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Make sure the standard deduction is the best option

With the deadline for filing federal income tax returns pushed to July 15, some Boston residents may breathe a sigh of relief that they have one less issue to deal with right now. However, at some point, they will need to turn their attention to getting their federal returns filed, especially if they are expecting a refund. One of the biggest strategic questions when filling out tax forms is whether it would be more advantageous to use the standard deduction or itemize.

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the standard deduction for the 2019 tax year increased. If an individual is single or married filing separately, it is $12,200, and $24,400 for married couples filing a joint return or qualifying widows or widowers. A head of household can deduct $18,350.

In order for it to make sense to itemize deductions, it would be necessary for those amounts to exceed the standard deduction. The higher amounts are intended to simplify people's returns by avoiding the need to cull through numerous deductions. Moreover, some deductions were either eliminated or substantially reduced in the TCJA, which makes the higher amount more attractive to many filers.

Depending on a particular Boston resident's tax situation, making this determination may not be as easy as it sounds. Knowing what deductions an individual can legally take and in what amounts may require some assistance. In order to make the most of any deductions, including the standard deduction, it would most likely be worthwhile to consult with a tax attorney who can help choose the most advantageous strategy based on the circumstances.

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