As we close out the year and get ready for tax season, here’s what individuals and families need to know about tax provisions for 2020.
Personal exemptions are eliminated for tax years 2018 through 2025.
The standard deduction for married couples filing a joint return in 2020 is $24,800. For singles and married individuals filing separately, it is $12,400, and for heads of household, the deduction is $18,650.
The additional standard deduction for blind people and senior citizens in 2020 is $1,300 for married individuals and $1,650 for singles and heads of household.
Income Tax Rates
In 2020 the top tax rate of 37 percent affects individuals whose income exceeds $523,600 ($628,300 for married taxpayers filing a joint return). Marginal tax rates for 2020 are as follows: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%. As a reminder, while the tax rate structure remained similar to prior years under tax reform (i.e., with seven tax brackets), the tax-bracket thresholds increased significantly for each filing status.
Estate and Gift Taxes
In 2020 there is an exemption of $11.58 million per individual for estate, gift, and generation-skipping taxes, with a top tax rate of 40 percent. The annual exclusion for gifts is $15,000.
Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
For 2020, exemption amounts increased to $72,900 for single and head of household filers, $113,400 for married people filing jointly and for qualifying widows or widowers, and $56,700 for married taxpayers filing separately.
Pease and PEP (Personal Exemption Phaseout)
Both Pease (limitations on itemized deductions) and PEP (personal exemption phase-out) have been eliminated under TCJA.
Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is limited to $2,750 per year in 2020 (up from $2,700 in 2019) and applies only to salary reduction contributions under a health FSA. The term “taxable year” as it applies to FSAs refers to the plan year of the cafeteria plan, which is typically the period during which salary reduction elections are made.
Long-Term Capital Gains
In 2020 tax rates on capital gains and dividends remain the same as 2019 rates (0%, 15%, and a top rate of 20%); however, taxpayers should be reminded that threshold amounts don’t correspond to the tax bracket rate structure as they have in the past. For example, taxpayers whose income is below $40,000 for single filers and $80,000 for married filing jointly pay 0% capital gains tax. For individuals whose income is at or above $441,450 ($496,600 married filing jointly), the rate for both capital gains and dividends is capped at 20 percent.
Miscellaneous deductions that exceed 2 percent of AGI (adjusted gross income) are eliminated for tax years 2018 through 2025. As such, you can no longer deduct on Schedule A expenses related to tax preparation, moving (except for members of the Armed Forces on active duty who move because of a military order), job hunting, or unreimbursed employee expenses such as tools, supplies, required uniforms, travel, and mileage.
Business owners are not affected and can still deduct business-related expenses on Schedule C.
INDIVIDUALS – TAX CREDITS
In 2020 a nonrefundable (i.e., only those with tax liability will benefit) credit of up to $14,300 is available for qualified adoption expenses for each eligible child.
Child and Dependent Care Credit
The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit was permanently extended for taxable years starting in 2013 and remained under tax reform. As such, 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.
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.
Child Tax Credit and Credit for Other Dependents
For tax years 2018 through 2025, the Child Tax Credit increases to $2,000 per child. The refundable portion of the credit increases from $1,000 to $1,400 – 15 percent of earned income above $2,500, up to a maximum of $1,400 – so that even if taxpayers do not owe any tax, they can still claim the credit. Please note, however, that the refundable portion of the credit (also known as the additional child tax credit) applies higher-income when the taxpayer isn’t able to fully use the $2,000 nonrefundable credit to offset their tax liability.
Under TCJA, a new tax credit – Credit for Other Dependents – is also available for dependents who do not qualify for the Child Tax Credit. The $500 credit is nonrefundable and covers children older than age 17 as well as parents or other qualifying relatives supported by a taxpayer.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
For tax year 2020, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low and moderate-income workers and working families increased to $6,660 (up from $6,557 in 2019). The maximum income limit for the EITC increased to $56,844 (up from $55,952 in 2019) for married filing jointly. 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.
If you’re ready to learn more about what strategies you can use to reduce your tax bill next year, please contact us.
Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.