How Much Is Your Standard Deduction for 2021?

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  • Americans don't pay tax on all their income because they can claim deductions.
  • The standard deduction is one option, and it could reduce how much you owe.

Taxpayers could save thousands on their 2021 tax bill by claiming the standard deduction.

Americans have a responsibility to pay taxes to the federal government (and sometimes to their state governments, depending on where they live).

But not every dollar of income is subject to taxes. Americans are allowed to claim deductions, which reduce their taxable income and lower their tax bill. For example, if you made $30,000 and you claimed a $1,000 deduction, you would be taxed on $29,000 of your income instead of $30,000.

Tax filers have a choice of which deductions to claim. For many people, the best option is to claim the standard deduction. Here's what you need to know about how much the standard deduction is for the 2021 tax year, which is the tax year you'll file your returns for in 2022.

Here's how much the 2021 standard deduction could save you

The standard deduction is a specific dollar amount that's determined based on your tax filing status. Everyone who files a return as single will have the same standard deduction, as will all married joint filers or all heads of household.

In 2021, the standard deduction is:

  • $25,100 for married joint filers
  • $12,550 for single taxpayers or married separate filers
  • $18,800 for heads of household

These standard deductions are all higher than they were in 2020, as the deductible amount goes up based on inflation.

Should you claim the standard deduction?

For many taxpayers, claiming the standard deduction provides substantial tax savings. After all, if your combined household income for a married couple is $50,000, being able to deduct $25,100 from this income means you'll pay taxes on less than half of what you earned. Your lower taxable income will also mean you're in a lower tax bracket than you would've been had you not claimed this deduction. That means your tax rate will be lower and you'll pay a smaller percentage of your income to the IRS.

However, there's a catch: You have to choose between claiming the standard deduction and itemizing. Itemizing means that you claim a deduction for specific expenditures the government has decided to provide tax breaks for, rather than claiming a set deduction based on your filing status. If you itemize, for example, you can claim a deduction for things like mortgage interest and property taxes you paid over the year.

For some people, itemizing can result in a larger tax break. If you give a lot of money to charity, owe a lot in mortgage interest, or have many other tax-deductible expenses, then you could end up being able to deduct more than your standard deduction if you itemize.

Ultimately, you'll need to calculate whether claiming the standard deduction or itemizing is likely to reduce your bill by a more substantial amount. The best tax software can make this process easy and help you get the biggest refund possible -- or owe the least amount you can to the IRS.

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