The good, the bad and the money: Here's what the GOP tax bill means for you

Tax wonks have begun a deep dive into the GOP's new bill, and the details on what the proposed overhaul means to you are beginning to emerge.

Lawmakers released the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Thursday. The legislation aims to simplify the tax code by slashing itemized deductions and cutting down the number of income tax brackets.

For businesses, Republicans are also seeking to reduce the federal corporate tax rate to 20 percent from its current maximum level of 35 percent.

"This combination of raising the standard deduction and eliminating itemized deductions will make tax preparation easier, but I'm not sure it will be a savings for higher income people," said Tim Steffen, director of advanced planning at Robert W. Baird & Co. in Milwaukee.

Even families who are middle income may miss out.

"There will be winners and losers in tax reform, and as it stands now, I worry that the benefits that are claimed to go to middle-income households won't play out," said Bill Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Here's how the bill will affect you if it moves forward without major changes.

Rising standard deductions

Losers: Low income filers with children

Winners: Low-to-middle income households

Republicans want to raise the standard deduction to $24,400 for married couples who file jointly and $12,200 for single filers.

That's up from $12,700 for married couples and $6,350 for individuals.

Yet this change isn't as generous as it appears, according to Stan Veliotis, associate professor and director of the Center for Professional Accounting Practices at Fordham University in New York.

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Flanked by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), President Donald Trump speaks about tax reform legislation in the Cabinet Room at the White House, November 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Under the current system, a single filer can take a standard deduction of $6,350 and a personal exemption of $4,050. That equates to $10,400 in tax savings compared with the proposed $12,000 standard deduction for singles.

Further, the new framework may not be beneficial to families as it does away with the dependent exemption, which provides $4,050 for each qualifying dependent.

"Dependents are the major thrust," said Veliotis. "If you take away the dependent exemption for my five kids, that's $20,000, and the enhanced standard deduction won't do it for me."

Republicans have proposed to raise the child tax credit to $1,600 from $1,000. They are also calling for a new $300 credit for each parent and non-child dependent, but this tax break will expire by the end of 2022.

New income tax brackets

Losers: Households that are inadvertently bumped into a higher bracket

As part of their bill, House Republicans are cutting income tax brackets to four.

Currently, there are seven tax brackets: 10 percent, 15, percent, 25 percent, 28 percent, 33 percent, 35 percent and 39.6 percent.

Under the House bill there will be four brackets: 12 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent and 39.6 percent.

Unveiling your new brackets (single filers)

Tax Bracket
Current 2017 Rates
Proposed 2018 Rates
0% Not applicable Up to $12,000
10% $0 to $9,325 Not applicable
12% Not applicable $12,000 to $45,000
15% $9,325 to $37,950 Not applicable
25% $37,950 to $91,900 Beginning at $45,000
28% $91,900 to $191,650 Not applicable
33% $191,650 to $416,700 Not applicable
35% $416,700 to $418,400 Beginning at $200,000
39.6% $418,400 and up Beginning at $500,000
Source: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Unveiling your new brackets (married couples)

Tax Bracket
Current 2017 Rates
Proposed 2018 Rates
0% Not applicable Up to $24,000
10% $0 to $18,650 Not applicable
12% Not applicable $24,000 to $90,000
15% $18,650 to $75,900 Not applicable
25% $75,900 to $153,100 Beginning at $90,000
28% $153,100 to $233,350 Not applicable
33% $233,350 to $416,700 Not applicable
35% $416,700 to $470,700 Beginning at $260,000
39.6% $470,700 plus Beginning at $1,000,000
Source: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

A group of taxpayers who are currently in the 33 percent bracket will get bumped to 35 percent under the plan. This is because the 35 percent bracket will kick in at lower dollar amounts compared to the current framework.

Eliminates the AMT

Winners: The 5.2 million middle-to-high income taxpayers who are subject to this levy.

The bill would end the alternative minimum tax, which essentially requires taxpayers to calculate their liability twice: Once with deductions under the regular income tax rules and once without those breaks.

The AMT begins to apply at $129,700 for single filers and $160,900 for married couples who file jointly.

Itemized deductions

Losers: Charities, because some itemizers may take the standard deduction instead, student loan borrowers, filers with large medical expenses and more

House Republicans are slashing most itemized deductions, but will sweeten the pot on charitable contributions. Donors can take a deduction on cash contributions equal to up to 60 percent of their adjusted gross income.

That's up from the current limit of 50 percent of AGI.

