Most taxpayers have a choice of taking a standard deduction or itemizing their deductions. You benefit from the standard deduction if your standard deduction is more than the total of your allowable itemized deductions. If you have a choice, you should use the method that gives you the lower tax.taxmap/pubs/p554-011.htm#en_us_publink1000138867
The standard deduction amount depends on your filing status, whether you are 65 or older or blind, whether an exemption can be claimed for you by another taxpayer, whether you pay state or local real estate taxes, and whether you have a net disaster loss from a federally declared disaster. Generally, the standard deduction amounts are adjusted each year for inflation. Use Worksheet 4-1 to figure your standard deduction amount.taxmap/pubs/p554-011.htm#en_us_publink1000138868
Your standard deduction is zero and you should itemize any deductions you have if:
- You are married and filing a separate return, and your spouse itemizes deductions,
- You are filing a tax return for a short tax year because of a change in your annual accounting period, or
- You are a nonresident or dual-status alien during the year. You are considered a dual-status alien if you were both a nonresident alien and a resident alien during the year.
If you are a nonresident alien who is married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien at the end of the year, you can choose to be treated as a U.S. resident. See Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens. If you make this choice, you can take the standard deduction.taxmap/pubs/p554-011.htm#en_us_publink1000138869
The amount of the standard deduction for a decedent's final tax return is the same as it would have been had the decedent continued to live. However, if the decedent was not 65 or older at the time of death, the higher standard deduction for age cannot be claimed. taxmap/pubs/p554-011.htm#en_us_publink1000138870
If you do not itemize deductions, you are entitled to a higher standard deduction if you are age 65 or older at the end of the year. You are considered 65 on the day before your 65th birthday. Therefore, you can take a higher standard deduction for 2008 if you were born before January 2, 1944. taxmap/pubs/p554-011.htm#en_us_publink1000138871
If you are blind on the last day of the year and you do not itemize deductions, you are entitled to a higher standard deduction. You qualify for this benefit if you are totally or partly blind. taxmap/pubs/p554-011.htm#en_us_publink1000138872
If you are partly blind, you must get a certified statement from an eye doctor or registered optometrist that:
- You cannot see better than 20/200 in the better eye with glasses or contact lenses, or
- Your field of vision is not more than 20 degrees.
If your eye condition will never improve beyond these limits, the statement should include this fact. You must keep the statement in your records.
If your vision can be corrected beyond these limits only by contact lenses that you can wear only briefly because of pain, infection, or ulcers, you can take the higher standard deduction for blindness if you otherwise qualify. taxmap/pubs/p554-011.htm#en_us_publink1000138873
You can take the higher standard deduction if your spouse is age 65 or older or blind and:
- You file a joint return, or
- You file a separate return and can claim an exemption for your spouse because your spouse had no gross income and an exemption for your spouse could not be claimed by another taxpayer.
You cannot claim the higher standard deduction for an individual other than yourself and your spouse.
Your standard deduction is increased by any state and local real estate taxes you paid in 2008, up to $500 ($1,000 if married filing jointly). The taxes must be state or local real estate taxes that would be deductible on Schedule A (Form 1040) if you were itemizing your deductions. Taxes deductible in arriving at adjusted gross income, such as taxes on business real estate, and taxes on foreign real estate cannot be used to increase your standard deduction.
If you are increasing your standard deduction by the amount of real estate taxes you paid, be sure to check the box on line 39c of Form 1040 or line 23c of Form 1040A.taxmap/pubs/p554-011.htm#en_us_publink1000138876
Your standard deduction is increased by any net disaster loss from a federally declared disaster that occurred in 2008. This amount is on Form 4684, line 18a.
If you are increasing your standard deduction by the amount of your net disaster loss, be sure to check the box on line 39c of Form 1040.
