A common question many taxpayers have is whether they should take the standard deduction or itemize deductions. In general, the standard deduction is more favorable to the taxpayer. The standard deduction for married people are $9,500 if you are a joint filer, $7,000 if you are head of household, and $4,750 if you are single or married filing separately.
You should only itemize deductions if your itemized deductions exceed the above amounts. Itemized deductions include charitable contributions, interest expenses, local and state taxes (excluding sales tax) medical and dental costs, casualty and theft loss, job and investment costs, and educational costs. If you are married filing separately, however, you must itemize deductions if your spouse does so, even if it’s not as favorable.