Itemized deductions get a lot of attention. There are lots of them. They are more complicated to claim.
And, let's be honest; tax journalists like writing about things that provide them an opportunity to ramble.
But the filing fact is that most taxpayers claim the standard deduction. Every year, around two-thirds of returns arrive at the Internal Revenue Service sans Schedule A.
The deduction rule of thumb is to use the deduction method that provides you with the greater tax benefit. If that's itemizing one year, then claiming the standard deduction the next, do that.
And if it's claiming the standard deduction every year, then do that, too.
2013 standard deduction amounts: When you file your 2013 Form 1040 next year (remember, it will be on Jan. 28, 2014, or later thanks to the government shutdown this fall), you'll use the 2013 standard deduction amounts.
They are typically found directly on Form 1040 or 1040A.
As the Form 1040 image there to the left indicates, the 2013 standard deduction amounts are:
$6,100 for single or married filing separately taxpayers,
$12,200 for married filing jointly couples and qualifying widow(er)s, and
$8,950 for heads of households.
2014 standard deduction amounts: For the 2014 tax year those amounts will bump up just a bit thanks to inflation.
When you file your 2014 return by April 15, 2015, the standard deduction amounts will be:
$6,200 for single or married filing separately taxpayers,
$12,400 for married filing jointly couples and qualifying widow(er)s, and
$9,100 for heads of households.
Why does the IRS issue the deduction amounts, as well as the coming year's tax brackets, right before we start focusing on our current year returns?
No, it's not just to confuse us with more numbers. Some folks actually do tax planning for the coming year before it even arrives.
So if you're one of these obsessive-compulsive extremely organized taxpayers, thanks for offering me the chance to share the 2014 standard deduction data.
1040EZ deduction anomaly: The standard deduction amount was a topic last week at my other tax blog.
In that case, a reader wondered why the standard amount on Form 1040EZ was larger than on the longer Forms 1040 and 1040A.
Actually, the deduction amounts are always the same on all three individual tax return forms. It's just that the 1040EZ shows the standard deduction amount differently.
In addition to looking at standard deductions over at the Bankrate Taxes Blog, I also commented on the recent Supreme Court non-decision that some tax watchers say has left the door ajar for more states to possibly collect online sales taxes.
If you miss my additional tax thoughts at that personal finance website, usually on Tuesday and non-holiday Thursdays, you can always find a synopsis here on the ol' blog the following weekend ... or early the next week if I'm recovering from weekend Christmas parties!
You also might find these items of interest: