skip navigation

Search Help
Navigation Help

Topic Index
ABCDEFGHI
JKLMNOPQR
STUVWXYZ#

FAQs
Forms
Publications
Tax Topics

Comments
About Tax Map

IRS.gov Website
Publication 501
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221051

Standard Deduction(p21)

rule
Most taxpayers have a choice of either taking a standard deduction or itemizing their deductions. If you have a choice, you can use the method that gives you the lower tax.
The standard deduction is a dollar amount that reduces the amount of income on which you are taxed. It is a benefit that eliminates the need for many taxpayers to itemize actual deductions, such as medical expenses, charitable contributions, and taxes, on Schedule A of Form 1040. The standard deduction is higher for taxpayers who:
Deposit
You benefit from the standard deduction if your standard deduction is more than the total of your allowable itemized deductions.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221053

Persons not eligible for the standard deduction.(p21)

rule
Your standard deduction is zero and you should itemize any deductions you have if:
  1. Your filing status is married filing separately, and your spouse itemizes deductions on his or her return,
  2. You are filing a tax return for a short tax year because of a change in your annual accounting period, or
  3. You are a nonresident or dual-status alien during the year. You are considered a dual-status alien if you were both a nonresident and 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.) If you make this choice, you can take the standard deduction.
EIC
If an exemption for you can be claimed on another person's return (such as your parents' return), your standard deduction may be limited. See Standard Deduction for Dependents, later.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221056

Standard Deduction Amount(p21)

rule
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 have a net disaster loss from a federally declared disaster, and whether you paid state or local sales or excise tax (or certain other taxes or fees in a state without a sales tax) in 2010 on the purchase of a new motor vehicle after February 16, 2009, and before 2010. Generally, the standard deduction amounts are adjusted each year for inflation. Use Worksheet 3 to figure your standard deduction amount.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000250288

Decedent's final return.(p22)

rule
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/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221057

Higher Standard Deduction for Age (65 or Older)(p22)

rule
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 2010 if you were born before January 2, 1946.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221058

Higher Standard Deduction for Blindness(p22)

rule
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/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221059

Partly blind.(p22)

rule
If you are partly blind, you must get a certified statement from an eye doctor or registered optometrist that:
  1. You cannot see better than 20/200 in the better eye with glasses or contact lenses, or
  2. 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/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221060

Spouse 65 or Older or Blind(p22)

rule
You can take the higher standard deduction if your spouse is age 65 or older or blind and:
  1. You file a joint return, or
  2. 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.
EIC
You cannot claim the higher standard deduction for an individual other than yourself and your spouse.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000247610

Higher Standard Deduction for Sales Taxes on New Motor Vehicles(p22)

rule
Your standard deduction is increased by any state or local sales or excise taxes you paid in 2010 on the purchase of a new vehicle after February 16, 2009, and before 2010.
If you bought the vehicle in 2010, you cannot increase your standard deduction by any taxes you paid on the purchase.
The amount is limited to tax on the first $49,500 of the purchase price. The taxes must be state or local sales or excise taxes that would be deductible on Form 1040 (Schedule A) if you were itemizing your deductions. In states without a sales tax, certain other taxes or fees qualify if they are assessed on the purchase of the vehicle and are based on the vehicle's sales price or as a per unit fee. Taxes deductible in arriving at adjusted gross income, such as taxes on a vehicle used in your business, cannot be used to increase your standard deduction.
If you are increasing your standard deduction by the amount of these state or local sales or excise taxes, complete Schedule L (Form 1040A or 1040) and attach it to your return.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000247611

Higher Standard Deduction for Net Disaster Loss(p22)

rule
Your standard deduction is increased by any net disaster loss you had in 2010 because of a disaster that occurred before 2010 and was declared a federal disaster after 2007. This amount is on Form 4684, line 17.
If you are increasing your standard deduction by the amount of your net disaster loss, complete Schedule L (Form 1040A or 1040) and attach it your return.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000247595

Examples(p22)

rule
The following examples illustrate how to determine your standard deduction using Worksheet 3.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000247597

Example 1.(p22)

Larry, 46, and Donna, 33, are filing a joint return for 2010. Neither is blind, and neither can be claimed as a dependent. They did not pay sales or excise taxes on the purchase of a new motor vehicle or have a net disaster loss. They decide not to itemize their deductions. Because they are married filing jointly, they enter $11,400 on line 1 of Worksheet 3. They check the "No" box on line 2, so they also enter $11,400 on lines 4 and 7. Their standard deduction is $11,400.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000247599

