refers to instances where a taxpayer can delay paying taxes
to some future period. In theory, the net taxes paid should be the same. In practice, due to the time value of money
, paying taxes in future is usually preferable to paying them now. Taxes can sometimes be deferred indefinitely, or may be taxed at a lower rate in the future, particularly for deferral of income taxes. It is a general fact of taxation that when taxpayers can choose when to pay taxes, the total amount paid in tax will likely be lower.
Corporate tax deferral
Corporations (or other enterprises) may often be allowed to defer taxes, for example, by using accelerated depreciation
. Profit taxes (or other taxes) are reduced
in the current period by either lowering declared revenue now, or by increasing expenses. In principle, taxes in future periods should be higher.
Income tax deferral
In many jurisdictions
, income taxes
may be deferred to future periods by a number of means. For example, income may be recognized in future years by using income tax deductions, or certain expenses may be provided as deductions in current rather than future periods. In jurisdictions where tax rates are progressive
- meaning that income taxes as a percentage of income are higher for higher incomes or tax brackets
, resulting in a higher marginal tax rate
- this often results in lower taxes paid, regardless of the time value of money.
Tax deferred retirement accounts exist in many jurisdictions, and allow individuals to declare income later in life; if the individuals also have lower income in retirement, taxes paid may be considerably lower. In Canada, contributions to registered retirement savings plans or RRSPs are deducted from income, and earnings (interest, dividends and capital gains) in these accounts are not taxed; only withdrawals from the retirement account are taxed as income.
Other types of retirement accounts will defer taxes only on income earned in the account. In the United States, a number of different forms of retirement savings accounts exist with different characteristics and limits, including 401ks, IRAs, and more.
As long as the individual makes withdrawals when he or she is in a lower tax bracket (that is, has a lower marginal tax rate), total taxes payable will be lower.