A Five Year History of the Standard Deduction

We’re in the thick of tax season, which means that you’ve probably given thought to your deductions. So, will you be itemizing your eligible expenses, or taking the standard deduction allowed to most of us?

The standard deduction is a basic tax break that all taxpayers get, as long as they fall under a certain income limit. Specifically, the standard deduction is the amount you can subtract from your income before it is taxed. The government provides this as a sort of “tax break.”

The amount of your standard deduction depends on your taxpayer filing status, your age, and whether you are disabled or claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return. As you can see from the tables below — covering the past five years of this tax break — the largest portion of your deduction comes automatically, and depends on your filing status.

2017 Standard Deductions

Filing Status
Standard Deduction
Increase from Previous Year
Single
$6,350
1.01%
Head of Household
$9,350
1.01%
Married Filing Jointly
$12,700
1.01%
Married Filing Separately
$6,350
1.01%
Dependents
$1,050
0%
Qualifying Widow/Widower
$12,700
1.01%
Additional Amount if Blind or Age 65 or Older - Married
$1,250
0%
Additional Amount if Blind or Age 65 or
Older - Unmarried/Head of Household
$1,550
0%

2016 Standard Deductions

Filing Status
Standard Deduction
Increase from Previous Year
Single
$6,300
0%
Head of Household
$9,300
1.01%
Married Filing Jointly
$12,600
0%
Married Filing Separately
$6,300
0%
Dependents
$1,050
0%
Qualifying Widow/Widower
$12,600
0%
Additional Amount if Blind or Age 65 or Older - Married
$1,250
0%
Additional Amount if Blind or Age 65 or
Older - Unmarried/Head of Household
$1,550
0%

2015 Standard Deductions

Filing Status
Standard Deduction
Increase from Previous Year
Single
$6,300
1.02%
Head of Household
$9,250
1.02%
Married Filing Jointly
$12,600
1.02%
Married Filing Separately
$6,300
1.02%
Dependents
$1,050
0%
Qualifying Widow/Widower
$12,600
1.04%
Additional Amount if Blind or Age 65 or Older - Married
$1,250
0%
Additional Amount if Blind or Age 65 or
Older - Unmarried/Head of Household
$1,550
0%

2014 Standard Deductions

Filing Status
Standard Deduction
Increase from Previous Year
Single
$6,200
1.02%
Head of Household
$9,100
1.02%
Married Filing Jointly
$12,400
1.02%
Married Filing Separately
$6,200
1.02%
Dependents
$1,050
1.05%
Qualifying Widow/Widower
$12,400
1.02%
Additional Amount if Blind or Age 65 or Older - Married
$1,200
0%
Additional Amount if Blind or Age 65 or
Older - Unmarried/Head of Household
$1,550
1.03%

2013 Standard Deductions

Filing Status
Standard Deduction
Increase from Previous Year
Single
$6,100
1.025%
Head of Household
$8,950
1.03%
Married Filing Jointly
$12,200
1.025%
Married Filing Separately
$6,100
1.025%
Dependents
$1,000
1.05%
Qualifying Widow/Widower
$12,200
1.025%
Additional Amount if Blind or Age 65 or Older - Married
$1,200
1.043%
Additional Amount if Blind or Age 65 or
Older - Unmarried/Head of Household
$1,500
1.035%

In some cases, it might be better to opt for itemized deductions instead of the standard deduction. While taking the standard deduction is certainly less complicated than itemizing your deductions, it might not be cheaper. If you have a lot of itemized deductions—large charitable contributions, mortgage interest, etc.—you might reduce your taxable income by itemizing deductions. If after itemizing your deductions the amount is less than the standard deduction, obviously just take the standard route.

Learn More: How to Value Your Non-Cash Contributions for Taxes

The IRS determines the standard deduction figures each year and must account for inflation (rising prices of goods and services). As you can see, from 2013 to 2017 the standard deduction amounts often fluctuated year to year. Only in 2016 did the amounts remain the same as the previous year.

While a ~1% increase each year doesn’t seem like much, it translates to extra money in your pocket come tax time, without you having to lift an extra finger. That’s always a good thing. And if history is any indication of the future, you might expect next year’s standard deductions to increase by at least a percentage point or two.

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