Elderly and Blind Status

Taxpayers who are either elderly or blind may be entitled to an elevated standard deduction (taken on Line 40). To receive such beneficial treatment, qualifying taxpayers should be certain to check the appropriate Line 39a boxes.

The Line 39a elections permit a taxpayer to claim “elderly status” if he/she, and/or a spouse1, were born before January 2, 1948 (65 years or older). Line 39a also allows taxpayers to claim “blind status.” To do so, the claiming taxpayer must either be (1) totally blind as of December 31, 2012 or (2) obtain a certified statement from an optometrist stating that he/she either (i) cannot see better than 20/200 in his/her better eye with glasses or contact lenses or (ii) his/her field of vision is 20 degrees or less. Like elderly status, the blind election is also permitted for the taxpayer’s spouse. Therefore, a taxpayer may check anywhere from 0-4 boxes on Line 39a. Once totaled, taxpayers should be sure to enter the total number of boxes checked in the far right space.

Line 39b asks the taxpayer whether his/her filing status is Married Filing Separately and whether the spouse has chosen to itemize deductions. Line 39b also asks if the taxpayer was a dual-status alien2. If the taxpayer falls under either scenario, the taxpayer must check the 39b box and will have a different standard deduction dollar value than those who file differently.

To determine the size of increased standard deduction, taxpayers should consult the Standard Deduction Chart on page 39 of the Form 1040 Instructions.

1Taxpayers filing as a Head of Household may not check any box(es) for his/her spouse.
2A dual-status alien taxpayer need not check the box if he/she filed a joint return with a spouse, who was a U.S. citizen or resident alien at the end of 2012, and the taxpayer and spouse agreed to be taxed on their combined worldwide income.

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