2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

December 22, 2017 | Volume 15, Issue 3 | 800.756.2772

2017 Tax Reform: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Dear Clients and Friends:

Congress has enacted the biggest tax reform law in thirty years, one that will make fundamental changes in the way you, your family and your business calculate your federal income tax bill, and the amount of federal tax you will pay. Since most of the changes will go in 2018, there's still a narrow window of time before year-end to soften or avoid the impact of crackdowns and to best position yourself for the tax breaks that may be heading your way.

Lower tax rates coming. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will reduce tax rates for many taxpayers, effective for the 2018 tax year. The general plan of action to take advantage of lower tax rates next year is to defer income into next year and accelerate itemized deductions into this year.

Disappearing or reduced deductions, larger standard deduction. Beginning next year, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspends or reduces many popular tax deductions in exchange for a larger standard deduction. Here's a few things that may impact your individual taxes:

  • Individuals (as opposed to businesses) will only be able to claim an itemized deduction of up to $10,000 ($5,000 for a married taxpayer filing a separate return) for the total of (1) state and local property taxes; and (2) state and local income taxes. To avoid this limitation, pay the last installment of estimated state and local taxes for 2017 no later than Dec. 31, 2017, rather than on the 2018 due date. But don't prepay in 2017 a state income tax bill that will be imposed next year - Congress says such a prepayment won't be deductible in 2017.
  • The itemized deduction for charitable contributions won't be chopped. But because most other itemized deductions will be eliminated in exchange for a larger standard deduction (e.g., $24,000 for joint filers), charitable contributions after 2017 may not yield a tax benefit for many because they won't be able to itemize deductions. If you think you will fall in this category, consider accelerating some charitable giving into 2017.
  • The new law temporarily boosts itemized deductions for medical expenses. For 2017 and 2018 these expenses can be claimed as itemized deductions to the extent they exceed a floor equal to 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Before the new law, the floor was 10% of AGI, except for 2017 it was 7.5% of AGI for age-65-or-older taxpayers. But keep in mind that next year many individuals will have to claim the standard deduction because many itemized deductions have been eliminated. If you won't be able to itemize deductions after this year, but will be able to do so this year, consider accelerating "discretionary" medical expenses into this year. 
  • The new law substantially increases the alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption amount, beginning next year. There may be steps you can take now to take advantage of that increase. For example, the exercise of an incentive stock option (ISO) can result in AMT complications. So, if you hold any ISOs, it may be wise to postpone exercising them until next year.
  • Under current law unreimbursed employee business expenses, investment expenses, tax preparation fees, and certain other expenses are deductible as itemized deductions, if those expenses exceed 2% of adjusted gross income. The new law suspends these expenses paid after 2017. If you can, accelerate payment of these expenses into 2017.

Please keep in mind that I've described only some of the year-end moves that should be considered. 

For a comprehensive review of the individual tax changes -  click here

For a comprehensive review of the business tax changes -  click here