download our FREE tax guide for individual filers.

Understanding How Itemized or Standard Deductions Work

Choosing how to deduct expenses when you file your taxes can significantly impact your federal income tax. This section helps you understand itemized deductions and how they compare to taking the standard deduction.

How do itemized deductions work?

Itemizing deductions means listing each deductible expense, where common itemized deductions include medical expenses and home mortgage interest, you've incurred throughout the year on your tax return. This approach can be beneficial if your total itemized deductions exceed the standard deduction for your filing status. The IRS allows you to subtract these expenses from your earned income, potentially reducing the amount of tax you owe. It's a method that requires detailed record-keeping but can lead to additional deductions beyond the basic standard deduction.

What is the Standard Deduction?

When should you itemize deductions instead of taking the standard deduction?

Opt for itemized deductions when the sum of all your deductible expenses is more than the standard deduction amount for your filing status. This could mean a larger deduction from your taxable income and lower taxes. The IRS doubled the standard deduction a few years ago, so itemizing makes sense for taxpayers with significant deductible expenses. If you have high medical bills, mortgage interest, or make large charitable donations, itemizing could be more beneficial than using the standard deduction.

What expenses can be itemized for deductions?

Several expenses qualify for itemized deductions. These include, but are not limited to, medical and dental expenses that exceed a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income, state and local taxes up to a specific limit, home mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and casualty or theft losses. Each type of expense has its own rules and limits, so it's crucial to consult the latest IRS guidelines or a tax professional to understand how these can be applied to your situation. Whether you're single or married filing separately, itemizing could offer an opportunity for significant tax savings if you have a variety of eligible expenses.

Further Reading: Understanding IRS Tax Form 1040: Schedule A Itemized Deductions vs Standard Deduction

Calculating Your Standard Deduction

Understanding how to calculate your standard deduction can simplify the process of filing your federal income taxes. This section breaks down what the standard deduction is, how it varies, and special considerations for different groups.

What is the standard deduction amount?

The standard deduction is a set amount the IRS allows taxpayers to subtract from their income before income tax is applied. It's a fixed dollar amount that varies each year as the IRS adjusts the standard deduction to reflect inflation. The purpose of this deduction is to simplify tax filing by eliminating the need to itemize deductions unless your total amount of itemized deductions is higher than the standard deduction.

The standard deduction amount depends on your filing status for the tax year 2024 (tax returns filed in 2025):

  • Single filers and Married Filing Separately: $14,600 (increased by $750 from 2023)
  • Married Filing Jointly: $29,200 (increased by $1,500 from 2023)
  • Head of Household: $21,900 (increased by $1,100 from 2023)

How does the standard deduction vary based on filing status?

Your tax filing status is crucial in determining the size of your standard deduction. The IRS provides different standard deduction amounts based on your filing status: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, and head of household. This means that the standard deduction for a single taxpayer is different from that for a taxpayer who is married filing jointly. The IRS nearly doubled the standard deduction a few years ago, making it more beneficial for a larger number of taxpayers to use the standard deduction instead of itemizing deductions.

Are there additional standard deductions for specific groups like seniors?

Yes, there are additional standard deduction amounts for specific groups such as seniors (65 years or older) and dependents. Seniors can claim an additional standard deduction on top of the basic standard deduction amount based on their filing status. This additional amount, in addition to the standard deduction, helps reduce their taxable income further.

Here's the breakdown:

  • Age 65 or Older: If you are 65 or older on the last day of the tax year, you qualify for an additional standard deduction amount on top of the regular amount for your filing status.
  • Blindness: If you are blind by the end of the tax year (legally blind with vision of 20/200 or less in the better eye with correction, or a visual field of 20 degrees or less), you can also claim an additional standard deduction.

The additional deduction amount depends on how many of these categories apply to you (single or married filing jointly) and your filing status:

  • Single or Head of Household:
    • $1,850 for only being 65 or older
    • $3,700 for being both 65 or older and blind
  • Married Filing Jointly:
    • $1,500 per qualifying spouse (either 65+ or blind) - so maximum of $3,000 if both spouses qualify
    • $3,000 per qualifying spouse if both are 65+ and blind

Maximizing Your Tax Return

Exploring strategies to maximize your tax return can significantly impact your finances. This section will focus on understanding deductions, particularly the standard deduction, and how to make informed decisions between itemizing deductions and taking the standard amount.

How can you utilize state and local tax deductions to increase savings?

