Tag: IRS

Does Your Rental Real Estate Activity Qualify for the QBI Deduction?

Knowing the requirements for Qualified Business Income (QBI) deductions can help you save taxes on your rental real estate

Does Your Rental Real Estate Activity Qualify for the QBI Deduction?The IRS recently issued guidance on the 20% tax deduction for Qualified Business Income (QBI) and rental real estate activity. Here’s what you need to know:

If all the general requirements (which vary based on your level of taxable income) are met, the deduction can be claimed for a rental real estate activity – but only if the activity rises to the level of being a trade or business. An activity is generally considered to be a trade or business if it is regular, continuous, and considerable.

The IRS safe harbor

Because determining whether a rental real estate enterprise meets those criteria can be difficult, the IRS has provided a safe harbor under which such an enterprise will be treated as a trade or business for purposes of the QBI deduction (IRS Notice 2019-7). For this purpose, a rental real estate enterprise is defined as an interest in real property held for the production of rents and may consist of an interest in multiple properties. Commercial and residential real estate may not be part of the same enterprise.

Under the safe harbor, a rental real estate enterprise will be treated as a trade or business if the following requirements are satisfied during the tax year for a rental real estate enterprise:

  • Separate books and records are maintained to reflect income and expenses for each rental real estate enterprise.
  • 250 or more hours of rental services are performed annually with respect to the rental enterprise. Note that these hours of service do not have to be performed by you personally.
  • The taxpayer maintains contemporaneous records, including time reports, logs, or similar documents, for: (i) hours of all services performed; (ii) description of all services performed; (iii) dates on which such services were performed; and (iv) who performed the services. Such records are to be made available for inspection at the request of the IRS. The contemporaneous records requirement does not apply to the 2018 tax year.

Rental services defined

For purposes of the safe harbor, rental services include:

  • Advertising to rent or lease the real estate
  • Negotiating and executing leases
  • Verifying information contained in prospective tenant applications
  • Collection of rent
  • Daily operation, maintenance, and repair of the property
  • Management of the real estate
  • Purchase of materials
  • Supervision of employees and independent contractors

Real estate not eligible for safe harbor

Some types of rental real estate are not eligible for the safe harbor. Real estate used by the taxpayer (including an owner or beneficiary of passthrough entity) as a residence for any part of the year is generally not eligible for the safe harbor, nor is real estate rented or leased under a triple net lease.

To qualify for the real estate safe harbor in 2019, it is important for you to maintain contemporaneous records starting with the 2019 tax year. I have listed above the information which needs to be tracked as part of the 250 hours of rental services above.

We’ve got your back

As the real estate tax guy, I’m here to assist you in all your real estate accounting matters. If you have questions about the QBI deduction as it applies to your rental real estate, you can reach me at [email protected] or 201.655.7411.

The IRS and Private Tax Debt Collection

To collect unpaid taxes, the IRS is turning to private companies.

IRS Using Debt Collection AgenciesThe growing backlog of debt has proved too much for the agency, which continues to use four debt collection companies to round up outstanding payments from taxpayers who’ve been contacted numerous times and still haven’t coughed up any cash.

The new private debt collection program originally started slowly, with just a few hundred taxpayers a week receiving mailings and subsequent calls. But now it’s in full swing, with thousands of people being contacted.

Taxpayers with long-overdue tax bills who’ve received several collection notices from the IRS through the mail are now being informed that their accounts have been transferred to private collectors. The collection agencies send letters of their own, clearly identifying themselves in all communications as working for the IRS.

Collectors Follow the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act

Of course, these new debt collectors need to follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which spells out when they can call, whom they can call, and what they can and cannot say. The IRS has told the collectors not to use robocalls to contact taxpayers.

The new private debt collection program comes straight from Congress, which required this action, noting that it’s a way to fund road improvement projects for the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, which was passed in 2015.

The four collection agencies are CBE Group, ConServe, Performant and Pioneer Credit Recovery. These agencies explain how they work. For example, Performant notes on its website how they work and lists official government sites for more information.

