New Tax Laws

Expanded Use of 529 Account Funds

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Under pre-Act law, funds in a Code Sec. 529 college savings account could only be used for qualified higher education expenses. If funds were withdrawn from the account for other purposes, each withdrawal was treated as containing a pro-rate portion of earnings and principal. The earnings portion of a non-qualified withdrawal was taxable as ordinary income and subject to a 10% additional tax unless an exception applied.

“Qualified higher education expenses” included tuition, fees, books, supplies, and required equipment, as well as reasonable room and board if the student was enrolled at least half-time. Eligible schools included colleges, universities, vocational schools, or other post-secondary schools eligible to participate in a student aid program of the Department of Education. This included nearly all accredited public, nonprofit, and proprietary (for-profit) post-secondary institutions.

New law. For distributions after Dec. 31, 2017, “qualified higher education expenses” include tuition at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school, up to a $10,000 limit per tax year. (Code Sec. 529(c) (7), as added by Act Sec. 11032(a))

By |January 12th, 2018|college tax credit, education credit, New Tax Laws|0 Comments

AMT Retained with Higher Exemption Amounts

The alternative minimum tax (AMT) is a tax system separate from the regular tax that is intended to prevent a taxpayer with substantial income from avoiding tax liability by using various exclusions, deductions, and credits.

Under it, AMT rates are applied to AMT income determined after the taxpayer “gives back” an assortment of tax benefits. If the tax determined under these calculations exceeds the regular tax, the larger amount is owed. In computing the AMT, only alternative minimum taxable income (AMTI) above an AMT exemption amount is taken into account. The AMT exemption amount is set by statute and adjusted annually for inflation, and the exemption amounts are phased out at higher income levels.

Under pre-Act law, for 2018, the exemption amounts were scheduled to be:

(i) $86,200 for marrieds filing jointly/surviving spouses;

(ii) $55,400 for other unmarried individuals;

(iii) 50% of the marrieds-filing-jointly amount for marrieds filing separately, i.e., $43,100;

And, those exemption amounts were reduced by an amount equal to 25% of the amount by which the individual’s AMTI exceeded:

(i) $164,100 for marrieds filing jointly and surviving spouses (phase-out complete at $508,900);

(ii) $123,100 for unmarried individuals (phase-out complete at $344,700); and

(iii) 50% of the marrieds-filing-jointly amount for marrieds filing separately, i.e., $82,050 (phase-out complete at $180,450).

Additionally, married persons filing must add the lesser of the following to AMTI: (1) 25% of the excess of AMTI (determined without regard to this adjustment) over the minimum amount of income at which the exemption will be completely phased out, or (2) the exemption amount. So, for 2018, married persons filing separately must add the lesser of the following to AMTI: (1) 25% of the excess of AMTI over $254,450, or $43,100.

For trusts and estates, for 2018, the exempt amount was scheduled to be $24,600, and the […]

By |January 12th, 2018|amt, New Tax Laws, tax deductions|0 Comments

Miscellaneous and Overall Limitation on Itemized Deductions Suspended

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Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions Suspended

Under pre-Act law, taxpayers were allowed to deduct certain miscellaneous itemized deductions to the extent they exceeded, in the aggregate, 2% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income.

New law. For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2026, the deduction for miscellaneous itemized deductions that are subject to the 2% floor is suspended. (Code Sec. 67(g), as added by Act Sec. 11045)

Overall Limitation (“Pease” Limitation) on Itemized Deductions Suspended

Under pre-Act law, higher-income taxpayers who itemized their deductions were subject to a limitation on these deductions (commonly known as the “Pease limitation”). For taxpayers who exceed the threshold, the otherwise allowable amount of itemized deductions was reduced by 3% of the amount of the taxpayers’ adjusted gross income exceeding the threshold. The total reduction couldn’t be greater than 80% of all itemized deductions, and certain itemized deductions were exempt from the Pease limitation.

New law. For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2026, the “Pease limitation” on itemized deductions is suspended. (Code Sec. 68(f), as amended by Act Sec. 11046)

By |January 12th, 2018|deduction, deductions, New Tax Laws|0 Comments

Charitable Contribution Deduction Limitation Increased

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The deduction for an individual’s charitable contribution is limited to prescribed percentages of the taxpayer’s “contribution base.” Under pre-Act law, the applicable percentages were 50%, 30%, or 20%, and depended on the type of organization to which the contribution was made, whether the contribution was made “to” or merely “for the use of” the donee organization, and whether the contribution consisted of capital gain property. The 50% limitation applied to public charities and certain private foundations.

