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What Is the Standard Tax Deduction

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updated: November 21, 2023

The standard tax deduction lowers your income by a flat dollar amount so you pay fewer taxes. The amount is set by the government and differs depending on your filing status,  age, and some special considerations listed below. 

As far as the numbers go, the standard deduction for 2023 is $13,850 for single and married filing separately taxpayers, $27,700 for married filing jointly and qualifying widow(er) taxpayers, and $20,800 for head of household taxpayers. Taxpayers older than 65 can add an additional tax deduction for each qualifying member in the household. The IRS also just released the deductions for tax year 2024. 

Beyond the actual numbers, there is more to understanding how the standard tax deduction works and when you should use it instead of itemizing deductions. 

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How the standard tax deduction works

After all sources of income are tallied on a tax return, the taxpayer can choose either the standard deduction or file itemized deductions. These deductions lower your taxable income and, when your income is reduced, you pay less tax. 

If you don’t owe any tax, deductions will increase your refund amount. That is why tax professionals and taxpayers alike  get excited about them. Paying fewer taxes increases the amount of money in your pocket.  

Since the standard deduction was nearly doubled in the last overhaul of the tax code, approximately 87% of filers take it. It relieves the onus of deduction paperwork for many taxpayers. 

Who qualifies for the standard deduction?

Taking the standard deduction is a choice, so almost everyone qualifies: 

  • Single filers.
  • Married filing jointly.
  • Married filing separately.
  • Qualifying widow(er). 
  • Head of household.

There are a few exceptions, which we’ll explain in a section below.

Why do you get the standard tax deduction?

The standard deduction offsets income for taxpayers below a certain income threshold to ensure they don’t pay income tax. It also simplifies filing for the 87% of taxpayers who take the standard deduction.    

Standard deduction amounts 

The standard deduction changes from year to year to account for inflation. The IRS announces the changes for upcoming tax years well in advance. 

The standard deduction for tax years 2023 and 2024 are as follows:

Standard deduction 2023 (taxes due April 2024)

  • Single filers: $13,850
  • Married filing jointly: $27,700
  • Married filing separately: $13,850
  • Qualifying widow(er): $27,700
  • Head of household: $20,800

Standard deduction 2024 (taxes due April 2025)

  • Single filers: $14,600
  • Married filing jointly: $29,200
  • Married filing separately: $14,600
  • Qualifying widow(er): $29,200
  • Head of household: $21,900
Filing StatusStandard Deduction 2023Standard Deduction 2024
Single
$13,850
$14,600
Married filing jointly
$27,700
$29,200
Married filing separately
$13,850
$14,600
Qualifying window(er)
$27,700
$29,200
Head of household
$20,800
$21,900

Standard deduction for dependents

There are some limitations for your standard deduction if you can be claimed on another taxpayer’s return. In 2023, your standard deduction is limited to the larger of these two amounts:

  1. $1,250.
  2. Your earned income plus $400, but not more than the standard deduction for your filing status.

This is best explained with an example. If you’re a college student who can be claimed by your parents as a dependent, and you earn $15,000 from a part time job, your standard deduction would fall under the second provision, earned income plus $400 ($15,000 + $400 = $15,400).

However, you’re also limited to the standard deduction for single filers, which is $13,850 for 2023. In this situation, the standard deduction for a dependent would be $13,850. You would owe taxes on the remaining $1,150 you earned. 

For 2024, the standard-deduction limit figures are $1,300 and $450—and the single filer deduction is $14,600.)

What is the additional standard deduction for people over 65?

People over age 65 by the end of the tax year are allowed an additional deduction amount. So are people suffering from blindness. This amount is added on top of the standard deduction. 

Additional deduction for people over age 65 or the blind for tax year 2023

Filing StatusAdditional deduction amountStandard DeductionTotal Deduction
Single Filer
Over 65
$1,850
$13,850
$15,700
Blind
$1,850
$13,850
$15,700
Over 65 and blind
$3,700
$13,850
$17,550
Head of Household
 Over 65
$1,850
$20,800
$22,650
 Blind
$1,850
$20,800
$22,650
 Over 65 and blind
$3,700
$20,800
$24,500
Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er)
Over 65, one spouse or widow(er)
$1,500
$27,700
$29,200
Blind, one spouse
$1,500
$27,700
$29,200
Over 65 and blind, one spouse
$3,000
$27,700
$30,700
Over 65, both spouses
$3,000
$27,700
$30,700
Over 65, both spouses; one blind
$4,500
$27,700
$32,200
Over 65 and blind, both spouses
$6,000
$27,700
$33,700