Protecting Yourself from Scammers

A problem jumps into anyone’s mind: how to tell the official debt collectors from the scammers. The IRS has noted that the it is urging taxpayers to be on the lookout for scammers who might use this program as a cover to trick people. One sign is payment: Performant notes, for example, that it tells taxpayers to make checks out to the federal government, and not to the private agency.

So, how can taxpayers protect themselves from new scams? There are some simple ways to tell whether the call is legitimate or from a fraudster. It’s a scam if the caller does any of the following:

  • Is very aggressive or threatens you in any way with arrest or someone coming to your house.
  • Tries to pressure you to make immediate payment.
  • Asks for your credit or debit card information.
  • Requests payment via gift cards, including Amazon and iTunes, prepaid debit cards, or a wire transfer.

More information is available on the U.S. Treasury site.

We’ve got your back

Legitimate private debt collection firms will instruct taxpayers to send a check, made out to the U.S. Treasury, directly to the IRS. It’s always a good idea to check with us to keep up to date with the new program and the new scams that come from it. Of course, if you have an outstanding debt to the IRS, contact us immediately so we can help you with the process of paying the government what you owe. Don’t go it alone! Contact KRS managing partner Maria Rollins at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 for a complimentary initial consultation.

Medical and Dental Expenses: What Can You Deduct?

Can you deduct medical and dental expenses? That’s a complicated question.

Medical and Dental Expenses: What Can You Deduct?To start with, your deductions must exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. And they have to fall into an IRS-approved category.

Deductible medical expenses may include, but aren’t limited to the following:

  • Payments of fees to doctors, dentists, surgeons, chiropractors, psychiatrists, psychologists and nontraditional medical practitioners.
  • Payments for inpatient hospital care or residential nursing home care, if the availability of medical care is the principal reason for being in the nursing home, including the cost of meals and lodging charged by the hospital or nursing home. However, if medical care isn’t the principal reason for the nursing home stay, then the deduction is limited to medical care costs only.
  • Payments for acupuncture treatments or inpatient treatment at a center for alcohol or drug addiction, for participating in a smoking-cessation program, and for drugs to alleviate nicotine withdrawal that require a prescription.
  • Payments to participate in a weight-loss program for a specific disease or diseases diagnosed by a physician, including obesity; but not ordinarily payments for diet food items or the payment of health club dues.
  • Payments for insulin and payments for drugs that require a prescription.
  • Payments made for admission and transportation to a medical conference relating to a chronic disease that you, your spouse, or your dependents have (if the costs are primarily for and essential to necessary medical care). However, you may not deduct costs of meals and lodging while attending a medical conference.
  • Payments for false teeth, reading or prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, hearing aids, crutches, wheelchairs, and for a guide dog or other service animal to assist the visually impaired or hearing-disabled person, or for a person with other physical disabilities.
  • Payments for transportation primarily for and essential to medical care that qualifies as medical expenses — payments of the actual fare for a taxi, bus, train, ambulance or for transportation by personal car to include the amount of your actual out-of-pocket expenses, gas, oil, etc. Standard mileage rate for medical expenses, plus the cost of tolls and parking apply as well.

Caveats for long-term care insurance

Payments for insurance policy premiums that cover medical care or for a qualified long-term care insurance policy are both deductible, but there are some caveats:

  • If you’re an employee, don’t include in medical expenses the portion of your premiums treated as paid by your employer under its sponsored group accident, health policy or qualified long-term care insurance policy.
  • Don’t include premiums that you paid under your employer-sponsored policy under a premium conversion policy (pre-tax), paid by an employer-sponsored health insurance plan (cafeteria plan), or any other medical and dental expenses unless the premiums are included in box 1 of your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.

Only include medical expenses paid during the year and use the expenses only once on the return. Reduce your total deductible medical expenses by any reimbursement, whether you receive the reimbursement directly or it’s paid on your behalf to doctors, a hospital or other medical provider.

Finally, note that the threshold rises to 10 percent for 2019.

We’ve got your back

This is just a summary of a complicated series of rules.Rather than guessing at the IRS rules and requirements, why not let the KRS CPAs tax experts help? We will help you determine which expenses you can safely deduct. Contact us at 201.655.7411 to get started.

