What Assets Are Taxable and What Assets Are Not Taxable?

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What Assets Are Taxable and What Assets Are Not Taxable?

An asset is any economic resource that is anticipated to generate a future benefit to its owner. This difference distinguishes an asset from income: income is money that is received, but an asset is anything (usually money or property) that a person already owns. Most forms of income are considered taxable by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). There are a few exceptions; the Internal Revenue Code expressly defines any income that is neither taxable or tax-exempt (IRC).

Key Takeaways

  • An asset is any economic resource that is anticipated to generate a future benefit to its owner.
  • Income is money that is received, while an asset is money or property that a person already owns.
  • Most forms of income are considered taxable by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); any income that is not taxable, or tax-exempt, is expressly defined in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).
  • Many taxpayers use financial planning tactics to reduce their total income tax burden.

Taxable Income vs. Tax-Exempt Income

Wages, salaries, bonuses, and tips, as well as unearned income, are all examples of taxable income. Unearned income is defined as money derived from investments and other sources other than work. Savings account interest, bond interest, alimony, and stock dividends are all examples.

Tax refunds that people are entitled for may be regarded as taxable income in certain cases. However, this is usually only the case if a taxpayer claimed a state and local tax deduction in the previous tax year. If this is the case, a taxpayer must record any tax refunds on line 1 of Schedule A of Form 1040. This provision was put in place to prevent taxpayers from deducting their state income taxes and then obtaining a tax-free refund.

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Inheritances, child support payments, welfare payments, manufacturer refunds, and adoption fee reimbursements are typically not taxable (or tax-exempt) under the IRC.

Gains in tax-deferred accounts are exempt from taxes under certain situations, but they may be taxed later (as opposed to annually like other sources of income).Tax-deferred accounts are savings accounts that do not require taxpayers to record the income produced (but not taken) by the account on their yearly tax return.

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs), employer-sponsored retirement plans (such as 401(k), 457, or 403(b) plans), and tax-deferred annuities are all instances of tax-deferred accounts.

Gains in tax-deferred accounts may be subject to taxation if certain requirements are not met (such as an early withdrawal of the monies or illegal usage of the funds in the account).

Financial Planning Strategies That Reduce Taxable Income

Some taxpayers use investing methods to lower their overall tax obligation. A tax-cutting plan may make use of several investments that have variable tax status. A tax-saving financial planning and investing approach, in particular, may optimize the utilization of tax-deferred accounts.

Investors who use an investing plan to lower taxable income, on the other hand, prefer to keep part of their assets in taxable accounts. Tax-friendly equities, volatile stocks, and index funds should normally be maintained in taxable accounts, whereas taxable bonds, real estate investment trusts (REITs), and mutual funds should be held in tax-deferred accounts.

Take Advantage of Deductions and Credits to Reduce Taxable Income

Another legitimate strategy to reduce your taxable assets is to use all available tax deductions and credits. A tax deduction decreases the amount of income that is taxed, but a tax credit immediately reduces your tax obligation.

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In other words, a tax deduction allows a taxpayer to deduct the amount of the deduction from their income, lowering their taxable income: the lower your taxable income, the smaller your tax payment. A tax credit, on the other hand, is a dollar-for-dollar decrease in your real tax burden.

There are two ways to claim a tax deduction. You have the option of taking the standard deduction or itemizing your deductions. Whether you itemize deductions or take the standard deduction affects your overall responsibility, so if you’re unsure, compare your tax liability under both scenarios.

The standard deduction reduces your taxable income by a predetermined amount. If a taxpayer’s standard deduction (based on age, income, and filing status) is more than the total of their itemized deductions, they are better off taking the standard deduction.

The aim for taxpayers who choose to itemize deductions is to lower their taxable income. Unreimbursed medical and dental bills, interest charges, and charity contributions are all frequent itemized deductions.

Tax credits might cut your burden even more. Tax credits may sometimes result in a return for the taxpayer. The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), Child Tax Credit, Adoption Credit, and Lifetime Learning Credit are among the most prevalent tax credits available to taxpayers.

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