Q. For a couple, the standard deduction for 2018 is $24,000. If you’re both over 65, is the standard deduction increased by $2,600? And if you use the standard deduction, can you still deduct charitable contributions?
A. You’re correct that we have big changes for the standard deduction under the new tax plan.
You’re also correct that the standard deduction for those married filing jointly is now $24,000.
This compares to the prior amount of $12,700.
If you and your spouse are 65 or older, blind or disabled, you get to add on an additional $1,300 each to your standard deduction amount, said Cynthia Fusillo, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence.
Here’s a little more on the standard deduction.
“The IRS allows taxpayers to shield a portion of their income either by itemizing — using actual amounts of certain deductible items such as charitable contributions, mortgage interest and medical expenses — or applying the standard deduction,” Fusillo said. “Generally speaking, you will take advantage of the amount, itemized or standard, which results in the lower tax.”
She said the choice is an either/or decision, meaning that you either itemize or use the standard deduction.
Once you determine if the standard deduction is beneficial, you would not also tack on charitable contributions you made throughout the year, she said.
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