Tax Breaks

What's the Standard Deduction for 2021 vs. 2020?

For most Americans, taking the standard deduction on your tax return is better than claiming itemized deductions. See how much you can deduct on your next tax return.

You have an important decision to make each time you fill out your federal income tax return: Take the standard deduction or claim itemized deductions. And, of course, you'll always want to pick whichever one helps you the most. As predicted, the number of American taxpayers claiming the standard deduction on their tax return shot up significantly after the 2017 tax reform law. Why? Because that law nearly doubled the standard deduction amount.

Before the tax reform law, about two-thirds of all taxpayers claimed the standard deduction. That jumped to almost 90% for the 2018 tax year, which was the first year for the enhanced standard deduction. Since then, the vast majority of American taxpayers have continued to claim the standard deduction on their tax return.

2021 Standard Deduction Amounts

So how much is the standard deduction worth? It depends on your filing status, whether you're 65 or older and/or blind, and whether another taxpayer can claim you as a dependent. For the 2021 tax year, the standard deduction amounts are as follows:

Filing Status

2021 Standard Deduction

Single; Married Filing Separately

$12,550

Married Filing Jointly

$25,100

Head of Household

$18,800

Taxpayers who are at least 65 years old or blind can claim an additional 2021 standard deduction of $1,350 ($1,700 if using the single or head of household filing status). For anyone who is both 65 and blind, the additional deduction amount is doubled.

If you can be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer, your standard deduction for 2021 is limited to the greater of $1,100 or your earned income plus $350 (but the total can't be more than the basic standard deduction for your filing status).

Returns for the 2021 tax year will be due on April 18, 2022 (April 19 for residents of Maine and Massachusetts).

2020 Standard Deduction Amounts

If you requested a filing extension for your 2020 tax return, then you'll still need the standard deduction amounts for the 2020 tax year. Or, perhaps, you just want to compare the 2020 amount with the 2021 figures to see how much more you'll get to deduct on next year's tax return. Whatever you need them for, the 2020 standard deduction information is below.

Filing Status

2020 Standard Deduction

Single; Married Filing Separately

$12,400

Married Filing Jointly

$24,800

Head of Household

$18,650

For 2020, taxpayers who were at least 65 years old or blind could claim an additional standard deduction of $1,300 ($1,650 if using the single or head of household filing status). Once again, the additional deduction amount is doubled for anyone who is both 65 and blind.

Just like for 2021, the standard deduction for 2020 is the greater of $1,100 or earned income plus $350 if you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return. But, again, the total can't exceed the basic standard deduction for your filing status.

If you had unreimbursed casualty losses from a 2020 federally declared disaster (not including major disasters declared only because of COVID-19) and you didn't itemize, you could claim an increased standard deduction on your 2020 tax return. Unfortunately, that tax break doesn't apply for the 2021 tax year.

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
11 Best Monthly Dividend Stocks and Funds to Buy
Kiplinger's Investing Outlook

11 Best Monthly Dividend Stocks and Funds to Buy

Your bills come monthly. Why not your dividend checks? These are some of 2021's best monthly dividend stocks and funds for easier income planning.
June 16, 2021
You Can Appeal a Medicare Premium Surcharge
Medicare

You Can Appeal a Medicare Premium Surcharge

If you meet one of the seven qualifying life events, you have a good chance of getting a higher premium for Medicare Part B and Part D reduced.
June 16, 2021

Recommended

Child Tax Credit 2021: Opting Out of Monthly Payments
Tax Breaks

Child Tax Credit 2021: Opting Out of Monthly Payments

The IRS has a new tool for eligible families who want to opt out of the $250 or $300 monthly child tax credit payment.
June 22, 2021
18 States With Scary Death Taxes
inheritance

18 States With Scary Death Taxes

Federal estate taxes are no longer a problem for all but the extremely wealthy, but several states have their own estate taxes and inheritance taxes t…
June 17, 2021
Taxes on Unemployment Benefits: A State-by-State Guide
state tax

Taxes on Unemployment Benefits: A State-by-State Guide

Don't be surprised by an unexpected state tax bill on your unemployment benefits. Know where unemployment compensation is taxable and where it isn't.
June 17, 2021
What Are the Capital Gains Tax Rates for 2021 vs. 2020?
capital gains tax

What Are the Capital Gains Tax Rates for 2021 vs. 2020?

The tax rate that applies to your long-term capital gains depends on your taxable income. Rates for short-term capital gains are higher.
June 15, 2021