TurboTax / Tax Calculators & Tips / All Tax Guides / Taxes 101 / What is Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)?

What is Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)?

Updated for Tax Year 2015


OVERVIEW

Adjusted gross income (AGI) can directly impact the deductions and credits you are eligible for, which can wind up reducing the amount of taxable income you report on your tax return.


When preparing your tax return, you probably pay more attention to your taxable income than your adjusted gross income (AGI). However, your AGI is also worthy of your attention, since it can directly impact the deductions and credits you’re eligible for—which can wind up reducing the amount of taxable income you report on the return.

what is adjusted gross income

AGI calculation

The AGI calculation is relatively straightforward. It is equal to the total income you report that’s subject to income tax—such as earnings from your job, self-employment, alimony income and interest from a bank account—minus specific deductions, or “adjustments” that you’re eligible to take. Your AGI is calculated before you take exemptions and the standard or itemized deduction—which you report in later sections of the return.

Adjustments to income

Adjustments to income are specific deductions that directly reduce your total income to arrive at your AGI. The types of adjustments that you can deduct are subject to change each year, but a number of them consistently show up on tax returns year after year. Some of these adjustments include half of the self-employment taxes you pay, alimony payments made to a former spouse, contributions to certain retirement accounts (such as a traditional IRA) and the deduction for tuition and fees.

The 1040 is the only form that allows you to deduct every possible adjustment. Using form 1040A significantly reduces the number of available adjustments you can take. And if you're filing on the 1040EZ, your AGI is the same as your total income, since the form doesn’t allow you to deduct any adjustments to income.

Impact on deductions

Many of the deductions that taxpayers commonly take advantage of each year are subject to AGI limitations. If you itemize deductions, for example, you must reduce your medical and dental expenses by 7.5 percent of your AGI—meaning that you can only deduct the amount that exceeds 7.5 percent of your AGI. Therefore, the lower your AGI is, the more of your medical and dental expenses you can deduct.

Even your adjustments to income are subject to AGI limitations despite the fact that those deductions are necessary to calculate your AGI. If you’re eligible to deduct some of your tuition payments, your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) determines whether you qualify.

Other AGI implications

If you live in a state that requires you to file annual income tax returns, your AGI can also impact your state taxable income. This is because many states use your federal AGI as the starting point for calculating your state taxable income. And if you claim a tax credit, such as the lifetime learning credit, for your school expenses, the IRS requires that your MAGI be below certain thresholds in order to claim the credit.

When you use TurboTax to prepare your taxes, we’ll ask you simple questions about your income and walk you step-by-step through the available adjustments to income and other deductions. We handle all the calculations for AGI and MAGI and determine exactly how this impacts your other deductions.

Get every deduction you deserve

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

For only $54.99*
Start for Free

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.


Security is built into everything we do
Here's how
* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • Filing Deadline: IRS filing deadline for tax year 2015 is April 18, 2016 (except for residents of Massachusetts or Maine, where the IRS filing deadline for tax year 2015 is April 19, 2016).
  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. Free 1040EZ/A + Free State offer only available with TurboTax Federal Free Edition; Offer may change or end at any time without notice. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice. Savings and price comparisons based on anticipated price increase expected 3/18/16. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file 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. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase expected 3/18/16. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard message and data rates apply to download and use mobile app.
  • 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 $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice. This benefit is available with TurboTax Federal products except the TurboTax Home & Business/QuickBooks Self-Employed bundle offers.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support vary by time of year.
  • About our credentialed tax experts: Live tax advice service is available via phone 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. Not available for TurboTax Business customers.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2014 TurboTax products.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.