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The Difference Between a Tax Credit and a Tax Deduction (personal taxes)

Hello Tax Stars ! !* !*!* 


Tax time can be a confusing time for most. Especially with learning the different terminology and how to apply it. Once common misunderstanding is knowing the difference between a Tax Credit and a Tax Deduction. Tax credits and tax deductions both decrease the total that you'll pay in taxes, but they do so in different ways. 


CREDITS

A credit is an amount you subtract from the tax you owe. This can lower your tax payment or increase your refund. Some credits are refundable — they can give you money back even if you don't owe any tax. Some credits are non refundable. 


Refundable Credits

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) 

  • Child Tax Credit (partially refundable) For 2023, up to $1,600 per child may be refundable.

  • Education Credit American Opportunity Tax Credit (partially refundable) Your income must be $90,000 or less ($180,000 or less for married filing jointly) to claim the credit.

  • Premium Tax Credit - If you buy health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace and meet other criteria.

Other Credits

  • Adoption credit

  • Child and Dependent Care Credit

  • Education Credit LLC - The lifetime learning credit (LLC) is for qualified tuition and related expenses paid for eligible students enrolled in an eligible educational institution. The credit is 20 percent of the first $10,000 of qualified education expenses or a maximum of $2,000 per return.

  • Retirement Savings Contributions Credit - a tax credit for making eligible contributions to your IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan. Based on your adjusted gross income reported on your Form 1040 series return, the amount of the credit is 50%, 20% or 10% of your contributions.

  • Clean vehicle tax credits - a credit up to $7,500 under Internal Revenue Code Section 30D if you buy a new, qualified plug-in EV or fuel cell electric vehicle (FCV).

  • Energy Efficient Home Improvement Credit

  • Residential Clean Energy Credit

  • Qualifying Foreign Taxes - You can claim a credit only for foreign taxes that are imposed on you by a foreign country or U.S. possession.


MARRIED FILING SEPARATE FILING STATUS WILL REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF CREDITS YOU MAY QUALIFY FOR. IT IS A MICONCEPTION THAT FILING SEPERATE AUTOMATICALLY GIVES YOU MORE MONEY BACK. YOU ARE SPLITING UP A HOUSEHOLD CAUSING THE TAX SITUATION TO BE MORE COMPLEX, THEREFORE THE IRS STRIPPED THE CREDITS AWAY RATHER THAN DO THE EXTRA MATH.


You may not file as head of household because you weren't legally separated from your spouse or considered unmarried at the end of the tax year.



DEDUCTIONS

A deduction is an amount you subtract from your income when you file so you don’t pay tax on it. By lowering your income, deductions lower your tax. 


Standard vs. itemized deductions 

Most people take the standard deduction, which lets you subtract a set amount from your income based on your filing status


If your deductible expenses and losses are more than the standard deduction, you can save money by deducting them one-by-one from your income (itemizing). 


Standard deduction amounts 

The standard deduction for 2023 is: 

  • $13,850 for single or married filing separately 

  • $27,700 for married couples filing jointly or qualifying surviving spouse 

  • $20,800 for head of household 


Deductible expenses 

You can deduct these expenses whether you take the standard deduction or itemize:

If you itemize, you can deduct these expenses: (AGAIN, YOUR ITEMIZE DEDUCTIONS MUST BE GREATER THAN YOUR STANDARD DEDUCTION)


The more information you provide and keep track of, the easier it is to find what you qualify for. The questionnaire that you are tasked to fill out helps with finding credits and deductions. So, when you skip, don't read, or leave blank.... you may be leaving money on the table.

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