tax breaks

Clinton, Trump Restate Tax Policies In Final Debate

Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman of Herman & Company CPA’s is here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

By Tax-News presidential-1311753_960_720

On October 19th, in their third and final debate before the US election, Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton restated their widely different tax policies, without providing any new detail.

In reply to a question on tax policy, Clinton plugged her policies to provide the funds to grow the economy and “support middle class families,” by having “the wealthy pay their fair share.” She repeated, however, that she would “not raise taxes on anyone making $250,000 or less [and] not add a penny to the [federal] debt.”

By contrast, she said, Trump’s plan “advocates for the largest tax cuts we’ve ever seen. … His whole plan is to give the biggest tax breaks ever to the wealthy and to corporations, adding $20 trillion to our debt. … It truly will be trickle-down economics on steroids. … We tried that. It has not worked.”

Trump countered that her plan “to raise taxes is a disaster. … We’re going to cut taxes massively. We’ll cut business taxes massively. They’re going to start hiring people. We’re going to bring the $2.5 trillion [in deferred US multinational foreign earnings] that’s offshore back into the country. We’re going to start the [economic growth] engine rolling again.”

He also pointed out that he would re-negotiate the US’s “horrible” existing trade agreements, under which “jobs are being sucked out of our economy.” He called the North American Free Trade Agreement “one of the worst deals ever. …Our jobs have fled to Mexico.” He again accused Clinton (which she strenuously denied) of wanting to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty.

Tax law changes mean inflation adjustments

Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman of Herman & Company CPA’s is here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

By Bankrate


In addition to making some temporary tax breaks permanent, 2 measures that became law on Dec. 18, 2015, also provide for annual inflation adjustments to the tax benefits.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes, or PATH, Act dealt primarily with tax extenders, those tax laws that expire and must be renewed. PATH was rolled into the Consolidated Appropriations Act, or the fiscal 2016 spending bill, which also included some tax provisions.

3 tax laws that are permanently in the Internal Revenue Code thanks to those laws now require the Internal Revenue Service to calculate the effect of inflation and annually adjust the tax breaks accordingly.

The IRS has now done that. Here are the inflation-adjusted amounts for the 2016 tax year for educators’ classroom expenses, commuting costs for workers who use public transportation as well as a popular business write-off.

No 2016 increase for teachers’ deduction

Teachers and certain other elementary and secondary school employees can deduct some of their out-of-pocket costs for classroom items. When this above-the-line deduction, meaning you don’t have to itemize to claim it, was made permanent, the long-standing $250 deduction amount was set as the base.

The expense amount also was tweaked so that it will increase as inflation dictates. That’s good news for educators. But since inflation in 2015 was low, the IRS says that there won’t be any bump up for the 2016 tax year. The deduction stays this year at $250.

Public transit benefit bump

Employers can subsidize their workers’ commuting or parking costs with pretax dollars up to an allowable monthly limit. Previously, the amount allowed for parking benefits was greater than that given employees who commuted using public transit.

As part of the tax extenders, that disparity was evened out. And as part of the December tax law changes, parity between the two transportation options was made permanent.

In addition, the amount allowed for van pool and other transit options are now pegged to inflation. In 2015 that monthly amount was $250. For 2016, it goes to $255. The increase applies to parking benefits, too.

Enhanced business expensing

One way businesses can reduce their tax bills is to write off the costs of new equipment. In many cases, this requires spreading the costs over several tax years through depreciation.

But section 179 expensing allows for some costs to be deducted in one tax year. And at the height (or depth) of the great recession that began in 2008, Congress increased the expensing amount to help economically struggling businesses continue to operate and grow their companies.

With the December extenders and spending bills, lawmakers permanently set the maximum amount of newly acquired property costs that a business can expense, or deduct, in one year at $500,000.

Once a business exceeds a certain amount of qualifying equipment purchases in a tax year, the deduction is reduced. Under the new law, that phaseout starts at $2 million in purchases

Both of those limits now were indexed for inflation.

For 2016, low inflation means that the IRS did not hike the $500,000 deduction amount. However, the $2 million phaseout threshold increases this year to $2.01 million.

Now that the new permanent tax breaks are on the books, look for these adjustments to be included in the annual announcement of other inflation-affected tax provisions that the IRS releases each fall.

Paul S. Herman CPA, a tax expert for individuals and businesses, is the founder of Herman & Company, CPA’s PC in White Plains, New York.  He provides guidance and strategies to improve clients’ financial well-being.


Some tax breaks made permanent

Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman of Herman & Company CPA’s is here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!


By Bankrate

It’s not quite a done deal yet, but it appears that taxpayers soon will have some finality when it comes to popular tax breaks.

The list of tax extenders, the 50-plus tax provisions that technically are renewed, or extended, every year or so could be shorter thanks to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes, or PATH, Act of 2015.

This tax bill, announced late Dec. 15, makes permanent a variety of individual and business tax incentives. If passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Obama, PATH will mean the end of periodic worrying about the availability of some popular tax breaks.

The full bill runs 233 pages, but here are some of the individual taxpayer highlights.