Time to Send Out Those 1099-Misc Forms

Time to Send Out Those 1099-Misc FormsWith tax season right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about closing your books out for the year and preparing all your tax documents.

One of the required tax documents you may need to send out is the 1099-Misc. While this can be a tedious task, especially if you haven’t kept good records on your independent contractors, it is necessary to avoid penalties by the IRS. To help simplify things, here are the basics:

As a general rule, you must issue a Form 1099-Misc to each person to whom you have paid at least $600 in rents, services (included parts and materials), prizes and awards, or other income payments. You don’t need to issue 1099-Misc for payments made for personal purposes.  You are required to issue 1099-Misc to report payments you made in the course of your trade or business. You’ll send this form to any individual, partnership, Limited Liability Company, Limited Partnership, or estate.

Some 1099 exceptions

There is a lengthy list of exceptions, but the most common one is payments to corporation. All payments made to a corporation do not typically require a 1099-Misc.  This means that if you make payments to a company that is incorporated or to an LLC that elects to be treated as a C-Corporation or S-Corporation, then this would not be reported on a 1099-Misc.  Unfortunately, this exception doesn’t apply to payments you made to an attorney.

Another exception is payments to vendors using a credit card or through a third-party payment network. You are not required to send a 1099-Misc for amounts paid electronically.  Instead, the credit card companies and payment companies will handle any required reporting.  Those electronic payment providers are required under certain circumstances to send out a different version of the 1099-Misc, called the 1099-K, instead.

Get those W-9s from vendors

To make the 1099 process easier, it is best practice for business owners to request a Form W-9 from any vendor you expect to pay more than $600 before you pay them.  Form W-9 will give you the vendor’s mailing information, Tax ID number, and also require the vendor to indicate if it is a corporation or not.  Having a completed W-9 will give you all the information to complete the 1099-Misc and save you a lot of headaches during tax season.

For the current year’s payments, businesses must send 1099-MISC to the recipients by January 31 of the following year.  Businesses also must send copies of each 1099-MISC sent to recipients to the IRS.  The deadline to the IRS is January 31.  This deadline applies to Form 1099-MISC when reporting non-employee compensation payment in Box 7.  Otherwise, paper filings must be filed with the IRS by February 28 and electronic filing by March 31. Also depending on the state law, businesses may also have to file the 1099s with the state.

We have your back

Rather than guessing at the IRS rules and requirements, why not let the KRS CPAs tax experts help? We will help you organize Form 1099 MISC recipient data and prepare all the necessary forms for you to submit. Contact Kelley DaCunha at [email protected] to get started.

How to Handle Bad Debt and Taxes

When can you use bad debt to reduce business income?

How to Handle Bad Debt and Taxes Even when you take the customer to court and you still don’t get your money, there’s a way to make lemonade from this lemon of a customer.

If your business has already shown this amount as income for tax purposes, you may be able to reduce your business income by the amount of the bad debt. Look at bad debt as an uncollectible account—a receivable owed by a customer, client or patient that you are not able to collect.

Bad debt may be written off at the end of the year if it is determined that the debt is in fact uncollectible.

According to the IRS, bad debt includes:

  • Loans to clients and suppliers
  • Credit sales to customers
  • Business loan guarantees

How do you write off bad debt?

Your business uses the accrual accounting method, showing income when you have billed it, not when you collect it.

If your business operates on a cash accounting basis, you can’t deduct bad debt because you don’t record income until you’ve received the payment. If you don’t get the money, there’s no tax benefit to recording bad debt. You only record the sale when you receive the money from the customer.

Under accrual accounting, manually take the bad debt out of your sales records before you prepare your business tax return.

You must wait until the end of the year, just in case someone pays.

  • Prepare an accounts receivable aging report, which shows all the money owed to you by all your customers, how much is owed and how long the amount has been outstanding.
  • Total all bad debt for the year, listing all customers who have not paid during the year. Only make this determination at the end of the year and only if you’ve made every effort to collect the money owed to your business.
  • Include the bad debt total on your business tax return. If you file business taxes on Schedule C, you can deduct the amount of all bad debt. Each type of business tax return has a place to enter bad debt expenses.

