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2017 Individual Tax Changes – A Review

2017 Individual Tax Changes

Many of the tax changes affecting individuals and businesses for 2017 were related to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH) that modified or made permanent numerous tax breaks (the so-called “tax extenders”). To further complicate matters, some provisions were only extended through 2016 and are set to expire at the end of this year while others were extended through 2019. With that in mind, here’s what individuals and families need to know about tax provisions for 2017.

2017 Personal Exemptions

The personal and dependent exemption for tax year 2017 is $4,050.

Standard Deductions

The 2017 standard deduction for married couples filing a joint return in 2017 is $12,700. For singles and married individuals filing separately, it is $6,350, and for heads of household the deduction is $9,350.

The additional standard deduction for blind people and senior citizens in 2017 is $1,250 for married individuals and $1,550 for singles and heads of household.

2017 Income Tax Rates

In 2017 the top tax rate of 39.6 percent affects individuals whose income exceeds $418,400 ($470,700 for married taxpayers filing a joint return). Marginal tax rates for 2017–10, 15, 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent–remain the same as in prior years.

Due to inflation, tax-bracket thresholds increased for every filing status. For example, the taxable-income threshold separating the 15 percent bracket from the 25 percent bracket is $75,900 for a married couple filing a joint return.

2017 Estate and Gift Taxes

In 2017 there is an exemption of $5.49 million per individual for estate, gift and generation-skipping taxes, with a top tax rate of 40 percent. The annual exclusion for gifts is $14,000.

2017 Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)

AMT exemption amounts were made permanent and indexed for inflation retroactive to 2012. In addition, non-refundable personal credits can now be used against the AMT.

For 2017, exemption amounts are $54,300 for single and head of household filers, $84,500 for married people filing jointly and for qualifying widows or widowers, and $42,250 for married people filing separately.

2017 Marriage Penalty Relief

The basic standard deduction for a married couple filing jointly in 2017 is $12,700.

2017 Pease and PEP (Personal Exemption Phaseout)

Pease (limitations on itemized deductions) and PEP (personal exemption phase-out) limitations were made permanent by ATRA (indexed for inflation) and affect taxpayers with income at or above $261,500 for single filers and $313,800 for married filing jointly in tax year 2017.

2017 Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are limited to $2,600 per year in 2017 (up from $2,550 in 2016) and apply 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.

Specifically, in the case of a plan providing a grace period (which may be up to two months and 15 days), unused salary reduction contributions to the health FSA for plan years beginning in 2012 or later that are carried over into the grace period for that plan year will not count against the $2,600 limit for the subsequent plan year.

Further, employers may allow people to carry over into the next calendar year up to $500 in their accounts, but aren’t required to do so.

2017 Long Term Capital Gains

In 2017 taxpayers in the lower tax brackets (10 and 15 percent) pay zero percent on long-term capital gains. For taxpayers in the middle four tax brackets the rate is 15 percent and for taxpayers whose income is at or above $418,400 ($470,700 married filing jointly), the rate for both capital gains and dividends is capped at 20 percent.

Individuals – 2017 Tax Credits

2017 Adoption Credit

In 2017 a nonrefundable (i.e. only those with a lax liability will benefit) credit of up to $13,570 is available for qualified adoption expenses for each eligible child.

2017 Child and Dependent Care Credit

The child and dependent care tax credit was permanently extended for taxable years starting in 2013. 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.

2017 Child Tax Credit

For tax year 2017, the child tax credit is $1,000. A portion of the credit may be refundable, which means that you can claim the amount you are owed, even if you have no tax liability for the year. The credit is phased out for those with higher incomes.

2017 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

For tax year 2017, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low and moderate income workers and working families increased to $6,318 (up from $6,269 in 2016). The maximum income limit for the EITC increased to $53,930 (up from $53,505 in 2016) 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.

Individuals – 2017 Education Expenses

2017 Coverdell Education Savings Account

You can contribute up to $2,000 a year to Coverdell savings accounts in 2017.

These accounts can be used to offset the cost of elementary and secondary education, as well as post-secondary education.

2017 American Opportunity Tax Credit

For 2017, the maximum American Opportunity Tax Credit that can be used to offset certain higher education expenses is $2,500 per student, although it is phased out beginning at $160,000 adjusted gross income for joint filers and $80,000 for other filers.

2017 Employer-Provided Educational Assistance

In 2017, as an employee, you can exclude up to $5,250 of qualifying post-secondary and graduate education expenses that are reimbursed by your employer.

2017 Lifetime Learning Credit

A credit of up to $2,000 is available for an unlimited number of years for certain costs of post-secondary or graduate courses or courses to acquire or improve your job skills. For 2017, the modified adjusted gross income threshold at which the lifetime learning credit begins to phase out is $112,000 for joint filers and $56,000 for singles and heads of household.

2017 Student Loan Interest

In 2017 you can deduct up to $2,500 in student-loan interest as long as your modified adjusted gross income is less than $65,000 (single) or $135,000 (married filing jointly).

The deduction is phased out at higher income levels. In addition, the deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income, so you do not need to itemize your deductions.

Individuals – 2017 Retirement

2017 Retirement Contribution Limits

For 2017, 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 is $18,000 (same as 2016). For persons age 50 or older in 2017, the limit is $24,000 ($6,000 catch-up contribution).

Contribution limits for SIMPLE plans remain at $12,500 (same as 2016) for persons under age 50 and $15,500 for anyone age 50 or older in 2017. The maximum compensation used to determine contributions increased to $265,000.

2017 Saver’s Credit

In 2017, the adjusted gross income limit for the saver’s credit (also known as the retirement savings contributions credit) for low-and-moderate-income workers is $62,000 for married couples filing jointly, $46,500 for heads of household, and $31,000 for married individuals filing separately and for singles.

Please call if you need help understanding which deductions and tax credits you are entitled to.

Our goal at Tax Samaritan is to provide the best counsel, advocacy and personal service for our clients. We are not only tax preparation and representation experts, but strive to become valued business partners. Tax Samaritan is committed to understanding our client’s unique needs; every tax situation is different and requires a personal approach in providing realistic and effective solutions.

If you would like a quote, please click on the button below for a free, no obligation Tax Preparation quote and/or free 30-minute consultation to discuss your situation regarding your 2017 Individual Tax Return further:

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Tax Samaritan is a team of Enrolled Agents with over 25 years of experience focusing on US tax preparation and representation. We maintain this tax blog where all articles are written by Enrolled Agents. Our main objective is to educate US taxpayers on their tax responsibilities and the selection of a tax professional. Our articles are also designed to help taxpayers looking to self prepare, providing specific tips and pitfalls to avoid.

When looking for a tax professional , choose carefully.  We recommend that you hire a credentialed tax professional such as Tax Samaritan that is an Enrolled Agent (America’s Tax Experts). If you are a US taxpayer overseas, we further recommend that you seek a professional who is experienced in expat tax preparation, like Tax Samaritan (most tax professionals have limited to no experience with the unique tax issues of expat taxpayers).

Randall Brody is an enrolled agent, licensed by the US Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before the IRS for audits, collections and appeals. To attain the enrolled agent designation, candidates must demonstrate expertise in taxation, fulfill continuing education credits and adhere to a stringent code of ethics.

Every effort has been taken to provide the most accurate and honest analysis of the tax information provided in this blog. Please use your discretion before making any decisions based on the information provided. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for seeking professional tax advice based on your individual needs.



Updated: December 3, 2017

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