“Leap Day 2020” Tax Tips

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Every four years comes around the Olympics, a presidential election, and a leap year. With Leap Day falling during tax season, we thought we would offer up some tax tips that might jump start your tax posture for 2020 and beyond:


Lower. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act from 2017 established lower tax rates for businesses and individuals. The tax brackets are even indexed for inflation, so 2019 rates are slightly less than 2018, and taxpayers with similar incomes should see lower taxes.


Extenders. Late in 2019, Congress retroactively extended some tax provisions that had expired at the end of 2017. Thus, these provisions will be available in 2018, 2019, and 2020. For some of these changes, taxpayers may be eligible for tax relief by filing amended tax returns for 2018, and by claiming these on 2019 tax returns that are currently in process. A few of these extender items for individuals include: the exclusion from income for discharge of debt on their principal residence; mortgage insurance premiums treated as mortgage interest expense; deduction of qualified tuition expenses; and retaining the 7.5% of AGI threshold for medical deductions. There were also many extender items for businesses.


Schedule A. Many taxpayers are familiar with Schedule A to claim their itemized deductions (medical, interest, taxes, contributions, and others). But with a cap of $10,000 on state and local taxes, many taxpayers are instead benefitting by claiming the standard deduction. For 2019, this amount is $24,400 for a married couple filing jointly. In many cases, taxpayers may see a greater tax benefit by not itemizing, and without any receipts.  


Phase-Outs. The tax law has several provisions subject to a phase out for certain taxpayers over specified income levels. Two phase-outs were changed by the TCJA, both to the taxpayer’s advantage. First, the child tax credit was bumped up from $1,000 to $2,000 per qualifying child beginning in 2018, but the point at which this credit begins to be phased out for a married couple leaped from $110,000 to $400,000. Further, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemption was increased; and the point where the AMT exemption begins phasing out leaped to AMT income over $1,000,000 from $160,900. 

So, this year, take a leap of faith and explore the above items to see if you can find some tax savings to enjoy. If you have any questions on these, your Sikich tax advisor would be leaping for joy to assist you. 

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.


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