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IRS.gov Website
Publication 17
taxmap/pub17/p17-103.htm#en_us_publink1000173028

Who Should Itemize(p143)

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/pub17/p17-103.htm#en_us_publink1000173032
When to itemize.(p143)
You may benefit from itemizing your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040) if you: These deductions are explained in chapters 21–28.
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/pub17/p17-103.htm#en_us_publink1000173033

Electing to itemize for state tax or other purposes.(p143)

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/pub17/p17-103.htm#en_us_publink1000173034

Changing your mind.(p143)

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, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. See Amended Returns and Claims for Refund in chapter 1 for more information on amended returns.
taxmap/pub17/p17-103.htm#en_us_publink1000173036
Married persons who filed separate returns.(p143)
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.

2011 Standard Deduction Tables

 
EIC
If you are married filing a separate return and your spouse itemizes deductions, or if you are a dual-status alien, you cannot take the standard deduction even if you were born before January 2, 1947, or are blind.

Table 20-1. Standard Deduction Chart for Most People*

If your filing status is...Your standard
deduction is:
Single or Married filing separately$5,800
Married filing jointly or Qualifying
widow(er) with dependent child
11,600
Head of household8,500
*Do not use this chart if you were born before January 2, 1947, are blind, or if someone else can claim you (or your spouse if filing jointly) as a dependent. Use Table 20-2 or 20-3 instead.

Table 20-2. Standard Deduction Chart for People Born Before January 2, 1947, or Who are Blind*

Check the correct number of boxes below. Then go to the chart.
You:  Born before
January 2, 1947 □  
Blind  □
Your spouse, if claiming
spouse's exemption:
 Born before
January 2, 1947  □  
Blind  □
Total number of boxes checked box  
IF your
filing status is...
AND
the number in
box above is...
THEN
your
standard
deduction
is...
Single1$7,250
 28,700
Married filing jointly1$12,750
or Qualifying213,900
widow(er) with315,050
dependent child416,200
Married filing1$6,950
separately28,100
 39,250
 410,400
Head of household1$9,950
 211,400
*If someone else can claim you (or your spouse if filing jointly) as a dependent, use Table 20-3, instead.

Table 20-3. Standard Deduction Worksheet for Dependents

Use this worksheet only if someone else can claim you (or your spouse if filing jointly) as a dependent.
Check the correct number of boxes below. Then go to the worksheet.
You:    Born before  
January 2, 1947 □
Blind □
Your spouse, if claiming
spouse's exemption:
Born before
January 2, 1947 □
 Blind □
Total number of boxes checked box
1.Enter your earned income (defined below). If none, enter -0-.1.
2.Additional amount.2.$300
3.Add lines 1 and 2.3.
4.Minimum standard deduction.4.$950
5.Enter the larger of line 3 or line 4.5.
6.Enter the amount shown below for your filing status.
  • Single or Married filing separately—$5,800
  • Married filing jointly—$11,600
  • Head of household—$8,500
6.
7.Standard deduction.   
 a.Enter the smaller of line 5 or line 6. If born after January 1, 1947, and not blind, stop here. This is your standard deduction. Otherwise, go on to line 7b. 7a.
 b.If born before January 2, 1947, or blind, multiply $1,450 ($1,150 if married) by the number in the box above.7b.
 c.Add lines 7a and 7b. This is your standard deduction for 2011.7c.
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.