Popular Tax Deductions, Credits & Benefits Kept With Tax Reform

October 24, 2018 : Gil Charney

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on January 31, 2018.

 

So much has been examined, analyzed, and written about changes in the new tax law – the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA – but little mention has been made to popular tax provisions that have not changed. The TCJA has left many popular tax deductions, credits and benefits unchanged. We provide an overview of some of them here.

Highlights of Popular Tax Deductions Remaining After Tax Reform

The IRA deduction – One of the most well-known tax deductions is the deduction for traditional IRAs. Taxpayers may reduce their gross income for 2018 up to $5,500 (taxpayers under age 50), or $6,500 (taxpayers age 50 or over) for IRA contributions. IRA contributions for the 2018 tax year can be made as late as the tax filing deadline in April 2019. This tax deduction is limited for taxpayers whose income is above certain thresholds if they participate in a retirement plan at work, such as a 401(k) plan.

Above-the-line deductions for the self-employed – The deductible portion of self-employment tax, retirement plan contributions made by the self-employed to their own plans, and the self-employed health insurance deduction remain the same.

Education-related deductions – The $250 above-the-line deduction for teachers, instructors, principals, and other qualified K-12 educators remains intact, as well as the popular above-the-line tax deduction for interest paid on qualified student loans.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) – While this benefit was created in the early 2000s, it has since become a popular tax deduction. Like the IRA deduction, contributions to an HSA may also be deducted to reduce gross income. Alternatively, taxpayers may still make pre-tax contributions to HSAs through employer plans. The limit for 2018 is $3,450 (for individual coverage) or $6,900 (for family coverage). These contribution limits can be increased by $1,000 if the taxpayer is at least age 55. HSAs require that the taxpayer have a high-deductible health plan.

Highlights of Popular Tax Credits and Benefits Remaining After Tax Reform

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – a popular tax credit with lower-income taxpayers, this credit can be worth up to $6,431 in 2018 (MFJ with three or more children). The credit begins to phase out once a taxpayer’s earned income rises above certain thresholds, based on filing status. Besides the higher credit and income phaseout ranges in 2018 compared to 2017, nothing else about the EITC has changed in 2018.

The Dependent Care Credit – Taxpayers who must pay daycare expenses so they can work may qualify for this popular tax credit. The credit ranges from 20% to 35% of eligible expenses, up to $3,000 of expenses for one qualifying person (child under 13 or other eligible dependent) and $6,000 of expenses for two or more qualifying people.

The education credits – The American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit, two highly popular education tax credits, ultimately emerged from Congressional debate with no changes. The American Opportunity Credit is a credit up to $2,500 available for students during their first four years of post-secondary school education. Up to $1,000 of this credit remains refundable. Similarly, the Lifetime Learning Credit, which is limited to $2,000 per tax return (not per student), is available to any taxpayer who takes qualifying coursework.

Taxability of Social Security benefits – A common tax break that benefits many, recipients of Social Security benefits do not need to pay tax on these benefits unless their “provisional” income exceeds a certain amount (the “base”), which depends on filing status. Once the base is reached, an increasing percentage of Social Security is taxable, up to 85% of Social Security benefits. None of a taxpayer’s Social Security benefits are included in income if provisional income doesn’t exceed the base amount.

The Saver’s Credit – This credit is at least 10% and up to 50% of eligible contributions to IRAs and qualified retirement plans, up to a maximum credit of $1,000 ($2,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly). This popular tax credit varies based on the taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income. Taxpayers who contribute to an IRA for 2018 by the tax filing date in 2019 may also claim the Saver’s Credit for 2018, if they qualify.

Want to Know What Common Tax Breaks Can You Take This Year? We Can Help.

You may be happy to hear that so many popular tax deduction and credits remain available after tax reform, especially if you’ve taken advantage of them in the past. However, it’s important to remember that as your life changes so does your eligibility for certain tax breaks.

Our knowledgeable Tax Pros can ensure you receive every last credit and deduction available to you. Simply schedule an appointment to meet with one of our Tax Pros.

Related Topics

Related Resources

Five Reasons Self-Employed People Should File Back Tax Returns — Now

Learn about the consequences you may face if you are self-employed and have unfiled returns. Get the facts from the tax experts at H&R Block.

What Happens After You Report Identity Theft to the IRS

Did someone file a fraudulent return in your name? Get the facts about reporting tax identity theft to the IRS and what you can expect after you report it.

What is Form 1099-K, and Why Did I Get One? | H&R Block

Many taxpayers are stumped by Form 1099-K. Find 1099 k instructions and helpful information in this easy-to-read article from H&R Block.

IRS Letter 2194 – Alternative Minimum Tax Proposal Letter

The IRS thinks you may owe Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Learn more about IRS letter 2194 from the tax experts at H&R Block.

Gil Charney

Gil is the Director of Tax Law and Policy Analysis for The Tax Institute at H&R Block.