It makes sense in any kind of business—no income recorded, no bad debt.

Collection efforts are important

A business bad debt often originates as a result of credit sales to customers for goods sold or services provided. The best documentation is likely to be a detailed record of collection efforts, indicating you made every effort a reasonable person would in order to collect a debt.

Take some solace by claiming a bad business debt deduction on your tax return. Not exactly a guarantee because you need to show that the debt is worthless, but it’s good to know there may be some relief.

We’ve got your back

The tax experts at KRS can help you with important accounting issues such as bad debt. Contact us today at 201.655.7411. And did you know that KRSCPAS.com is accessible from your mobile device and is loaded with tax guides, blogs, and other resources? Check it out today!

Accounting Concerns for Legal Marijuana Business Operations

Accounting Concerns for Legal Marijuana Business OperationsAccounting for the growing cannabis industry is unique. Here’s why.

The goal of any accounting system is to ensure that accurate financial information is available timely to users. An appropriate system will include processes and procedures for collecting, recording and classifying data and will assist in preventing and detecting waste or, even worse, fraud.

So why is accounting for the growing cannabis industry so unique?

Management, investors and other financial statement users require the same accurate financial information as any other industry. However, in this growing industry, businesses must comply with strict state and federal regulations to avoid substantial penalties or even the risk of losing their business.

Cannabusiness accounting and compliance

Proper and adequate accounting systems and controls are even more critical in a cannabis business where the business “touches the plant.” Growers, processors and distributors have unique accounting and compliance needs unlike any other industry. The potential for large cash transactions and banking restrictions common in the industry further emphasize the need for proper accounting controls and procedures.

As states begin to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use, businesses will need to consider the unique challenges the industry faces at the onset. The federal government considers business operations in this space to be “trafficking in controlled substances.” As such, proper accounting and reporting should incorporate the nuances of Internal Revenue Code Sec. 280E and 471 relating to cost accounting and inventory. In addition, state regulations require industry tracking and reporting of “seed to sale.” Most states with legalized marijuana industry require businesses to have inventory control and reporting systems in place as well as an interface with state mandated tracking systems. Therefore, the accounting system must provide reports and analysis to support compliance with federal and local regulations.

In this highly regulated environment, the business can be audited at any moment. All records must be available and in order to prove compliance with state and federal regulations. Furthermore, the accounting for businesses in this industry will need to provide for transactions to and from related entities, segment or separate “lines of business” reporting and consolidation. Business structures often include related entity relationships and investments. These advanced accounting issues are uncommon for most young or start-up businesses in other industries.

While many businesses entering the Cannabusiness space are new businesses, they cannot approach their accounting and bookkeeping in a manner often seen with new business start-ups. It’s common for a start-up to lack a proper accounting system and accounting controls before the business is up and running. A Cannabusiness business must have their system and controls in place well before they start operations.

We’ve got your back

Cannabusiness is a developing industry with many complicated factors. If you’re starting a business in this space, don’t go it alone! Contact Managing Partner Maria Rollins at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 to discuss your situation.

Real Estate FAQs from Last Month

Answers to real estate FAQs on 1031s and more

My team and I regularly receive questions on real estate-related topics. In this blog post, I answer some of those questions as they are important and others likely need the answers.

Realty Transfer Fee

Question: What is the realty transfer fee and who can expect to pay it?
Answers to this month's real estate FAQs
Answer:  The Realty Transfer Fee, also known as “RTF,” is a fee imposed by the State of New Jersey to offset the costs of tracking real estate transactions. Upon the transfer of the deed to the buyer, the seller pays the RTF, which is based upon the property sales price.

The RTF rate is a graduated rate and there are two different structures, depending on whether the total consideration is over or under $350,000.

It is important to note that a 1% fee must be paid by the buyer on all real estate transactions over $1 million in all commercial and residential property classes. This is also known as the “Mansion Tax.”