Tax breaks that are going out the window include deductions for medical expenses and student loan interest. Deductions for alimony, casualty losses from theft or catastrophe, moving expenses and tax prep fees are also out.

Cost of select tax deductions

Deduction
Cost 2016-2020
Mortgage interest $357 billion
State and local taxes $368.8 billion
Charitable contributions* $230.5 billion
Property taxes $180 billion
Medical & long-term care expenses $56.6 billion
Student loan interest $11.9 billion
Teacher classroom expenses $1.2 billion
Source: Joint Committee on Taxation Jan, 30, 2017 report *Excludes education- and health-related donations

Consider the medical expense deduction, which allows you to deduct qualified medical costs that exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income.

"Imagine your mom needs long-term care and you reduce your hours at work to be a caregiver, that's the person for whom this can really matter," said Howard Gleckman, senior fellow in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute.

Republicans are keeping the mortgage interest deduction, but they're applying limits. New buyers can deduct interest on loans up to $500,000, down from $1 million.

Further, homeowners can only deduct interest on the mortgage for their principal residence, meaning you won't benefit from this tax break if you have a vacation home.

You'll also want to think twice about taking out a home equity loan or line of credit, as the bill won't permit you to deduct the interest.

Restricting SALT

Losers: Residents in states with high income taxes.

Federal breaks for state and local taxes, known as SALT, are among the itemized deductions that Congress seeks to limit. These levies include property, income or sales taxes.

House Republicans have proposed allowing households to write off state and local property taxes up to $10,000.

The state and local tax deductions are particularly important to households in states with high income taxes, including New York, New Jersey and California.

The three counties with the highest median property tax all surpass $10,000 and are in New York, according to the Tax Foundation: Nassau County, Rockland County and Westchester County.

Retirement savings

House Republicans have left 401(k) contributions as-is in the bill, but they've made other tweaks.

For instance, they want to repeal a rule that allows you to reverse or "recharacterize" Roth IRA conversions.

One reason you may want to recharacterize is if your Roth conversion inadvertently bumps you into a higher tax bracket.

Republicans also want to ease rules for hardship withdrawals from 401(k) plans. Under the current regulatory framework, once you've pulled money from your 401(k) for an emergency, you can't contribute again until six months have passed.

This rule does away with the waiting period, meaning employees can continue saving in their retirement plans.

Under the proposal, companies can also choose whether those hardship withdrawals will include earnings and employer contributions — and not just the employee's contribution.

Small-business owners

Winners: Partnerships, sole proprietorships and S-corporations in the top income tax bracket.

The new framework lowers the maximum rate on business income for so-called pass through entities, including sole proprietorships, partnerships and S-corporations, bringing it down to 25 percent.

Income from "pass throughs" flows to the business owner directly and is currently taxed at that person's individual tax rate, which can be as high as 39.6 percent.

Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images
Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., greets Toss Valentine, right, of Concord, N.C., after a news conference with GOP leadership and members of the House Ways and Means Committee in Longworth Building to unveil the Republicans' tax reform plan on November 2, 2017.

Lawmakers have said they would adopt measures to keep entrepreneurs from recharacterizing their personal income as business income to benefit from the lower rate.

A tax cut on pass-through entities would likely benefit the most successful enterprises, said Gleckman of Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

"For the majority of small businesses, the owners make far less than what would put them in the top tax brackets," he said.

The death of the estate tax

Winners: Wealthy families and their heirs, particularly those who haven't made any estate plans.

Republicans want to repeal the estate tax, a levy of 40 percent that applies to estates that exceed $5.49 million for individual filers or nearly $11 million for married couples, starting in 2024.

Heirs will get relief soon, as the bill would immediately double the estate tax exemption.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that after deductions and credits, 5,460 estates will owe the "death tax" this year.

The estate tax accounts for less than 1 percent of federal revenue, according to the Tax Foundation.

House Republicans will maintain the "step-up" in basis, which allows heirs to receive assets at the market value on the day the original owner died.

Step up vs. no step up

 
Sale price per share
Cost basis
Capital gain per share
Tax per share
Step up $40 $40 $0 $0
No step up $40 $2 $38 $7.6
Source: CNBC

Beneficiaries save on capital gains taxes if they were to sell the asset immediately after inheriting it.

The tax would only apply to the difference between the day the heir received the asset and when he or she sold it.

Read more about the tax bill

Here are your new tax brackets

How many taxpayers will miss out once these popular tax breaks vanish

GOP tax bill leaves your 401(k) unchanged -- for now

Homeowners get a mixed bag as mortgage break is slashed

Tax proposal kills the estate tax -- in six years

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