The partial shutdown of the federal government may delay refunds of income tax payments, but taxes are still due April 15th. In addition, the tax reform enacted in 2018 is now in effect which brings numerous changes for everyone filing.
Important things to know as employers begin sending out W-2 and 1099 forms:
The standard deduction has almost doubled to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. Additionally, many deductions that used to be itemized now have significant caps. The total deduction permitted for state and local taxes now tops out at $10,000, while it was unlimited. This is significant in states that have high property taxes, such as California and New York.
The amount of mortgage debt on new home purchases that previously could be deducted was $1 million, but now is $750,000.
“Not all states conformed to the new tax laws, New York being one, so things that are not deductible for the federal (government) can be deductible in some states,” says Rebecca Muller, an enrolled agent and accountant with Precision Tax and Accounting Services in Deer Park, N.Y.
Other changes: For families with kids, the Child Tax Credit doubles from $1,000 per child to $2,000.
Independent contractors, small businesses and freelancers will also see a number of changes.
According to TurboTax, the biggest change includes a reduction in the top corporate rate to 21%, a new 20% deduction for incomes from certain type of “pass-through” entities (partnerships, S Corps, sole proprietorships), limits on expensing of interest from borrowing, almost doubling of the amount small businesses can expense from the 2017 Section 179 amount of $510,000 to $1,000,000, and eliminating the corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT).
Tax brackets have also changed. There are still seven, but at the top end, the tax rate drops to 37 percent from 39.6 percent. For married joint filers, the 25 percent bracket now includes adjusted income from $77,401-$165,000; formerly it was $75,901-$153,100. The 10 percent bracket used to end at $18,650, but now goes up to $19,050.
The Internal Revenue Service says the partial government shutdown will not impact its ability to issue refunds and the agency says it will recall a “significant portion” of its workforce (without pay) as it officially begins processing on January 28th.
Don’t expect to get much telephone support during the shutdown, however. The IRS normally receives 95-million phone calls on its toll-free lines each year, but the personnel tasked with responding to such inquiries are furloughed.