Are You Affected by the New Tax Laws?

by Matt Roberts | March 21, 2019

Financial impact from 2018 tax laws

With tax season upon us, we are starting to see the impact of the new tax law. For many, determining whether the tax law helped or hurt them will be done by evaluating their refund (or lack thereof). Data from the IRS is showing that the value of refunds is down 16.7%. Does this mean that everyone is seeing a tax increase? The answer is “it depends.” For those with W-2 wages, taxes withheld from paychecks went down (probably too much) when the new tax tables started being used in February of 2018 leading to smaller refunds. For others (retirees, business owners, and independent contractors), the answer is more complicated.

To further diagnose the issue of whether taxes went up or down, here are two examples of tax returns under the old and new tax law:

Married Retired Couple

2017

2018

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)

$101,000

$101,000

Standard Deduction

$15,200

$26,600

Itemized Deductions

$20,000

$20,000

Taxable Income

$72,900

$74,400

Taxes Owed

$7,216

$6,334

Taxes Withheld

$8,000

$8,000

Amount Owed (Refund)

($784)

($1,666)

Marginal Rate

15%

12%

Effective Rate

9.6%

8.3%

 

Married Couple With 3 Kids

2017

2018

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)

$250,000

$250,000

Standard Deduction

$12,700

$24,000

Itemized Deductions

$43,000

$23,000

Taxable Income

$186,750

$226,000

Taxes Owed

$39,175

$36,819

Taxes Withheld

$37,500

$32,500

Amount Owed (Refund)

$1,675

$4,319

Marginal Rate

28%

24%

Effective Rate

21%

16.3%

 

You can see that the married retired couple had their taxes go down and their refund increase as a result of the new tax law. This is largely due to their top marginal tax rate dropping from 15% to 12%, while keeping their withholding at the same rate.

For the married couple with three kids, their marginal rate did drop from 28% to 24%, however their amount owed increased. You can see that they had $5,000 less withheld through the year, which was largely a result of the new tax withholding tables released in February of 2018. In addition, they lost $19,000 in deductions due to the new SALT (State & Local Taxes) limitation of $10,000. In 2017, they were able to deduct property taxes of $10,000 and state income taxes of $20,000. In 2018, these two deductions were limited to $10,000.

Overall, those with W-2 wages and high property and state income taxes will be the most surprised when they file their 2018 tax returns. Syverson Strege encourages you to work closely with your tax preparer to ensure that you’re not surprised as well.