Last Minute Tax Law Changes and 2020 Planning Opportunities

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Jan 01, 2020

Late on Friday December 20th a new 1,770-page bill was signed into law. Deep within the pages of the bill are a number of retroactive tax law changes to current and expired tax laws. These new law extenders are in place for both 2019 and 2020. Here is what you need to know:

2019 Tax Law Changes

  • The tuition and fees deduction is available. The above the line deduction for up to $4,000 in qualified tuition and fees that expired is now available once again. You will need to evaluate this tax break versus others like the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.
  • Mortgage Insurance Premiums as an itemized deduction. If your mortgage bank requires insurance on your loan and the loan qualifies, you may once again deduct this premium as an itemized deduction.
  • Medical expense deduction threshold stays at 7.5%. Prior rules had the threshold set at 10%. To deduct qualified expenses, your costs need to exceed this amount of your adjusted gross income.
  • Mortgage forgiveness is not income. If a bank forgives mortgage indebtedness, it is typically income to you. Now qualified principal residence indebtedness that is forgiven may be excluded from income with the reactivation of this tax law.
  • Disaster area filing extensions. In addition to allowing taxpayers to take penalty-free money out of retirement accounts for 2018 and 2019 in federally declared disaster areas, the new rules create an automatic 60-day filing extension for future declared disaster areas. In the past, the IRS issued these filing extensions on a case-by-case basis.

2020 Planning Opportunities

Many other changes are in the bill. These impact retirement accounts and numerous other areas of the tax code for future years. Additional changes include: removal of the contribution age limit when funding traditional IRAs, moving the required minimum distribution from age 70½ to 72, eliminating the lifetime “stretch” provision for non-spouse beneficiaries of inherited IRA’s, expanding qualified education expenses for 529 plans to include student loans and apprenticeships, penalty-free withdrawals from retirement accounts for new births and adoptions plus much more.

Terry Lockridge & Dunn and World Trend Financial will be hosting a seminar series in the coming weeks and months to address several of the planning opportunities the new legislation has created. Please reach out to our accountants and investment advisor reps to discuss your specific situation. They can be reached at 319-364-2945 in Cedar Rapids or 319-339-4884 in Iowa City.