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Should I Itemize or Should I Take the Standard Deduction?

During tax season, individuals are faced with a pivotal decision: whether to take the standard deduction or opt for itemizing deductions. This choice holds substantial implications for financial decisions, affecting everything from charitable contributions to homeownership. In this article, we explore the mechanics of the standard deduction and delve into significant changes that have shaped the tax landscape in recent years. 

What is the Standard Deduction? 

The standard deduction is a fixed amount that taxpayers can subtract from their adjusted gross income (AGI) to determine their taxable income. One of the key benefits of the standard deduction is its simplicity. Taxpayers can claim this deduction without the hassle of gathering and reporting individual expenses such as medical expenses, mortgage interest, state and local taxes, or charitable contributions. This streamlines the tax filing process, making it more accessible for a broader range of individuals who may not have extensive itemizable expenses. 

However, it's important to note that while the standard deduction provides a straightforward way to reduce taxable income, it may not always result in the maximum tax benefit for everyone. Some individuals or families with significant deductible expenses, such as high mortgage interest payments, substantial state and local taxes, or considerable charitable contributions, may find that itemizing deductions could lead to a greater overall reduction in their taxable income. 

What is the Standard Deduction for 2023? 

The standard deduction allows taxpayers to subtract a predetermined amount from their income, provided they choose not to itemize deductions such as mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and state and local taxes separately on Schedule A. For the tax year 2023, the standard deduction stands at $13,850 for single filers and $27,700 for married couples filing jointly. 

Is There an Additional Deduction Available for Individuals Over 65? 

Taxpayers aged 65 and older receive an additional standard deduction. For the tax year 2023, this amounts to $1,850 for most single filers and $1,500 for each spouse in a married couple 

Should I Itemize or Take the Standard Deduction? 

Deciding between the standard deduction and itemizing requires a thorough examination of individual financial circumstances. The standard deduction is a practical choice when its value exceeds the total of itemized deductions listed on Schedule A. Common itemized deductions include mortgage interest, charitable donations, state and local taxes, and qualifying medical expenses.

Regular updates to tax laws necessitate staying informed about the availability and limits of specific deductions. Therefore, taxpayers are advised to assess their financial situation annually to make an informed decision on whether to choose the standard deduction or itemize based on their qualifying expenses.  

Evolved is a tax compliance and advisory firm with offices in New York City, Philadelphia and Stamford, serving clients nationally throughout the US.  We provide tax provision, private equity and venture capital services alongside advisory for high net-worth tax and family office tax. 

Matthew John McNally
Matthew is an enrolled agent with two decades of tax planning, compliance, and advisory experience, much of it at Big Four accounting firms, where he guided clients with wide-reaching financial concerns.