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Trump Taxes and 2016 tax planning for higher income earners

By Stacie Clifford Kittscartoon-trump-300x316

The proposed tax plans offered up by President Elect Trump and the House Republican Tax Reform Plan are presenting some unique year-end tax planning challenges.

The most common question that taxpayers are asking is, will tax rates be lower in 2017?

To help answer this question, we should first review how our tax rates work now.

We currently pay federal income taxes at graduated rates ranging from 10% to 39.6%.  However, if you are a higher income earner making more than $125,000 (single) or $250,000 (married), you may pay an  additional 3.8% tax on your net investment income,  making  your top federal rate 43.4%.

An analysis of Trump’s current plan, indicates that if your income is over approximately $425,400 (single)  and $487,650 (married), you may (depending on your itemized deductions) see a significant reduction in income taxes under his plan.

However, middle class taxpayers may face an  increase in tax depending on the size of their family and filing status.  This is largely due to the Republican and Trump plans which seek to limit itemized and dependent deductions, expand income tax brackets, and  repeal the personal exemption and head of household status.

To help better understand  the possible impact on your taxes, here are some of the key proposals affecting higher income earners (AGI over $150K).  Because the Trump and Republican plans are not the same, we will most likely see some sort of mix of the two plans:

Individual income tax

  • Both Trump, and the House Republican Plan, will drop the number of income tax brackets to just three, at 12%, 25%, and 33%.
  • The plan will also eliminate the alternative minimum tax (yay),
  • it also eliminates all itemized deductions (boo) except mortgage interest and charitable giving.
  • They have further proposed to limit the amount of total itemized deduction to $100,000 (Single) and $200,000 (Married).  This proposal will reduce the tax incentive for charitable giving once your itemized deductions reach the allowed limit.
  • Significantly for us here in California, state income taxes paid would no longer be deductible on Federal returns.

Investment income

The top rate for long term capital gains is currently 20% plus the 3.8% investment tax imposed by the Affordable Care Act (for high income earners), for a total top rate of 23.8%.  Interest and non-qualified dividend income is taxed at ordinary rates.

Trump’s Plan

Trump proposes to repeal the affordable Care Act including the 3.8% tax which will cap long term capital gains at 20%.

 House Republican’s Plan

On the other hand, the House’s plan would apply tax to 50% of interest income, dividends and capital gains at ordinary income tax rates.  The remaining 50% would not be subject to tax.   This translates to a top rate of 16.5% for investment income.

Estate and gift tax

Under current law, estates are subject to a 40% tax on the estates value over $5.45 million. In addition, beneficiaries of the  estate receive a step-up in the basis of the assets value equal to the fair market value at the date of death.

Trump and the House Republican Plan propose a repeal of the estate and gift tax entirely.  Trump proposes to repeal the step up in basis provision and replace it with a carryover provision for computing taxable gains on sales for estates in excess of $5 million (single) or $10 million (married).  The Republican Plan provides for carryover of basis on all assets.

Business tax

The top corporate tax rate is currently 35%.  Income from pass-through businesses such as partnerships and S-corporations are taxed at individual rates.

Trump’s Plan

  • Trump’s plan would reduce top corporate income taxes from 35% to 15% and repeal corporate AMT tax.
  • Individuals can elect a tax rate of 15% for business income from pass-through entities (including sole proprietorships).
  • Distributions from large pass-through businesses received by owners who elected the 15% flat rate would be taxed as dividends.  (included in overall personal taxable income)
  • The Trump plan eliminates all tax credits (tax incentives) except the research credit.
  • The plan would allow businesses to elect to expense capital equipment, structures and inventories directly rather than over time. However, if direct expense is elected, interest expense deductions would not be allowed.

House Republican’s Plan

  • The Republican Plan would reduce the corporate tax to a flat 20%.
  • Eliminate the corporate alternative minimum tax.
  • Income from pass-through entities would top out at 25%.
  • Costs of capital investments are immediately deductible
  • Eliminates the deductibility of net interest expenses on future loans.
  • Restricts the deduction for net operating losses to 90 percent of net taxable income and allows net operating losses to be carried forward indefinitely, and increased by a factor reflecting inflation and the real return to capital. Does not allow net operating losses to be carried back.
  • Eliminates the domestic production activities deduction (section 199) and all other business credits, except for the research and development credit.
  • Creates a fully territorial tax system, exempting from U.S. tax 100 percent of dividends from foreign subsidiaries.
  • Enacts a deemed repatriation of currently deferred foreign profits, at a tax rate of 8.75 percent for cash and cash-equivalent profits and 3.5 percent on other profits.[Tax Foundation]

Conclusion

An analysis of your personal itemized deductions along with the type of income to be reported on your return, including pass through or investment income,  is necessary to determine the actual impact of these proposed tax plans on your 2017 income tax.  Higher income earners might consider deferring income into 2017 if possible.

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