Tax News

 Tax Year 2019 changes

Welcome 2020! As the new year rolls around, it’s always a sure bet that there will be changes to the current tax law and 2020 is no different.

Delay on refunds until February 15th, only on refunds which includes EIC and other refundable credits.

Checklist of tax changes to help you plan the year ahead

Taxpayers should note that the 2020 tax season opens on Jan. 27, 2020.

The April 15 tax deadline is set by statute and will remain in place, although taxpayers can request an automatic six-month extension to file their tax return. If you think you need an extension, please let us know. If April 15 falls on weekend, the due date will be on Monday.

Individuals

For 2020, more than 40 tax provisions are affected by inflation adjustments, including personal exemptions, AMT exemption amounts, and foreign earned income exclusion, as well as most retirement contribution limits.

For 2020, based on TCJA the tax rate structure, which ranges from 10 to 37 percent, remains the same as in 2019, but tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status. Standard deductions  have also been adjusted upward to reflect inflation. 

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)

Exemption amounts for the AMT, which was made permanent by the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) are indexed for inflation and allow the use of nonrefundable personal credits against the AMT. 

“Kiddie Tax”

For taxable years beginning in 2019, the amount that can be used to reduce the net unearned income reported on the child’s return that is subject to the “kiddie tax,” is $1,000 (same as 2013). The same $1,000 amount is used to determine whether a parent may elect to include a child’s gross income in the parent’s gross income and to calculate the “kiddie tax”. For example, one of the requirements for the parental election is that a child’s gross income for 2019 must be more than $1,000 but less than $10,000.

For 2019, the net unearned income for a child under the age of 19 (or a full-time student under the age of 24) that is not subject to “kiddie tax” is $2,000.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

Contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA) are used to pay current or future medical expenses of the account owner, his or her spouse, and any qualified dependent. Medical expenses must not be reimbursable by insurance or other sources and do not qualify for the medical expense deduction on a federal income tax return.

A qualified individual must be covered by a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) and not be covered by other health insurance with the exception of insurance for accidents, disability, dental care, vision care, or long-term care.

Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs)

There are two types of Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs): the Archer MSA created to help self-employed individuals and employees of certain small employers, and the Medicare Advantage MSA, which is also an Archer MSA, and is designated by Medicare to be used solely to pay the qualified medical expenses of the account holder. To be eligible for a Medicare Advantage MSA, you must be enrolled in Medicare. Both MSAs require that you are enrolled in a high deductible health plan (HDHP).

AGI Limit for Deductible Medical Expenses

In 2019 tax year, the deduction threshold for deductible medical expenses remains at 10 percent (up from 7.5 percent in 2019) of adjusted gross income (AGI). 

Eligible Long-Term Care Premiums

Premiums for long-term care are treated the same as health care premiums and are deductible on your taxes subject to certain limitations.

Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

For 2019, the foreign earned income exclusion amount is $105,900, up from $903,900 in 2018.

Long-Term Capital Gains and Dividends

In 2019 tax rates on capital gains and dividends remain the same as 2018 rates; however threshold amounts are indexed for inflation. As such, for taxpayers in the lower tax brackets (10 and 15 percent), the rate remains 0 percent. For taxpayers in the four middle tax brackets, 25, 28, 33, and 35 percent, the rate is 15 percent. For an individual taxpayer in the highest tax bracket, 39.6 percent, whose income is at or above $406,750 ($457,600 married filing jointly), the rate for both capital gains and dividends is capped at 20 percent.

Estate and Gift Taxes

For an estate of any decedent during calendar year 2019, the basic exclusion amount is $10m, indexed for inflation. The maximum tax rate remains at 40 percent. The annual exclusion for gifts also remains at $14,000.

Adoption Credit

In 2019, a non-refundable (only those individuals with tax liability will benefit) credit of up to $13,190 is available for qualified adoption expenses for each eligible child.

Earned Income Tax Credit

For tax year 2019, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low and moderate income workers and working families rises to $6,157, up from $6,044 in 2018. The credit varies by family size, filing status and other factors, with the maximum credit going to joint filers with three or more qualifying children.

Child Tax Credit

For tax year 2019, the child tax credit is $2,000 per child.

Child and Dependent Care Credit

If you pay someone to take care of your dependent (defined as being under the age of 13 at the end of the tax year or incapable of self-care) in order to work or look for work, you may qualify for a credit of up to $1,050 or 35 percent of $3,000 of eligible expenses in 2019. For two or more qualifying dependents, you can claim up to 35 percent of $6,000 (or $2,100) of eligible expenses. For higher income earners the credit percentage is reduced, but not below 20 percent, regardless of the amount of adjusted gross income.

There will $500 credit for dependent care.

American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credits

The American Opportunity Tax Credit (formerly Hope Scholarship Credit) was extended to the end of 2017 by ATRA. The maximum credit is $2,500 per student. The Lifetime Learning Credit remains at $2,000 per return.

Interest on Educational Loans

In 2019 (as in 2018), the $2,500 maximum deduction for interest paid on student loans is no longer limited to interest paid during the first 60 months of repayment. The deduction is phased out for higher-income taxpayers with modified AGI of more than $65,000 ($130,000 joint filers).

Contribution Limits

The elective deferral (contribution) limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $17,500. Contribution limits for SIMPLE plans remains unchanged at $12,000. The maximum compensation used to determine contributions increases to $260,000 (up $5,000 from 2013).

Income Phase-out Ranges

The deduction for taxpayers making contributions to a traditional IRA is phased out for singles and heads of household who are covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan and have modified AGI between $60,000 and $70,000, up from $59,000 and $69,000 in 2013.

For married couples filing jointly, in which the spouse who makes the IRA contribution is covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan, the phase-out range is $96,000 to $116,000, up from $95,000 to $115,000. For an IRA contributor who is not covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s modified AGI is between $181,000 and $191,000, up from $178,000 and $188,000.

The modified AGI phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $181,000 to $191,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $178,000 to $188,000 in 2013. For singles and heads of household, the income phase-out range is $114,000 to $129,000, up from $112,000 to $127,000. For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a retirement plan, the phase-out range remains $0 to $10,000.

Saver’s Credit

In 2019, the AGI limit for the saver’s credit (also known as the retirement savings contribution credit) for low and moderate income workers is $60,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $59,000 in 2019; $45,000 for heads of household, up from $44,250; and $30,000 for married individuals filing separately and for singles, up from $29,500.

Bussiness

Standard Mileage Rates
The rate for business miles driven is 58 cents per mile for 2019, up from 54.5 cents per mile in 2018.

Section 179 Expensing

For 2019 the maximum Section 179 expense deduction for equipment purchases decreases to $25,000 of the first $200,000 of business property placed in service during 2014. The bonus depreciation has been increased to 100 percent, as is the accelerated deduction, where businesses can expense the entire cost of qualified real property in the year of purchase.

Transportation Fringe Benefits

If you provide transportation fringe benefits to your employees, in 2019 the maximum monthly limitation for transportation in a commuter highway vehicle as well as any transit pass is $130 down from $245 in 2013. The monthly limitation for qualified parking is $250.

While this checklist outlines important tax changes for 2014, additional changes in tax law are more than likely to arise during the year ahead.

Don’t hesitate to call us if you want to get an early start on tax planning for 2020. We’re here to help!

Cheers!