Summary of income-tax changes for 2013 tax-filing


With the New Year come new tax laws. For most taxpayers with modified adjusted gross incomes (MAGI) under $200,000 (single) and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly- income tax rates won’t increase; and most tax-relief provisions remain in effect. Here is a summary of major tax provisions that could impact you and your family.

1. Tax rates. Income tax, ordinary dividend tax, and capital tax rates moved up in 2013 for higher-income taxpayers. A new 39.6 percent tax rate applies to income over a specified amount; $400,000 for single filers, $450,000 for married filers. These dollar amounts will be inflation-adjusted for tax years after 2013. The old rates ranging from 10 percent to 35 percent remain in effect for lower-income brackets and have been made permanent.

The long-term capital gains generally increase from 15 percent to 20 percent for single filers with incomes exceeding $400,000 ($450,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly). The top rate stays at 15 percent for most other taxpayers.

2. Itemized Deduction and Exemption phase-out. Itemized deductions and personal exemptions, which is $3,900 for 2013, will be subject to the phase-out rules. Single taxpayers with incomes exceeding $250,000 (married taxpayers exceeding $300,000) will be impacted by both of these phase-outs.

3. Medical deduction.  Only medical expenses that exceed 10- percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI) will be allowed to a deduction. However, taxpayers who are 65 years of age or older will still have a medical deduction floor of 7.5 percent through 2016. Also, the Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) offered by employers now has a reduced annual cap of $2,500.

4. New Medicare taxes. An additional 0.9-percent Medicare tax on earnings and new 3.8-percent surtax on net investment income will be in effect for 2013. Individual taxpayers earning over $200,000 (married over $250,000) will be impacted.

5. Payroll tax holiday is over. For 2013, the employee share of Social Security taxes returned to the 6.2-percent level, ending the 2-percent reduction available for 2011 and 2012.

6. Retirement amounts. For 2013, IRA contribution limits increase to $5,500 or $6,500 if participant is 50 or older. Annual contributions to plans such as 401(k)s remain at a maximum $23,000; $17,500 in regular contributions, plus $5,500 in catch-up contributions for those 50-plus.

7. American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). The AOTC (formerly named the Hope Credit) is also extended through 2017. Within income thresholds, single taxpayers $90,000 and married filing jointly, $180,000, this provision allows a credit up to $2,500 in qualified secondary educational expenses (tuition, fees, and materials) to be deducted for qualified students.

8. Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The AMT is permanently “patched” (with inflation adjustments). For 2013, the AMT exemption is $51,900 for single filers and $80,900 for joint filers.

9. Estate Taxes. In 2013, the maximum estate-and-gift tax is 40%, up from 35%.  The exemption amount stays at $5.25 million (indexed for inflation).

10. Gift Taxes. The annual gift exclusion amount remains $14,000 ($28,000 per couple).

11. Teacher Expenses. $250 “above-the-line” deduction for unreimbursed classroom expenses for educators.

12. Sales taxes. Deducting the general sales tax itemized deduction in lieu of taking a state income tax deduction is extended into the 2013 tax year.

13. Tuition and fees deduction. Subject to income requirements, the tuition and fees deduction (up to $4,000) is extended to 2013.

14. Child Tax Credit.  You will be able to reduce your Federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each qualifying child under the age of 17.

All taxpayers should be aware of these changes and plan accordingly.  



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