Keeping up with the complex credit landscape can be difficult for organizations with limited resources. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) adds yet another another level of complexity to tax planning. In this article, we have outlined how the TCJA will impact key tax provisions and tax minimizing strategies.
Alternative Minimum Tax
The Alternative minimum tax (AMT) should be considered before you and/or your accountant begin to time income and deductions. AMT is a separate tax system that limits some deductions and disallows others, such as state and local income tax deductions, property tax deductions, and other miscellaneous itemized deductions that are subject to the 2 percent of AGI. Deductions may include investment advisory fees and non-reimbursable employee business expenses.
The purpose of the AMT is to ensure those who receive a lot of tax breaks are still paying some level of federal income taxes. The AMT, originally intended to target high-income households, became problematic once it began affecting more and more taxpayers. The AMT failed to account for inflation. As wages increased, it eventually began to impact middle-income households.
To ensure that the AMT functions properly, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:
Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, fewer taxpayers will be affected by the alternative minimum tax. You will want to speak with your tax professional regarding the changes made to the AMT exemption amounts.
Timing Income and Expenses
Strategic timing can reduce your tax liability, while poor timing can unnecessarily increase it.
If you don’t expect to be subject to AMT in the current or following year, consider income deferment. Deferring income and increasing deductible expenses for the current year can be a good strategy because it will postpone tax. The opposite approach should be taken if you expect to be in a higher tax bracket, or if tax rates are expected to increase.
Whatever the reason for timing your income and deductions, here are some income items you may be able to control:
Followed by potentially controllable expenses:
Charitable donations in the form of cash or in-kind items can reap great tax benefits. While the new tax reform does not eliminate charitable deductions, it does limit the tax incentive for charitable contributions. The new plan increases the standard deduction and reduces the tax bracket, meaning fewer people will itemize their deductions.
There are several giving strategies to consider, including:
Before making a large donation to the charity of your choosing, discuss options with your tax professional.
The Tax Reform and Jobs Act changed the AGI threshold for medical expenses from 10 percent to 7.5 percent for 2017 and 2018 for all taxpayers.
If medical expenses were not paid through tax-advantaged accounts or were reimbursable by insurance and exceed 7.5 percent of your AGI, you can deduct the excess amount. Eligible expenses may include:
You may be able to save tax by contributing to one of these accounts:
Sales Tax Deduction
The state and local tax deduction, or SALT, now has a cap. While it remains in place for those who itemize their taxes, it now has a $10,000 limit. This is a significant change as filers could previously deduct an unlimited amount for state and local property taxes, plus income or sales taxes.
As a self-employed taxpayer, you may benefit from other above-the-line deductions. You can deduct 100% of health insurance costs for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents, up to your net self-employment income. You can also deduct retirement plan contributions and, if you’re eligible, an HSA. The Self-Employment Health Insurance deduction remained untouched in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, however employed taxpayers must itemize on their returns to claim it.
Estimated Payments and Withholdings
You can become subject to penalties if you don’t pay enough tax through estimated tax payments and withholding. Here are some strategies to help avoid underpayment penalties:
Now is also a great time for organizations to re-evaluate their annual budgets to improve profit margins and consolidate spending. One strategy worth exploring is new or revised tax credits to help offset the amount owed to federal and state governments and take advantage of any county or city localized tax credits. Capturing 2018 credits, as well as retroactive 2017 tax credit opportunities, can help your organization reduce its liability, lower its tax rate, and improve the bottom line.
For example, the employer tax credit, which was created by the TCJA, is available to employers who offer paid family and medical leave to their employees who earned $72,000 or less in 2017 or 2018. To qualify, employers must have a written policy that
Whether you are an individual taxpayer or a small business owner, understanding your tax credit eligibility is important. If you have questions about these or other tax saving tips, please contact one of our professionals to schedule your year-end planning meeting.
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