How to Calculate Deferred Taxes

Accurate computation of deferred taxes simplifies the filing of income tax returns.

Deferred taxes are pending payments owed to, or by, the Internal Revenue Service by virtue of their exclusion or inclusion in current income tax filings. The deferred taxes prevail when differences arise between the book valuations and tax expenses attributable to the assets or liabilities of a business. They are also caused by variances between earned revenues and taxable revenue receipts. This is because financial reporting is based on accrual accounting -- that is, recognition of revenue when earned and not when received -- while taxation is limited to the revenue that has been received.

Basics of Deferred Taxes

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Earnings before taxes in your income statement is essentially the amount against which you should determine your payable tax expense. However, overlaps do occur between a period's payable taxes and the filed tax return as a result of temporary differences -- that is, variances in your asset/liability valuation or revenue recognition. A deferred tax liability prevails when your payable tax, as reported in financial statements, exceeds your filed tax return. This means a portion of your payable tax is suspended to a future date. In contrast, a filed tax return that exceeds your due taxable income yields a deferred tax asset. It is as good as making an advance payment for taxes that are due in future.

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Compute Taxable Income

Taxable income for a deferred tax liability is income before tax less temporary differences. For example, if your income statement has a pretax income of \$10,450 and recognized earnings of \$3,150 for a three-year installment sale, your taxable income will be \$10,450 - (\$3,150-\$1,050) = \$8,350. This shows that you recognized \$3,150 for the installment sale but actually received \$1,050 for the first installment. The \$2,100 remains a temporary difference that will become due for taxation when you receive the pending installments. For a deferred tax asset, taxable income is the sum of your pretax income and the temporary difference. For instance, if your \$10,450 pretax income is not inclusive of a prepaid receipt of a \$3,150 three-year installment sale filed in tax returns, your taxable income will be \$10,450 + (\$3,150-\$1,050) = \$12,550. Here, the temporary difference is \$2,100, which represents unearned revenue you have received and filed in your income tax returns.

Determine Payable Income Tax

Apply the required tax rate on the taxable income to determine the payable income tax. For example, at an average tax rate of 30 percent, the income tax payable on the tax returns bearing a deferred tax liability would be 30/100 x \$8,350 = \$2,505, while the one for the returns bearing deferred tax asset would be 30/100 x \$12,550 = \$3,760.