What is adjusted gross income?
Adjusted gross income (AGI) is your gross income — which includes wages, dividends, alimony, capital gains, business income, retirement distributions and other income — minus certain payments you’ve made during the year, such as student loan interest or contributions to a traditional individual retirement account or a health savings account.
How adjusted gross income (AGI) is calculated
In general, the formula for calculating adjusted gross income is:
Start with ... your gross income from jobs, investments, Social Security, pensions, businesses, alimony, real estate, farms, and unemployment.
... and then subtract
Tax software or your tax preparer will calculate your adjusted gross income as part of the process of preparing your tax return.
How to find adjusted gross income on a tax return
You can find your adjusted gross income right on your IRS Form 1040. On your 2020 federal tax return, your AGI is on line 11 of your Form 1040. On your 2019 federal tax return, your AGI is on line 8b of your Form 1040.
The significance and implications of AGI
Your AGI is often the starting point for calculating your tax bill. From there, you’ll make various adjustments and subtract your allowable deductions to find the amount on which you’ll pay tax: That's your taxable income. You’ll see the term “adjusted gross income (AGI)” repeated throughout your tax forms.
AGI is the basis on which you might qualify for many deductions and credits. For example, you may be able to deduct unreimbursed medical expenses, but only when they're more than 7.5% of your AGI. So the lower your AGI, the greater the deduction.
Your state tax return might also use your federal AGI as a starting point. If you file taxes online, your software will calculate your AGI.
What is Modified AGI or MAGI?
According to the IRS, for most taxpayers MAGI is simply adjusted gross income (AGI) before subtracting deductible student loan interest.
If you’re filing Form 1040 and itemizing so that you can take certain deductions, you may have to calculate your MAGI. It too can be a baseline for determining the phaseout level of some credits and tax-saving strategies, and sometimes the formula for MAGI can depend on the type of tax benefit it applies to.