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Rev. date: 09/2006


Standard Deduction

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Tele-Tax Topic 551
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The standard deduction is a dollar amount that reduces the amount of income on which you are taxed. You cannot take the standard deduction if you claim itemized deductions.
Your standard deduction can consist of the basic standard deduction and additional standard deduction amounts for age and blindness. For 2008 you may also include state or local real estate taxes and net disaster losses as part of your standard deduction.
In general, the basic standard deduction is adjusted each year for inflation and varies according to your filing status. The basic standard deduction of an individual who can be claimed as a dependent on another person's tax return is the greater of:
  1. An amount specified by law, or
  2. The individual's earned income plus a specified amount (but the total cannot be more than the basic standard deduction for his or her filing status).
The additional standard deduction amount for age, blindness, or both is specified by law and varies based on your filing status. If you are married, file a separate return and your spouse has no gross income, you will be allowed any additional amounts that apply to you or your spouse, provided your spouse is not the dependent of another taxpayer.
The additional amount for age will be allowed if you are age 65 or older at the end of the tax year. You are considered to be 65 on the day before your 65th birthday.
The additional amount for blindness will be allowed if you are blind on the last day of the tax year.
For example, a single taxpayer who is age 65 and legally blind would be entitled to a basic standard deduction and additional standard deductions for both age and blindness.
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-A or Form 1040. The additional standard deduction amounts cannot be claimed on Form 1040EZ.
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 joint). The taxes must be the type that would be deductible on Form 1040 (Schedule A) if you were itemizing your deductions. Taxes deductible in arriving at adjusted gross income cannot be used to increase your standard deduction. If you are increasing your standard deduction by the amount of the real estate taxes you paid, be sure to check the box on line 39c of Form 1040 or line 23c of Form 1040-A.
Your standard deduction is also 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. See the Instructions 4684, and Publication 4492–B, Information for Affected Taxpayers in the Midwestern Disaster Areas, for more information.
Certain individuals are not entitled to the standard deduction. They are:
  1. A married individual filing a separate return whose spouse itemizes deductions
  2. An individual who was a nonresident alien or dual status alien during any part of the year (note that residents of India may be able to claim the standard deduction if they meet certain criteria. Refer to Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, , for more information.)
  3. An individual who files a return for a period of less than 12 months due to a change in his or her annual accounting period, or
  4. An estate or trust, common trust fund, or partnership
For more information, refer to Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.
previous pagePrevious Page: Tax Computation
next pageNext Page:  Tax and Credits Figured by the IRS
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