Most taxpayers have the option to itemize deductions or take the standard deductible. The latter is easier, but for homeowners or those with extensive, uninsured medical bills, itemizing your taxes may save you more money. If you elect to use the standard deduction, you'll want to maximize this deduction to minimize your tax liability. Filing status, age, blindness and disaster loss all influence your standard deduction, so carefully consider each option to get your highest standard deduction.
1. Choose your baseline standard deduction for your filing status. Single taxpayers, or married taxpayers filing separately get a standard deduction of $5,700 for their 2010 taxes. Married taxpayers filing a joint return get $11,400. Head of households get $8,400.
2. Add $1,100 if you were 65 before the end of the year. For tax purposes, you are considered 65 the day before your 65th birthday. If your spouse on a joint return is also 65, you can claim another $1,100. For example, if you are married, filing a joint return, and both parties were at least 65 by the end of 2010, then you would add $2,200 to the $11,400 standard deduction to get $13,600.
3. Add $1,100 if you were completely or partially blind by the end of 2010. For tax purposes, you are considered partially blind if your best eye gets no better than 20/200, even with corrective lenses, or your field of vision is no greater than 20 degrees. For joint returns, you can claim $1,100 if you or your spouse is blind, or $2,200 if you both are blind. Continuing with the example, if your spouse was partially blind at the end of 2010, but you were not, your standard deduction is raised to $14,700.
4. Add any state or local taxes paid in 2010 on new vehicle purchased between Feb 16, 2009 and Dec 31, 2009. The taxes are limited to those paid on the first $49,000 dollars. Continuing with the example from the previous steps, if you and your spouse purchased a $20,000 car on June 1, 2009 and paid $300 in taxes in 2010, then your standard deduction is raised to $15,000.
5. Add any net disaster loss you incurred in 2010, which resulted from a disaster before 2010 and classified a federal disaster after 2007. Continuing with the example, if you incurred $5,000 in damages from a federally classified disaster in 2009, then your total standard deduction would be $20,000.
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