What is the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction?

by coty.bode , in category: Taxation and Accounting , 10 months ago

What is the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction?

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1 answer

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by kimberly , 9 months ago

@coty.bode 

A tax credit and a tax deduction are both ways to reduce your taxable income and potentially lower your tax liability, but they have key differences:

  1. Definition: A tax credit directly reduces the amount of tax you owe, while a tax deduction reduces your taxable income.
  2. Calculation: A tax credit is typically a set amount or percentage of the expenses or income that qualifies for the credit. For example, if you have a $1,000 tax credit and owe $5,000 in taxes, the credit would directly reduce your tax bill to $4,000. On the other hand, a tax deduction reduces the amount of your income that is subject to taxation. So, if you have a $1,000 tax deduction and are in the 20% tax bracket, your tax liability would be reduced by $200 ($1,000 * 20%).
  3. Types of Expenses: Tax credits are often provided for specific expenditures, such as education expenses, child care costs, or energy-efficient home improvements. On the other hand, tax deductions are generally available for various expenses, such as mortgage interest, state and local taxes paid, medical expenses, and charitable contributions.
  4. Benefit: Tax credits usually provide a more significant reduction in your tax bill than deductions because they directly reduce the amount you owe. Deductions, on the other hand, lower your taxable income, which then affects the tax bracket you fall into and the overall tax you owe.
  5. Refundability: Some tax credits are refundable, meaning if the credit exceeds your tax liability, you may receive the excess amount as a tax refund. For example, if you owe $500 in taxes but have a refundable credit of $700, you would not only eliminate your tax bill but also receive a $200 refund. Tax deductions, however, are not refundable and only reduce the amount of tax you owe.


In summary, a tax credit directly reduces the tax you owe, while a tax deduction lowers your taxable income, which indirectly reduces your tax liability. Credits tend to provide a more substantial benefit, and some may even be refundable, while deductions are based on specific expenses and reduce your taxable income.