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Tax laws are constantly changing and these changes may impact you personally or your business. With that in mind, we post the latest updates of information here on our site. Be sure to check back often as updates will be posted frequently.
SUBJECT: TAX MEMORANDUM-RECENT TAX LAWS EFFECTIVE 2012, 2013 AND 2014
Please accept this summary of recent tax laws with effective dates retroactive to 2012 and forward into 2013 and 2014. Many of the details of these tax laws have been and will continue to be explained in tax newsletters we release quarterly.
The American Taxpayer Relief Act averts the United States’ descent over the “fiscal cliff” — a combination of higher taxes and forced spending cuts scheduled to go into effect in 2013. The act prevents income tax rate increases for about 98% of taxpayers and makes other changes affecting individuals and businesses. Here’s a brief summary of the most important provisions.
Individual tax provisions
- Makes permanent 2012 ordinary-income tax rates, ranging from 10% to 35% for most taxpayers
- Increases the top marginal tax rate to 39.6% on taxable income in excess of the applicable threshold of $400,000 (singles), $425,000 (heads of households) or $450,000 (married filing jointly)
Allows the scheduled 2013 return of the limits on certain itemized deductions and personal exemptions — setting the phase-out to begin at adjusted gross income levels of $250,000 (singles), $275,000 (heads of households) and $300,000 (married filing jointly)
- Makes permanent 2012 long-term capital gains rates of 0% and 15% for lower income taxpayers
- Increases long-term capital gains rate to 20% for taxpayers with taxable income exceeding $400,000 (singles), $425,000 (heads of households) or $450,000 (married filing jointly)
- Makes permanent long-term capital gains treatment for qualified dividends (ranging from 0% to 20% tax rate depending upon taxable income – see immediately above)
- Makes permanent (and retroactive to January 1, 2012) alternative minimum tax (AMT) relief
- Extends the deduction for state and local sales tax in lieu of state and local income tax
- Extends various child and education related credits and deductions
- Extends the ability of taxpayers age 70½ or older to make a direct tax-free rollover from an IRA to charity
Extends certain home and energy-related tax credits
Increases the top estate tax rate to 40%
Maintains the estate tax exemption amount at $5 million (inflation-adjusted annually) and providing portability of unused exemption to a surviving spouse, if an estate tax return is filed
Business tax provisions
- Bonus depreciation (expensing up to 50% of cost of most new equipment)
- Enhanced Section 179 expensing (expensing up to $500,000 of cost of most used/new equipment for both 2012 and 2013 but there are income requirements)
Accelerated depreciation for qualified leasehold, retail and restaurant improvements
- The Work Opportunity Credit
- The Research and Development Credit
- Certain energy-related tax credits
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
- A 3.8% Medicare tax applies to passive and investment income of single filers with adjusted gross income of $200,000 or more and $250,000 for joint filers effective January 1, 2013. This surtax must be added to the capital gains and ordinary income tax of taxpayers.
- A 0.9% additional Medicare tax will also become effective January 1, 2013 for some taxpayers with wages or self-employment income beyond the following thresholds: joint filers with combined wages or self-employment income over $250,000 (married taxpayers filing separately with wages or self-employment income over $125,000). For all other taxpayers, the threshold is $200,000.
For self-employed taxpayers, the threshold amounts are reduced by the amount of wages taken into account in determining the FICA tax of the taxpayer(s). However, only the excess of the wages or self-employment income that is over the threshold is subject to the additional tax.
- The IRS has promised more guidance in the new health care laws becoming effective in 2014 which will require Americans to purchase health insurance or face penalties. It is generally believed that employers with fewer than fifty (50) employees averaging at least thirty (30) hours per week will not be subject to the new health care laws. An additional exclusion applies where the employer exceeds the fifty (50) employees threshold for no more than one hundred twenty (120) days during the previous year qualifying period and the employees in excess of fifty (50) are seasonal.
Effective January 1, 2013, the employee’s Social Security tax rate returned to its former rate of 6.2% (from its temporary rate of 4.2%) due to the expiration of the law originally providing for this rate reduction.
If any of these matters are of concern to you, please contact us to discuss your concerns and consider developing a tax strategy that provides the most favorable consequence to you. If you are not receiving our quarterly newsletter, please provide us your contact information to receive this complimentary tax planning publication.