Recent Changes in Tax Legislation Could Save You or Cost You Beginning in 2018

The recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is a sweeping tax package. Everyone in business — including roofers — should have at least a passing knowledge of what to expect beginning in tax year 2018. Most of the changes are effective for tax years beginning in 2018 and lasting through 2025.

Tax rates — personal and corporate. The new law imposes a new tax rate structure with seven tax brackets: 10 percent, 12 percent, 22 percent, 24 percent, 32 percent, 35 percent, and 37 percent. The top rate was reduced from 39.6 percent to 37 percent and applies to taxable income above $500,000 for single taxpayers and $600,000 for married couples filing jointly.

The corporate income tax rate used to be graduated with a maximum cap at 35 percent. It was reduced to a flat 21 percent. The corporate tax rate reduction puts the United States in line with most of the rest of other developed nations. The reduction is designed to increase spending, increase jobs, increase employee salaries, foster corporate improvements, and continue to incentivize the overall economy.

Standard deduction. The new law increases the standard deduction to $24,000 for joint filers, $18,000 for heads of household, and $12,000 for singles and married taxpayers filing separately. Given these increases, many taxpayers will no longer be itemizing deductions. These figures will be indexed for inflation after 2018.

Exemptions. The new law suspends the deduction for personal exemptions. Thus, starting in 2018, taxpayers can no longer claim personal or dependency exemptions. The rules for withholding income tax on wages will be adjusted to reflect this change, but IRS was given the discretion to leave the withholding unchanged for 2018.

New deduction for “qualified business income.” Starting in 2018, taxpayers are allowed a deduction equal to 20 percent of “qualified business income,” otherwise known as “pass-through” income, i.e., income from partnerships, S corporations, LLCs, and sole proprietorships. The income must be from a trade or business within the United States. Investment income does not qualify, nor do amounts received from an S corporation as reasonable compensation or from a partnership as a guaranteed payment for “services” provided to the trade or business. In other words, lawyers are out of luck! The deduction is not used in computing adjusted gross income, just taxable income. For taxpayers with taxable income above $157,500 ($315,000 for joint filers), (1) a limitation based on W-2 wages paid by the business and depreciable tangible property used in the business is phased in; and (2) income from the following trades or businesses is phased out of qualified business income: health, law, consulting, athletics, financial or brokerage services, or where the principal asset is the reputation or skill of one or more employees or owners.

Child and family tax credit. The new law increases the credit for qualifying children (i.e., children under 17) to $2,000 from $1,000, and increases to $1,400 the refundable portion of the credit. It also introduces a new (nonrefundable) $500 credit for a taxpayer’s dependents who are not qualifying children. The adjusted gross income level at which the credits begin to be phased out has been increased to $200,000 or $400,000 for joint filers.

State and local property taxes. The itemized deduction for state and local income and property taxes is limited to a total of $10,000.00 starting in 2018.

Mortgage interest. Under the new law, mortgage interest on loans used to acquire a principal residence and a second home is only deductible on debt up to $750,000, starting with loans taken out in 2018. This sum is down from $1 million. There is no longer any deduction for interest on home equity loans, regardless of when the debt was incurred.

Miscellaneous itemized deductions. There is no longer a deduction for miscellaneous itemized deductions which were formerly deductible to the extent they exceeded 2 percent of adjusted gross income. This category included items such as tax preparation costs, investment expenses, union dues, and unreimbursed employee expenses.

Medical expenses. Under the new law, for 2017 and 2018, medical expenses are deductible to the extent they exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income for all taxpayers. Previously, the adjusted gross income floor was 10 percent for most taxpayers.

Casualty and theft losses. The itemized deduction for casualty and theft losses has been suspended except for losses incurred in a federally declared disaster.

Overall limitation on itemized deductions. The new law suspends the overall limitation on itemized deductions that formerly applied to taxpayers whose adjusted gross income exceeded specified thresholds.

Moving expenses. The deduction for job-related moving expenses has been eliminated, except for certain military personnel. The exclusion for moving expense reimbursements has also been suspended.

Health care “individual mandate.” Starting in 2019, there is no longer a penalty for individuals who fail to obtain minimum essential health coverage.

Estate and gift tax exemption. Effective for decedents dying, and gifts made, in 2018, the estate and gift tax exemption has been increased to roughly $11.2 million ($22.4 million for married couples).

A lot of the details of the simple descriptions listed above remain to be completely formalized, and some of it may still change. Stay aware of the tax revisions and consult with an attorney in your locale if you have any questions.

Contractors Are Paid With Electronic Payment Platform

The lienwaivers.io payment platform allows lenders, contractors, title companies and property owners to automate their processes.

The lienwaivers.io payment platform allows lenders, contractors, title companies and property owners to automate their processes.

Lienwaivers.io, a construction payment platform, continues the quest to help contractors get paid faster with the release of four new features: Electronic Waiver Notarization, Same-Day ACH Payments, Automatic W9 Collection with 1099 Preparation, and a partner-ready API.

Witnessed elsewhere in technology, when open platforms like lienwaivers.io enter the market, there’s a shift from buyers purchasing software suites to customers choosing technologies which communicate through APIs. In partnering with industry leaders such as Notarize.com and HelloSign, lienwaivers.io has empowered their customers to take control of their disbursement process.

With lienwaivers.io, lenders, contractors, title companies and property owners can automate their disbursement process and build better relationships, all at a price point that competes with the cost of a check.

Congress Votes to Extend Energy-efficiency Tax Deduction for Two Years

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) issued the following statement on Congress’s two-year extension of the 179D tax deduction, which provides up to $1.80 per square foot for the design of energy-efficient buildings. Please attribute the statement to AIA President Russell Davidson, FAIA:

“As architects, we’d have preferred a longer-term extension. With this deduction expiring each year, it has been difficult for us to plan our finances, which in turn has limited the effectiveness of this key incentive for designing energy-efficient buildings.

“Nonetheless, we are pleased members of Congress have voted to extend this tax provision through 2016 as part of the comprehensive budget bill. In addition to providing a benefit to commercial building owners, the 179D deduction encourages federal, state and local government building owners, like public schools or state universities, to build energy-efficient buildings by offering a tax deduction to the designer of these buildings.

“By allowing government entities to transfer the tax deduction to designers of buildings that surpass industry efficiency standards, our profession is able to put in the extra time and effort needed to design the best buildings for our neighborhoods and communities, while government entities can better manage their bottom lines.

“Our 87,000 members strongly support this deduction as one way to encourage the design and construction of buildings that are energy efficient—and save taxpayer dollars in the process. We’d like to see it made permanent.”