Standard Deduction vs. Itemizing

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Standard Deduction vs. Itemizing: A Comprehensive Guide for Small Business Owners and Self-Employed Individuals

Standard Deduction vs. Itemizing: A Comprehensive Guide for Small Business Owners and Self-Employed Individuals


As tax season approaches, one of the most significant decisions you’ll face as a small business owner or self-employed individual is whether to take the standard deduction or to itemize your deductions. This choice can have a substantial impact on your tax liability and requires a thorough understanding of the tax code and how it applies to your unique financial situation. At Molen & Associates, we are committed to providing you with the knowledge and guidance necessary to make the best decision for your tax needs.

The Standard Deduction: Simplifying Your Tax Filing

The standard deduction is a set amount that taxpayers can subtract from their income before income tax is applied. It’s designed to simplify the tax filing process, as it doesn’t require the taxpayer to itemize individual deductions. The standard deduction amount varies based on your filing status and is adjusted annually for inflation.

For the 2023 tax year, the standard deduction amounts are as follows:

  • Single or Married Filing Separately: $13,850
  • Married Filing Jointly: $27,700
  • Head of Household: $20,800

These amounts have been significantly increased since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which aimed to simplify the tax filing process for many Americans by nearly doubling the standard deduction.

Itemizing Deductions: Maximizing Your Tax Benefits

Itemizing deductions allows taxpayers to list out specific deductible expenses that exceed the standard deduction. This process can be more time-consuming and requires detailed record-keeping, but it can lead to a lower tax bill if your itemized deductions are substantial. Common itemized deductions include:

  • State and local taxes (SALT), including income and property taxes
  • Mortgage interest on up to $750,000 of mortgage debt
  • Charitable contributions
  • Medical and dental expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income
  • Casualty and theft losses from a federally declared disaster

It’s important to note that the TCJA limited some itemized deductions, such as capping the SALT deduction at $10,000 ($5,000 if married filing separately).

Evaluating Your Options: Standard Deduction vs. Itemizing

Is it better to itemize or take the standard deduction?

The answer to this question depends on your individual tax situation. If the sum of your itemized deductions is greater than the standard deduction for your filing status, itemizing will typically be the better choice. However, if your itemized deductions do not exceed the standard deduction, taking the standard deduction will save you time and may result in a lower tax bill.

How do I know if I used the standard deduction or itemized?

To determine whether you took the standard deduction or itemized on your last tax return, review your filed Form 1040. If you attached Schedule A, you itemized your deductions. If Schedule A is not present, you likely took the standard deduction.

Do you lose the standard deduction if you itemize?

Yes, you must choose between itemizing deductions and taking the standard deduction. You cannot do both in the same tax year.

How much money do you have to make to itemize your taxes?

There is no set income level that dictates when you should itemize your taxes. The decision to itemize is based on whether your allowable itemized deductions exceed the standard deduction for your filing status.

The Decision-Making Process

When deciding whether to itemize or take the standard deduction, consider the following steps:

  1. Gather Your Financial Records: Compile all receipts, invoices, and documents related to potential deductions.
  2. Calculate Your Itemized Deductions: Add up all the deductions you’re eligible to itemize.
  3. Compare Deductions: Compare the total of your itemized deductions to the standard deduction for your filing status.
  4. Consider the Time and Effort: Itemizing requires more time and detailed record-keeping. Decide if the potential tax savings are worth the additional effort.
  5. Review Tax Law Changes: Stay informed about any changes to tax laws that may affect your ability to itemize or the value of the standard deduction.
  6. Consult with a Tax Professional: Tax laws can be complex, and the right choice can vary from year to year. A tax professional can provide personalized advice based on your financial situation.

Choosing between the standard deduction and itemizing is a critical decision that can affect your tax liability. At Molen & Associates, we understand the intricacies of tax planning for small business owners and self-employed individuals. Our team is ready to assist you in making an informed decision that aligns with your financial goals. 

If you’re ready to optimize your tax situation or if you have further questions about the standard deduction and itemized deductions, we invite you to contact us. Our knowledgeable tax professionals are here to provide the expertise and support you need.

Reach out to Molen & Associates at 281-440-6279 to schedule a consultation, and let’s ensure you’re making the most of your tax strategy this year. 

This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice on your specific situation, please consult a tax professional.

 Additional sources:


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