Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) Overview 1.5

“The new law increases the credit for qualifying children (i.e., children under 17) to $2000 from $1000, and increases to $1,400 the refundable portion of the credit. It also introduces a new (nonrefundable) $500 credit …”

An overview of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) represents major changes our nation’s tax code.

Here’s a look at some of the more important elements of the new law that have an impact on individuals. Unless otherwise noted, the changes are effective for tax years beginning in 2018 through 2025. That’s right. The next seven (7) years.

 

  • 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 head of household, and $12,000 for single 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 partnerships 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 $2000 from $1000, 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 tp $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 tax 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. So, all of your auto expenses, for example, are no longer deductible.
  • 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. So, if you are renter, or a coop or condo or dwelling owner who lacks comprehensive coverage for your personal property, now is the time to purchase coverage.
  • Overall limitation. 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 for moving expense reimbursements has also been suspended.
  • Alimony. There is some truth in the old song, “It’s Cheaper To Keep Her.” 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. (This will probably lead to fewer Americans purchasing health insurance, and more states reducing or eliminating Medicaid contributions for health care plans.)
  • 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. I plan to hold at least one (1) public seminars in Brooklyn, to ‘drill down’ into just how the new law will affect you. There will be a fee charged for attendance at these seminars to offset the cost of the venue, and painkillers.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is a frequent presenter in the areas of personal insurance, personal income taxation,  and budget and credit strategies for many organizations, including, Neighborhood Housing Services of NYC, Inc., HCCI, Impacct Brooklyn, and Bridge Street Development Corporation. He is a New York State licensed insurance agent and broker, and  NYS Defensive Driving Delivery Agent and Instructor.

You can reach Eustace at Eustace@insuremeeg.com, or 718-783-2722.

 

Tax Tips for Rental Property Owners , Part 1

Certain rental property expenses can be deducted from your rental property income to determine your profit or loss for a given tax year.

Time for Rental Property Owners to prepare for next year’s income tax return

With the end of the 2016 income tax filing season, it seems a good time to review two tax tips for rental property owners where there is partial personal use or not personal use of an owned dwelling.

This post will address which expenses are deductible. The next post will address the difference between repairs and improvements and how the different ways each can affect your income tax return.

What are deductible rental property expenses?

Certain rental property expenses can be deducted from your rental property income to determine your profit or loss for a given tax year. Some of the expenses you can deduct in the tax year you pay them are:

  • Mortgage interest
  • Real estate taxes
  • Property insurance
  • Utilities
  • Cleaning and maintenance costs
  • Supplies  (For example, garbage bags, brooms and mops used only to maintain the rental property. No fair bringing your broom from home to take care of the rental property)
  • Pest control
  • Lawn care and landscaping
  • Trash
  • Repairs, including the cost of labor
  • Credit and employment checks for tenants
  • Management fees if you use the services of an outside property manager
  • Legal or professional fees
  • Travel expenses (Keep records of automobile mileage, and taxi, train, and bus fees for all of those trips to Home Depot or to your local hardware or plumbing supply stores)
  • Advertising (The cost of placing ads for rental apartments in local papers)
  • Utilities (National Grid, Consolidated Edison, New York City Water and Sewer, and payments made to your oil company.

Why you need a separate checking account for your rental property

Owning a rental property is completely different from owning a one-family home. To make sure your experience as a rental property owner is a profitable one, get a separate checking account which you will use only for all of your rental property income and expenses. This account will accomplish two important tasks:

  1. All income and expenses for the rental property will flow into and from this separate account, making it easier for you to track what you spend to maintain the property and the income you’re receiving. This is easier than trying to remember if a certain Home Depot entry was for the book-case in your living room, or a new ladder for your rental property.
  2. Once all the income and expense information for your rental property is in one place, gathering the information necessary to prepare your income taxes is much simpler.   Since the 75 days of income tax preparation season are not the time to finally try to make sense of your financial life for the past year, I give a small discount to those clients who come in with all of their expenses on one or two pieces of paper.. If I must do client recordkeeping, the client will pay a premium for the extra time and energy I must expend to complete their return.

The costs of maintaining your one-family personal home are not deductible.

It’s important to know how the owners of a one-family dwelling they personally occupy are limited about how certain expenses affect their personal income tax return. With a one-family home, you can only itemize your mortgage interest, and real estate taxes. It is imperative to keep records of any improvements made to the house as this will increase the basis when the house is sold, resulting in a lower possible tax bill.

You can find more about this subject in Publication 527 on the Internal Revenue Services website, https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p527.pdf .

Double Dees New Meaning | BrooklynCovered.com

This year, the cost to your employer to provide you with employer-sponsored health insurance (nontaxable, at least so far), is represented by the box 12 amount next to the DD’s. According to Notice 2011-28 in IRS Section 6051 employers are now required to show on each employee’s annual Form W-2 the value of the employee’s health insurance coverage sponsored by the employer.

Double Dee’s New Meaning, or, They Ain’t What They Used To Be

When I was a young lad, when somebody said “Double Dees”, it didn’t mean what double dees (DD’s) mean today. Today, the only place most people who aren’t artificially enhanced or children doing poorly in two (2) school subjects will find code DD is on the 2012 W-2 they received from their employer.

W-2 Wage and Tax Statement for 2012
W-2 Wage and Tax Statement 2012

Take a look at box 12 of  your 2012 W-2. If you work for an employer, large or small who offers a package of employee benefits, you’ve become accustomed to seeing the letter C, which refers to the taxable amount of group-term life insurance over $50,000. This is included in the amounts in boxes 1, 3 (up to the Social Security wage limit) and 5.

