The U.S. House and Senate have each passed different tax reform bills and are working together to reconcile the differences. The goal is to deliver a final tax reform bill to the president before Christmas.
“Both bills are big improvements to America’s out-of-date tax code,” wrote Adam Michel, a policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, in a recent article comparing the two packages. “Both bills cut taxes for individuals and businesses, largely repeal the state and local tax deduction, and allow businesses to invest more in the American economy through temporary expensing.”
Though nothing has been finalized as of this writing, a common theme seems to be allowing fewer itemized deductions for individuals and to balance that by increasing standard deduction amounts. For example, the personal exemption of $4,050 for income taxes would be eliminated and offset with a higher standard deduction of $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples. (The current standard income tax deduction is about half that – $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for married couples.) Deductions for state and local income and sales taxes (SALT) will likely be capped at $10,000. In contrast, the child tax credit is expected to increase from $1,000 currently to $1,600 or more.
In anticipation of potential changes, those who typically itemize on their income tax returns may want to consider accelerating deductible expenses in 2017. For example, they could pay second-half property taxes and/or make a January mortgage payment before year-end. They could also make their fourth-quarter estimated state income tax payment by year-end.