Recent Tax Law Changes

                                                                                                    Tax Reform Update:  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill (H.R. 1) is the first significant tax reform effort undertaken by Congress in more than 30 years.  The bill was passed by both the House and the Senate and signed into law by President Trump.


Tax Brackets.  The number of tax brackets remains at seven; however, the tax rates and income covered have changed.

For individuals, the following rates apply:

10% up to $ 9,525
12% up to $ 38,700
22% up to $ 82,500
24% up to $ 157,500
32% up to $ 200,000
35% up to $ 500,000
37% over $ 500,000

For married couples filing jointly, the following rates apply:

10% up to $ 19,050
12% up to $ 77,400
22% up to $ 1695,000
24% up to $ 315,000
32% up to $ 400,000
35% up to $ 600,000
37% over $ 600,000

Standard Deduction - The standard deduction increases from $ 6,350 (2017) to $ 12,000 for individuals, from $ 9,300 (2017) to $ 18,000 for heads of household and from $ 12,700 (2017) to $ 24,000 for married couples.

Personal Exemption - The deduction for personal exemptions is repealed through 2025.

Child Tax Credit - The Child Tax Credit increases to $ 2,000 from the current $ 1,000.  An additional $ 500 credit is provided for each non-child dependent.  Also, Social Security numbers for children are required before claiming the enhanced credit.

Alternative Minimum Tax - The AMT remains but exemption amount increase to $ 70,300 for individuals and $ 109,400 for married filing jointly, affecting fewer taxpayers.

Capital Gains and Dividends - The maximum tax rate at 23.8% (20% plus the 3.8% Medicare tax for taxpayers with income above $ 200,000 or $ 250,000 married filing jointly).  The 20% capital gains income threshold increases to $ 425,800 for other individuals ($ 479,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly).

Estate Tax - The exemption (currently $ 5.5 million) immediately doubles to $ 11.2 million in 2018 and remains at this level for the next six years, after which time the estate tax is eliminated completely (tax year 2026 and beyond).

Education-Related Tax Credits and Deductions - 529 Savings Plans are expanded to allow some funds (up to $ 10,000 for certain expenses) to be used for K-12 education.  Rollovers to Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Sec. 529A accounts will be allowed as well.  The student loan interest deduction remains.

Mortgage Interest Deduction - Remains but with a few changes such as allowing interest deduction for up to $ 750,000 (currently $ 1 million) in mortgage principal on new homes.  Existing mortgages are grandfathered in.  Homes entered into contract before December 15, 2017, and closed on by April 1, 2018, are able to use the prior limit of $ 1 million.

Home-equity loans - The home-equity loan interest deduction is repealed through 2025.

State and Local Income Tax Deduction - Perserved.  Deduction allowed for up to $ 10,000 a year in state and local income or property taxes.  Note - Taxpayers who prepay 2018 state income taxes, a common tax planning strategy, cannot take the prepaid 2018 amount as a deduction on their 2017 tax returns.

Charitable Contributions - Deductions for charitable donations remain; however, for charitable contributions of cash to public charities the percentage of income limit increases to 60%.

Medical Expense Deduction - The Medical expense deduction (currently at 10% of AGI) is temporarily lowered to 7.5% of income for tax years 2017 and 2018.

Miscellaneous Deductions - Many are repealed through 2025 including those related to tax return preparation, alimony payments (after December 31, 2018) and moving expenses with the exception of the moving expense reimbursement for members of the Armed Forces on active duty who move because of a military order.

Adoption Tax Credit - Remains

Electric Vehicles - The $ 7,500.00 tax credit (Section 30D) for the purchase of electric vehicles remains.

Individual Healthcare Mandate - Penalty is eliminated for tax years starting in 2018.


Corporate Tax Rate - Starting January 1, 2018, the corporate tax rate is reduced to a flate rate of 21% (down from 35%).  The corporate AMT is repealed.

Territorial Taxation - Companies with offshore earnings, currently taxed at 35%, would transition to a territorial tax system.  Under the tax reform bill income derived from offshore earnings, if repatriated, would be subject to an effective tax rate of 15.5% for earnings held in liquid assets (i.e. cash) and 8% for illiquid (other) assets.

Business Interest - Small businesses (under $ 25 million) retain the ability to write off interest on loans subject to limitations.

Business Expensing - Businesses would be allowed to immediately write off the full cost of new equipment at 100% through tax year 2022, after which it is pased down over a four-year period.

Business Entertainment Expenses Deduction - The deduction for business entertainment expenses is eliminated.

Pass-through Entities - The tax rate on pass-through business entities is reduced to a maximum of 20% for tax years starting January 1, 2018, and ending on December 31, 2025.  Furthermore, a 9% tax rate (vs. the 12% tax rate currently in place) now applies for the first $ 75,000 ($ 37,500 for single filers and $ 56,250 for heads of household) in pass-through business income of an active owner or shareholder earning less than $ 150,000.  The threshold amount is $ 75,000 for single filers and $ 112,500 for heads of household.  This 9% rate applies to all businesses (subject to the $ 75,000 income ceiling) and is phased in at 11% for 2018 and 2019, 10% for 2020 and 2021 and 9% for tax year 2022 and beyond.

Low-income Housing Tax Credit - Remains

Research & Development Tax Credit - Remains

Work Opportunity Tax Credit - Remains

Endowment Assets - A 1.4% excise tax is imposed on investment income derived from endowment funds at private colleges and universities.  An exclusion is provided for an institution with less than 500 full-time equivalent students whose endowment (fair market value) is less than $ 500,000 per student.