What is the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction?
They are NOT the same thing.
One of them is usually much more valuable than the other.
A tax credit directly reduces the Federal tax amount that you owe, dollar-for-dollar.
A tax deduction reduces your Federal taxable income.
Still not totally clear what this means?
Here’s a great example:
Let’s say you or one of your dependents was in college.
Prior to 2021, there were two different options you may have had:
1) Claiming the American Opportunity CREDIT of $2,500.
2) Claiming the Tuition and Fees DEDUCTION of $4,000
To the naked eye, option 2) seems more valuable – $4,000 is greater than $2,500.
But while the credit will directly reduce the tax that you owe by $2,500, the deduction will only reduce your taxable income by $4,000.
If you’re in the 22% income tax bracket, that amounts to a tax savings of $880 (i.e. $4,000 X 22%).
This is a great example of why tax credits are generally more valuable than tax deductions.