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J.K. Lasser's Your Income Tax 2013: For Preparing Your 2012 Tax Return by J.K. Lasser Institute

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Chapter 13

Claiming the Standard Deduction or Itemized Deductions

Claim the standard deduction only if it exceeds your allowable itemized deductions for mortgage interest, property taxes, medical costs, charitable donations, casualty losses, and miscellaneous deductions for job costs and investment expenses. Generally, a single person may claim a 2012 standard deduction of $5,950; a head of household, $8,700; a married couple filing jointly or a qualifying widow(er), $11,900; and a married person filing separately, $5,950. Larger standard deductions are allowed to individuals who are age 65 or older or blind, and lower standard deductions are allowed to dependents with only investment income.

Before deciding whether to itemize or claim the standard deduction, read Chapters 14 through 20 to see that you have not overlooked any itemized deductions. To itemize, you must file Form 1040 and report your deductions on Schedule A.

13.1 Claiming the Standard Deduction

13.2 Husbands and Wives Filing Separate Returns

13.3 Standard Deduction If 65 or Older or Blind

13.4 Standard Deduction for Dependents

13.5 Prepaying or Postponing Itemized Expenses

13.6 No Phaseout of Itemized Deductions

Table 13-1 Itemized Deductions and the Standard Deduction for 2012

Item— Explanation— Limitations and Examples—
Standard deduction The basic standard deduction is fixed by law according to your filing status and age. The standard deduction in 2012 is:  $11,900 if you are married filing jointly ...

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