2

Here are two sentences I have extracted from Google dictionary, both containing the word against, under the meaning of offset.

First usage sentence is under noun offset, sense 1:

"widow's bereavement allowance is an offset against income"

What does offset against income mean?

My interpretations:

  1. Widow's bereavement allowance is given because they don't get income.
  2. Widow's bereavement allowance is given in addition to income because of their deprived situation.

Second sentence is given under verb offset, sense 1:

"donations to charities can be offset against tax"

What does offset against tax mean?

I don't get any interpretation at all.

2

First, you should know that this is 'legal English' specific to administrative/bureaucratic/economic contexts, not the way people usually speak in converation. In particular, these are accounting examples.

The second one is easier.

"Donations to charities can be offset against tax"

means tax owed to government can be decreased by an amount proportional to how much has been donated to charity.

"X is offset against Y" means that X goes down when Y goes up, and X goes up when Y goes down, or Y goes up when X goes down, or Y goes down when X goes up.

So "widow's bereavement allowance is an offset against income"

means that the money allowed a widow is balanced against her income.

In other words, higher income, lower allowance OR lower income, higher allowance.

  • 1
    Though I agree with you on the second one, I think both should be read the same way. "Donations to charities can be offset against tax" means "Donations to charities can be deducted from tax"; "Widow's bereavement allowance is an offset against income" should simply mean "Widow's bereavement allowance is a deduction of income", i.e. the allowance shall deduce the income before the income shall be considered in that context (likely an income tax context). – Damkerng T. Jul 3 '14 at 6:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy