Tax Shelter

What is a 'Tax Shelter'

A tax shelter is a legal method of minimizing or decreasing an investor's taxable income and, therefore, his or her tax liability. Tax shelters can range from investments or investment accounts that provide favorable tax treatment, to activities or transactions that lower taxable income. The most common type of tax shelter is an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan.

BREAKING DOWN 'Tax Shelter'

Tax authorities watch tax shelters carefully. If an investment is made for the sole purpose of avoiding or evading taxes, you could be forced to pay additional taxes and penalties. Tax minimization (also referred to as tax avoidance) is a perfectly legal way to minimize taxable income and lower taxes payable. Do not confuse this with tax evasion, the illegal avoidance of taxes through misrepresentation or similar means.