No charitable deduction is allowed for contributions of $250 or more unless the donor substantiates the contribution by a contemporaneous written acknowledgment (CWA) from the donee organization. Under Code Sec. 170(f)(8)(D), IRS is authorized to issue regs that exempt donors from this substantiation requirement if the donee organization files a return that contains the same required information; however, IRS has decided not to issue such donee reporting regs.

New law. For contributions made in tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2026, the 50% limitation under Code Sec. 170(b) for cash contributions to public charities and certain private foundations is increased to 60%. (Code Sec. 170(b)(1)(G), as added by Act Sec. 11023) Contributions exceeding the 60% limitation are generally allowed to be carried forward and deducted for up to five years, subject to the later year’s ceiling.

And, for contributions made in tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2016, the Code Sec. 170(f)(8)(D) provision; i.e., the donee-reporting exemption from the CWA requirement-is repealed. (Former Code Sec. 170(f)(8)(D), as stricken by Act Sec. 13705)

Medical Expense Deduction Threshold Temporarily Reduced

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A deduction is allowed for the expenses paid during the tax year for the medical care of the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, and the taxpayer’s dependents to the extent the expenses exceed a threshold amount.

To be deductible, the expenses may not be reimbursed by insurance or otherwise. If the medical expenses are reimbursed, then they must be reduced by the reimbursement before the threshold is applied. Under pre-Act law, the threshold was generally 10% of AGI.

RIA observation: For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2012, and ending before Jan. 1, 2017, a 7.5%-of-AGI floor for medical expenses applied if a taxpayer or the taxpayer’s spouse had reached age 65 before the close of the tax year.

And, under pre-Act law, for alternative minimum tax (AMT) purposes, the medical expenses deduction rules were modified such that medical expenses were only deductible to the extent they exceeded 10% of AGI.

New law. For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2016 and ending before Jan. 1, 2019, the threshold on medical expense deductions is reduced to 7.5% for all taxpayers. (Code Sec. 213(f), as amended by Act Sec. 11027(a)) In addition, the rule limiting the medical expense deduction for AMT purposes to 10% of AGI doesn’t apply to tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2016 and ending before Jan. 1, 2019. (Code Sec. 56(b)(1)(B), as amended by Act Sec. 11027(b))

Mortgage and Home Equity Indebtedness Interest Deduction Limited

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Under pre-Act law, the taxpayer could deduct as an itemized deduction qualified residence interest, which included interest paid on a mortgage secured by a principal residence or a second residence. The underlying mortgage loans could represent acquisition indebtedness of up to $1 million ($500,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return), plus home equity indebtedness of up to $100,000.

New law. For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2026, the deduction for interest on home equity indebtedness is suspended, and the deduction for mortgage interest is limited to underlying indebtedness of up to $750,000 ($375,000 for married taxpayers filing separately). (Code Sec. 163(h)(3)(F), as amended by Act Sec. 11043(a)) For tax years after Dec. 31, 2025, the prior $1 million/$500,000 limitations are restored, and a taxpayer may treat up to these amounts as acquisition indebtedness regardless of when the indebtedness was incurred. The suspension for home equity indebtedness also ends for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2025.

Treatment of indebtedness incurred on or before Dec. 15, 2017. The new lower limit doesn’t apply to any acquisition indebtedness incurred before Dec. 15, 2017.

“Binding contract” exception. A taxpayer who has entered into a binding written contract before Dec. 15, 2017 to close on the purchase of a principal residence before Jan. 1, 2018, and who purchases such residence before Apr. 1, 2018, shall be considered to incur acquisition indebtedness prior to Dec. 15, 2017.

Refinancing. The $1 million/$500,000 limitations continue to apply to taxpayers who refinance existing qualified residence indebtedness that was incurred before Dec. 15, 2017, so long as the indebtedness resulting from the refinancing doesn’t exceed the amount of the refinanced indebtedness. (Code Sec. 163(h)(3)(F), as amended by Act Sec. 11043(a))

By |January 11th, 2018|deduction, deductions, New Tax Laws|0 Comments

State and Local Tax Deduction Limited

Under pre-Act law, taxpayers could deduct from their taxable income as an itemized deduction several types of taxes paid at the state and local level, including real and personal property taxes, income taxes, and/or sales taxes.

