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  • Writer's pictureJames D. Lynch


When filing taxes, you can either choose the standard deduction or itemized deductions. The standard deduction is a fixed dollar amount based on your filing status and age that the IRS lets you deduct from your taxable income. Itemized deductions allow you to list (i.e. itemize) your deductions.

It’s a good idea to figure your tax using both methods and choose the method with the most benefit. If you have numerous itemized deductions such as mortgage interest, real estate taxes, gifts to charities, unreimbursed medical expenses, etc., it may be beneficial to itemize your deductions instead of using the standard deduction.

For taxpayers who don’t itemize, the standard deduction for 2017 depends on their filing status:

● Single — $6,350

● Married Filing Jointly — $12,700

● Head of Household — $9,350

● Married Filing Separately — $6,350

● Qualifying Widow(er) — $12,700

If a taxpayer is 65 or older or blind, the standard deduction is more, but that may be limited if another person claims that taxpayer as a dependent.

Note that there are some situations where the law doesn’t allow people to use the standard deduction. For example, if married taxpayers file separate returns and one spouse itemizes, the other spouse must itemize and may not use the standard deduction.

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