New Legislation Extends Popular Tax Provisions

In one of its final actions, the 113th Congress passed the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014. This legislation extends for one year a host of popular tax provisions (commonly referred to as “tax extenders”) that had expired at the end of 2013. The President is expected to sign the legislation. All of the following provisions were among those retroactively extended, and are now effective through the end of 2014.

 

Deduction for qualified higher-education expenses

You may be entitled to a deduction if you paid qualified higher-education expenses during the year–this includes tuition and fees (for yourself, your spouse, or a dependent) for enrollment in a degree or certificate program at an accredited post-secondary educational institution. The deduction doesn’t include payments for meals, lodging, insurance, transportation, or other living expenses. The maximum deduction is generally $4,000. However, if your adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds $65,000 ($130,000 if married filing jointly), your maximum deduction is limited to $2,000; if your AGI is greater than $80,000 ($160,000 if married filing jointly), you can’t claim the deduction at all.

 

Deduction for classroom expenses paid by educators

If you’re an educator, you may be able to claim up to $250 of unreimbursed qualified classroom expenses you paid during the year as an “above-the line” deduction. Qualifying expenses can include the cost of books, most supplies, computer equipment, and supplementary materials used in the classroom. Teachers, instructors, counselors, principals, and aides for kindergarten through grade 12 are eligible, provided a minimum number of hours are worked during the school year.

 

Deduction for state and local general sales tax

If you itemize deductions on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040, you can elect to deduct state and local general sales taxes in lieu of the deduction for state and local income taxes. You can calculate the total amount of state and local sales taxes paid by accumulating receipts showing general sales taxes paid, or you can use IRS tables. If you use IRS tables to determine your deduction, in addition to the table amounts you can deduct eligible general sales taxes paid on cars, boats, and other specified items.

 

Tax-free charitable donations from IRAs

If you’re age 70½ or older, you can make a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) of up to $100,000  from your IRA and exclude the distribution from your gross income. The distribution must be made directly to a qualified charity by December 31, 2014, and must be a distribution that would otherwise be taxable to you. QCDs count toward satisfying any required minimum distributions (RMDs) that you would otherwise have to receive from your IRA, just as if you had received an actual distribution from the plan. You aren’t able to claim a charitable deduction for the QCD on your federal income tax return.

 

Deduction for mortgage insurance premiums

 Premiums paid or accrued for qualified mortgage insurance associated with the acquisition of your main or second home may be treated as deductible qualified residence interest on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040. The amount that would otherwise be allowed as a deduction is reduced if your AGI exceeds $100,000 ($50,000 if married filing separately), and no deduction is allowed if your AGI exceeds $109,000 ($54,500 if married filing separately).

 

Bonus depreciation

You may be able to claim an additional first-year “bonus” depreciation deduction, equal to 50% of the adjusted basis of qualified property placed in service during the year. The additional first-year depreciation deduction is allowed for both regular tax and the alternative minimum tax.  The basis of the property and the regular depreciation allowances in the year the property is placed in service (and later years) are adjusted accordingly.

 

Expanded IRC Section 179 expensing limits

 Under IRC Section 179, if you’re a small-business owner you can generally elect to expense the cost of qualifying property, rather than to recover such costs through depreciation deductions. The maximum amount that can be expensed for 2014 now remains at $500,000 (the same limit that applied in 2013), rather than dropping to $25,000 had the legislation not passed. The $500,000 limit is reduced by the amount by which the cost of qualifying property placed in service during the taxable year exceeds $2,000,000.

 

Exclusion of gain–qualified small-business stock

 Generally, you’re able to exclude 50% of any capital gain from the sale or exchange of qualified small-business stock provided that certain requirements, including a five-year holding period, are met. However, the temporary increase of the exclusion percentage to 100% that applied in 2013 is now extended to qualified small-business stock issued and acquired in 2014.

 

Other provisions extended

 Other provisions extended by the legislation include:

The ability to exclude from income the discharge of debt associated with a qualified principal residence

  • Provisions related to employer-provided mass-transit benefits
  • Special rules for qualified conservation contributions of capital gain real property
  • Provisions relating to business tax credits, including the research credit and the work opportunity tax credit

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURESBroadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law.  Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials.  The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Save Twice with the Saver’s Credit

If you are a low-to-moderate income worker, you can take steps now to save two ways for the same amount. With the saver’s credit you can save for your retirement and save on your taxes with a special tax credit. Here are six tips you should know about this credit:

1. Save for retirement. The formal name of the saver’s credit is the retirement savings contributions credit. You may be able to claim this tax credit in addition to any other tax savings that also apply. The saver’s credit helps offset part of the first $2,000 you voluntarily save for your retirement. This includes amounts you contribute to IRAs, 401(k) plans and similar workplace plans.

2. Save on taxes. The saver’s credit can increase your refund or reduce the tax you owe. The maximum credit is $1,000, or $2,000 for married couples. The credit you receive is often much less, due in part because of the deductions and other credits you may claim.

3. Income limits. Income limits vary based on your filing status. You may be able to claim the saver’s credit if you’re a:

• Married couple filing jointly with income up to $60,000 in 2014 or $61,000 in 2015.

• Head of Household with income up to $45,000 in 2014 or $45,750 in 2015.

• Married person filing separately or single with income up to $30,000 in 2014 or $30,500 in 2015.

4. When to contribute. If you’re eligible you still have time to contribute and get the saver’s credit on your 2014 tax return. You have until April 15, 2015, to set up a new IRA or add money to an existing IRA for 2014. You must make an elective deferral (contribution) by the end of the year to a 401(k) plan or similar workplace program.

If you can’t set aside money for this year you may want to schedule your 2015 contributions soon so your employer can begin withholding them in January.

5. Special rules apply. Other special rules that apply to the credit include:

• You must be at least 18 years of age.

• You can’t have been a full-time student in 2014.

• Another person can’t claim you as a dependent on their tax return.

6. You figure your credit amount based on your filing status, adjusted gross income, tax liability and the amount of your qualified contribution. Other rules also apply. For more information on this or other tax questions, contact Ron Wilburn, CPA at (918) 212-9950.