Additional deduction for people over age 65 or the blind for tax year 2024

Filing statusAdditional deduction amountStandard deductionTotal deduction
Single Filer
Over 65
$1,950
$14,600
$16,550
Blind
$1,950
$14,600
$16,550
Over 65 and blind
$3,900
$14,600
$18,500
Head of Household
Over 65
$1,950
$21,900
$23,850
Blind
$1,950
$21,900
$23,850
Over 65 and blind
$3,900
$21,900
$25,800
Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er)
Over 65, one spouse or widow(er)
$1,550
$29,200
$30,750
Blind, one spouse
$1,550
$29,200
$30,750
Over 65 and blind, one spouse
$3,100
$29,200
$32,300
Over 65, both spouses
$3,100
$29,200
$32,300
Over 65, both spouses; one blind
$4,650
$29,200
$33,850
Over 65 and blind, both spouses
$6,200
$29,200
$35,400

Standard deduction vs. itemized deductions 

According to data from The Tax Foundation, almost 50%of taxpayers with incomes over $200,000 itemize deductions. Expenses such as mortgage interest, state and local tax deductions, and charitable contributions can help itemizing make sense for these households.

This chart illustrates the percentage of taxpayers who itemize deductions at each income level.

Taxpayer Income% Who Itemize Deductions
Below $10,000
0.4%
$10,000 to $20,000
1%
$20,000 to $30,000
1%
$30,000 to $40,000
2%
$40,000 to $50,000
4%
$50,000 to $75,000
8%
$75,000 to $100,000
14%
$100,000 to $200,000
22%
Over $200,000
49%

Source: The Tax Foundation

When can you not take the standard deduction?

There are certain situations when you are not able to take the standard deduction, such as: 

  • If you file married filing separately and your spouse itemizes deductions.
  • If you’re filing as an estate, trust, common trust fund, or partnership.
  • When you file a tax return covering less than a year because of a change in accounting procedures.
  • Someone who was a nonresident alien or dual-status alien during the year (though there are some exceptions).

Special considerations 

The standard deduction changes for the following circumstances:

Blindness 

As noted earlier, an additional deduction applies to the blind, much like those aged 65 and over. The IRS defines blindness in one of two ways:

  1. If you cannot see with 20/200 vision, even when corrected by glasses or contacts
  2. If your field of vision is less than 20 degrees

For 2023, the additional deduction amount is $1,500. For 2024, the amount is $1,550. 

Net qualified disaster loss 

You can deduct losses from a major disaster (such as a hurricane, wildfire, earthquake, or tornado declared by the president as needing federal assistance) without having to itemize deductions. These losses increase the standard deduction you can take, but be careful with this as the rules are somewhat involved. 

Nonresident aliens

Generally, nonresident aliens are not allowed to take the standard deduction. However, there are some exceptions, such as: 

  • When a nonresident alien is married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien and they jointly elect to be treated as residents for the full year.
  • When a nonresident alien at the beginning of the tax year becomes a U.S. citizen by the end of the tax year and is married to a U.S. citizen or resident by the end of the year and elects to be treated as residents for the full year. 
  • Under the United States-India Income Tax Treaty, apprentices and students from India can take the standard tax deduction.

TIME Stamp: The standard deduction is easy to take, just make sure it benefits you the most

The standard deduction benefits many households. It simplifies the paperwork on your tax return and reduces the amount of time you spend filing taxes. However, it pays to look at it from every angle. If you would still benefit from itemizing deductions, you’ll want to take that road. 

Either way, be sure you’re choosing the option that reduces your taxable income the most and keeps more money in your pocket. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What happens if your standard deduction is more than your income?

You don’t owe any taxes if the standard deduction is more than your income. You may not need to file taxes at all. But if you were employed and tax was taken from your paycheck, you’ll want to file a tax return so you can get a refund.  

What can I deduct if I take the standard deduction?

With a standard deduction, you don’t have to keep track of deductions, but there are 12 types of adjustments allowed to your income that don’t count as deductions. These are:

  • Educator expenses up to $300.
  • Certain business expenses.  
  • Health savings account deduction.
  • Moving expenses for members of the armed forces on active duty.
  • Deductible part of self-employment tax.
  • Self-employed SEP, SIMPLE, and qualified retirement plans. 
  • Self-employed health insurance deduction.
  • Penalty on early withdrawal of savings. 
  • Alimony paid. 
  • IRA deduction. 
  • Student loan interest deduction. 
  • Archer MSA deduction. 

These adjustments go on line 10 of Form 1040 which are subtracted from income before the standard deduction is taken. 

How do I maximize my standard deduction?

Ensure you have all your information correctly recorded on your tax return. Also consider the income adjustments listed above as you can take these in addition to the standard deduction.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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