Another popular letter code is D, which refers to income deferrals you elected to make into a 401(k)  plan. This code can also include deferrals to SIMPLE retirement accounts that are a part of a 401 (k).

W-2 Instructions For Employees applicable to all, yet only read by a few
The W-2 Instructions For Employees applicable to all, yet read by only a few.

For those of you working for a local, state or federal agency, you’d see either the letter E or G. These letters refer to elective deferrals under a section 403(b) or 457(b) deferred compensation plan, respectively.

Back To The DD’s

This year, the cost to your employer to provide you with employer-sponsored health insurance (nontaxable, at least so far), is represented by the box 12 amount next to the DD’s. According to Notice 2011-28 in IRS Section 6051 employers are now required to show on each employee’s annual Form W-2 the value of the employee’s health insurance coverage sponsored by the employer.

Why Is This So Important?

Remember the 2010 Health Care Reform which finally became law on June 28, 2012? Well, the individual mandate requires all non-exempt U. S. citizens to maintain minimum health insurance coverage, beginning January 2014.  Failure to do so will result in their paying a penalty.

So Guess Where You’ll Pay The Penalty?

As a income tax professional, I will, beginning with the preparation of 2014 income tax returns, be required to confirm whether or not a client owns “minimum essential health insurance coverage. Doing returns for employees of firms with more than 50 employees will be easy – the information will be right there on the W-2.

I work with many sole proprietors and single-and-two person LLCs who will be required to show certain proof, such as a letter from the insurance company, cancelled checks, etc. In either case, proper proof must be submitted, or the penalty will be applied to your total tax liability on Form 1040.

Any preparer like myself, who fails to properly document the existence of this minimum essential coverage, will probably find themselves paying hefty fines for failure to conform to preparation rules. Here’s a hint: Additional rules will create additional forms to know and complete. Budget for certain increases in your income tax preparation fees. Just a word to the wise.

What If An Employer With More Than 50 Employees Doesn’t Offer Health Insurance?

Well, according to IRS Section 4980H, if they don’t offer their employees affordable health insurance, they will be subject to a penalty of up to $2000 for each employee.

Ouch.

So What’s So Good About The DD’s Now?

One of my clients came in for their tax preparation appointment just moaning and groaning about his job. When I explained what the DD code meant, he looked at me and said, “I will never complain about my job again.”

Amazing how little it takes for folks to appreciate all their job has to offer.

Even more amazing? These are the type of DD’s which turn me on now.

Oh, the humanity.

 

 

 

 

Income Tax Refund Memo | Brooklyn Covered

Thank you for giving us more money during this last year than you were required to. Because of your kindness, we were able to use your refund as well as the pending refunds of millions of your fellow citizens to earn interest. We lent money to countries that may or may not pay us back. We even used some of the money to feed people in other countries who hate our way of life, especially since we ‘allow’ women the sacred rights of driving a car, or going for a walk by themselves. Let’s not even talk about the right to vote.

Tax Refund Memo To All Taxpayers

Dear (Taxpayer, please insert your name here):

Enclosed is your income tax refund of $ (Please fill in your normal annual refund).

Thank you for giving us more money during this last year than you were required to. Because of your financial laziness, oops, we mean kindness, we were able to combine your refund and the pending income tax refunds of millions of your fellow citizens to make loans. We lent money to countries that may or may not pay us back. We even used some of the money to feed people in other countries who hate our way of life, especially since we ‘allow’ women the sacred rights of driving a car, or going for a walk by themselves. Let’s not even talk about the right to vote. We provided funds to banks thought to be too big to fail. That’s right, the same banks that charge you all of those ridiculous fees if you don’t have a certain balance in your savings account. If you can afford to have a savings account. And don’t you dare be late with your credit card payments!

Especially pleasing to us is our ability to offer guaranteed rates of interest to those who, by not allowing us to keep their refunds for up to 15 months, watch their Treasury notes, bills and bonds investments grow. And don’t forget about the foreign investors who are buying Treasuries like ice cream on a hot summer day. Of course you can’t buy those investments since once you get your hot little hands on your refund, you dash to the stores for technology you don’t understand but must have because it’s new, shoes designed to destroy women’s ankles, knees, and reproductive organs just because they make you look good, and cars you can’t afford to maintain, much less pay the insurance for. Just to name a few. So what if you purchase things that really don’t make a significant difference in your life? Heck, they’re shiny and new, and isn’t that all that matters!? So what if you have trouble meeting the rent sometimes, you’re late on a credit card payment or two, or you’ll never save the down payment for the house you dream about. Don’t worry about it. Just keep getting those refunds.

And don’t listen to people like Eustace Greaves Jr. He’s got a big mouth. If it was up to him, you’d employ perfectly legal tax planning methods to bring your future money into the present. Then, you could use what is essentially your money work toward realizing the lifestyle you’ve always imagined. Being able to save, invest, and actually accomplish the important things in life, things that matter, like getting a home of your own, enjoying a secure retirement, having more liquid cash, or sending your children to the college of their choice and ability. What’s Greaves’ motto? “No income tax refund is a good income tax refund!!” Who died and made him king?

But hey, we’re not worried. We know income tax refunds turn you on more than watching your team playing in the Super Bowl every year. (That is, unless the big-screen TV you bought with borrowed money was repossessed. You didn’t have the money to pay the note. Doesn’t matter, you can’t pay the electric bill until you get your refund, anyway.) We know you’ll continue listening to us. So just keep doing what you’re doing and we’ll keep mailing those refund checks.

Thanks, and keep the excess money coming. Don’t worry, we’ll send it back eventually.

       

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” 

 Benjamin Franklin