Deductible Definition, Common Tax and Business Deductibles

What Is a Deductible?

For tax purposes, a deductible is an expense that an individual taxpayer or a business can subtract from adjusted gross income while completing a tax form. The deductible expense reduces taxable income and, therefore, the amount of income taxes owed.

U.S. individual taxpayers may either use the standard deduction or fill out a list of all of their deductible expenses, depending on which results in a smaller taxable income.

Key Takeaways

  • A deductible for taxes is an expense that a taxpayer or business can subtract from adjusted gross income, which reduces their income, thereby reducing the overall tax they need to pay.
  • Most wage-earners use the standard deduction; however, those with very high deductible expenses can choose to "itemize" if that results in a smaller tax bill.
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides lists, requirements, and amounts of all available deductibles.
  • Common tax deductibles for individuals include student loan interest deductions, self-employment expenses deductions, charitable donation deductions, and mortgage interest deductions.
  • Business deductibles include payroll, utilities, rent, leases, and other operational costs.


Understanding Deductibles

For individual wage-earners, some of the most commonly-used deductibles are mortgage interest payments, state and local tax payments, and charitable deductions. There is a deduction for out-of-pocket medical costs. Self-employed people may also be able to deduct many of the related expenses.

Nevertheless, the vast majority of Americans have taken the standard deduction since 2018, when that figure nearly doubled.

  • For the 2022 tax year, the standard deduction for single taxpayers and married couples filing separately is $12,950. For married couples filing jointly, it is $25,900. For heads of households, it is $19,400.
  • For the 2023 tax year, the standard deduction for single taxpayers and married couples filing separately is $13,850. For married couples filing jointly, it is $27,700. For heads of households, it is $20,800.

Common Tax Deductibles

There are many tax deductibles that taxpayers can claim to alleviate their tax burden. These include student loan interest deductions, charitable donation deductions, mortgage interest deductions, gambling loss deductions, home office deductions, and self-employment expenses deductions.

These are just a few of the many tax deductibles that individuals can note on their tax returns. When filing taxes, it's worth checking the IRS site or with your tax advisor the different deductions you can claim. Many of these require an individual to qualify for the tax credit, which may include income thresholds.

Business Deductibles

Business deductibles are considerably more complex than individual deductibles and require a great deal more record-keeping. A business or self-employed individual must list all of the income that was received and all of the expenses that were paid out in order to report the real profit of the business. That profit is the gross taxable income of the business.

Examples of ordinary business deductibles include payroll, utilities, rent, leases, and other operational costs. Additional deductibles include capital expenses, such as depreciating equipment or real estate.

Permissible deductibles vary by the structure of the business. Limited-liability companies (LLCs) and corporations differ in the types and amounts of deductions available to their owners.

Standardized Deduction vs. Itemized Deduction

Whether a taxpayer uses the standard deduction or itemizes deductible expenses, the amount is subtracted directly from adjusted gross income. For example, if a single taxpayer reports $50,000 in gross income in 2022, based on the figure on their W2 form, they may deduct $12,950, reducing their taxable income to $37,050.

The standard deduction nearly doubled with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. In the first year of the Act's implementation, in 2018, about 90% of taxpayers used the standard deduction rather than itemizing deductions.

Itemizing deductible expenses rather than taking the standard deduction requires filing one more piece of paper. A Schedule A form, used to record the various claimed deductions, must be attached to the main tax form, Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.

The process requires a good deal of record-keeping, including receipts or other proof of expenditures.

Filers who take the standard deduction can file Form 1040. Those who are age 65 or older can use Form 1040-SR. It's nearly identical to Form 1040 but with a larger print.

Tax Credit vs. Tax Deduction

Both tax credits and tax deductions can help taxpayers pay less in taxes but there are distinct differences between the two. A tax credit is an exact monetary decrease in your tax bill. For example, a $10 tax credit will reduce your tax bill by $10. If your tax credits are greater than your tax bill, then you will receive a refund for the difference.

Some tax credits are the earned income tax credit, the child tax credit, the child and dependent tax credit, and the adoption credit.

A tax deduction, on the other hand, lowers your taxable income, thereby lowering the taxes you pay. A tax deduction subtracts an amount from your income whereas a tax credit subtracts a dollar-for-dollar amount from your tax bill.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Are Tax Deductibles Calculated?

A tax deducible lowers your gross income to arrive at an adjusted gross income. There are a variety of deductibles, depending on if an individual qualifies for them. The deductible amount is applied to an individual's income, which reduces their income by the deductible amount, which results in having a lower income and, therefore, a lower tax bill.

What Is a Standard Tax Deduction?

A standard deduction is a specific dollar amount as determined by the IRS that reduces your taxable income. The standard deduction for 2022 it is $12,950 for single taxpayers and married couples filing separately and for 2023 it is $13,850.

Do Tax Deductions Increase Your Refund?

Tax deductions can increase your refund. A tax deduction lowers your taxable income, which means that you end up paying fewer taxes, which can result in a refund.

Should I Take a Standard Deduction?

Depending on whether you should take a standard deduction or itemize your deductions depends on your financial situation. If your standard deduction is greater than your itemized deductions, then it would be worth taking the standard deduction. If your itemized deductions result in greater tax savings, it would be worth it to spend the time itemizing.

Article Sources
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  1. Internal Revenue Service. "Credits and Deductions for Individuals."

  2. Internal Revenue Service. "Topic No. 501 Should I Itemize?"

  3. Tax Foundation. "Nearly 90% of Taxpayers Are Projected to Take the TCJA's Expanded Standard Deduction."

  4. Internal Revenue Service. "Credits & Deductions for Businesses."

  5. Internal Revenue Service. "Be Tax Ready – Understanding Tax Reform Changes Affecting Individuals and Families."

  6. Internal Revenue Service. “IRS Provides Tax Inflation Adjustments for Tax Year 2022.”

  7. Internal Revenue Service. "IRS Provides Tax Inflation Adjustments for Tax Year 2023."

  8. Internal Revenue Service. "Publication 542 (01/2022), Corporations."

  9. Internal Revenue Service. "Publication 535 (2021), Business Expenses."

  10. Internal Revenue Service. "Itemized Deductions."

  11. Internal Revenue Service. "IRS Provides Tax Inflation Adjustments for Tax Year 2023."

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