Tax Shield: Definition, Formula for Calculation, and Example

Tax shields vary from country to country, and their benefits depend on the taxpayer’s overall tax rate and cash flows for the given tax year. In valuation and finance texts including texts by Damarodan and the McKinsey Valuation book, various methods are typically described. Some of the most irritating discussion is in a HBS article that seems to promote the APV method as some sort of advanced method that better reflects management strategy. An example of discussion of different methods that say nothing about any underlying theory of how tax shields should be value is illustrated below.

  1. SmartAsset Advisors, LLC («SmartAsset»), a wholly owned subsidiary of Financial Insight Technology, is registered with the U.S.
  2. A tax shield refers to reductions in taxable income that result from taking allowable deductions.
  3. If this year is unexpectedly successful, you might want to get as many deductions as possible now.
  4. The expression (CI – CO – D) in the first equation represents the taxable income which when multiplied with (1 – t) yields after-tax income.
  5. In addition, the greater the tax shield means larger portions of debt for the firm.

If we talk about depreciation in simple terms, it is the simplest, but at the same time quite effective technique that allows you to preserve tangible assets directly within the company. The total amount of monthly deductions to the depreciation account is determined on the method best applicable for accounting for the regular wear and tear of a particular asset. define the income summary account. It should be emphasized that the overall cost will remain the same during the asset’s life regardless of the depreciation method employed. As a result, the gain results from using the time value of money and deferring tax payments as long as feasible. When you run a business, the equipment needed – such as computers and printers – wears out over time.

Tax shields allow taxpayers to reduce the amount of taxes owed by lowering their taxable income. When filing your taxes, ensure you are taking these deductions so that you can save money when tax season arrives. A person buys a house with a mortgage and pays interest on that mortgage. That interest is tax deductible, which is offset against the person’s taxable income. Taxpayers who have paid more in medical expenses than covered by the standard deduction can choose to itemize in order to gain a larger tax shield. An individual may deduct any amount attributed to medical or dental expenses that exceeds 7.5% of adjusted gross income by filing Schedule A.

Computing the Depreciation Tax Shield Using Different Depreciation Methods

Depreciation allows businesses to spread out the cost of an asset over its useful life. For tax purposes, depreciation is considered a business expense, and businesses are allowed to deduct it when calculating their taxable income. As a result, it reduces the overall taxable income, thus lowering the amount of tax payable. For depreciation, an accelerated depreciation method will also allocate more tax shield in earlier periods, and less in later periods. A depreciation tax shield is a tax reduction technique under which depreciation expense is subtracted from taxable income. The amount by which depreciation shields the taxpayer from income taxes is the applicable tax rate, multiplied by the amount of depreciation.

As you can see above, taxes are $20 without Depreciation vs. $16 with a Depreciation deduction, for a total cash savings of $4. This valuation method reveals the value of debt and shows that a project financed with debt may be valued higher than a project solely financed by equity. Currently, the United States has seven federal tax bands, with rates averaging ranging from 10% to 37%. The depreciation must be connected to an asset utilized in a business or an income-generating activity and has an anticipated lifespan of more than one year to be eligible. Giving the borrower a particular tax benefit also offers incentives to individuals looking to buy a house.

For example, the child tax credit deducts up to $2,000 per dependent age sixteen or younger. In addition, paying for childcare can net you $3,000 for one dependent twelve or younger and $6,000 for two or more dependents. The taxes saved due to the Interest Expense deductions are the Interest Tax Shield.

Understanding the Limitations on Interest Deductions and Tax Shields

If your deductions don’t add up to an amount greater than your standard deduction, you won’t get as large of a return by itemizing. Since the interest expense on debt is tax-deductible (while dividend payments on equity shares are not) it makes debt funding that much cheaper. A Tax Shield is an allowable deduction from taxable income that results in a reduction of taxes owed. Tax shields differ between countries and are based on what deductions are eligible versus ineligible. The value of these shields depends on the effective tax rate for the corporation or individual (being subject to a higher rate increases the value of the deductions). By directly improving cash flows, tax shields like depreciation and interest expenses have tangible value to shareholders.


The inclusion of debt often decreases the cost of capital and may turn negative NPV projects into positive ones. The other reason is due to covenants which are the restrictions on the company or firm that needs to be agreed upon when taking on debt. So basically, it ensures that the company meets its financial obligations. If the bond were not converted, the tax savings would have been $100,000. However, when converted, the lost tax shelter would only be worth $400,000 (1 – 20%) of the original $500,000 amount. Other factors, such as the length of ownership of the item and whether it was used to construct capital improvements, may impact the potential for depreciation to be deducted.

The intuition here is that the company has an $800,000 reduction in taxable income since the interest expense is deductible. It should be noted that regardless of what depreciation method is used the total expense will be the same over the life of the asset. Thus, the benefit comes from the time value of money and pushing tax expenses out as far as possible.

Moreover, with interest expense on debt tax-deductible and dividends to common equity holders not, debt financing can be considered as the cheaper source of financing. A depreciation tax shield is a tax-saving benefit applied to income generated by businesses. It is an indirect way to save or ‘shield’ cash flows from taxes through the use of depreciation.

Assessing available shields and incorporating them into capital structure decisions allows corporations to legally minimize tax expenses and drive greater profitability. For instance, if the tax rate is 30% and the depreciation expense is $1000, the tax shield would be $300. Depreciation tax shields are commonly used in industries where it is asset-intensive or where many machines, equipment, and other fixed assets can be depreciated. The interest payment to debt holders can lower the taxable income from which firms, companies, and even individuals can benefit and use it as an advantage to reduce their tax expenses. This benefit has become an incentive for firms and individuals to finance their projects using debt.

Navigating the Complexities of Tax Shields: Considerations and Limitations

Interest expenses from debt financing are tax deductible, creating a «tax shield» that lowers the effective cost of debt. These deductions reduce a taxpayer’s taxable income for a given year or defer income taxes into future years. Tax shields lower the overall amount of taxes owed by an individual taxpayer or a business.

Under U.S. GAAP, depreciation reduces the book value of a company’s property, plant, and equipment (PP&E) over its estimated useful life. The Depreciation Tax Shield refers to the tax savings caused from recording depreciation expense. In the depreciation tax shield, you can elect to sell a long term asset. In summary, tax shields like depreciation and interest expense deductions reduce taxes owed. Companies can leverage tax code provisions to lower their tax burdens and increase net income. Tax shields are an important consideration in corporate finance and valuation.

Interest Tax Shield Example Continued

Depreciation allows a company to write off the cost of assets over time. Interest expenses are also tax deductible, so taking on debt provides a tax benefit as companies can deduct interest payments from their taxable income. A tax shield is a way for companies to reduce their tax liability through various deductions and accounting methods. The most common tax shields come from depreciation expenses and interest payments on debt. For example, if a company has cash inflows of USD 20 million, cash outflows of USD 12 million, its net cash flows before taxation work out to USD 8 million. If the tax rate is 33%, the company’s tax liability works out to USD 1 million (USD 3 million × 33%) which equals after-tax net cash flows of USD 7 million (USD 8 million – USD 1 million).

Companies should analyze if interest deduction limitations apply to their situation when modeling the value of tax shields based on debt. An alternative approach called adjusted present value (APV) discounts interest tax shield separately. Even though the APV method is a bit complex, it is more flexible because it allows us to factor-in the risk inherent in admissibility of interest tax shield. The factor of (1-t) reduces the debt component which results in a lower WACC which in turn results in a higher present value of net cash flows.