DETHLOFF & ASOOCIATES BLOG - MOSTLY (BUT NOT ALL) TAX
I’m sure the last thing you want to be doing this Christmas weekend is reading about tax reform. However, Congress has just passed, and the President will soon sign the largest tax reform package since 1986 and there are number of things that you may want to do before December 31, 2017 to deal with the changes that will take affect in 2018.
We’ve listed below a detailed analysis of the individual tax changes, but wanted to give you a few items we feel are time sensitive. Starting with 2018 tax returns the new tax bill limits the deduction for state and local income and property taxes (SALT) to $10,000. This $10,000 SALT limit is the same whether you are single or married. Miscellaneous itemized deductions (investment fees, unions dues, employee business expenses, tax prep fees, etc.) are eliminated. It also increases the standard deduction to $12,000 for a single taxpayer and $24,000 for a married couple. This means that many people who previously itemized will no longer be able to do so.
Here are things you can do in preparation for the new tax situation:
1) If the total of your state income taxes and property taxes are normally more than $10,000 and you will have significant 2017 state income tax due on April 17, 2018 you should pay it before December 31, 2017.
2) If you have an outstanding property tax bill you should pay it before December 31, 2017.
3) If you normally give large amounts to charity you may want to consider paying your 2018 contributions before December 31, 2017 to ensure you get the benefit of the deduction.
4) If possible, you should prepay any 2018 miscellaneous itemized deductions in 2017.
5) Pay your January 1, 2018 mortgage payment early so the payments posts to your account before 12-31-17.
6) Pay business and rental expenses before 12-31-17.
7) If possible, defer income to 2018.
Here is an overview of the items in the new tax bill that will affect your individual tax return. The recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is a sweeping tax package. Unless otherwise noted, the changes are effective for tax years beginning in 2018 through 2025.
· Tax rates. The new law imposes a new tax rate structure with seven tax brackets: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%. The top rate was reduced from 39.6% to 37% and applies to taxable income above $500,000 for single taxpayers, and $600,000 for married couples filing jointly. The rates applicable to net capital gains and qualified dividends were not changed. The “kiddie tax” rules were simplified. The net unearned income of a child subject to the rules will be taxed at the capital gain and ordinary income rates that apply to trusts and estates. Thus, the child's tax is unaffected by the parent's tax situation or the unearned income of any siblings.
· Standard deduction. The new law increases the standard deduction to $24,000 for joint filers, $18,000 for heads of household, and $12,000 for singles and married taxpayers filing separately. Given these increases, many taxpayers will no longer be itemizing deductions. These figures will be indexed for inflation after 2018.
· Exemptions. The new law suspends the deduction for personal exemptions. Thus, starting in 2018, taxpayers can no longer claim personal or dependency exemptions. The rules for withholding income tax on wages will be adjusted to reflect this change, but IRS was given the discretion to leave the withholding unchanged for 2018.
· New deduction for “qualified business income.” Starting in 2018, taxpayers are allowed a deduction equal to 20 percent of “qualified business income,” otherwise known as “pass-through” income, i.e., income from partnerships, S corporations, LLCs, and sole proprietorships. The income must be from a trade or business within the U.S. Investment income does not qualify, nor do amounts received from an S corporation as reasonable compensation or from a partnership as a guaranteed payment for services provided to the trade or business. The deduction is not used in computing adjusted gross income, just taxable income. For taxpayers with taxable income above $157,500 ($315,000 for joint filers), (1) a limitation based on W-2 wages paid by the business and depreciable tangible property used in the business is phased in, and (2) income from the following trades or businesses is phased out of qualified business income: health, law, consulting, athletics, financial or brokerage services, or where the principal asset is the reputation or skill of one or more employees or owners.
· Child and family tax credit. The new law increases the credit for qualifying children (i.e., children under 17) to $2,000 from $1,000, and increases to $1,400 the refundable portion of the credit. It also introduces a new (nonrefundable) $500 credit for a taxpayer's dependents who are not qualifying children. The adjusted gross income level at which the credits begin to be phased out has been increased to $200,000 ($400,000 for joint filers).
· State and local taxes. The itemized deduction for state and local income and property taxes is limited to a total of $10,000 starting in 2018.
· Mortgage interest. Under the new law, mortgage interest on loans used to acquire a principal residence and a second home is only deductible on debt up to $750,000 (down from $1 million), starting with loans taken out in 2018. And there is no longer any deduction for interest on home equity loans, regardless of when the debt was incurred.
· Miscellaneous itemized deductions. There is no longer a deduction for miscellaneous itemized deductions which were formerly deductible to the extent they exceeded 2 percent of adjusted gross income. This category included items such as tax preparation costs, investment expenses, union dues, and unreimbursed employee expenses.
· Medical expenses. Under the new law, for 2017 and 2018, medical expenses are deductible to the extent they exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income for all taxpayers. Previously, the AGI “floor” was 10% for most taxpayers.
· Casualty and theft losses. The itemized deduction for casualty and theft losses has been suspended except for losses incurred in a federally declared disaster.
· Overall limitation on itemized deductions. The new law suspends the overall limitation on itemized deductions that formerly applied to taxpayers whose adjusted gross income exceeded specified thresholds. The itemized deductions of such taxpayers were reduced by 3% of the amount by which AGI exceeded the applicable threshold, but the reduction could not exceed 80% of the total itemized deductions, and certain items were exempt from the limitation.
· Moving expenses. The deduction for job-related moving expenses has been eliminated, except for certain military personnel. The exclusion from income for moving expense reimbursements has also been suspended.
· Alimony. For post-2018 divorce decrees and separation agreements, alimony will not be deductible by the paying spouse and will not be taxable to the receiving spouse.
· Health care “individual mandate.” Starting in 2019, there is no longer a penalty for individuals who fail to obtain minimum essential health coverage.
· Estate and gift tax exemption. Effective for decedents dying, and gifts made, in 2018, the estate and gift tax exemption has been increased to roughly $11.2 million ($22.4 million for married couples).
· Alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption. The AMT has been retained for individuals by the new law, but the exemption has been increased to $109,400 for joint filers ($54,700 for married taxpayers filing separately), and $70,300 for unmarried taxpayers. The exemption is phased out for taxpayers with alternative minimum taxable income over $1 million for joint filers, and over $500,000 for all others.
As you can see from this overview, the new law affects many areas of taxation. If you wish to discuss the impact of the law on your situation, please give us a call. Our office will be closed Friday December 22, 2017 for the Christmas holiday.