Example 2.(p22)

The facts are the same as in Example 1, except that Larry is blind at the end of 2010, so he and Donna enter $1,100 on line 5 of Worksheet 3. They then enter $12,500 ($11,400 + $1,100) on line 7, so their standard deduction is $12,500.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000247602

Example 3.(p22)

Bill and Lisa are filing a joint return for 2010. Both are over age 65. Neither is blind, and neither can be claimed as a dependent. They did not pay sales or excise taxes on the purchase of a new motor vehicle or have a net disaster loss. They do not itemize deductions, so they use Worksheet 3. Because they are married filing jointly, they enter $11,400 on line 1. They check the "No" box on line 2, so they also enter $11,400 on line 4. Because they are both over age 65, they enter $2,200 ($1,100 × 2) on line 5. They enter $13,600 ($11,400 + $2,200) on line 7, so their standard deduction is $13,600.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000247607

Example 4.(p22)

The facts are the same as in Example 3 except that Bill and Lisa had an $8,000 net disaster loss from a federally declared disaster that occurred in 2009. That is the amount on line 17 of their Form 4684. They enter $8,000 on line 6 of Worksheet 3. On line 7 of the worksheet, they enter $21,600 ($11,400 + $2,200 + $8,000), which is their standard deduction. Because line 6 is greater than zero, they must complete Schedule L (Form 1040A or 1040) and attach it to their return.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221069

Standard Deduction for Dependents(p22)

rule
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:
  1. $950, or
  2. The individual's earned income for the year plus $300 (but not more than the regular standard deduction amount, generally $5,700).
However, if the individual is 65 or older or blind, paid state or local sales or excise taxes on the purchase of a new motor vehicle, or had a net disaster loss from a federally declared disaster, the standard deduction may be higher.
If an exemption for you (or your spouse if you are married filing jointly) can be claimed on someone else's return, use Worksheet 3 to determine your standard deduction.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221070
Earned income defined.(p22)
Earned income is salaries, wages, tips, professional fees, and other amounts received as pay for work you actually perform.
For purposes of the standard deduction, earned income also includes any part of a scholarship or fellowship grant that you must include in your gross income. See chapter 1 of Publication 970 for more information on what qualifies as a scholarship or fellowship grant.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221071

Example 1.(p22)

Michael is single. His parents claim an exemption for him on their 2010 tax return. He has interest income of $780 and wages of $150. He did not pay sales or excise taxes on the purchase of a new motor vehicle or have a net disaster loss. He has no itemized deductions. Michael uses Worksheet 3 to find his standard deduction. Because he is single, he enters $5,700 on line 1. He checks the "Yes" box on line 2, enters $950 on line 3, and also enters $950 (the smaller of line 1 and line 3) on line 4. He leaves lines 5 and 6 blank and enters $950 on line 7. His standard deduction is $950.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221072

Example 2.(p22)

Joe, a 22-year-old full-time college student, is claimed on his parents' 2010 tax return. Joe is married and files a separate return. His wife does not itemize deductions on her separate return. Joe has $1,500 in interest income and wages of $3,800. He did not pay sales or excise taxes on the purchase of a new motor vehicle or have a net disaster loss. He has no itemized deductions. Joe finds his standard deduction by using Worksheet 3. Because he is married filing a separate return, he enters $5,700 on line 1. He checks the "Yes" box on line 2, enters $4,100 ($3,800 + $300) on line 3, and also enters $4,100 (the smaller of line 1 and line 3) on line 4. He leaves lines 5 and 6 blank and enters $4,100 on line 7. His standard deduction is $4,100.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221073

Example 3.(p23)

Amy, who is single, is claimed on her parents' 2010 return. She is 18 years old and blind. She has interest income of $1,300 and wages of $2,900. She did not pay sales or excise taxes on the purchase of a new motor vehicle or have a net disaster loss. She has no itemized deductions. Amy finds her standard deduction by using Worksheet 3. Because she is single, she enters $5,700 on line 1. She checks the "Yes" box on line 2, enters $3,200 ($2,900 + $300) on line 3, and also enters $3,200 (the smaller of line 1 and line 3) on line 4. Because she is blind, she enters $1,400 on line 5. She enters $4,600 ($3,200 + $1,400) on line 7. Her standard deduction is $4,600.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000246560

Example 4.(p23)

