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 and a married person filing separately, may claim a 2013 standard deduction of $6,100; a head of household, $8,950; and a married couple filing jointly or a qualifying widow/widower, $12,200. 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. High-income taxpayers may have a portion of their itemized deductions disallowed (13.7).