Elevate Your Tax Game: The Art of Above-the-Line Deductions

Jan 24, 2024 | Financial Planning

Looking to reduce your tax bill beyond the standard deduction without the hassle of itemizing?

Enter above-the-line deductions  – a strategic approach to helping lower your federal tax liability.

Understanding Above-the-Line Deductions

Indeed, not all tax deductions are created equal. Above-the-line deductions are subtracted directly from your gross income – lowering what would become your adjusted gross income (AGI): setting the “new line”. This is different from below-the-line deductions (aka. itemized deductions), which only lower your AGI if their total exceeds your standard deduction. This is why these concepts are commonly referred to as “for AGI” and “from AGI”, respectively.

What type of deductions are considered for AGI? (examples below)

Retirement Plan Contributions

Contributions made to traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and qualified plans like 401(k)’s can be deductible. However, be aware of the deductibility phaseout if you are contributing to both a traditional IRA and a qualified plan simultaneously.

Student Loan Interest

The interest paid on federal student loans is deductible up to the lower amount of either what you paid or $2,500. If you paid more than $600 in interest, then should receive tax Form 1098-E, which would record your total. In this case, it is wise to be aware of the Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) deductibility phaseouts.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

Contributions to HSAs are fully deductible, provided you have a qualified high-deductible health insurance plan and do not have access to group policy coverage.


Above-the-line deductions can offer a strategic advantage to your tax planning – the aim being to reduce your AGI and tax bill. By leveraging deductions for AGI such as certain retirement contributions, student loan interest, and healthcare expenses, you could improve your tax savings beyond your standard deduction or applicable itemization level. This is why familiarizing yourself with these tax savvy options and reviewing them with a trusted financial advisor could help you improve your strategic financial game and save bigger towards your goals!

You may review the IRS’ eligibility rules and specific above-the-line deduction details via Form 1040.

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Disclaimer: Pring Turner is a Financial Advisor headquartered in Walnut Creek CA, and is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The views represented herein are Pring Turner’s own and all information is obtained from sources believed to be accurate and reliable. This information should not be considered a solicitation or offer to provide any service in any jurisdiction where it would be unlawful to do so. All indices are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment. Past performance does not guarantee future results.