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A tax deduction is a reduction of taxable income one for one basis that is able to be taxed and is commonly a result of expenses, particularly those incurred to produce additional income. Tax deductions are a form of tax incentives, along with exemptions and credits.
Above and below the line
Above and below the line refers items above or below adjusted gross income, which is item 37 on the tax year 2017 1040 tax form. Tax deductions above the line lessen adjusted gross income, while deductions below the line can only lessen taxable income if the aggregate of those deductions exceeds the standard deduction, which in the tax year 2018 in the U.S., for example, was $12,000 for a single taxpayer and $24,000 for a married couple.
Often, deductions are subject to conditions, such as being allowed only for expenses incurred that produce current benefits. Capitalization of items producing future benefit can be required, though with some exceptions. A deduction is allowed, for example, on interest paid on student loans. Some systems allow taxpayer deductions for items the influential parties want to encourage as purchases.
Nearly all jurisdictions that tax business income allows deductions for business and trade expenses. Allowances vary and may be general or restricted. To be deducted, the expenses must be incurred in furthering the business, and usually only include activities undertaken for profit.
Cost of goods sold
Nearly all income tax systems allow a deduction for the cost of goods sold. This may be considered an expense, a reduction of gross income, or merely a component utilized in computing net profits. The manner in which the cost of goods sold is determined has several inherent complexities, including various accounting methods. These include:
- Conventions for assigning costs to particular goods sold where specific identification is infeasible.
- Methods for attributing common costs, such as factory burden, to particular goods.
- Methods for determining when costs are recognized in computing cost of goods sold or to be sold.
- Methods for recognizing the costs of goods that will not be sold or have declined in value