Tax Avoidance

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DEFINITION of 'Tax Avoidance'

The use of legal methods to modify an individual's financial situation in order to lower the amount of income tax owed. This is generally accomplished by claiming the permissible deductions and credits. This practice differs from tax evasion, which is illegal.

BREAKING DOWN 'Tax Avoidance'

Most taxpayers use some forms of tax avoidance. For example, individuals who contribute to employer-sponsored retirement plans with pre-tax funds are engaging in tax avoidance because the amount of taxes paid on the funds when they are withdrawn is usually less than the amount that the individual would owe today. Furthermore, retirement plans allow taxpayers to defer paying taxes until a much later date, which allows their savings to grow at a faster rate.

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