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Tax Deduction Vs. Tax Credits Cheat Sheet

When it comes to tax time, people can claim a few different things on their return. The two most common are tax deductions and tax credits. While they sound similar, there is a big difference between the two.

This article will provide the most straightforward Tax deduction vs. Tax credits cheat sheet. We’ll look at each one and when you might want to use them. So, whether you’re filing your taxes for the first time or just trying to make sure you’re getting more out of your return, read on!

What is a tax deduction?

A tax deduction reduces taxable income, which results in a lower tax bill. In simple words, a tax deduction is an expense that can be subtracted from your taxable income, which can help lower your overall tax bill.

The most common deductions include charitable giving, mortgage interest, and state and local taxes. Also, you can find many other potential deductions, such as medical expenses or business costs. Deductions can save taxpayers a significant amount of money on their taxes each year.

There are many different deductions, ranging from the standard deduction to itemized deductions for specific expenses.

Let’s get into each type of deduction below.

Standard Deduction

A standard deduction is a set amount of money automatically deducted from your taxable income. This deduction helps to reduce the amount of tax you owe and can be claimed by taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions. Different standard deductions are available for taxpayers depending on their filing status and age. Check out the “How Much Is My Standard Deduction” tool on the IRS website to calculate your deduction.

Itemized Deduction

Itemized deductions are specific tax deductions that help taxpayers reduce their taxable income. This means that taxpayers who claim this deduction will pay fewer taxes on their income. There are many different itemized deductions available, and each one has its own set of rules.

To claim itemized deductions, you must meet IRS requirements. For example, you must itemize deductions if the Standard Deduction is low versus the amount you’ve paid in qualified expenses. If you meet all requirements, you can subtract the deduction amount from your taxable income. Doing so will lower your tax bill and save you money.

You must include Schedule A with your 1040 tax return to properly document deductions. Many different types of expenses are qualified for itemization. Some of the most common include deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and state and local taxes.

Meeting the requirements to claim itemized deductions can be complicated but can be a great way to save money on your taxes. It’s advised to speak with a tax professional before making any decisions.

Standard deduction or itemized deduction

What is a tax credit?

Tax credits are credits that can help reduce your overall tax liability. In some cases, they can even give you a refund. Tax credits are more favorable than deductions because they provide a dollar-for-dollar reduction in taxes owed.

For example, if you owe $1,000 in taxes and have a $1,500 tax credit, your taxes are reduced to zero, and sometimes you may get the remaining $500 as a refund. On the other hand, Deductions only provide a percentage of the reduction in your taxable income.

Now on to the good part! 🙂

There are two main types of tax credits: refundable and nonrefundable.

Refundable Tax Credits

A refundable tax credit is a credit that allows taxpayers to receive a refund even if they do not owe any taxes. There are a few different types of refundable credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The EITC is available to low- and moderate-income taxpayers who have earned income from working. The CTC is available to taxpayers with dependent children under age 18.

Nonrefundable Tax Credits

A nonrefundable credit is a tax credit that can only offset taxes owed. In other words, you won’t be able to use the nonrefundable credit to receive a refund, even if the amount of the credit exceeds the amount of taxes owed. Although nonrefundable tax credits are not as beneficial as refundable tax credits, they can still help reduce your overall tax burden.

Who qualifies for Tax Credits?

To be eligible for the tax credit, an individual or family must meet specific guidelines. The most important qualification is that the taxpayer must have a valid Social Security number. Other qualifications include income limits and filing status. Visit the IRS website for more information on the different qualifications available for each credit.

What are the differences between tax credit vs. tax deductions?

When taxes are due, there are always many discussions about which deductions and credits will offer the most relief. This can confuse taxpayers who are not familiar with the distinction between tax deductions and tax credits.

Tax deductions reduce the amount of taxable income that is subject to taxation. Tax credits lower the amount of taxes that are owed dollar for dollar. There are many other tax credits, but the most common ones include the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The best way to determine if a particular tax deduction or credit will offer you significant savings is to consult with a Tax Professional.

Let’s dig into the benefits of Tax deductions and Tax Credits so you can better understand the two.

What are the benefits of Tax credits?

Benefits of tax deductions:

  1. Lower your overall tax bill: If you don’t have enough deductions to itemize, claiming the standard deduction could still save you money on your taxes.
  2. Reducing your taxable income can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your tax bill.
  3. Some tax deductions are allowed even if you took the Standard Deduction. (Such as Charitable Contributions)
  4. The IRS allows taxpayers to claim a wide variety of deductions, so there’s almost certainly one that will apply to you.

Benefits of tax credit:

  1. Receive a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax bill
  2. Get money back, even if you don’t owe taxes
  3. Increase your take-home pay by reducing your tax liability
  4. Use the credit to offset payroll or income taxes


The government offers a variety of tax credits and deductions to encourage certain behaviors or help taxpayers with their financial burden. Tax credits can be refundable or non-refundable.

A refundable tax credit means you can get money back from the government if the credit is worth more than the taxes you owe. Nonrefundable tax credits are credits to offset your tax bill. Either way, they both can help save money dollar for dollar come tax time.

A deduction reduces the amount of income subject to income tax, while a credit reduces the amount of tax itself. In addition, there are limits on how much you can deduct or claim as a credit each year. Some taxpayers use the standard deduction while others itemize.

Here, we provided a quick Tax deduction vs. tax credits cheat sheet to help you understand the differences between the two types of tax relief.

If additional assistance is needed, feel free to schedule a free consultation with me or visit our service page.





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