The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
What Can I do before year end
Congress is enacting 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 into effect next year, 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. Here's a quick rundown of last-minute moves you should think about making.
Please be aware that this is only a suggestion of what may work for you before year end. It does not include all of the tax changes enacted in the new law. For example this letter does not discuss the fact that in 2018 you wil be losing all of your personal exemptions in the amount of $4,050 per exemption. And in your specific situation some of these suggestions may not be appropriate. You may not be able to get the benefit that is suggested. An example is prepaying your real estate taxes. If you are in AMT tax in 2017 this will not give you the desired tax savings.
Lower tax rates coming. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will reduce tax rates for many taxpayers, effective for the 2018 tax year. Additionally, many businesses, including those operated as passthroughs, such as partnerships, may see their tax bills cut.
The general plan of action to take advantage of lower tax rates next year is to defer income into next year. Some possibilities follow:
IRA & Roth IRA Conversions
. . . If you are about to convert a regular IRA to a Roth IRA, postpone your move until next year. That way you'll defer income from the conversion until next year and have it taxed at lower rates.
. . . Earlier this year, you may have already converted a regular IRA to a Roth IRA but now you question the wisdom of that move, as the tax on the conversion will be subject to a lower tax rate next year. You can unwind the conversion to the Roth IRA by doing a recharacterization-making a trustee-to-trustee transfer from the Roth to a regular IRA. This way, the original conversion to a Roth IRA will be cancelled out. But you must complete the recharacterization before year-end. Starting next year, you won't be able to use a recharacterization to unwind a regular-IRA-to-Roth-IRA conversion.
Cash Basis Business
. . . If you run a business that renders services and operates on the cash basis, the income you earn isn't taxed until your clients or patients pay. So if you hold off on billings until next year-or until so late in the year that no payment will likely be received this year-you will likely succeed in deferring income until next year.
Accrual Basis Business
. . . If your business is on the accrual basis, deferral of income till next year is difficult but not impossible. For example, you might, with due regard to business considerations, be able to postpone completion of a last-minute job until 2018, or defer deliveries of merchandise until next year (if doing so won't upset your customers). Taking one or more of these steps would postpone your right to payment, and the income from the job or the merchandise, until next year. Keep in mind that the rules in this area are complex and may require a tax professional's input.
Cancellation of Debt
. . . The reduction or cancellation of debt generally results in taxable income to the debtor. So if you are planning to make a deal with creditors involving debt reduction, consider postponing action until January to defer any debt cancellation income into 2018.
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 what you can do about this right now:
Other year-end strategies. Here are some other last minute moves that can save tax dollars in view of the new tax law:
Like Kind Exchanges
Employee Business Expenses/Home Office Deduction on Sch A
Please keep in mind that I've described only some of the year-end moves that should be considered in light of the new tax law.
NJ Sales and Use Tax Rate Change
The New Jersey Sales and Use Tax rate will decrease to 6.625% starting January 1, 2018.
Please prepare to update your records accordingly.
More information is available on the NJ Division of Taxation website at:
NJ Income Tax Exemption for Veterans
New for Tax Year 2017. You are eligible for a $3,000 exemption on your Income Tax return if you are a military veteran who was honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States by the last day of the tax year. Your spouse (or civil union partner) is also eligible for an exemption if he/she is a veteran who was honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances and you are filing a joint return. This exemption is in addition to any other exemptions you are entitled to claim and is available on both the resident and nonresident returns. You cannot claim this exemption for a domestic partner or for your dependents.
You must provide a copy of Form DD-214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, the first time you claim the exemption. This form does not need to be provided each year. The United States National Archives and Records Administration can assist with obtaining a copy of your DD-214.
For more information and ways to certify for the exemption, visit the NJ Department of the Treasury at:
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