Current Standard Deductions

Your standard deduction is the amount you deduct from your adjusted gross income (AGI) in order to calculate your taxable income. The larger your deduction, the lower your taxable income and the smaller your tax liability will be. When you file a federal income tax return (usually IRS Form 1040 or a simplified version of the form), you take either a standard deduction or you can itemize your deductions. You take the larger of the two deductions to lower your taxable income. The IRS increases the standard deduction each year to adjust for increases in the general rate of inflation. It calculates the standard deduction by looking at the average amounts for itemized deductions that taxpayers have claimed in previous years. However, just because you may elect to itemize your deductions doesn't always mean you should. The standard deduction is likely to be close to what your itemized deductions would be, on average, and is a heck of a lot easier to calculate. The following table shows standard deductions for 2009 for each tax filing status. If you qualify as either blind or over age, or both, your standard deduction is larger.

Standard deductions (2009):
Tax Filing
Status
Standard
Deduction
Blind or Over
Age 65
Blind and Over
Age 65
Single$5,700$7,100$8,500
Married and
filing jointly
$11,400$12,500 (1 qualifying spouse)$13,600 (1 qualifying spouse)
Qualifying widow(er)
with dependent child
$11,400$12,600$13,600
Head of
household
$8,350$9,750$11,150
Married and filing
separately
$5,700$6,800 (1 qualifying spouse)$7,950 (1 qualifying spouse)

Source: IRS Pub. 505 If you claim an exemption for a spouse who is either blind or over age 65, the amount of your standard deduction is larger. For more information on standard deductions and personal exemptions, see IRS Pub. 501. If another taxpayer claims you as an xemption on their tax return, your standard deduction may be smaller. See Pub. 501.

There are circumstances where the IRS doesn't allow you to take a standard deduction. If any of the following cases apply, you are required to itemize your deductions: You are married and filing a separate return and your spouse itemizes deductions. You are filing a tax return for less than a full year because of a change in your accounting period. You were either a nonresident or dual-status alien during the year.