What is an Exemption?
In finance and accounting, an exemption is generally regarded as the exclusion of a payment or any type of liability that is put in place by a legal authority.
It is colloquially used to describe tax exemptions that people and businesses can utilize to reduce the amount owed to federal and local governments. They are generally legal exemptions to rules where tax would otherwise be required to be paid.
Sometimes, tax exemptions can be broad across a certain industry, or they can be more specific and apply to limited scenarios.
- An exemption is generally regarded as the exclusion of a payment or any type of liability that is put in place by a legal authority.
- Many countries provide religious organizations with tax-exempt status, and in the U.S., both federal and state governments often provide tax exemptions for qualified religious institutions.
- Non-profits and charities are also often granted various levels of tax-exempt status, as they help provide critical support services.
Broad Exemptions in Taxation
Many governments provide broad exclusions for certain sectors and types of organizations. Often, such sectors are not motivated by profit but instead provide a public service or social objective that warrants tax relief to keep the organization adequately funded.
Some examples of such types of exclusions are listed below:
- Religious institutions
- Non-profit organizations
- Geographical areas
How Do Governments Provide Exemptions?
In the U.S., organizations can be exempt from federal income tax but not from different types of state and local tax, as well as employment tax. In the U.K., exemptions for specific organizations come in the form of property tax and income tax exemptions.
Religious Organizations and Tax Exemption
Many countries provide religious organizations with tax-exempt status. In the U.S., both federal and state governments often provide tax exemptions for qualified religious institutions. The logic is that religious institutions provide a public service that supports communities and are not driven by profit.
Thus, it does significant good to the community to ensure that religious institutions can keep as much money as they earn to help them stay present and well-funded.
Charities and Not-For-Profits – Community-Driven Tax Exemptions
Non-profits and charities are also often granted various levels of tax-exempt status. The institutions help provide critical support for underprivileged persons or individuals needing assistance.
They often aid people who fall through the cracks of government assistance or support causes in other countries where local governments are unable to help their own population. The greater good of such types of institutions supports their community-driven tax-exempt status.
Some locations within certain countries will exempt entire segments of the population from paying a certain type of tax.
In Canada, provinces generally impose both a federal and provincial tax on all goods sold. However, in the province of Alberta, because of its oil-rich stature, it offers complete exemption from provincial sales tax for everything sold in the province. The provincial sales tax exemption can be regarded as a type of dividend that is paid back to anyone who resides in or visits Alberta.
While the provincial government is forgoing revenue from provincial sales tax, the lack of tax makes the city more lucrative for talent and companies to locate there. It is a unique type of exemption and provides incentives for businesses and talent to relocate to the city.
There are often many indirect benefits gained by providing such types of exemptions, which are all carefully considered before implementing such a broad-reaching exemption like Alberta.
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