Taxes to change in 2012

The IRS has announced that, for tax year 2012, personal exemptions and standard deductions will rise and tax brackets will widen due to inflation.

By law, the dollar amounts for a variety of tax provisions must be revised each year to keep pace with inflation. New dollar amounts affecting 2012 returns include the following:

  • The value of each personal and dependent exemption will be $3,800, up $100 from 2011.
  • The new standard deduction is $11,900 for married couples filing a joint return, up $300; $5,950 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up $150; and $8,700 for heads of household, up $200.
  • Tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status. For a married couple filing a joint return, for example, the taxable-income threshold separating the 15-percent bracket from the 25-percent bracket is $70,700, up from $69,000 in 2011.

Credits, Deductions, and Related Phaseouts

  • For tax year 2012, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low- and moderate-income workers and working families rises to $5,891, up from $5,751 in 2011. The maximum income limit for the EITC rises to $50,270, up from $49,078 in 2011.
  • The foreign earned income deduction rises to $95,100, an increase of $2,200 from the maximum deduction for tax year 2011.
  • The modified adjusted gross income threshold at which the lifetime learning credit begins to phase out is $104,000 for joint filers, up from $102,000, and $52,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $51,000.
  • For 2012, annual deductible amounts for medical savings accounts increased from the tax year 2011 amounts:
Medical savings accounts Self-only coverage Family coverage
Minimum annual deductible $2,100 $4,200
Maximum annual deductible $3,150 $6,300
Maximum annual out-of-pocket expenses $4,200 $7,650

The $2,500 maximum deduction for interest paid on student loans begins to phase out for married taxpayers filing a joint return at $125,000 and phases out completely at $155,000, an increase of $5,000 from the phaseout limits for tax year 2011. For single taxpayers, the phaseout ranges remain at the 2011 levels.

Estate and Gift

  • For an estate of any decedent dying during calendar year 2012, the basic exclusion from estate tax amount is $5.12 million, up from $5 million for calendar year 2011. Also, if the executor chooses to use the special-use valuation method for qualified real property, the aggregate decrease in the value of the property resulting from the choice cannot exceed $1,04 million, up from $1,02 million for 2011.
  • The annual exclusion for gifts remains at $13,000.

Other Items

  • The monthly limit on the value of qualified transportation benefits exclusion for qualified parking provided by an employer to its employees for 2012 rises to $240, up $10 from the limit in 2011. However, the temporary increase in the monthly limit on the value of the qualified transportation benefits exclusion for transportation in a commuter highway vehicle and transit pass provided by an employer to its employees expires and reverts to $125 for 2012.
  • Several tax benefits are unchanged in 2012. For example, the additional standard deduction for blind people and senior citizens remains at $1,150 for married individuals and $1,450 for singles and heads of household.

Details on these inflation adjustments can be found in Revenue Procedure 2011-52.

Retirement Plans

  • The elective deferral (contribution) limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b) and most 457 plans, and the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $16,500 to $17,000.
  • The catch-up contribution limit for those aged 50 and over remains unchanged at $5,500.
  • The deduction for taxpayers making contributions to a traditional IRA is phased out for singles and heads of household who are covered by a workplace retirement plan and have modified adjusted gross incomes (AGI) between $58,000 and $68,000, up from $56,000 and $66,000 in 2011. For married couples filing jointly, in which the spouse who makes the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the income phaseout range is $92,000 to $112,000, up from $90,000 to $110,000. For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple's income is between $173,000 and $183,000, up from $169,000 and $179,000.
  • The AGI phaseout range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $173,000 to $183,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $169,000 to $179,000 in 2011. For singles and heads of household, the income phaseout range is $110,000 to $125,000, up from $107,000 to $122,000. For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a retirement plan at work, the phaseout range remains $0 to $10,000.
  • The AGI limit for the saver's credit (also known as the retirement savings contributions credit) for low- and moderate-income workers is $57,500 for married couples filing jointly, up from $56,500 in 2011; $43,125 for heads of household, up from $42,375; and $28,750 for married individuals filing separately and for singles, up from $28,250.

Details on retirement plan inflation adjustments can be found in Information Release 2011-103.

 
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