New Tax Laws

IRS Releases Updated Withholdings Calculator and 2018 W-4 Form

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The IRS has completed updating its online withholding calculator that individual taxpayers can use to determine how many withholding allowances they should claim for 2018. The IRS also issued a new 2018 Form W-4Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. The IRS had previously announced that taxpayers could use the old 2017 Form W-4, as modified in Notice 2018-14, until 30 days after the new form was issued.

The calculator and new Form W-4 are designed to implement changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (passed earlier this year), which increased the standard deduction, removed personal exemptions, increased the child tax credit, limited or discontinued certain deductions, and changed the tax rates and brackets, among many other changes.

To use the calculator, taxpayers should have certain information available, including an estimate of their 2018 income and other items that affect their taxes, including the number of children claimed for the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit. The IRS emphasized that the calculator is used to compute the amount of tax to be withheld in 2018, not for 2017. […]

By |March 2nd, 2018|irs, New Tax Laws, withhold|0 Comments

Fringe Benefits – Transportation Updates

In years prior to the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress encouraged “green”efforts to protect the environment by giving employees tax breaks for carpooling and using mass transit. For employees, the TCJA doesn’t take away the tax-favored status of these commuting benefits (other than bicycle commuting) or the option to pay for them with pre-tax dollars. Instead, starting January 1, 2018 businesses can no longer take a deduction for transportation fringe benefits (including employee parking). This means for both profit and non-profit businesses, the cost of providing these benefits is generally increased by the corporate tax rate (21% as of January 1, 2018).

This poses a dilemma for employers. Either they continue to provide these transportation fringe benefits despite the loss of the business deduction or they discontinue making these benefits available. This will cause businesses to take a careful look at the tax impact/ cost of transportation benefits against the value to their employees (and in turn, the importance of attracting and retaining talent by offering these benefits). It is also possible that local ordinances may have an impact as well:

San Francisco, California. Businesses with a location in San Francisco (including nonprofit […]

By |March 1st, 2018|deduction, New Tax Laws|0 Comments

Disaster Relief Provisions in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018

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On February 9, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, H.R. 1892, the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018” (the Budget Act, P.L. 115-123). In addition to providing a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through March 23, this 2-year budget contains a host of tax law changes. The Act retroactively extends through 2017 over 30 so called “extender” provisions, provides a number of miscellaneous tax-related provisions, and includes tax relief to victims of the California wildfires and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

Relief from early withdrawal tax for California wildfire distribution. A distribution from a qualified retirement plan, a tax-sheltered annuity plan, an eligible deferred compensation plan of a State or local government employer, or an individual retirement arrangement (IRA) generally is included in income for the year distributed. In addition, unless an exception applies, a distribution received before age 59½ is subject to a 10% additional tax under Code Sec. 72(t) (the “early withdrawal tax”) on the amount includible in income.

In general, a distribution from an eligible retirement plan may be rolled over to another eligible retirement plan within 60 days, in which case the amount rolled over generally is not includible in income. The 60-day requirement can be waived by IRS in […]

By |February 16th, 2018|disaster, New Tax Laws, relief|0 Comments

Tax Extenders Reinstated

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In the massive budget deal passed last week, Congress has bestowed surprise tax breaks on homeowners, students and the climate conscious. There are tax breaks for mortgage insurance premiums, higher-education expenses, energy-efficient home-improvement projects and more. These were tax breaks that expired at the end of 2016, but are now back on for 2017, now that Trump has signed them into law.

The immediate good news for taxpayers: You could see additional tax savings on the tax return you’re filing now—for the 2017 tax year. Below are some highlights. For a complete list, click here. 

Tax Relief for Families and Individuals

Extension and modification of exclusion from gross income of discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness. The provision extends through 2017 the exclusion from gross income of a discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness. The provision also modifies the exclusion to apply to qualified principal residence indebtedness that is discharged pursuant to a binding written agreement entered into in 2017.

Extension of mortgage insurance premiums treated as qualified residence interest. The provision extends through 2017 the treatment of qualified mortgage insurance premiums as interest for purposes of the […]

By |February 13th, 2018|deduction, deductions, New Tax Laws, tax, tax implications|0 Comments

IRS Releases Updated 2018 Withholding Tables

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The IRS has released updated withholding tables for 2018. The tables reflect major changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), including an increase in the standard deduction, elimination of personal exemptions, and modification of tax rates and brackets. Employers should begin using the updated tables as soon as possible, but no later than 2/15/18. Employees are not required to do anything at this time. In addition, the IRS is revising the withholding tax calculator on IRS.gov . Taxpayers are encouraged to use the calculator to adjust their withholding once it is released by the end of February. The IRS also is working on revising Form W-4, which will reflect additional changes in the TCJA. The IRS may implement further changes involving withholding in 2019 as it works with the business and payroll community to encourage employees to file new Form W-4 next year.

By |January 25th, 2018|New Tax Laws|0 Comments

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]