What Is a Blind Taxpayer?

A blind taxpayer is any individual in the U.S. whose lack of vision qualifies them for a special tax deduction accorded to blind persons. Blind taxpayers get the same standard deductions as taxpayers over age 65.

For 2020, $1,650 is the additional amount of the blind taxpayer deduction for individuals filing as single. For married persons filing jointly with one blind spouse, the additional deduction was $1,300. The additional deduction was $2,600 for both blind spouses. 

Box 39a on the 1040 tax-return form is where blind filers can claim unique deductions. Checking yes enables them to qualify for tax breaks for the blind. Because a blind taxpayer gets the additional deduction to the standard deduction, they must file using form 1040 or 1040A. They may not file using form 1040EZ. 

Key Takeaways

  • A blind taxpayer is any individual in the U.S. whose lack of vision qualifies them for a special tax deduction accorded to blind persons.
  • Blind taxpayers get the same standard deductions as taxpayers over age 65.
  • For 2020, $1,650 is the additional amount of the blind taxpayer deduction for individuals filing as single.
  • Box 39a on the 1040 tax-return form is where blind filers can claim unique deductions; checking yes enables them to qualify for tax breaks for the blind.

Understanding Blind Taxpayer

Blind taxpayer status applies only to people who take the standard deduction. Taxpayers who itemize their deductions are not eligible for the additional deduction.

Blind taxpayers are defined by the IRS in Publication 501. Partially blind taxpayers must include a letter from their doctor stating that they cannot see better than 20/200 out of their better eye even with eyeglasses or contacts, or that their field of vision is 20 degrees or less. If this letter states that the taxpayer's vision will never improve, then no further letters need to be sent, and only a referral to the initial letter needs to be included with future tax returns. Otherwise, the IRS requires a new letter each year.

The end of the calendar year determines vision status under the IRS definition of blind taxpayer. The increased deduction for blindness is granted regardless of age. The dollar amount of the increase is the same for both partially and totally blind taxpayers.

History of Blind Taxpayer

The Social Security Act of 1935 introduced financial assistance for the blind.  This likely was due to an increasing number of blind people in the country, due to injured WWI veterans returning home from the campaign. The National Federation for the Blind formed in 1940.

Tax assistance for the blind people helps offsets some of the costs associated with their lack of vision. For example, blind people often live close to their places of employment for simpler commutes, resulting in higher housing costs. Some also require aides such as readers, guides, and service animals, all of which add to their cost of living.