How Will You be Affected by the New Tax Reform?

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President Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act into law on December 22. The legislation alters the Internal Revenue Code with adjustments such as altering income tax brackets, marginal tax rates, key deductions and exemptions, and the taxation of corporations and pass-through businesses. The good news is that your 2017 taxes will most likely not be impacted by the new tax reform law. Below you will find some information regarding the new law.

How many taxpayers will benefit from all this reform in 2018? Earlier this month, the financial website Business Insider ran some numbers to see how single, childless taxpayers earning $25,000, $75,000, and $175,000 a year would fare in the wake of the reforms. It did so for both the House and Senate versions of the bill. The final Tax Cuts & Jobs Act is based on the Senate version, and under the Senate tax plan, Business Insider projected 2018 tax savings of $369 for a childless taxpayer at the $25,000 level, $2,129 at the $75,000 level, and $5,240 at the $175,000 level. The calculations assumed these taxpayers would use the standard deduction in 2018, rather than itemize.

Using the same three income levels, and again assuming use of the enlarged standard deduction, it also projected 2018 federal income tax savings for families of four with children no older than 16. The projected 2018 tax savings estimated are $100 for such a family at the $25,000 level, $2,244 at the $75,000 level, and $3,095 at the $175,000 level.

Retirees are also poised to receive significant tax savings. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center projects an average tax savings of $1,000 for older Americans when they file their 2018 federal taxes in 2019. For seniors earning between $33,000-$56,000, the TPC forecasts a federal tax cut of around $300 (roughly 9%). Seniors earning less than $33,000 currently pay little or no federal income tax and would see little or no benefit from the changes.

The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act has merited little coverage. The chained CPI usually reflects less inflation than the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-U), upon which Social Security cost-of-living adjustments are based. This raises the possibility of smaller Social Security COLAs in the future. Before, Social Security COLAs were not dependent on the movement of the chained CPI.

Two provisions of the TCJA may also apply retroactively for some taxpayers. A larger federal tax deduction for out-of-pocket medical expenses is allowed not just for 2018, but also for 2017. Taxpayers who itemize may write off qualifying medical expenses exceeding 7.5% of income in 2017, instead of 10% of income. Businesses that bought new capital equipment after September 27, 2017 will be permitted to fully and immediately expense those purchases for the 2017 tax year.

Households may want to make some moves before the new rules take effect. As marginal tax rates are reduced for 2018, some taxpayers might want to defer a little income into next year. The charitably minded may end up contributing more to qualified non-profit organizations in 2017 than in 2018, as the value of itemized deductions will be greater this year with a lower standard deduction. Those who like to itemize may be compelled to prepay 2018 property taxes before this year ends, given the $10,000 cap on the state and local taxes deduction in 2018.

Also, pertaining to divorcing couples, taxpayers who divorce in 2019 and succeeding years will not be able to deduct alimony payments.

On January 1, the federal estate tax exemption will double; the standard federal income tax deduction will nearly double. The top corporate income tax rate will fall from 35% to 21%. Most business owners who make pass-through income will be able to deduct the first 20% of that income tax-free.

Many of the changes authorized by the passage of the TCJA could expire after 2025. Congress may or may not renew them at the end of that year. The reduction of the corporate tax rate to 21% is a notable exception – that change is permanent.

The Internal Revenue Service has quite a challenge on its hands. Web pages, forms, and publications need to be revised and the agency faces immediate pressure to issue new withholding tables. On December 17, the I.R.S. stated that worker paychecks would not reflect the impact of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act until February – which means employees may have to make late-2018 withholding adjustments.

This is a good time to plan your 2018 tax strategy. Rest assured, we can help you prepare for these changes. Give us a call to see how you might take advantage of the adjustments to federal tax law.