1031 Exchange Identification Rule

Question: What happens if you list three properties as replacement properties for your 1031 exchange, but all properties are no longer available?

Answer: One of the requirements of a 1031 exchange is taxpayers must identify a list of properties for potential purchase within 45 calendar days. Whichever property is ultimately purchased must be on this list. The rule allows taxpayers to identify three properties without limitation. Those listed are property that may be purchased, however not all are required to be purchased. If more than three properties are identified, the IRS rules become narrower and stringent.

The list can be changed an infinite amount of times until midnight of the 45th day. If the taxpayer is beyond the 45th day, the list is unchangeable and only properties listed can be chosen to complete the exchange. If the properties are not available after the 45th day, a 1031 exchange cannot be completed and the transaction is not eligible for deferral under Code Section 1031.

Section 179 Expensing

Question: Did the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) change 179 expensing for rental property owners?

Answer: A provision of the tax code, commonly known as Section 179 deduction, allows taxpayers to deduct the entire cost of eligible property in the first year it is placed in service. For rental real estate owners, eligible property includes the majority of improvements to the interior portion of a nonresidential building, provided the improvement is put to use after the date the building was placed in service

The TCJA expanded the definition of eligible property to include expenditures for nonresidential roofs, HVAC equipment, fire protection and alarm systems, and security systems.

We’ve got your back

Have a burning real estate question? Email me and I’ll answer it in an upcoming post.

IRS 2018 Tax Myths

With the 2018 filing season in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service offered taxpayers some basic tax and refund tips to clear up some common misbeliefs.

Myth 1: All Refunds Are Delayed

IRS 2018 Tax Myths
The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Eight in 10 taxpayers get their refunds faster by using e-file and direct deposit. It’s the safest, fastest way to receive a refund and is also easy to use.

While more than nine out of 10 federal tax refunds are issued in less than 21 days, some refunds may be delayed, but not all of them. By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds for tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. The IRS began processing tax returns on Jan. 29.

Other returns may require additional review for a variety of reasons and take longer. For example, the IRS, along with its partners in the state’s and the nation’s tax industry, continue to strengthen security reviews to help protect against identity theft and refund fraud.

Myth 2: Delayed Refunds, those Claiming EITC and/or ACTC, will be Delivered on Feb. 15

By law, the IRS cannot issue EITC and ACTC refunds before mid-February. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or debit cards starting Feb. 27, 2018, if these taxpayers chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return. The IRS must hold the entire refund, not just the part related to these credits. See the Refund Timing for Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit Filers page and the Refunds FAQs page for more information.

Myth 3: Ordering a Tax Transcript a “Secret Way” to Get a Refund Date

Ordering a tax transcript will not help taxpayers find out when they will get their refund. The IRS notes that the information on a transcript does not necessarily reflect the amount or timing of a refund. While taxpayers can use a transcript to validate past income and tax filing status for mortgage, student and small business loan applications, they should use “Where’s My Refund?” to check the status of their refund.

Myth 4: Calling the IRS or a Tax Professional Will Provide a Better Refund Date

Many people mistakenly think that talking to the IRS or calling their tax professional is the best way to find out when they will get their refund. In reality, the best way to check the status of a refund is online through the “Where’s My Refund?” tool or via the IRS2Go mobile app. The IRS updates the status of refunds once a day, usually overnight, so checking more than once a day will not produce new information. “Where’s My Refund?” has the same information available as IRS telephone assistors so there is no need to call unless requested to do so by the refund tool.

Myth 5: The IRS will Call or Email Taxpayers about Their Refund

The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Recognize the telltale signs of a scam. See also: How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door.

The IRS will NEVER:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill if taxes are owed.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have people arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

For more information on tax scams see Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts. For more information on phishing scams see Suspicious e-Mails and Identity Theft.

We’ve Got Your Back

A trusted tax professional can provide helpful information and advice about the ever-changing tax code. Check out the New Tax Law Explained! For Individuals page and then contact managing partner Maria Rollins at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 for a complimentary initial consultation.

