New Tax Law Extenders for Individuals

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New Tax Law Extenders for Individuals

As usual Congress has waited until the 9th hour to announce tax provisions that were extended into 2015 or made permanent. This is basically par for the course and is done every single year.

Take a look at this long list of provisions that are pretty important to most taxpayers.

Tax Provisions

INDIVIDUAL PROVISIONS:

 

Child Credit – This credit was made permanent; it provides a $1,000 credit for each dependent child who is under the age of 17 at years end, who lived with the taxpayer for over half of the year and who meets the relationship test. The credit phases out for higherincome taxpayers, and a portion of the credit is refundable for lowerincome taxpayers. The changes also include program integrity provisions that prohibit an individual from retroactively claiming the child credit by amending a return (or filing an original return if he or she failed to file) for any prior year in which the individual for whom the credit is claimed did not have an ITINgenerally a Social Security number).

After 2015, when a taxpayer improperly claims the credit, the legislation includes a disallowance period when no credit is allowed. For fraud, the disallowance period is 10 years, and for reckless or intentional disregard of rules and regulations, the disallowance period is 2 years.

American Opportunity Credit (AOTC) – This credit, which was due to expire after 2017, has been made permanent. This is a tax credit equal to 40% of the cost of tuition and qualifying expenses for higher education, with a maximum credit of $2,500. The credit applies to 100% of the first $2,000 and 25% of the next $2,000 of qualifying expenses. The credit offsets any tax liability, and 40% of the credit is refundable even if the taxpayer does not have any tax liability. It also phases out between $160,000 and $180,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly and between $80,000 and $90,000 for othersexcept for married taxpayers filing separately, who get no credit.

After 2015, when a taxpayer improperly claims the credit, the legislation includes a disallowance period when no credit is allowed. For fraud, the disallowance period is 10 years, and for reckless or intentional disregard of rules and regulations, the disallowance period is 2 years.

A provision was added that prohibits an individual from retroactively claiming the AOTC by amending a return or filing a late original return for any prior year when the individual or a student for whom the credit is claimed did not have an ITIN (generally a Social Security number).

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)The EITC is a refundable credit allowed to certain low-income workers who have W-2 wages and self-employed income. The credit is larger for taxpayers with children. The credit for taxpayers with children is based upon the number of children; those with three or more children receive the highest creditas much as $6,269 in 2015. The higher credit for three or more children, which was a temporary provision that was set to expire after 2017, has been made permanent.

The changes also include added program integrity provisions that prohibit an individual from retroactively claiming the AOTC by amending a return (or filing an original return if the individual failed to file) for any prior year in which the individual for whom the credit is claimed did not have an ITIN (generally a Social Security number). The changes also reduced the marriage penalty by increasing the income phase-out for those filing jointly.

Teachers’ $250 AbovetheLine DeductionThis provision, which was available from 2002 through 2014, allows teachers and other eligible educators (levels kindergarten through grade 12) to take an abovetheline deduction of up to $250 for unreimbursed expenses incurred as part of their educational work. This deduction has been made permanent and modified by adjusting the $250 for inflation in years after 2015. In addition, professional development expenses were added to the qualified expenses allowed as part of the $250 deduction.

Transit Pass & Parking Fringe Benefit ParityFrom 2010 through 2014, the monthly exclusion amount for employerpaid transit passes and qualified parking were temporarily the same. The parity of these two fringe benefits has been made permanent. Thus, for 2015 they will both be $250.

Optional Deduction of State and Local General Sales TaxesSince 2004, taxpayers who itemized their deductions have had the option to deduct the Larger of (1) state and local income tax paid during the year, or (2) state and local sales tax paid during the year. This provision, which had been previously extended through 2014, provides the greatest benefit to those taxpayers who reside in a state that has no income tax (which include Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming). This election has been made permanent.

Above-the-Line Deduction for Qualified Tuition and Related ExpensesThis above-the-line deduction for qualified higher education tuition and related expenses had been available from 2002 through 2014. The deduction includes adjusted gross income (AGI) limitations; it is not allowed for joint filers with an AGI of $160,000 or more ($85,000 for other filing statuses). This deduction has been retroactively extended through 2016.

Tax-Free IRA Distributions For Charitable PurposesThis provision was temporarily added in 2004 and originally expired in 2011; it was not extended until late in the year during the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, thus limiting its application in those three years. The provision allows taxpayers age 70.5 and over to directly transfer (not rolled over) funds from their IRA accounts to a qualified charity. The distribution is not taxable, but it does count toward the individuals required minimum distribution (RMD) for the year. The maximum allowable transfer is $100,000 per year. No charitable deduction is allowed, as the distribution is not taxable. This provision has been made permanent; it provides four potential tax advantages:

The distribution is not included in income, thus lowering the taxpayers AGI, which in turn helps to avoid various AGI phase-outs and limitations.

Keeping the AGI lower also helps to minimize the amount of Social Security income that is subject to tax for some taxpayers.

Taxpayers using the standard deduction cannot get a charitable deduction, but they are essentially deducting the charitable deduction from their gross income when making contributions this way.

The transferred distribution counts towards the taxpayers RMD for the year.

Discharge of Qualified Principal Residence Indebtedness When an individual loses his or her home to foreclosure, abandonment or short sale or has a portion of his or her loan forgiven under the HAMP mortgage reduction plan, that person generally will end up with cancellation of debt (COD) income. COD income is taxable unless the taxpayer can exclude it. A taxpayer can exclude the COD income in the extent that he or she is insolvent (with debts exceeding assets immediately before the event occurs) using the insolvency exclusion.

Due to the housing market crash, in 2007, Congress added the qualified principal residence COD exclusion, which allowed taxpayers to exclude COD income to the extent that it was discharged acquisition debt. Acquisition debt is debt originally incurred to acquire a home or substantially improve itnot debt used for other purposes, which is called equity debt. However, equity debt is deemed to be discharged first, thus limiting the exclusion when both equity and acquisition debt are involved in the transaction.

The qualified principal residence COD exclusion had been previously extended but had expired at the end of 2014. This exclusion has been retroactively extended through 2016 (a twoyear extension).

Mortgage Insurance Premiums For tax years 2007 through 2014, taxpayers could deduct (as an itemized deduction) the cost of premiums for qualified mortgage insurance on a qualified personal residence (first or second home). To be deductible, the premiums must have been related to acquisition debt incurred after Dec. 31, 2006. However, this deduction phases out for higherincome taxpayers (generally those whose AGI exceeds $100,000). This provision, which had expired after 2014, has been retroactively extended through 2016, a two-year extension.

Give us a call if you would like further information….. We are here to help!

Do you have a business? Check out our blog post on the “New Tax Law Extenders for Business“.

By | 2016-01-22T10:22:51-07:00 January 22nd, 2016|Accounting, Blog|Comments Off on New Tax Law Extenders for Individuals

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