Topic no. 501, Should I itemize?

Deductions reduce the amount of your taxable income. In general, individuals not in a trade or business or an activity for profit, may take a standard deduction or itemize their deductions.

The standard deduction is a flat amount based on your filing status (single; married filing separately; married filing jointly; head of household; or qualifying surviving spouse). Taxpayers aged 65 and older and blind taxpayers may get an additional deduction. The IRS adjusts the standard deduction annually for inflation. See How much is my standard deduction? and Topic no. 551 for more information.

You cannot take the standard deduction if:

  • You are a married individual filing as married filing separately whose spouse itemizes deductions.
  • You are an individual who files a tax return for a period of less than 12 months because of a change in your annual accounting period.
  • You were 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 at the end of the year and who choose to be treated as U.S. residents for tax purposes can take the standard deduction. For additional information, refer to Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.
  • You are filing as an estate or trust, common trust fund, or partnership.

You should itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040), Itemized Deductions if the total amount of your allowable itemized deductions is greater than your standard deduction or if you must itemize deductions because you can't use the standard deduction. You may also want to itemize deductions if your standard deduction is limited because another taxpayer claims you as a dependent. Itemized deductions, subject to certain dollar limitations, include amounts you paid, during the taxable year, for state and local income or sales taxes, real property taxes, personal property taxes, mortgage interest, disaster losses, gifts to charities, and part of the amount you paid for medical and dental expenses.

See the Instructions for Schedule A (Form 1040) to determine what limitations apply. For more information on the difference between itemized deductions and the standard deduction, refer to Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals or the Instructions for Form 1040 (and Form 1040-SR). You may also refer to Publication 501, Dependents, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.