A little more detail on what to expect if a major tax law is enacted this year. Although both the House and Senate have tax bills in process, it is by no means a sure bet. So keep a close eye on the news because we can’t be positive of any change until the ink is dry on a tax reform bill.

Both the tax bill passed by the House of Representatives and the one before the Senate would reduce tax rates for many taxpayers, effective for the 2018 tax year. Additionally, businesses may see their tax bills cut, although the final form of the relief isn’t clear right now.

Beginning in 2018, both the House-passed tax reform bill and the version before the Senate would repeal or reduce many popular tax deductions in exchange for a larger standard deduction. A few actions to consider after consulting with your tax advisor:

  • The House-passed tax reform bill would eliminate the deduction for nonbusiness state and local income or sales tax, but would allow an up-to-$10,000 deduction for real estate taxes on your home. The bill before the Senate would ban all nonbusiness deductions for state and local income, sales tax, and real estate tax. If you are an employee who expects to owe state and local income taxes when you file your return next year, consider asking your employer to increase withholding on those taxes. That way, additional amounts of state and local taxes withheld before the end of the year will be deductible in 2017. Similarly, pay the last installment of estimated state and local taxes for 2017 by Dec. 31 rather than on the 2018 due date, or prepay real estate taxes on your home.
  • Neither the House-passed bill nor the bill before the Senate would repeal the itemized deduction for charitable contributions. But because most other itemized deductions would be eliminated in exchange for a larger standard deduction (e.g., in both bills, $24,000 for joint filers), charitable contributions after 2017 may not yield a tax benefit for many. If you think you will fall in this category, consider accelerating some charitable giving into 2017.
  • The House-passed bill, but not the one before the Senate, would eliminate the itemized deduction for medical expenses. If this deduction is indeed chopped in the final tax bill, and you are able to claim medical expenses as an itemized deduction this year, consider accelerating “discretionary” medical expenses into this year. For example, order and pay for new glasses or arrange to take care of needed dental work.

These are just a few of the year-end moves that should be considered in light of the tax reform package currently before Congress.  This package may or may not actually become law. Before taking any action, contact your tax advisor to make sure you have all of the details about how the proposed legislation may affect you.

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