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Understand the Tax Process and Tax Strategies to Help You Lower Your Taxes

Preparing your income tax is a seven-step process. It includes:

  1. Start with your income from all sources, less IRS-allowed losses, exclusions and deferrals, which equals your gross income.
  2. Subtract adjustments to gross income; the result is your adjusted gross income (AGI).
  3. Subtract the greater of your standard deduction or your itemized deductions.
  4. Subtract your exemptions; the result is your taxable income.
  5. Refer to the IRS tax table and calculate your tentative tax.
  6. Subtract your credits; the result becomes your total tax owed.
  7. Subtract any taxes already paid. This leaves the amount of your balance due or amount of your refund.

I will discuss each of these areas.

 Table 1: The Tax Process


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