TurboTax / Tax Calculators & Tips / All Tax Guides / General Tax Tips / What are Tax Exemptions?

What are Tax Exemptions?

Updated for Tax Year 2014


OVERVIEW

Tax exemptions come in many forms, but one thing they all have in common is they either reduce or entirely eliminate your obligation to pay tax. Most taxpayers are entitled to an exemption on their tax return that reduces your tax bill in the same way a deduction does. Federal and state governments frequently exempt organizations from income tax entirely when it serves the public, such as with charities and religious organizations.


Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

Start for Free

Personal exemptions

If you are not claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer's return, then you can claim one personal tax exemption. This is a fixed amount that generally increases each year. The exemption reduces your taxable income just like a deduction does, but has fewer restrictions to claiming it. If you are married and file a joint tax return, both you and your spouse each get an exemption.

Dependent exemptions

The IRS allows you to take additional exemptions for each dependent you claim. Frequently, the source of these exemptions are the children who live with you for more than half the year, are under 19 years old (or under 24 if a full-time student) and who don't provide more than half of their own financial support during the tax year. Some of your relatives can also qualify to be your dependents if they live with you and even your parents who don't.

Tax-exempt organizations

For an organization to receive tax-exempt status, it must satisfy all IRS requirements. Generally, these are organizations that don't operate for profit and provide valuable services to the community such as a charity. If an organization receives tax-exempt status it's not required to pay federal income tax, but must maintain accurate records to keep its status. Donations you make to these organizations usually entitle you to claim a charitable contribution deduction if you itemize.

State and local exemptions

State, county and municipal governments also provide tax exemptions to businesses to stimulate the local economy. For example, a business may be exempt from paying local property taxes if it moves its operations to a particular geographic area. In Massachusetts, the state provides many telecommunication companies that provide cable television, Internet access and public broadcasts of radio and television an exemption from sales tax. Many cities and states also offer sales tax holidays where consumers can purchase goods without paying state or local sales taxes.

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.

* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax Online pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice.
  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal efile of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for efiling state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • TurboTax Mobile: Actual prices are determined at the time of print or efile and are subject to change without notice. Come back here before you file to confirm that the price has not changed, especially if it's been a while since you downloaded this app.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard message and data rates apply to download and use mobile app features and content. TurboTax mobile app devices supported include Android 4.1 and above, iOS 8 on iPhone 4s and above, and iPad 2.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with efile and direct deposit; tax refund timeframes will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: A $34.99 Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support (phone or chat) vary by time of year. Phone support not included with Free Edition.
  • About our credentialed tax experts: Live tax advice service is available for your toughest tax questions; fees may apply. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice. Click here for full terms and conditions. Not available for TurboTax Business customers.
  • Get up to 10% on top of your federal refund: Amazon.com Gift Card offer is for federal refunds only. Limits apply ($2000 per e-card, maximum $10,000 per customer). Offer available only for TurboTax Online (except Federal Free Edition) or CD/download versions sold and shipped, or downloaded directly from Intuit or Amazon. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards cannot be canceled, transferred for value or redeemed for cash.

    Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ('GCs') cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2013 TurboTax products.
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars: Average based on customer ratings on TurboTax.com for TurboTax Online and CD/download products tax year 2014, as of January 2015.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.
  • TurboTax CD/Download priority phone support: Priority phone support for TurboTax CD/Download Premier and Home & Business is accessible exclusively via the TurboTax.com Help Center.
  • Benefit Assist: After you file, TurboTax automatically shows you a full list of government benefits you may qualify for, like Food Stamps or reduced phone & utilities. Plus, we help you apply, saving you time and making it easier than ever to get more money! Estimate based on calculation of Benefit Assist users from tax year 2013 and published reports of average benefit and savings amounts from federal and state programs. Actual amounts and qualifications based on your individual situation; some individuals will not qualify. Feature may not be available for all customers.
  • Simplified State Experience: New, simplified state tax preparation available for most filers.
  • Eligibility for $25 cash back for returning Deluxe customers: Customers who have completed their 2013 taxes in TurboTax Deluxe (CD or download), and have completed their 2014 taxes in either TurboTax Premier or TurboTax Home & Business (CD or download), and apply here before 11:59PM PDT April 20, 2015, are eligible for $25 back. 2014 TurboTax Advantage users are ineligible for this offer. Terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.
  • $0 Upgrade Offer: Valid for customers who filed their 2013 taxes with TurboTax Deluxe (CD or download), completed prior year data transfer this year, and encounter an upgrade to either 2014 TurboTax Premier or 2014 TurboTax Home & Business (CD or download). Valid February 6, 2015 through April 20, 2015. TurboTax Advantage users are ineligible for this offer. This offer may not be combined with our $25 cash back offer. Terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.