The standard deduction always has been appealing because it's easier. There are no receipts to collect, no Schedule A to fill out.
When you add in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's standard deduction increases, even more taxpayers saw their standard amounts exceed their itemized claims. Since you always want to use the deduction method that gives you the larger claim, using the standard deduction became a no-brainer for millions more filers.
Will you join this growing group of taxpayers this filing season?
To help you decide, here's a look at the standard deduction amounts that can be claimed on 2021 tax returns, and some situations that affect them.
Standard variables: Wait, isn't it the "standard" deduction? Yes, but remember we're talking taxes.
Even though it's easier to claim than itemizing, the standard deduction is not one-and-done. Taxes are personal, and that's reflected in the standard deduction amounts.
They vary by your filing status. And age. And visual acuity. And whether you can be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer.
Annual inflation increases: Let's start with the basic amounts. The figures are set for the five filing statuses, and increase slightly each year based on inflation.
For 2021 returns the amounts are:
2021 Tax Year
Head of Household
Married Filing Jointly
Qualifying Widow or Widower (Surviving Spouse)
You can jot down these numbers, or bookmark this page, or just look at Form 1040. The standard amounts are right there (shown and highlighted in the 1040 excerpt below) on the tax form.
Older filers get more: Now here come some of the other considerations that make the standard different for some filers.
First, older filers. Taxpayers who are age 65 or older get a higher standard deduction.
That additional amount also is per person. So an older married couple gets more than a single senior citizen taxpayer.
Most older taxpayers use Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors. But since there are variables, like age, instead of putting them on the form, they are detailed in a chart that's part of the form. That's it reproduced below.
You'll see that right at top of the chart a reference to checkboxes in the Age/Blindness section of Standard Deduction on page 1 of 1040-SR. If you're older and have reduced vision, you can check two boxes. If your jointly filing spouse is the same, he or she gets to check two, too. Y'all get four boxes, giving you a standard deduction of $30,500.
Or your wife could be older, but have 2020 vision. Or your husband could be legally blind, but in his early 60s. Here y'all would get three boxes and a deduction of $29,150.
Yeah, it takes a little bit more work than the usual standard deduction, but for most older filers, it's definitely worth it.
Standard claims sometimes not allowed: You might have noticed on the 1040-SR chart the footnote discussing special filing situations in which the standard deduction cannot be claimed. These limitations also are touched on in the standard deductions final bullet point on Form 1040.
You can find details on the instances where the standard deduction cannot be claimed in the instructions for Forms 1040 and 1040-SR.
Here are some of the circumstances where a taxpayer cannot claim the standard deduction. It's not allowed if he or she is —
- A married individual filing as married filing separately whose spouse itemizes deductions. If one spouse itemizes on a separate return, both must itemize.
- An individual who files a tax return for a period of less than 12 months. This is uncommon and could be due to a change in their annual accounting period.
- An individual who was a nonresident alien or a dual-status alien during the year. However, nonresident aliens who are married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien can take the standard deduction in certain situations, which are found in IRS Publication 519.
If you want to stay on the ol' blog (thank you!), you can check out these previous general tax filing posts:
- Do you have to file a tax return? Probably
- 10 reasons to file a tax return even if you don't have to
- 8 reasons to file your 2021 tax return early
- 8 reasons to wait to file your 2021 tax return
- Free File 2022 is open; 8 companies offer no-cost tax software
- Tax statements you need to file your 2021 return
- Tax return checklist & questions to help you file your taxes
And I know some of y'all, even though you're working on your 2021 taxes, are planners. You can see what the 2022 standard deduction amounts are in Part 2 of the ol' blog's latest tax inflation series.