Investors were hopeful as the tax rates dropped and anticipated a positive impact from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, enacted in late 2017. Yet, as filers are completing their 2018 returns, the results unnerving. Many filers are dismayed to find that the 2018 tax changes are yielding smaller refunds than in the past.
Here are 7 key 2018 tax changes affecting your taxes this year. Review them to understand how your taxes will differ from the past.
1. Tax rates are lower, with seven income tax brackets ranging from 10 to 37%.
Here are the tax brackets for 2018:
|Rate||Unmarried Individuals, Taxable Income Over||Married Individuals Filing Joint Returns, Taxable Income Over||Head of Households, Taxable Income Over|
It’s very important to note that the U.S. uses a graduated tax system — this is not new in 2018. This means that all your income is not taxed at the same rate (as long as you make enough to make it the 12% bracket). So, if you and your spouse earn $175,000, you’ll pay 24% tax on your income between $168,400 and $175,00. The tax on income between $78,950 and $168,399 will be taxed 22%. The income between $19,400 and $78,949 will be taxed at 12%.
2. The Standard Deduction for 2018 Is Nearly Twice the 2017 Standard Deduction.
One of the biggest 2018 tax changes is that the standard deduction is now $12,000 for singles, $24,000 for married couples filing a joint tax return and $18,000 for heads of households. Those who are blind and over age 65 have higher standard deductions.
The new, higher standard deduction, along with other changes to mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, is predicted to half the number of tax payers itemizing their deductions on Schedule A.
3. Some Popular Deductions Are Gone
Several deductions are reduced or eliminated, giving further support to the likelihood that there’ll be more taxpayers taking the standard deduction. For example, the state and local tax deduction is limited to $10,000 and $5,000 if married and filing a separate return.
For spouses divorcing in 2019 and later, alimony payments are no longer tax deductible. Nor is the receipt of alimony payments taxable.
4. Some Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions Are Also Gone
More Schedule A casualties include the elimination of Miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2% AGI limit. These vanishing deductions include the loss of unreimbursed job expenses, investment expenses, tax preparation fees and hobby expenses.
5. Mortgage and Home Equity Loan Payments Are Affected
The mortgage interest deduction is now capped at $1 million for any loans on your first and second home taken out between October 13,1987 and December 16, 2017. Loans secured after December 15, 2017 are only deductible up to $750,000. Loans secured before October 13, 1987 have no deductibility limits. This change will impact wealthier tax payers and those who live in the highest cost-of-living areas.
In most cases, interest paid on home equity loans or lines of credit is now non-deductible.
6. The Child Tax Credit doubled, And More People Qualify
The maximum credit for each qualifying child under age 17 is now $2,000. Joint taxpayers earning up to $400,000 qualify for this benefit as do others earning up to $200,000.
The tax law also created a new $500 credit for other dependents. This credit is available for each dependent who doesn’t qualify for the Child Tax Credit such as older children and qualifying relatives such as a parent.
7. All Personal and Dependent Exemptions Are Gone
Of all the 2018 tax changes, this one is painful for the most taxpayers. The tax filer, spouse and dependents are no longer eligible for a dependency exemption.
In 2017, the personal exemption lowered your taxable income by $4,050 per person. This loss might be offset by the larger standard deduction — but only for some taxpayers.
Taxpayers will find a mixed bag of benefits and penalties when comparing the new tax law with the prior regulations. To reduce your tax bill, keep excellent financial records and consider bunching Schedule A deductions to itemize on alternate years. Only after you’ve filed your taxes will you know whether you’re better or worse off under the new tax law.