US tax changes for 2017

The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that the maximum earnings subject to the Social Security component of the FICA tax will increase from $127,200 to $128,700 for 2018. This means that for 2018, the maximum Social Security tax that employers and employees will each pay is $7,979.40 ($128,700 x 6.2%). A self-employed person with at least $128,700 in net self-employment earnings will pay $15,958.80 ($128,700 x 12.40%) for the Social Security part of the self-employment tax. The Medicare component remains 1.45% of all earnings, and individuals with earned income of more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly, $125,000 for married filing separately) will pay an additional 0.9% in Medicare taxes. 

For 2018, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that cash wages paid by an employer for domestic service in the employer's private household is subject to FICA tax (often referred to as nanny tax) if the amount of wages paid during the year is more than $2,100. This is up from $2,000 for 2017.

Other provisions are increasing for inflation in 2018, including the personal exemption, which increases from $4,050 in 2017 to $4,150 for 2018. The standard deduction for married taxpayers filing joint returns increases to $13,000, $300 more than in 2017. It also increases slightly for single taxpayers and married taxpayers filing separately to $6,500. The standard deduction increases for heads of household, from $9,350 in 2017 to $9,550 in 2018.

BoomerBust Green 101617FINALwithlink-1

ransomware-warningThe Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued an urgent warning about a new scheme targeting taxpayers. The scheme, which IRS Commissioner John Koskinen called "a new twist on an old scheme" involves a bogus email which impersonates the IRS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as part of a ransomware scam to take computer data hostage.

The scam email uses the emblems of both the IRS and the FBI. The email urges recipients to click on a link to download a questionnaire allegedly from the FBI. The email implies that the questionnaire is required as part of changes in the law focused on tax compliance. The regs referenced in the email are bogus, and the link doesn't click through to a questionnaire. Instead, the link downloads ransomware.

By Allan Kunigis 

retired-784483 960 720Many of our clients talk to us about setting up retirement plans, contributing to retirement plans, and focusing on the monetary aspects of retirement. But what they don't do is spend a lot of time thinking about and planning for the nonfinancial aspects of their retirement; they don't realize it's the biggest transition they'll ever go through.

The consequences of not planning can include sitting around with growing boredom. Retirees watch TV an average of 43.5 hours a week, according to Age Wave 2012, and lack of stimulation can be associated with higher risks of alcoholism or depression.

unnamed 1If you're a college student (or the parent of one), you should know about some key tax breaks that are available to you when you do your taxes.

Tax Credits
There are two tax credits for higher education. They're targeted at different types of students, so it pays to know the differences.

American Opportunity Credit
This credit is for students who are earning their undergraduate degrees. The credit is specifically limited to those expenses incurred in the first four years of college.

The credit is worth $2,500; the really good news is that $1,000 of that is refundable, meaning you could get that back as a refund even if you don't owe any taxes. There's an $80,000 income ceiling for single filers to qualify for the credit ($160,000 if you're married filing jointly). If income is more than those amounts, the credit starts to decrease.

The credit is available through the 2017 tax year.