An Update: Real Estate Professionals and Passive Losses

Dreaded Passive Losses

An Update: Real Estate Professionals and Passive LossesA passive loss from a real estate activity occurs when your rental property’s expenses exceeds its income. The undesirable consequence of passive losses is that a taxpayer is only allowed to claim a certain amount of losses on their tax return each year.

When income is below $100,000, a taxpayer can deduct up to $25,000 of passive losses. As income increases above $100,000, the $25,000 passive loss limitation decreases or “phases out.” The phase out is $0.50 for every $1 increase in income. Once income increases above $150,000, taxpayers are completely phased out of deducting passive losses.

Rentals are passive, unless they aren’t

The general rule is that all rental activities are, by definition, passive. However, the Internal Revenue Code created an exception for certain professionals in the real estate business.

Who is a real estate professional?

As discussed in a previous post, for income tax purposes, the real estate professional designation means you spend a certain amount of time in real estate activities.

According to the IRS, real estate professionals are individuals who meet both of these conditions:

1) More than 50% of their personal services during the tax year are performed in real property trades or businesses in which they materially participate and

2) they spend more than 750 hours of service during the year in real property trades or businesses in which they materially participate.

Any real property development, redevelopment, construction, reconstruction, acquisition, conversion, rental, operations, management, leasing, or brokerage trade or business qualifies as real property trade or business.

Can I qualify as a real estate professional?

I get these questions quite often from taxpayers:  Do I qualify as a real estate professional?  If not, how can I qualify?

There have been many cases that appear in front of the Tax Court where a taxpayer argues they qualify as a real estate professional and the IRS has disallowed treatment and subjects the taxpayer to the passive activity loss rules of Code Sec. 469.

A recent case held that a mortgage broker was not a real estate professional (Hickam, T.C. Summ. 2017-66). The taxpayer was a broker of real estate mortgages and loans secured by a real estate. Although the taxpayer held a real estate license, he did not develop, redevelop, construct, reconstruct, operate, or rent real estate in his mortgage brokerage operation.

The taxpayer argued that his mortgage brokerage services and loan origination services should be included for purposes of satisfying the real estate professional test. The Court held that the taxpayer’s mortgage brokerage services and loan origination services did not constitute real property trades or businesses under Code Sec. 469(c)(7)(c).

We’ve got your back

If you invest in real estate, it can be difficult to keep track of tax laws and how they impact you. At KRS CPAs, we stay on top of all the laws – especially the changes under the new tax reform – and can help you avoid tax problems. Contact me at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 for a complimentary initial consultation.

2017 Tax Legislation: What Individual Taxpayers Need to Know

2017 Tax Legislation: What Individual Taxpayers Need to KnowThe new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act amends the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to reduce tax rates and modify policies, credits, and deductions for individuals and businesses. It is the most sweeping update to the U.S. tax code in more than 30 years, and from what we’re seeing, it impacts everyone’s tax situation a bit differently.

What works for one individual or family may not work for another, although their circumstances may appear to be similar on the surface.

Here are some of the key features of the tax reform legislation that you need to know about as an individual tax payer. (I’ll cover the impact on businesses in a separate post.)

Individual Tax Rates

There are still seven tax brackets, however the rates have dropped in all except the lowest bracket. The new maximum tax rate was reduced from 39.6% to 37%, which applies for those earning over $500,000 annually, if single, or $600,000 if married.

Here is a comparison of the old and new tax rates:

Comparison of new and old tax rates

While these changes are likely good for everyone, I do have some clients who are married, filing jointly and when I recalculated their taxes under the new law, the results were not what we expected. The husband and wife both work, and it turns out they’re only going to save $200 in taxes! So that’s why it’s important to work with your accountant and look at your situation individually.

Alternative Minimum Tax

The alternative minimum tax (AMT) is a supplemental income tax imposed by the United States federal government. AMT is a separate tax calculation that is run after the regular tax calculations are done. The taxpayer pays the higher of the two taxes. Although this was supposed to be a tax to ensure that everyone, including the wealthy, pay some tax, in the past it did hit many middle income wage earners.

