The Many Definitions of Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI)

The definition of modified adjusted gross income differs depending on what the calculation is used for.

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People understandably gripe about the complexities of the federal income tax laws. Filling out your tax return is not as easy as just writing a couple of numbers down on a postcard and sending it to the IRS. 

Just when you think that you might have a handle on your taxes, Congress changes the laws – sometimes retroactively. Confusing tax terminology add to the challenge. One example of that is the many meanings of the term “modified adjusted gross income,” sometimes referred to as modified AGI or MAGI. 

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Joy Taylor
Editor, The Kiplinger Tax Letter

Joy is an experienced CPA and tax attorney with an L.L.M. in Taxation from New York University School of Law. After many years working for big law and accounting firms, Joy saw the light and now puts her education, legal experience and in-depth knowledge of federal tax law to use writing for Kiplinger. She writes and edits The Kiplinger Tax Letter and contributes federal tax and retirement stories to and Kiplinger’s Retirement Report. Her articles have been picked up by the Washington Post and other media outlets. Joy has also appeared as a tax expert in newspapers, on television and on radio discussing federal tax developments.