Difference Between Allowances and Exemptions (With Table)

Allowances and exemptions can be confusing. It’s important to know the difference between them, so you don’t end up paying too much tax! Allowances are typically not taxable because they are given as a form of income. Exemptions reduce your taxable income by the amount that is exempted. 

The IRS has many different types of allowances and exemptions for various situations that may arise in life, but this blog post will focus on just four: the standard deduction, dependent care spending account allowance, education savings account allowance, and retirement savings contribution credit allowance.

Allowances vs Exemptions

The difference between allowances and exemptions is that allowance is a form of income that is not taxable, while exemption reduces your taxable. Allowances are usually provided by employers, while exemptions come from the federal government. Allowances, also known as “above-the-line deductions,” can be taken on your tax return without needing any additional forms or calculations. On the other hand, exemptions need to be applied for through your state department of revenue before you can take them off your income. Allowances are typically more advantageous than exemptions because they do not require paperwork beforehand.

Allowances are what your employer gives you to make up the difference of withholding tax. This type of income will never be reported on a W-form under most circumstances. They are given as a form of income within an employment arrangement or other types of agreements. They can be claimed to reduce taxable income for either personal use or business purposes, depending on the type of allowance being offered by your employer.

Exemptions come from the Federal Government. Exemptions usually reduce taxable income for either personal use, such as owning your home or driving to work or in some cases, it can be transferred to another person by means of a gift. Exemptions can be used to reduce your taxable income. There are different types of exemptions that include: personal, dependency, and retirement if you choose any one or a combination of these options.

Comparison Table Between Allowances and Exemptions

Parameters of Comparison
Allowances Exemptions
DefinitionAn allowance is a fixed sum that an employee receives from their employer to use for the expenses associated with performing their job.An exemption is a type of deduction that reduces taxable income.
AdvantagesFlexible Use and Easier to Claim (on Your Own).No Limits Based on Type of Expense or Child Qualifications.
DisadvantagesMay Be Limited Based on Paying for Child Care or Elderly Care.May Not Be Available to All Taxpayers (as Others Might be Eligible).
DeductionsIn allowances, the deductions are taken from the total income.In exemptions, deductions are given after deducting a specific amount.
DependentsIn allowances, dependents can claim themselves.But in exemptions, only one person is allowed to be claimed as a dependent.

What are Allowances?

Allowances come in all forms and can allow you to reduce your taxable income. This can be done by either giving allowances that offer cash, reimbursements, or benefits-in-kind (BIK). All of these options provide a reduction in the amount of tax an individual must pay each year. In most cases, allowances are given out by your employer.

Allowances are tax deductions offered by employers to their employees. Employers can offer different types of allowances for personal use, such as cell phones or free parking spaces on the work premises. Employers offer allowances as a form of compensation to their employees, and they should be included in the employee’s taxable income.

Allowances can also come from other sources, such as professional registration bodies or government departments that give out special work-related permits or licenses. Other types of allowances may include uniform allowances, travel allowance expenses incurred by an employee while on duty.

Allowances can either be tax-exempt or will need to be included within the employee’s taxable income. Tax-exempt allowances, such as certain gift cards and loyalty programs that offer free merchandise, do not have to be counted towards an individual’s earnings for tax purposes. All other allowances must be included in the employee’s taxable income.

What are Exemptions?

Exemptions are income categories that you can choose to apply for, where your income falls into one of these categories. For example, if you’re eligible for an exemption due to low income or age, then this means that you don’t have to pay taxes on that portion of your income.

Exemptions, on the other hand, are special types of deductions that do not need to be included in the employee’s taxable income. These tax deductions come from specific items or expenses incurred during an employee’s job-related activities, which can include tools and equipment-related activities, travel allowance expenses for work-related activities, and expenses for uniforms.

Exemptions are also used to reduce an individual’s taxable income, but they differ from allowances because exemptions do not have a cash value and will only apply under certain circumstances. In addition, exemptions are often used as a type of deduction.

Exemptions come from Federal Government, while exemptions usually reduce an individual’s taxable income. Both allowances and exemptions have a cash value, but there are differences in when they can or will apply to an individual’s tax return. Exemptions reduce the amount of taxable income available while allowances increase it.

Main Differences Between Allowances and Exemptions

  1. Allowances are a deduction from your gross income, while exemptions reduce taxable income.
  2. Allowances have cash value and can be used to offset other deductions, credits, or taxes you owe. Exemptions do not increase the amount of money in an individual’s pocket; instead, they lower their taxable income.
  3. There is no “exemption allowance” for dependents. Children are typically claimed by their parents as exemptions on the parent’s tax return or when they file a separate individual income tax return.
  4. If a child is claimed as an exemption by more than one taxpayer, the exemptions are prorated based on the percentage of support provided.
  5. Allowances can be claimed on a person’s tax return, but exemptions cannot, while exemptions reduce the amount of taxable income available while allowances increase it.


Both allowances and exemptions have a cash value, but there are differences in when they can or will apply to an individual’s tax return. Exemptions are usually only available to those with lower incomes, whereas allowances are available to everyone. To determine which one you should claim, it’s best to check the latest tax rates and run the numbers yourself using a free online calculator like this one from TurboTax.

Allowances and exemptions are both forms of tax reduction. Allowances lower the amount of taxes you owe, while exemptions eliminate your obligation to pay any taxes at all. Allowances can be granted based on certain qualifications, such as if you are retired or disabled; however, exemptions must be specifically listed in the law for which they apply.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=hi&lr=&id=gYaJq2S6Ud0C&oi=fnd&pg=PT11&dq=Allowances&ots=VwxiyWus3W&sig=JjNj7zOSXwE3r8OFNZuSfsrvodY
  2. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/hlr63&section=88
2D vs 3D x
2D vs 3D