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Video: How to Calculate My Federal Adjusted Gross Income

Updated for Tax Year 2015


Many taxpayers earn income from several different sources. In this video, you'll learn how to calculate your adjusted gross income, which will help you deduce how much tax you owe.

Hello, I’m Jill from TurboTax with important news on how to calculate your adjusted gross income.

You see an entire section of your tax return devoted to adjusted gross income, or AGI as it’s commonly referred to, but do you know how to calculate it? Even though the tax return will instruct you on how to compute it, a better understanding of the calculation can provide some insight on the impact it has on the amount of tax you owe.

Of the three most common tax forms—the 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ—the 1040 provides the most lengthy and complete calculation of your AGI, so we’ll use that form to illustrate how the calculation works.

Since you can’t calculate your AGI without first reporting income, the first step in the calculation is to add up all the income on your tax return. On the 1040, this is referred to as your “total income.” Total income includes your employment wages, self-employment earnings, interest, dividends, state and local income tax refunds, alimony payments you receive from a former spouse, capital gains, unemployment compensation and a number of other items. Essentially, it includes all money you receive during the year that isn’t tax-exempt. From this total there are a number of deductions you can take that are known as “adjustments to income.” These are the only deductions you can claim to calculate your AGI.

The types of income adjustments can vary each tax year with some years offering more than others. However, adjustments typically include the deductible portion of self-employment tax payments you make, alimony that you provide to a former spouse, student loan interest and deductions for certain contributions you make to IRA accounts. After evaluating your eligibility for each deduction and reporting the amount on your return, the sum of your income adjustments directly reduces your total income, and the result is your AGI. Now your AGI isn’t just an arbitrary number. The IRS frequently uses AGI as a threshold amount to determine your eligibility to take certain deductions and to calculate how big a deduction you can take.

The good news is, when you file with TurboTax, we’ll ask you simple questions about your income and deductions, and calculate your AGI for you. We make it easy to get your biggest tax refund, guaranteed.

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The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.

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