Tax Rates: The 2017 Tax Act compresses the current 7 tax brackets (10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, AND 39.6%) into four tax brackets: 12%, 25%, 35% and 39.6%. The 12% tax bracket applies to all taxpayers except for those whose marginal rate is in the top bracket, in which case the 12% rate is phased out for the top earners.
The 25% tax bracket starts at $90,000 for married taxpayers ($45,000 for single).
The 35% tax bracket starts at $260,000 for married taxpayers ($200,000 for single).
The 39.6% tax bracket starts at $1M for married taxpayers ($500,000 for single).
Standard Deduction and Personal Exemption: The current standard deduction of $12,700 for married taxpayers ($6,350 for single) is increased to $24,000 for married taxpayers ($12,000 for single). The standard deduction increases to $18,000 for single taxpayers with at least one child. However, there will no longer be personal exemptions (currently $4,050).
Small Business Owners: Individuals owning a closely held business will pay a maximum rate of 25% for a portion (about 30%) of their business income with the remaining 70% taxed at the individual tax rates. Capital gains, interest income, and dividend income retains its character as under current law.
Child Tax Credits: Child tax credits (currently $1,000 per child) are increased to $1,600 per child, plus non-child dependents are allowed a $300 credit. Credits are a dollar for dollar reduction in your tax liability (not a tax deduction, but rather a credit acts like a tax payment and could result in a refund if you otherwise have no tax due). Under the new law, the refundable portion of the tax credit will remain $1,000. These credits are phased out for married taxpayers exceeding $230,000 ($115,000 for single).
Itemized Deductions: Current law phases out itemized deductions for higher income taxpayers with complex formulas. The 2017 Tax Act repeals the phase outs. Current law allows mortgage interest deductions for up to two homes on debt not exceeding $1M. The 2017 Tax Act allows mortgage interest deductions on only one primary residence with a limit of a $500,000 mortgage. Current law allows deductions for state income and property taxes. The 2017 Tax Act limits these deductions to state and local taxes paid in connection with a business activity, plus property taxes up to $10,000. The current itemized deductions for casualty losses are repealed in the 2017 Tax Act. The 50% limitation for cash contributions to public charities is increased to 60% allowing a larger deduction for charitable giving. Tax preparation expenses will no longer be deductible under the 2017 Tax Act, as are deductions for medical expenses. Likewise, alimony payments will no longer be taxable to the payee nor deductible to the payer. Further, there will be no deduction for unreimbursed employee expenses.
Sale of Principal Residence: Under current law, taxpayers may exclude from income gain on the sale of their principal residence up to $500,000 for married taxpayers ($250,000 for single) if they reside in the home for 2 out of 5 years. Under the 2017 Tax Act, to receive the exclusion, the taxpayer must hold the residence as a primary residence for 5 out of 8 years, and the exclusion is phased out for high income taxpayers ($500,000 for married taxpayers, $250,000 for single).
IRA and Retirement Plans: The current law allows taxpayers to convert qualified plans into “Roth IRAs,” then invest aggressively and if they make substantial gains, they retain the Roth IRA with all the gains, free of tax; however, if their aggressive investments lose money, they can retroactively reverse the conversion to recoup the costs of converting to a Roth IRA. The 2017 Tax Act closes this loophole.
Overall, the 2017 Tax Act lowers taxes on all individuals under $500,000 of income, and simplifies some of the more complex rules while closing unnecessary loopholes.
CNBC.com argues that those making $8.5M per year receive massive $1M tax cuts while middle class taxpayers save only $1,000. Of course, the top earners to which MSNBC refers currently pay upwards of $3.7M per year in taxes (wow!) while the lower income earners are paying close to $5,500. CNBC claims the top earners save 27% under Trump’s plan while lower income earners save only 10%. USA Today ran this exact same article. Do these numbers pencil out?
Let’s look at a single parent with one child earning $75,000 per year. Under current law that taxpayer gets $8,100 of personal and dependent exemptions and a standard deduction of $9,350 resulting in taxable income of $57,550, and a tax liability of $6,970 (accounting for a $1,000 child tax credit). Under president Elect Trump’s tax plan, the same taxpayer is allowed a standard deduction of $15,000 but no personal and dependent exemptions (Trump eliminates them as part of his simplification initiative). However, Trump allows a child care deduction ranging from $7,000 to $12,000 (let’s use the average, $9,500 for our calculations) resulting in taxable income of $57,550. Trump’s tax rate is only 12% resulting in a tax liability of $6,060. This is a savings of $910 per year (or 13%).Continue reading
The purpose of taxation is to raise money for our government. When designing our tax system Adam Smith resolved certain principles as guidance: Smith required our tax system to be equal (in proportion to each person’s share of the tax base), certain (so people knew exactly how much they owe), convenient (so the tax assessments arose as the taxpayer’s received the income), and efficient (a low cost of collection leaving the largest portion possible for government spending needs).Continue reading
Are the fact checkers telling us the truth about the Presidential candidates’ statements regarding proposed tax policies? Examining the details of the so-called fact checking sites making True or Pinocchio claims reveal the “True” and “Pinocchio” designations are themselves cloaked in rhetoric and word play. This layman’s term easy to read article reveals the truth behind our candidates’ tax policies and the fact checking scores reported by the media.
Tax policy is a hot 2016 election topic because of the economic strife plaguing American families for almost 20 years. Liberals typically propose higher taxes blaming the wealthy for the struggles of the poor. The liberal tax mantra claims higher taxes on the “billionaire class” will fund bigger government spending packages to help the poorer families gain education, health care, and other benefits that ultimately serve to bridge the income inequality gap. Conservatives typically propose lower taxes arguing that allowing people to keep more of their own hard earned money promotes market efficiency, shrinks the government influence over American citizens resulting in greater freedoms, and promotes individual savings and business investment that generates jobs, increases our nation’s gross domestic product, and strengthens the American economy.
Of course the liberals claim lower taxes are a tool for increasing the income inequality because the wealthy, keeping more if its hard earned money, become more wealthy and ultimately increases the inequality of wealth in America. Instead, making the billionaire class pay more leaves them with plenty while funding government programs making sure poorer families have food, housing, and opportunity for advancement through education. It is hard to argue the merit of such a plan if this were the case. However, conservatives argue that the liberal spending packages irresponsibly waste money by helping big business with side deals, giving billions to countries that hate America, and funding social programs that are abused resulting in the perpetuation of inner city problems instead of curing them. Can these views be reconciled?