19 October 2005

Tax Reform Open Questions.

The President's tax reform panel has left some important open questions in the proposals we have so far:

*What will be the middle two rates be and what will be the rate cutoffs? Earlier statements about 75% falling in the 15% bracket, and income tax statistics, seem to indicate a cutoff of about $60,000 for the 15% bracket for a married couple, but it may be a bit higher than that.

*Will the medical expense, or casualty and theft loss deductions remain?

*Will the investment interest/cost of earning non-business income deduction remain?

*Will the unreimbursed business expense deduction remain?

*Will travel and entertainment expenses be considered fringe benefits?

*Will the alimony paid deduction remain?

*Will defined benefit plans continue to have a preferred tax status?

Other issues haven't been stated expressly, but seem fairly clear:

*Presumably, the student loan interest deduction, higher education expense and moving expense deduction will be gone.
*The standard deduction, personal exemption and per child tax credit, will be gone, eliminating the distinction between itemizers and non-itemizers.
*Presumably, the child care tax credit will be gone.
*Presumably, the Hope Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Tax Credit for educational expenses will be gone.
*Presumably, head of household filing status would be gone.
*Presumably, clean fuel vehicle incentives will be gone.
*Presumably the credit for foreign taxes paid will remain.

Transition issues:

*What will be the status of existing tax sheltered accounts such as 401(k)s, SEPs, Simply Plans, 403(b)s, defined benefit plans, IRAs, Roth IRAs, Education Savings Accounts, 529 plans and Medical Savings Accounts?
*What will divorced people do about agreements to share tax benefits between them?
*Will old savings bonds retain a tax preference?

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