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Filing your taxes

Standard deductions vs. itemized deductions: Which should you choose?

Jo Willetts, EA

Director, Tax Resources

Published on: April 25, 2023

One of the first steps when filing your annual tax return is to decide whether to take the standard deduction, or to itemize your deductions. The common goal for every taxpayer is to take the option that gives the lowest overall tax. So, which deduction is right for you? Let’s take a further look.

What are itemized deductions?

An itemized deduction is an expense you can subtract from your adjusted gross income, which means you could pay less in taxes. If you’re wondering how much itemized deductions can save you, here’s a helpful tip to keep in mind. You should itemize deductions if your allowable itemized deductions are greater than your standard deduction, or if you must itemize deductions because you can’t use the standard deduction.

According to the IRS, itemized deductions that taxpayers may claim include the following:

  • Unreimbursed medical or dental expenses that exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income
  • State and local income or sales taxes
  • Real estate and personal property taxes
  • Home mortgage interest
  • Gifts to a qualified charity or non-profit
  • Personal casualty and theft losses from a federally declared disaster

Should you choose to itemize these deductions, you may do so by filing a Schedule A (Form 1040). Your local Tax Pro can go over this with you and help you determine which option is best.

What is a standard deduction?

A standard deduction is a specific dollar amount that reduces the amount of income on which you’re taxed. The standard deduction amount depends on your filing status and whether you’re 65 or older, are blind, and whether another taxpayer can claim you as a dependent. If you are 65 or older on the last day of the year and you don’t itemize deductions, then you are entitled to a higher standard deduction.

If you’re like most filers and use Form 1040, you can find the standard deduction on the first page of the form. If you’re using Form 1040-SR, the U.S. tax return for senior citizens over the age of 64, then your standard deduction will be found on the last page of that form.

If you’re wondering who qualifies for standard deduction, it’s important to read and understand the instructions for both Form 1040 and 1040-SR. Not all taxpayers qualify for a standard deduction. Those who don’t qualify include:

  • Married spouses filing separate returns, and one spouse itemizes. Both spouses must itemize if one does.
  • A taxpayer who files a return for a period of less than 12 months.
  • An individual who was a nonresident alien, or dual-status alien during the tax year.

2022 and 2023 standard deduction chart

Filing status

2022 standard deduction

2023 standard deduction

Single $12,950 $13,850
Married filing jointly $25,900 $27,700
Married filing separately $12,950 $13,850
Head of household $19,400 $20,800

Is it better to take the standard deduction or itemize deductions?

It all depends on changes to current tax laws and how much you have in total deductions. If your itemized deductions add up to less than the standard deduction, it may make sense to take the standard deduction. A good way to make the best decision is to have an expert Tax Pro on your side, which is key to helping you file the most accurate return, and get your biggest possible refund.

See your local Tax Pro for the best personalized help, however easy or complex your tax documents may be, the next time you’re ready to file.

About the Author

Jo Willetts, Director of Tax Resources at Jackson Hewitt, has more than 35 years of experience in the tax industry. As an Enrolled Agent, Jo has attained the highest level of certification for a tax professional. She began her career at Jackson Hewitt as a Tax Pro, working her way up to General Manager of a franchise store. In her current role, Jo provides expert knowledge company-wide to ensure that tax information distributed through all Jackson Hewitt channels is current and accurate.

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