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CBO – Refundable Tax Credits

Refundable Tax Credits, January 25, 2013

  • “The U.S. tax code contains many preferences that lower or eliminate the amount of taxes owed. Those preferences include deductions, exclusions, and tax credits, which can be either refundable or nonrefundable. Refundable tax credits differ from other preferences in a significant way: Whereas other preferences reduce the amount of taxes owed to the government, refundable credits can result in net payments from the government. Specifically, if the amount of a refundable tax credit exceeds a filer’s tax liability before that credit is applied, the government pays the excess to that person or business. In the federal budget, the portion of refundable credits that reduces the amount of taxes owed is counted as a reduction in revenues, and the portion that exceeds people’s tax liabilities is treated as an outlay; the total federal cost is the sum of those two components.”
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