With a tax deduction, you are reducing the total amount of adjusted gross income you have. For instance, if you earned $50,000 dollars in 2005 and take a $1,000 deduction for something, you’ll have to pay tax on $49,000 dollars in earnings. Put another way, the $1,000 tax deduction will save you a hundred dollars or so in the amount you have to send to the IRS.
A tax credit is a beautiful thing. It is designed to reduce the amount of taxes you on a dollar for dollar basis. Taking our example above, you would not deduct a $1,000 tax credit from the $50,000 you earned. Instead, you would go to the tax tables and determine the amount of tax you owe on the $50,000. Let’s say the tax tables reveal you owe $9,000. You would reduce this amount by the $1,000 tax credit and pay $8,000 dollars to Uncle Sam. Put another way, tax credits are tax deductions on steroids!
If you are raising children, you may be able to claim a tax credit for each one. They must be under 17 at the end of the tax year, a U.S. citizen, your child, and a dependent. Adopted children fit within the tax credit as do stepchildren and certain foster children.
This tax credit, however, does have some limitations. The primary issue is something called the phase-out. If you make more than a particular dollar figure, the tax credit is either reduced or eliminated depending upon your particular circumstances. The phase-out start when your adjusted gross income exceeds the following amounts:
1. Married filing Jointly: $110,000
2. Married filing Separately: $55,000
3. All Other Designations: $75,000
It is important to keep in mind that this tax credit is not a profit center. If you owe the IRS $4,000 but can tax a tax credit for 5 children, you will not get $1,000 back from the IRS. Instead, your tax bill is simply canceled out.