New law. For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2026, subject to the exception described below, State, local, and foreign property taxes, and State and local sales taxes, are deductible only when paid or accrued in carrying on a trade or business or an activity described in Code Sec. 212 (generally, for the production of income). State and local income, war profits, and excess profits are not allowable as a deduction.

However, a taxpayer may claim an itemized deduction of up to $10,000 ($5,000 for a married taxpayer filing a separate return) for the aggregate of (i) State and local property taxes not paid or accrued in carrying on a trade or business or activity described in Code Sec. 212; and (ii) State and local income, war profits, and excess profits taxes (or sales taxes in lieu of income, etc. taxes) paid or accrued in the tax year. Foreign real property taxes may not be deducted. (Code Sec. 164(b)(6), as amended by Act Sec. 11042)

Prepayment provision. For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2016, in the case of an amount paid in a tax year beginning before Jan. 1, 2018 with respect to a State or local income tax imposed for a tax year beginning after Dec. 31, 2017, the payment will be treated as paid on the last day of the tax year for which such tax is so imposed for purposes of applying the above limits. (Code Sec. 164(b)(6), as amended by Act Sec. 11042) In other words, a taxpayer who, […]

By |January 9th, 2018|CA tax, income tax, New Tax Laws, property tax, state income|0 Comments

Child Tax Credit Increased

Under pre-Act law, a taxpayer could claim a child tax credit of up to $1,000 per qualifying child under the age of 17. The aggregate amount of the credit that could be claimed phased out by $50 for each $1,000 of AGI over $75,000 for single filers, $110,000 for married filers, and $55,000 for married individuals filing separately. To the extent that the credit exceeded a taxpayer’s liability, a taxpayer was eligible for a refundable credit (i.e., the additional child tax credit) equal to 15% of earned income in excess of $3,000 (the “earned income threshold”). A taxpayer claiming the credit had to include a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) for each qualifying child on their return. In most cases, the TIN is the child’s Social Security Number (SSN), although Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) were also accepted.

New law. For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2026, the child tax credit is increased to $2,000, and other changes are made to phase-outs and refund-ability during this same period, as outlined below. (Code Sec. 24(h)(2), as added by Act Sec. 11022(a))

Phase-out. The income levels at which the credit phases out are increased to $400,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly ($200,000 for all other taxpayers) (not indexed for inflation). (Code Sec. 24(h)(3), as added by Act Sec. 11022(a))

By |January 9th, 2018|New Tax Laws, tax credit|0 Comments

Capital Gains Provisions Conformed

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The adjusted net capital gain of a non-corporate taxpayer (e.g., an individual) is taxed at maximum rates of 0%, 15%, or 20%.

Under pre-Act law, the 0% capital gain rate applied to adjusted net capital gain that otherwise would be taxed at a regular tax rate below the 25% rate (i.e., at the 10% or 15% ordinary income tax rates); the 15% capital gain rate applied to adjusted net capital gain in excess of the amount taxed at the 0% rate, that otherwise would be taxed at a regular tax rate below the 39.6% (i.e., at the 25%, 28%, 33% or 35% ordinary income tax rates); and the 20% capital gain rate applied to adjusted net capital gain that exceeded the amounts taxed at the 0% and 15% rates.

New law. The Act generally retains present-law maximum rates on net capital gains and qualified dividends. It retains the breakpoints that exist under pre-Act law, but indexes them for inflation using C-CPI-U in tax years after Dec. 31, 2017. (Code Sec. 1(j)(5)(A), as amended by Act Sec. 11001(a)) For 2018, the 15% break point is: $77,200 for joint returns and surviving spouses (half this amount for married taxpayers filing separately), $51,700 for heads of household, $2,600 for trusts and estates, and $38,600 for other unmarried individuals. The 20% breakpoint is $479,000 for joint returns and surviving spouses (half this amount for married taxpayers filing separately), $452,400 for heads of household, $12,700 for estates and trusts, and $425,800 for other unmarried individuals. (Code Sec. 1(h)(1), as amended by Act Sec. 11001(a)(5))

By |January 8th, 2018|capital gains, New Tax Laws|0 Comments

Personal Exemptions Suspended

Under pre-Act law, taxpayers determined their taxable income by subtracting from their adjusted gross income any personal exemption deductions. Personal exemptions generally were allowed for the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, and any dependents. The amount deductible for each personal exemption was scheduled to be $4,150 for 2018, subject to a phaseout for higher earners.

New law. For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2026, the deduction for personal exemptions is effectively suspended by reducing the exemption amount to zero.

By |January 8th, 2018|New Tax Laws, Uncategorized|0 Comments