British Columbia Sun

What is a tax deduction and how does it work

Taxes can be confusing, and one of the most confusing aspects of taxes is the concept of tax deductions. But understanding tax deductions is important because they can help reduce your taxable income and lower the amount of taxes you owe. In this article, we will explain what a tax deduction is and how it works.

What is a tax deduction?

A tax deduction is an expense that the government allows you to subtract from your taxable income, which reduces the amount of tax you owe. Essentially, tax deductions are a way for the government to incentivize certain behaviors or expenses by making them more affordable through the tax code.

For example, if you make a donation to a qualified charity, you may be able to deduct that donation from your taxable income. This means that you will pay taxes on a lower income, which reduces the amount of taxes you owe.

How do tax deductions work?

Tax deductions work by reducing your taxable income. Let’s say your taxable income is $50,000 and you are eligible for a $5,000 tax deduction. Your taxable income would then be reduced to $45,000, and you would pay taxes on that lower amount.

It’s important to note that not all tax deductions are created equal. Some deductions are what is called “above-the-line” deductions, while others are “below-the-line” deductions. Above-the-line deductions are deducted from your income before calculating your adjusted gross income (AGI), which is used to determine your eligibility for other tax breaks, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. Below-the-line deductions, on the other hand, are deducted from your AGI and are used to determine your taxable income.

Examples of tax deductions

There are many tax deductions available, and they vary depending on your circumstances. Here are some common deductions:

  1. Charitable donations: As mentioned earlier, donations to qualified charities are tax-deductible.
  2. State and local taxes: You can deduct state and local income, sales, and property taxes up to a certain limit.
  3. Mortgage interest: If you own a home and have a mortgage, you can deduct the interest you pay on that mortgage.
  4. Health care expenses: You can deduct medical and dental expenses that exceed a certain percentage of your income.
  5. Education expenses: If you are paying for education, you may be able to deduct certain expenses, such as tuition and fees, up to a certain limit.
  6. Retirement contributions: Contributions to certain retirement accounts, such as a traditional IRA or 401(k), are tax-deductible.


Tax deductions can be a great way to reduce your taxable income and lower the amount of taxes you owe. However, it’s important to remember that not all deductions apply to everyone, and some may have limits or other restrictions. To make sure you are taking advantage of all the deductions you are eligible for, it’s a good idea to consult with a tax professional or use tax preparation software that can help you identify deductions and ensure that you are filling out your tax return correctly.

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