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Almost any taxpayer who does not wish to itemize deductions in any particular year can choose to use the standard deduction. For 2011, the standard deduction amounts for most individuals are:
|Head of Household||$8,500|
|Married Filing Jointly||$11,600|
|Married Filing Separately||$5,800|
For those who can be claimed as a dependent on someone else's return, the standard deduction is limited to the greater of $950, or the dependent's earned income plus $300. However, the dependent's standard deduction may not be greater than the normal deduction for someone with the same filing status; for example, a single dependent with earned income of $8,000 can't claim a standard deduction higher than $5,700.
Those who are 65 years old or older at the end of the year, or who are blind, or who file jointly with a spouse who has one or both of these attributes, get a somewhat higher standard deduction.
For those who are single or heads of households, being over 65 or blind means an extra $1,450 added to the normal deduction amount; being both over 65 and blind merits an extra $2,900. For those who are married, each of these conditions means an extra $1,150.
Claiming the standard deduction. To claim the standard deduction, enter the appropriate amount on Line 40 of your Form 1040, Line 24 of Form 1040A, or Line 5 of Form 1040EZ.
If you (or your spouse, if filing jointly) are over age 65 and/or blind, you must use Form 1040A or 1040, and you'll also have to check boxes showing your status on Line 39a (Form 1040) or Line 23a (Form 1040A).
You should be aware that there are a few people who are ineligible to use the standard deduction.