Under the new law:

  • The amount exempt from AMT increases from $86,200 to $109,400, if married, and from $55,400 to $70,300 if single.
  • The phase-out of the exemption amount begins at $1,000,000 – instead of $164,100 – if married, and $500,000 – instead of $123,100 – if single.

So we expect we will be seeing fewer middle income wage earners subject to AMT.

Deductions, exemptions, and capital gains

The standard deductions have nearly doubled to $24,000 (married) and $12,000 (single), however there is no longer any personal exemptions allowed at any income level.

Individual deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) for income, sales, and property are limited in aggregate to $10,000 for married and single filers and $5,000 for married, filing separately. What this means in a high real estate tax state like New Jersey, where you’re probably paying more than $10,000 a year in real estate taxes, you’re going to be taking a hit starting in 2018.

Most miscellaneous itemized deductions – for example, tax preparation and investment expenses – that had been subject to the 2% of adjusted gross income (AGI) floor will no longer be allowed.

As far as capital gains, there were no changes to the tax rate. The maximum rate on long-term gains and qualified dividend income (before 3.8% net investment income tax) remains at 20%.

As the reform bill was being negotiated, there had been talk of doing away with the medical expense deduction completely, which would have hurt the elderly. Instead, they reduced the floor to 7.5% of AGI for tax years 2017 and 2018.

Fortunately, there were no changes to how securities are treated. You can continue to specify which stocks you’re selling, which means if have a lot of the same stock, you can pick your highest basis so that you have the lowest amount of capital gain.

The child tax credit increases from $1,000 per qualified child to $2,000, with $1,400 being refundable. Phase-out of the credit begins at $110,000 (single) and $400,000 (married).

You will no longer be penalized if you don’t have health insurance. Starting in 2019, the new legislation eliminates the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

Mortgage interest and real estate

Before the tax law changed, you could deduct mortgage interest on mortgages up to $1 million, if you’re married, and $500,000 if you’re single. Interest on a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) could be deducted up to $100,000. Under the new law, individuals are allowed an itemized deduction for interest on a principal residence and second residence up to a combined $750,000. Mortgages obtained before 12/16/17 are grandfathered and new purchase money mortgages may be grandfathered if the purchase contract is dated before 12/16/17.

Refinancing of grandfathered mortgages is grandfathered, but not beyond the original mortgage’s term and amount, with some exceptions for balloon mortgages. Interest on HELOCs is no longer deductible.

The rules for capital gain exclusion for a primary residence remain unchanged, which is good for the real estate market. When you sell your primary residence, you get to exclude $500,000 of gain. As the taxpayer, you must own and use the home as your primary residence for two out of the previous five years. This exemption can only be used once every two years.

You will still be able to do a like-kind exchange on real estate, but no longer on personal property. This type of exchange allows for the disposal of an asset and the acquisition of another replacement asset without generating a current tax liability from the gain on the sale of the first asset.

College savings plans, estates and gifts

If you have a Section 529 plan, you can now pay up to $10,000 a year per student for high school education. This had always been limited to college, but now if you are paying public, private or religious high school tuition, you can use some of your 529 here.

Under the new tax law, the estate, gift and generation skipping transfer (GST) tax exemptions are doubled to $11.2 million per US domiciliary.  These exemptions sunset after 2025 and revert back to the law in effect for 2017 with inflation adjustments. There’s a possibility for “clawback” at death if the law is not changed.

Pass-through and charitable deductions

If you own a business that is set up as a partnership, S-corporation, or sole proprietorship, income was passed through to your individual tax returns, where it was taxed as ordinary income. There is now a new 20% deduction for qualified business income from a partnership, S-corp, or sole proprietorship. There are some income limitations to this deduction, so be sure you consult your tax advisor on this one.

We still have deductions for charitable contributions. Under the new law, a contribution made to public charities is deductible, as long as it doesn’t exceed 60% of the taxpayer’s AGI – this is up from 50% of AGI.

We’ve got your back

At KRS, we’ve been tracking tax reform legislation closely and are ready to assist you in your tax planning and preparation now that it is finally signed into law. Don’t lose sleep wondering what impact the new law will have on you and your family. Contact me at 201.655.7411 or [email protected].