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10 tax changes you need to know for 2018

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A slew of updates from the IRS and major tax reform passed by Congress could significantly alter your situation for the 2018 tax year.

The IRS unveils its changes each year, including cost-of-living adjustments for retirement savings and inflation changes for certain tax provisions.

Those updates, coupled with new rules passed by Congress through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, could result in a big difference in how much you owe.

Here are some of the most prominent changes that could affect you.

Standard deductions

Those who are married and filing jointly will have an increased standard deduction of $24,000, up from the $13,000 it would have been under previous law.

Single taxpayers and those who are married and file separately now have a $12,000 standard deduction, up from the $6,500 it would have been for this year prior to the reform.

For heads of households, the deduction will be $18,000, up from $9,550.

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Personal exemption

The personal exemption has been eliminated with the tax reform bill.

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Top income tax rate

A new 37 percent top rate will affect individuals with incomes of $500,000 and higher. The top rate kicks in for married taxpayers who file jointly at $600,000 and up.

The new tax law also includes changes to other tax brackets.

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Estate tax

The estate exemption doubles to $11.2 million per individual and $22.4 million per couple in 2018.

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Child tax credit

The child tax credit has been raised to $2,000 per qualifying child, those who are under 17, up from $1,000. A $500 credit is available for dependents who do not get the $2,000 credit.

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Mortgage interest

The deduction for interest is capped at $750,000 for mortgage loan balances taken out after Dec. 15 of last year. The limit is still $1 million for mortgages that were established prior to Dec. 15, 2017.

A 'Open House' sign stands outside a new home for sale in the D.R. Horton Cambridge at Southbury development in Oswego, Illinois.
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State and local taxes

The itemized deduction is limited to $10,000 for both income and property taxes paid during the year.

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Contribution limits for retirement savings

Employees who participate in certain retirement plans ‒ 401(k), 403(b) and most 457 plans, and the Thrift Savings Plan – can now contribute as much as $18,500 this year, a $500 increase from the $18,000 limit for 2017.

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Savings in IRAs

Savers who contribute to individual retirement accounts will have higher income ranges following cost-of-living adjustments. Note that the deduction phases out for individuals and their spouses who are covered by workplace retirement plans.

For single taxpayers, the limit will be $63,000 to $73,000.

For married couples, the phaseout range will vary depending on whether the IRA contributor is covered by a workplace retirement plan or not. When the spouse who is investing has access to an employer plan, the range is $101,000 to $121,000. For individuals who don't have a retirement plan but are married to someone who does, the phaseout has been raised to $189,000 to $199,000.

The phaseout was not adjusted for married individuals who file a separate return and who are covered by a workplace retirement plan. That range is $0 to $10,000.

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Contributions to Roth IRAs

For individuals who are single or the heads of their households, the income phaseout has been raised to $120,000 to $135,000. For married couples who file jointly, the range climbs to $189,000 to $199,000.

The phaseout was not adjusted for married individuals who file a separate return. That is $0 to $10,000.

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