11 Tax Changes for 2018

Before you file your annual tax return it's important that you understand changes to the tax code including updated or new laws. Here, Steve Cox, CPA and Controller for TaxSlayer, highlights 11 updates for the 2017 tax-filing year.

1. Tax Brackets

All seven tax brackets have risen slightly to account for inflation. The top tax rate of 39.6 percent now applies to single taxpayers who earned more than $418,401 or married taxpayers filing jointly who earned more than $470,701.

2. Standard Deductions

The standard deduction slightly increased to $6,350 for single taxpayers and $12,700 for married taxpayers filing jointly. However, if you file as head of household, there was a $50 increase for a standard deduction of $9,350 in 2017.

3. Exemptions

Personal exemptions for taxpayers and their dependents remained the same at $4,050. These tax exemptions begin to phase out if you made $261,500 or more as an individual or if you made $384,000 or more as a married couple filing jointly. Tax exemptions are reduced by 2 percent for each $2,500 — or $1,250, for married couples filing separately — of adjusted gross income exceeding the established threshold. The tax exemptions are eliminated entirely at $384,900 for single filers and $436,300 for married couples filing jointly.

4. Mileage Rates for Driving Deductions

The rate for business mileage has decreased slightly from 54 cents per mile to 53.5 cents per mile. The mileage rate for medical or moving purposes has fallen as well, from 19 cents per mile to 17 cents per mile. 

5. Foreign Income Exclusion

If you work outside of the United States, the IRS raised the amount of the foreign earned income exclusion to $102,100 — the maximum amount of foreign earnings you may be able to exclude from your taxes, if you meet the requirements.

6. Adoption Credit

The federal adoption tax credit is now $13,570 per child — an increase of $110 from the credit in 2015. Adoptive parents with an adjusted gross income below $203,540 can claim the full credit, while those with incomes above $243,540 cannot claim the credit at all. Families with incomes between $203,540 and $243,540 can claim a partial credit.

7. Roth IRA

Income limits for Roth IRA contributions increased by $1000-2000 from the 2016 limit. You can contribute to a Roth IRA if you made less than $133,000 in adjusted gross income filing individually or less than $196,000 as a married couple filing jointly. However, if your adjusted gross income was greater than or equal to $118,000 for single filers or $186,000 for married couples filing jointly, your contribution would be limited to a reduced rate.

8. Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Exemption

The IRS raised the AMT exemption amount to $54,300 for individuals and $84,500 for married couples filing jointly. The AMT exemption begins to phase out at $120,700 for individuals and $160,900 for married couples filing jointly. 

9. Earned Income Credit (EIC)

If your income falls below a certain threshold — which depends on your adjusted gross income and the number of qualifying children claimed — you may qualify for the EIC. The 2016 maximum amount of credit for taxpayers with three or more qualifying children is $6,318
 — an increase from $6,269 for 2016.  

10. Health Expense Accounts

Under a high deductible health plan, you may be eligible for a health savings account (HSA) —to which you can make tax-deductible contributions. The HSA contribution limit increased by $50 to $3,400 for individuals; however, the contribution limit for families remained at $6,750. If you are 55 or older, you can contribute an additional $1,000 per year, which is unchanged from last year.

11. Health Insurance Penalty

The Affordable Care Act requires most taxpayers to have health insurance; those who do not have insurance face a tax penalty, which increases each year along with inflation. The penalty in 2017 remains the same at $695 per adult and $347.50 per child (under 18), to a maximum of $2,085.

Annual changes to tax-filing laws can be difficult to keep up with, but a tax professional can provide customized help when you prepare your 2017 tax return.


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This information is general in nature and is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. Although Regions believes this information to be accurate, it cannot ensure that it will remain up to date. Statements or opinions of individuals referenced herein are their own—not Regions'. Consult an appropriate professional concerning your specific situation and irs.gov for current tax rules. Regions, the Regions logo, and the LifeGreen bike are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.

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