by Richard Schneider
Emeritus Professor of Accounting
Winona State University
This is the time of the year we are busy gathering our 2010 information to file that year’s tax return, but we are also at the beginning of a new tax year and need to pay attention and plan for this new year. There have been several changes for the new tax year and in addition some adjustments to the standard deduction, exemption amounts, mileage allowances, etc.
I covered a couple of the changes in the last article, such as the social security 2% tax holiday, and an increase in the withholding tables. The combined estate and gift tax exemption is increased to $5,000,000; most of us will never pay a penny in estate or gift tax. The Bush tax rate cuts for the highest income taxpayers were preserved. Remember it was the intention of the current administration to preserve the cuts for 98% of the taxpayers and roll them back for the top 2%, but pressure from the Republicans retained the cut for the top 2% also.
Here are some of the adjustments to the standard deduction, allowances, etc. for 2011:
$3,700 (2010 - $3,650)
Basic $5,800 (2010 - $5,700)
Add’l for age 65 or older and/or blind $1,450 (2010 -$1,400) Married Filing Jointly:
Basic $11,600 (2010 - $11,400)
Add’l for taxpayer and spouse age 65 and/or blind $ 1,150 (2010 – $1,100)
Standard mileage allowances:
Business use: 51 cents per mile (2010 – 50 cents)
Moving & Medical: 19 cents per mile (2010 - 16 ½ cents)
Charity 14 cents per mile (2010 – 14 cents)
Tax brackets: (only slightly widened)
For singles the 15% bracket goes up to $34,500 of taxable income, which translates into about $44,000 of gross income for a person under age 65 and not blind and using the standard deduction.
For married couples the 15% bracket goes up to $69,000 of taxable income, which translates into about $88,000 of gross income a couple under age 65 and not blind, and using the standard deduction.
Medicare part B premiums:
Married Seniors with 2009 incomes over $170,000 ($85,000 for singles) will pay higher premiums.
Section 125 (flex) plans cannot be used to pay for over the counter drugs.
Health Savings Accounts – contribution limits stay the same.
Contribution limits for IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, etc. have gone up slightly.
Adoption credit is $13,360 up $190.
We see the adjustments overall are minor, as was the increase in the cost of living. I still don’t understand why the business standard mileage rate for travel is worth more than charity, moving or medical travel. Maybe if you’re on business you have to buy more expensive fuel and vehicles. Influence can buy favorable tax treatment, whether it be business or organizations for the elderly. We could use a simple and fair tax system.