An income tax
is a tax imposed on individuals or entities (taxpayers) that varies with the income or profits (taxable income) of the taxpayer. Details vary widely by jurisdiction. Many jurisdictions refer to income tax on business entities as companies tax or corporate tax
. Partnerships generally are not taxed; rather, the partners are taxed on their share of partnership items. Tax may be imposed by both a country and subdivisions. Most jurisdictions exempt locally organized charitable organizations from tax.
Income tax generally is computed as the product of a tax rate times taxable income. The tax rate may increase as taxable income increases (referred to as graduated rates). Taxation rates may vary by type or characteristics of the taxpayer. Capital gains
may be taxed at different rates than other income
. Credits of various sorts may be allowed that reduce tax. Some jurisdictions impose the higher of an income tax or a tax on an alternative base or measure of income.
Taxable income of taxpayers resident in the jurisdiction is generally total income less income producing expenses and other deductions. Generally, only net gain from sale of property, including goods held for sale, is included in income. Income of a corporation's shareholders usually includes distributions of profits from the corporation. Deductions typically include all income producing or business expenses
including an allowance for recovery of costs of business assets. Many jurisdictions allow notional deductions for individuals, and may allow deduction of some personal expenses. Most jurisdictions either do not tax income
earned outside the jurisdiction or allow a credit for taxes paid to other jurisdictions on such income. Nonresidents are taxed only on certain types of income from sources within the jurisdictions, with few exceptions.
Most jurisdictions require self-assessment of the tax and require payers of some types of income to withhold tax from those payments. Advance payments of tax by taxpayers may be required. Taxpayers not timely paying tax owed are generally subject to significant penalties, which may include jail for individuals or revocation of an entity's legal existence.