Deductions reduce taxable income. You have a choice between taking a standard deduction or itemizing your deductions. When you itemize, you reduce taxable income by the value of certain expenses deductible under U.S. tax law. For example, if you pay mortgage interest, you can deduct the interest paid — but only if you itemize.
To decide which deductions to take, compare the value of the standard deduction versus the total value of your itemized deductions. The standard deduction was raised for tax years 2018 to 2025. For 2019, the standard deduction amounts are:
- $12,200 if you file as single or married filing separately
- $18,350 if you file as head of household
- $24,400 if you file as married filing jointly
Because tax reform significantly increased the standard deduction, you may find your itemized deductions don’t exceed the standard deduction amount for your filing status.