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Publication 17

Who Should Itemize(p138)

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.
When to itemize.(p139)
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.

Electing to itemize for state tax or other purposes.(p139)

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.

Changing your mind.(p139)

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.
Married persons who filed separate returns.(p139)
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.

Worksheet 20-1. 2010 Standard Deduction Worksheet

Caution. If your filing status is married filing separate 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.