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Publication 17

Chapter 20
Standard Deduction(p142)

What's New(p142)

Standard deduction increased.(p142)
The standard deduction for some taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040 is higher for 2011 than it was for 2010. The amount depends on your filing status. You can use the 2011 Standard Deduction Tables in this chapter to figure your standard deduction.
This chapter discusses the following topics.
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 your taxable income. 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 (Form 1040). The standard deduction is higher for taxpayers who:
You benefit from the standard deduction if your standard deduction is more than the total of your allowable itemized deductions.

Persons not eligible for the standard deduction.(p142)

Your standard deduction is zero and you should itemize any deductions you have if:
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.

Standard Deduction Amount(p142)



The standard deduction amount depends on your filing status, whether you are 65 or older or blind, and whether an exemption can be claimed for you by another taxpayer. Generally, the standard deduction amounts are adjusted each year for inflation. The standard deduction amounts for most people are shown in Table 20-1.

Decedent's final return.(p142)

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.

Higher Standard Deduction
for Age (65 or Older)(p142)

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 2011 if you were born before January 2, 1947.
Use Table 20-2 to figure the standard deduction amount.

Higher Standard Deduction
for Blindness(p142)

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.

Not totally blind.(p142)

If you are not totally blind, you must get a certified statement from an eye doctor (ophthalmologist or optometrist) that:
If your eye condition is not likely to 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.

Spouse 65 or Older or Blind(p142)

You can take the higher standard deduction if your spouse is age 65 or older or blind and:
You cannot claim the higher standard deduction for an individual other than yourself and your spouse.


The following examples illustrate how to determine your standard deduction using Tables 20-1 and 20-2.

Example 1.(p142)

Larry, 46, and Donna, 33, are filing a joint return for 2011. Neither is blind, and neither can be claimed as a dependent. If they do not itemize deductions, they use Table 20-1. Their standard deduction is $11,600.

Example 2.(p142)

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except that Larry is blind at the end of 2011. Larry and Donna use Table 20-2. Their standard deduction is $12,750.

Example 3.(p142)

Bill and Lisa are filing a joint return for 2011. Both are over age 65. Neither is blind, and neither can be claimed as a dependent. If they do not itemize deductions, they use Table 20-2. Their standard deduction is $13,900.