Tax Law Changes 2018, 10 of 10

Education tax breaks

Earlier versions of the tax bill called for reducing or eliminating some education tax breaks, but the final version does not. Specifically, the Lifetime Learning Credit and Student Loan Interest Deduction are still in place, and the exclusion for graduate school tuition waivers survives as well.

One significant change is that the bill expands the available use of funds saved in a 529 college savings plan to include levels of education other than college. In other words, if you have children in private school, or you pay for tutoring for your child in the K-12 grade levels, you can use the money in your account for these expenses.



Tax Law Changes 2018, 9 of 10

The marriage penalty is (mostly) gone

One thing to notice from these brackets is that the so-called marriage penalty, which many Republican leaders (including President Trump) wanted to eliminate, is almost absent.

If you're not familiar, here's a simplified version of how the marriage penalty works. Let's say that two single individuals each earned a taxable income of $90,000 per year. Under the old 2018 tax brackets, both of these individuals would fall into the 25% bracket for singles. However, if they were to get married, their combined income of $180,000 would catapult them into the 28% bracket. Under the new brackets, they would fall into the 24% marginal tax bracket, regardless of whether they got married or not.

In fact, the married filing jointly income thresholds are exactly double the single thresholds for all but the two highest tax brackets in the new tax law. In other words, the marriage penalty has been effectively eliminated for everyone except married couples earning more than $400,000.



Tax Law Changes 2018, 7 &8 of 10

The 2018 tax brackets

In President Trump's campaign tax plan, he proposed reducing the number of tax brackets from seven to three, and the House of Representatives' original tax reform bill contained four brackets. However, the final bill kept the seven-bracket structure but with mostly lower tax rates.

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For comparison, here are the 2018 tax brackets that were set to take effect under previous tax law.

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Tax Law Changes 2018, 6 of 10

Education tax breaks

Earlier versions of the tax bill called for reducing or eliminating some education tax breaks, but the final version does not. Specifically, the Lifetime Learning Credit and Student Loan Interest Deduction are still in place, and the exclusion for graduate school tuition waivers survives as well.

One significant change is that the bill expands the available use of funds saved in a 529 college savings plan to include levels of education other than college. In other words, if you have children in private school, or you pay for tutoring for your child in the K-12 grade levels, you can use the money in your account for these expenses.

Tax Law Changes 2018, 5 of 10

Capital gains taxes

The general structure of the capital gains tax system, which applies to things like stock sales and sales of other appreciated assets, isn't changing. However, there are still a few important points to know.

For starters, short-term capital gains are still taxed as ordinary income. Since the tax brackets applied to ordinary income have changed significantly, as you can see from the charts above, your short-term gains are likely taxed at a different rate than they formerly were.

Also, under the new tax law, the three capital gains income thresholds don't match up perfectly with the tax brackets. Under previous tax law, a 0% long-term capital gains tax rate applied to individuals in the two lowest marginal tax brackets, a 15% rate applied to the next four, and a 20% capital gains tax rate applied to the top tax bracket.

Instead of this type of structure, the long-term capital gains tax rate income thresholds are similar to where they would have been under the old tax law. For 2018, they are applied to maximum taxable income levels as follows:

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Finally, the 3.8% net investment income tax that applied to high earners stays the same, with identical income thresholds. If Congress is successful in repealing the Affordable Care Act, this could potentially go away, but it remains for the time being.

Tax Law Changes 2018, 4 of 10

Tax breaks for parents

I mentioned earlier that the personal exemption is going away, which could disproportionally affect larger families.

However, this loss and more should be made up for by the expanded Child Tax Credit, which is available for qualified children under age 17. Specifically, the bill doubles the credit from $1,000 to $2,000, and also increases the amount of the credit that is refundable to $1,400.

In addition, the phaseout threshold for the credit is dramatically increasing.

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If your children are 17 or older or you take care of elderly relatives, you can claim a nonrefundable $500 credit, subject to the same income thresholds.

Furthermore, the Child and Dependent Care Credit, which allows parents to deduct qualified child care expenses, has been kept in place. This can be worth as much as $1,050 for one child under 13 or $2,100 for two children. Plus, up to $5,000 of income can still be sheltered in a dependent care flexible spending account on a pre-tax basis to help make child care more affordable. You can't use both of these breaks to cover the same child care costs, but with the annual cost of child care well over $20,000 per year for two children in many areas, it's safe to say that many parents can take advantage of the FSA and credit, both of which remain in place.

Tax Law Changes 2018, 2 of 10

Mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and medical expenses

These three deductions remain, but there have been slight tweaks made to each.

  • First, the mortgage interest deduction can only be taken on mortgage debt of up to $750,000, down from $1 million currently. This only applies to mortgages taken after Dec. 15, 2017; pre-existing mortgages are grandfathered in. And the interest on home equity debt can no longer be deducted at all, whereas up to $100,000 in home equity debt could be considered.

  • Next, the charitable contribution deduction is almost the same, but with two notable changes. First, taxpayers can deduct donations of as much as 60% of their income, up from a 50% cap. And donations made to a college in exchange for the right to purchase athletic tickets will no longer be deductible.

  • Finally, the threshold for the medical expenses deduction has been reduced from 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI) to 7.5% of AGI. In other words, if your adjusted gross income is $50,000, you can now deduct any unreimbursed medical expenses over $3,750, not $5,000 as set by prior tax law. Unlike most other provisions in the bill, this is retroactive to the 2017 tax year.

2018 Tax Law Changes and How it will Effect You

The SALT deduction: Bad news for high-tax states

The biggest tax deduction by dollar amount that Americans have taken advantage of in recent years is the deduction for state and local taxes -- also known as the SALT (State and Local Taxes) deduction. Specifically, Americans have been able to deduct the following:

  • State and/or local property taxes, such as those paid on a personal residence, automobile, or other personal property.

  • State and local income taxes or state sales taxes, whichever results in the larger deduction. Generally speaking, income taxes are the better deduction, but the option to deduct sales tax allows residents of states without an income tax to benefit, as well. If you choose the sales tax option, you don't need receipts -- the IRS provides a calculator to determine this deduction.

Starting with the 2018 tax year, however, the SALT deduction is limited to a total of $10,000. This may sound like a lot, but many Americans -- especially those in high tax states like New York, New Jersey, and California -- have been deducting several times this amount. For example, the property tax on my parents' modest home in New Jersey almost reaches the $10,000 cap all by itself.

Now, millions of Americans cannot deduct their state and local taxes, and on top of that, the higher standard deduction means that many families who pay high amounts of state and local taxes may not be able to take advantage of the SALT deduction at all.

Giving Back To Our Community

This month we will be supporting Kyle's Kamp.  A local charity started by Kyle's parents while he was hospitalized, undergoing treatment for cancer, as a Facebook page to update family and friends on is progress.  It quickly evolved into a local charity raising millions of dollars benefitting  Childrens National  for research for childhood cancer.  We will be participating in their Casino Night at Westwood Country Club February 24th.  If you want to learn more about this worthy charity please visit www.kyleskamp.org.