Popular tax breaks made permanent

Teachers will get to write off some of their out-of-pocket classroom expenses every year. This is an above-the-line deduction, meaning it’s available directly on 1040 and 1040A forms and doesn’t require the filer to itemize deductions. Even better, the $250 tax break now will be indexed for inflation.

State and local sales taxes will be a fixture on Schedule A as a permanent choice for taxpayers who itemize, along with the deduction for state and local income taxes. You still have to pick just one set of taxes to deduct, but folks with no or low income taxes won’t have to worry about whether they get the option.

Traditional IRA owners age 70 ½ can continue to directly donate up to $100,000 a year from those retirement accounts to their favorite charities. They won’t get a tax deduction, but the money won’t count as taxable income when contributed this way.

Commuters who take mass transit rather than drive also get permanent relief when it comes to employer fringe benefits. The amount covered for rail and bus travel will remain roughly on par with parking benefits paid to workers who drive to the office.

Family benefits now tax code fixtures

Another group of tax breaks created to help families also will now be a permanent part of the Internal Revenue Code. Most of these provisions were set to expire at the end of 2017.

The child tax credit, which previously was made a permanent part of the tax code, gets another boost. A temporary enhancement that allows more parents to claim an additional refundable child tax credit — that’s money back from Uncle Sam even if you don’t owe any taxes — now is permanent, too.

Obama’s signature education tax break, the American opportunity tax credit, also is now in the tax code for good. This tax break, which increased and replaced the Hope credit, provides a $2,500 credit, a portion of it refundable, for costs associated with 4 years of college costs.

The enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit, which provides tax assistance to low- and middle-income workers, stays put, too. The provisions that offer added help for larger families are now permanent.

One-year extension only

A few folks, however, will have to continue to play a waiting game again next year. Some extenders were renewed retroactively for the 2015 tax year, but extended only through 2016.

The above-the-line deduction for qualified college tuition and fees is good for the 2015 and 2016 tax years only. It remains capped at $4,000 for filers who meet the adjusted gross income thresholds.

Homeowners who are able to get their mortgage terms modified or who face foreclosure also get only temporary tax help. The provision that excludes forgiven home loan debt from taxation applies to qualifying deals made in 2016.

Similarly, the option to count private mortgage insurance, or PMI, premiums as tax-deductible loan interest on Schedule A also is available only through the next tax year.

Some opposition remains

While this generally is good news, the bill must be approved by Congress and then signed by the president.

There is some talk from some lawmakers in both parties about voting against PATH because of its nearly $800 billion cost.

I suspect, however, that PATH opponents will make their points about fiscal responsibility during the floor votes, and the overall bill will still clear both chambers.

The timing of the vote is still a bit up in the air. It must be coordinated with a separate funding bill to keep the federal government, including the IRS, operating through September 2016. But votes on both the tax and spending bills are expected soon.

Did your favorite tax break make it permanently into the tax code? Do you agree with PATH choices? Or do you agree that the cost is too steep?

Paul S. Herman CPA, a tax expert for individuals and businesses, is the founder of Herman & Company, CPA’s PC in White Plains, New York.  He provides guidance and strategies to improve clients’ financial well-being.

Tax Breaks for Families and Students

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Scarsdale CPA tax tips for families

You may be eligible for select tax breaks as a student or family

Recent legislation made permanent or extended several tax breaks for families. In addition, several education breaks were made permanent or extended.

Child Credit. For 2013 and beyond, the maximum credit for an eligible under-age-17 child (Child Credit) was scheduled to drop from $1,000 to only $500. The legislation permanently installs the $1,000 maximum credit.

Adoption Expenses. The Bush tax cut package included a major liberalization of the adoption tax credit and also established tax-free employer adoption assistance payments. These taxpayer-friendly provisions were scheduled to expire at the end of 2012. The credit would have been halved and limited to only special needs children. Tax-free adoption assistance payments from employers would have disappeared. The legislation permanently extends the more-favorable Bush-era rules.

Education Credit. The American Opportunity Credit, worth up to $2,500, can be claimed for up to four years of undergraduate education and is 40% refundable. It was scheduled to expire at the end of 2012. The legislation extends the American Opportunity Credit through 2017.

College Tuition Deduction. This write-off, which can be as much as $4,000 at lower income levels and as much as $2,000 at higher income levels, expired at the end of 2011. The legislation retroactively restores the deduction for 2012 and extends it through 2013.

Student Loan Interest Deduction. The student loan interest write-off can be as much as $2,500 (whether the taxpayer itemizes or not). Less favorable rules were scheduled to kick in for 2013 and beyond. The legislation permanently extends the more favorable rules that have applied in recent years.

Coverdell Education Savings Accounts. For 2013 and beyond, the maximum contribution to federal-income-tax-free Coverdell college savings accounts was scheduled to drop from $2,000 to only $500, and a stricter phase-out rule would have limited contributions by many married filing joint couples. The legislation makes permanent the favorable rules that have applied in recent years.

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Any U.S. tax advice contained in the body of this website is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by the recipient for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code or applicable state or local tax law provisions.