Ed is single. His parents claim an exemption for him on their 2010 tax return. He has wages of $6,841, interest income of $504, and a business loss of $3,115. He has no itemized deductions. Ed uses Worksheet 3 to figure his standard deduction. Because he is single, he enters $5,700 on line 1. He checks the "Yes" box on line 2, and enters $4,026 ($6,841+ $300 - $3,115) on line 3, and also enters $4,026 (the smaller of line 1 and line 3) on line 4. He leaves lines 5 and 6 blank and enters $4,026 on line 7. His standard deduction is $4,026.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221074

Who Should Itemize(p23)

rule
You should itemize deductions if your total deductions are more than the standard deduction amount. Also, you should itemize if you do not qualify for the standard deduction, as discussed earlier under Persons not eligible for the standard deduction.
You should first figure your itemized deductions and compare that amount to your standard deduction to make sure you are using the method that gives you the greater benefit.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221077
When to itemize.(p23)
You may benefit from itemizing your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040) if you:
  1. Do not qualify for the standard deduction, or the amount you can claim is limited,
  2. Had large uninsured medical and dental expenses during the year,
  3. Paid interest and taxes on your home,
  4. Had large unreimbursed employee business expenses or other miscellaneous deductions,
  5. Had large uninsured casualty or theft losses,
  6. Made large contributions to qualified charities, or
  7. Have total itemized deductions that are more than the standard deduction to which you otherwise are entitled.
If you decide to itemize your deductions, complete Schedule A and attach it to your Form 1040. Enter the amount from Schedule A, line 29, on Form 1040, line 40.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221078

Electing to itemize for state tax or other purposes.(p23)

rule
Even if your itemized deductions are less than the amount of your standard deduction, you can elect to itemize deductions on your federal return rather than take the standard deduction. You may want to do this, for example, if the tax benefit of being able to itemize your deductions on your state tax return is greater than the tax benefit you lose on your federal return by not taking the standard deduction. To make this election, you must check the box on line 30 of Schedule A.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221079

Changing your mind.(p23)

rule
If you do not itemize your deductions and later find that you should have itemized — or if you itemize your deductions and later find you should not have — you can change your return by filing Form 1040X.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000221080
Married persons who filed separate returns.(p23)
You can change methods of taking deductions only if you and your spouse both make the same changes. Both of you must file a consent to assessment for any additional tax either one may owe as a result of the change.
You and your spouse can use the method that gives you the lower total tax, even though one of you may pay more tax than you would have paid by using the other method. You both must use the same method of claiming deductions. If one itemizes deductions, the other should itemize because he or she will not qualify for the standard deduction. See Persons not eligible for the standard deduction, earlier.
taxmap/pubs/p501-006.htm#en_us_publink1000247612
Pencil

Worksheet 3. 2010 Standard Deduction Worksheet

Caution. If your filing status is married filing separately and your spouse itemizes deductions on his or her return, 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, 1946, are blind, had a net disaster loss, or paid state or local sales or excise tax on the purchase of a new motor vehicle.
 If you paid state or local sales or excise tax in 2010 on the purchase of a new motor vehicle after February 16, 2009, and before 2010, you cannot use this worksheet to figure your standard deduction. You must use Schedule L (Form 1040A or 1040) and attach it to your return.
 If you are filing Form 1040EZ, do not use this worksheet. Instead, see line 5 of Form 1040EZ.
1.Enter the amount shown below for your filing status.      
 
  • Single or married filing separately — $5,700
  • Married filing jointly or Qualifying widow(er) — $11,400
  • Head of household — $8,400
Right brace  1.  
 
 
2.Can you (or your spouse if filing jointly) be claimed as a dependent on someone else's return?
box No. Skip line 3; enter the amount from line 1 on line 4, and go to line 5.
box Yes. Go to line 3.
    
3.Is your earned income* more than $650?       
  box Yes. Add $300 to your earned income. Enter the total Right brace 3.  
  box No. Enter $950       
4.Enter the smaller of line 1 or line 3  4.
5.If born before January 2, 1946, or blind, multiply the number on Form 1040, line 39a (or Form 1040A, line 23a**) by $1,100 ($1,400 if single or head of household). Otherwise, enter -0-  5.
6.Enter any net disaster loss from Form 4684, line 17** 6.
7. Add lines 4, 5, and 6. This is your standard deduction for 2010.7.
*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 must complete Schedule L (Form 1040A or 1040) and attach it to your return. Also, if the amount on line 6 of this worksheet is more than zero, you cannot file Form 1040A; you must file Form 1040.