For more information, see the instructions for Form 4684, Casualties and Thefts, and Publication 4492-B, Information for Affected Taxpayers in the Midwestern Disaster Areas.taxmap/pubs/p554-011.htm#en_us_publink1000138877
The following examples illustrate how to determine your standard deduction using Worksheet 4-1.taxmap/pubs/p554-011.htm#en_us_publink1000138878
Bill and Lisa are filing a joint return for 2008. Both are over age 65. Neither is blind, and neither can be claimed as a dependent. They did not pay real estate taxes or have a net disaster loss. They do not itemize deductions, so they use Worksheet 4-1. Because they are married filing jointly, they enter $10,900 on line 1. They check the "No" box on line 2, so they also enter $10,900 on line 4. Because they are both over age 65, they enter $2,100 ($1,050 × 2) on line 5. They enter $13,000 ($10,900 + $2,100) on line 10, so their standard deduction is $13,000.taxmap/pubs/p554-011.htm#en_us_publink1000138879
The facts are the same as in Example 1 except that Bill and Lisa paid $3,000 in local real estate taxes on their home in 2008, so they enter $3,000 on line 7 of the worksheet. They then enter $1,000 on lines 8 and 9 and $14,000 ($10,900 + $2,100 + $1,000) on line 10. Their standard deduction is $14,000.taxmap/pubs/p554-011.htm#en_us_publink1000138880
The facts are the same as in Example 2 except that Bill and Lisa had a net disaster loss from a federally declared disaster of $8,000. That is the amount on line 18a of their Form 4684. They enter $8,000 on line 6 of Worksheet 4-1. On line 10 of the worksheet, they enter $22,000 ($10,900 + $2,100 + $8,000 + $1,000), which is their standard deduction.taxmap/pubs/p554-011.htm#en_us_publink1000138881
The standard deduction for an individual for whom an exemption can be claimed on another person's tax return is generally limited to the greater of:
- $900, or
- The individual's earned income for the year plus $300 (but not more than the regular standard deduction amount, generally $5,450).
However, the standard deduction may be higher if the individual is 65 or older or blind, paid state or local real estate taxes, or had a net disaster loss from a federally declared disaster.
If an exemption for you (or your spouse if you are filing jointly) can be claimed on someone else's return, use Worksheet 4-1 to determine your standard deduction.
Worksheet 4-1. 2008 Standard Deduction Worksheet
|Caution. If you are married filing a separate return and your spouse itemizes deductions, or if you are a dual-status alien, do not complete this worksheet. You cannot take the standard deduction even if you were born before January 2, 1944, are blind, pay real estate taxes, or have a net disaster loss. |
|If you were born before January 2, 1944, and/or blind, check the correct number of boxes below. Put the total number of boxes checked in box c and go to line 1. |
|a.||You|| ||Born before |
January 2, 1944
| || ||Blind |
|b.||Your spouse, if claiming |
| ||Born before|
January 2, 1944
| || ||Blind |
|c.||Total boxes checked || || || || || || |
|1.||Enter the amount shown below for your filing status.|| || || || || || |
| || |
- Single or married filing separately — $5,450
- Married filing jointly or Qualifying widow(er) — $10,900
- Head of household — $8,000
| || || 1.|| || || |
|2.||Can you (or your spouse if filing jointly) be claimed as a dependent?|
No. Skip line 3; enter the amount from line 1 on line 4.
Yes. Go to line 3.
| || || || |
|3.||Is your earned income* more than $600? || || || || || || |
| || Yes. Add $300 to your earned income. Enter the total || 3.|| || || |
| || No. Enter $900 || || || || || || |
|4.||Enter the smaller of line 1 or line 3 || 4.|| |
|5.||If born before January 2, 1944, or blind, multiply the number in box c by $1,050 ($1,350 if single or head of household). Enter the result here. Otherwise, enter -0- || 5.|| |
|6.||Enter any net disaster loss from Form 4684, line 18a. If more than zero, check the box on Form 1040, line 39c.**|| 6.|| |
|7.||Enter the state and local real estate taxes you paid that would be deductible on Schedule A (Form 1040), line 6, if you were itemizing your deductions. See the instructions for Schedule A (Form 1040), line 6. Do not include foreign real estate taxes || 7.|| || || |
|8.||Enter $500 ($1,000 if married filing jointly)|| 8.|| || || |
|9.||Enter the smaller of line 7 or line 8. If more than zero, check the box on Form 1040, line 39c (or Form 1040A, line 23c**) || 9.|| |
|10.||Add lines 4, 5, 6, and 9. This is your standard deduction for 2008.**||10.|| |
|* Earned income includes wages, salaries, tips, professional fees, and other compensation received for personal services you performed. It also includes any amount received as a scholarship that you must include in your income. Generally, your earned income is the total of the amount(s) you reported on Form 1040, lines 7, 12, and 18, minus the amount, if any, on line 27 (or the amount you reported on Form 1040A, line 7).|
**If the amount on line 6 of this worksheet is more than zero, you cannot file Form 1040A; you must file Form 1040.