You just e-filed or mailed your 2017 Form 2040 and the last thing you want to think about is taxes. Still, you can’t help wondering how the new tax law will affect your 2018 taxes. Of course, the bottom line is that the impact will depend upon your income level, deductions and where you live.
The new tax act lowered the tax brackets for 2018. The new rates for married individuals filing jointly and for surviving spouses are 10% on income not exceeding $19,050; 12% on income between $19,050 and $77,400; 22% between $77,400 and $165,000; 24% between $165,000 and $315,000; 32% between $315,000 and $400,000; 35% between $400,000 and $600,000; and 37% on income over $600,000.
The figures for unmarried individuals (other than surviving spouses) are 10% on income not exceeding $9,525. If income is over $9,525 up to $38,700, the individual will pay $925.50, plus 12% of the excess over $9,525. If income is over $38,700 up to $82,500, the individual will pay $4,453.50, plus 22% of the amount that exceeds $38,700. If the income is over $82,500 up to $157,700, the individual will pay $14,089.50, plus 24% of the amount over $82,500. If the income is over $157,700 up to $200,000, the individual will pay $32,089.50, plus 32% on the amount over $157,700. If the income is over $200,000 up to $500,000, the individual will pay $45,689.50, plus 35% of the amount over $200,000. If the income is over $500,000, the individual will pay $150,689.50, plus 37% of the amount over $500,000.
Standard deductions under the new tax law are increased. According to AARP the increased standard deductions mean that fewer taxpayers, including seniors, will be itemizing. Seniors who are married and filing jointly will get a standard deduction of $24,000 (up from $11,300 in 2017). They can add $1,300 per person to that amount if over 65, making the total deduction $26,600 if both meet that criteria. In order to make itemizing worthwhile, a couple over 65 will need to have deductions in excess of $26,600.
For single individuals, the standard deduction will be $12,000 (up from $5,650 in 2017), to which $1,600 can be added if the individual is over 65, making the maximum deduction $13,600. In order to make itemizing worthwhile, an individual over 65 will need to have deductions in excess of $13,600.
The interest deduction on new mortgages will be limited to that interest attributed to the first $750,000 of the loan. Old loans and those mortgages contracted on or before December 15, 2017, are grandfathered in, allowing deduction of the interest at the prior level on the first $1,000,000 of mortgage debt. While previous law allowed deduction of interest on up to $100,000 in home equity loans, interest on home equity debt is not deductible at all under the new law.
Those seniors who have already paid off their mortgages will, of course, not be impacted by the changes in the mortgage interest deductions allowed. However, previously, reverse mortgages were often treated as home equity loans for which the interest could be deducted. Under the new law, that will no longer be the case.
Depending upon your individual circumstances, you may be able to apply these new tax rules to your situation and determine whether or not the new law benefits you.
Sandra W. Reed is an attorney with Katten & Benson, an Elder Law firm in Fort Worth.She lives in beautiful Somervell County, near Chalk Mountain.