How Does a Tax Credit Work? Federal Tax Credits Explained

R&D Tax Credit

Brian Coddington
March 11, 2024

What are Federal Tax Credits?

Tax season can be a daunting time, filled with forms, calculations, and the question: am I getting the most out of my tax return? One often overlooked benefit that can significantly impact your tax liability is tax credits. But how exactly do they work?

Think of a tax credit like a coupon for your taxes. Unlike deductions which reduce your taxable income, tax credits directly decrease the amount of tax you owe, dollar-for-dollar. This means a $1,000 credit reduces your tax bill by $1,000, making them a powerful tool for saving money.

Here's a breakdown of how they work:

  • Eligibility: Each tax credit comes with specific requirements you need to meet to claim it. These typically involve income levels, qualifying expenses, or specific actions taken.
  • Claiming the Credit: When filing your tax return, you identify the credits you're eligible for and the amount you're claiming.
  • Reducing Your Tax Bill: The claimed credit directly reduces the taxes you owe.
  • Potential Refund: If the credit amount exceeds your tax liability, some credits (refundable credits) can result in a tax refund, putting money back in your pocket.

Here are some examples of tax credits that are available to claim:

Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit: This credit incentivizes businesses to invest in research and development activities by offering a tax credit against their federal income tax liability.

Learn More About R&D Tax Credits

Section 45L Energy Efficient Home Tax Credit: This credit encourages the construction of energy-efficient homes by offering a tax credit to builders for qualifying improvements made to new or existing homes.

Learn More About 45L

Tax laws can be complex, and eligibility for specific credits can change from year to year. Consulting with tax professionals like can ensure you're claiming all the credits you're entitled to and maximizing your tax savings.

By understanding how tax credits work, you can proactively manage your tax liability and potentially save significant money come tax season

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