The standard deduction is a fixed amount, based on your filing status, that reduces your taxable income. You can use either the standard deduction or your actual itemized deductions on Form 1040, but not both.
The standard deduction for a single person or a married person filing separately is $6,100 (2013). Married couples filing jointly have a standard deduction of exactly twice as much as a single person's, at $12,200. If you file as a head of household, your standard deduction is $8,950.
If someone else, such as your parents, can claim you on their return, your standard deduction may be lower.
If you or your spouse are considered blind or are age 65 or older, you can claim an additional standard deduction amount. Each additional standard deduction amount is $1,200 ($1,500 if you use the Single or Head of Household filing status).
As you go through the step-by-step interview, TaxACT prompts you to enter itemized deductions, such as mortgage interest expense and charitable contributions. If your total itemized deductions are more than your standard deduction, TaxACT uses your itemized deductions to calculate your taxes.
One way TaxACT can help you find more tax deductions is to compare your deductions this year to the deductions you took last year. Use the TaxACT Prior Year Comparison Report to see if the numbers are similar, and if not, if you may be missing a valuable deduction.