State and local tax (SALT) deductions allow you to deduct taxes paid to state and local governments from your federal tax return. This can include property, income, and sales taxes. While there's a cap on the amount you can deduct, effectively using SALT deductions in years where your total itemized deductions exceed the standard deduction can lead to substantial savings. Remember, you cannot claim these deductions if you take the standard deduction.

What is the difference between standard and itemized deductions?

The key difference lies in how you reduce your taxable income. The standard deduction is a fixed amount set by the IRS that all taxpayers can subtract from their income. On the other hand, itemized deductions involve listing out specific expenses you've incurred throughout the year, such as mortgage interest or charitable donations. You should itemize only if your total itemized deductions are higher than the standard deduction for your filing status. You cannot take both; you must choose to either itemize or take the standard deduction.

Key Considerations for Itemizing Deductions

When preparing your taxes, deciding whether to take the standard deduction or itemize deductions is a crucial choice. This section explores how to make this decision and the factors influencing each option.

What are the implications of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on deductions?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act significantly altered the landscape for federal income tax deductions, impacting whether taxpayers opt for the standard deduction or itemize. It increased the amount of the standard deduction, making it more attractive for many filers. For those considering itemized deductions, common ones include mortgage interest, state and local taxes, and charitable contributions. However, the Act has limited certain deductions and modified the threshold for others, like the mortgage interest deduction, which may affect your decision on whether to itemize or take the standard deduction.

Further Reading: 20 Tax Tips to Maximize Your 2023 Year-End Tax Planning: A Tax Planning Guide to Tax Deductions and Financial Tips

How to calculate your standard deduction accurately?

Calculating your standard deduction accurately involves understanding the fixed dollar amount set by the IRS for your filing status. This amount can change annually, so it's vital to refer to the latest tax form or IRS guidelines. Your earned income plus any additional standard deduction for which you qualify (such as being 65 years or older or blind) will influence your total standard deduction. Remember, you cannot claim the standard deduction if you choose to itemize your deductions.

What are the standard deduction options for various filing statuses?

The standard deduction amount varies depending on your filing status: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, or head of household. Each status has a specific standard deduction amount, designed to simplify the process of filing federal income taxes. Taxpayers use the standard deduction because it's straightforward and often provides a higher deduction than itemizing. However, if your itemized deductions are less than your standard deduction, it's beneficial to take the standard deduction even if it seems less personalized. It's essential to evaluate your potential itemized deductions against the standard deduction for your filing status to determine which route offers the greatest tax advantage.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Standard Deduction: A set amount of income that you don't have to pay tax on. It makes filing taxes simpler for many people because it eliminates the need to itemize deductions.
  2. Taxable Income: The portion of your income that's subject to taxes. Taking the standard deduction on your federal income taxes lowers your taxable income, which can reduce your tax bill.
  3. Itemizing: The process of choosing whether to deduction or itemize your deductions instead of taking the standard deduction. Useful if your total deductions are more than the standard deduction amount, allowing you to choose whether to take the standard deduction or itemize your deductions.
  4. Filing Status: Your tax filing category, such as single, married filing jointly, or head of household. Your filing status affects the amount of your standard deduction.
  5. Age 65 or Older: If you're this age or older, you may qualify for a higher standard deduction, reducing your taxable income even further.

How can Taxfyle help?

Finding an accountant to manage your bookkeeping and file taxes is a big decision. Luckily, you don't have to handle the search on your own.

At Taxfyle, we connect small businesses with licensed, experienced CPAs or EAs in the US. We handle the hard part of finding the right tax professional by matching you with a Pro who has the right experience to meet your unique needs and will manage your bookkeeping and file taxes for you.

Get started with Taxfyle today, and see how finances can be simplified.

Legal Disclaimer

Tickmark, Inc. and its affiliates do not provide legal, tax or accounting advice. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal, tax or accounting advice or recommendations. All information prepared on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied on for legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your own legal, tax or accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. The content on this website is provided “as is;” no representations are made that the content is error-free.

We recommend a Pro file your taxes. Click here to file today.Leave your books to professionals. Click to connect with a Pro.
Was this post helpful?
Yes, thanks!
Not really
Thank you for your feedback
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Did you know business owners can spend over 100 hours filing taxes?
Is this article answering your questions?
Do you do your own bookkeeping?
Are you filing your own taxes?
How is your work-life balance?
Is your firm falling behind during the busy season?


April 3, 2024


Antonio Del Cueto, CPA

Antonio Del Cueto, CPA


by this author

Share this article