What Will Happen When TCJA Tax Changes Sunset in 2025? cover

What Will Happen When TCJA Tax Changes Sunset in 2025?

  • Learn how standard deductions could change in 2025.
  • Find information about changes to personal & dependent exemptions.
  • How will the child tax credit change?
  • Learn about changes to home mortgage interest limitations.
  • Discover information about Tier 2 miscellaneous deductions.
  • Find information about the phaseout of itemized deductions.
  • Learn about SALT limits.
  • How will the moving deduction change in 2025?
  • Learn how commuting tax benefits could change.
  • Find information about personal casualty losses.
  • How will state tax exclusion change?
  • Learn how tax brackets could be affected.
  • Will the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) change?
  • Learn about changes to the Qualified Business Income (QBI) deduction.

By now, you have probably gotten used to the provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) effective January 1, 2018. But don’t forget, most of the tax changes made by the TCJA will expire (sunset) after 2025. This will have an impact on long-range tax planning. It will also result in a mixed bag of tax increases and tax cuts. How it will impact individual taxpayers will depend upon which provisions of the TCJA affect them. The following is a review of what will happen when the TCJA expires if Congress doesn’t intervene.

What Happens When TCJA Tax Changes Sunset in 2025?

Standard Deductions

The standard deduction is the amount of deductions allowed on your tax return without itemizing your deductions. The IRS annually adjusts the standard deduction for inflation. In 2018, the TCJA just about doubled the standard deduction as illustrated in the table below which also illustrates the 2023 standard deduction amounts. The expiration of the TCJA will cut the standard deduction roughly in half.

Standard deductions will change when TCJA changes sunset.

The increased standard deduction under TCJA benefited lower-income taxpayers and retirees. These individuals’ itemized deductions often were just barely more than the pre-TCJA standard allowance. The increased standard deductions also meant fewer taxpayers claimed itemized deductions – roughly 10% of filers now itemize versus 30% before TCJA – which helped simplify these filers’ returns.

Personal & Dependent Exemptions

Before 2018, the tax law allowed a deduction for personal and dependent exemption allowances. One allowance was permitted for each filer and spouse and each dependent claimed on the federal return. For the year before the TCJA suspended the exemption deduction, the exemption amount was $4,050. This would have been inflation-adjusted to $4,700 in 2023. The deduction for exemptions was phased out for higher-income taxpayers.

Child Tax Credit

Before 2018, the child tax credit was $1,000 for each child below the age of 17 at year-end. With the TCJA, the child tax credit doubled to $2,000 for each child under age 17 at year-end. This more than made up for the loss of a child’s exemption deduction for lower-income families.

The child tax credit is subject to phaseout for higher-income taxpayers. However, the TCJA substantially increased the income phaseout thresholds as illustrated in the table below, so much so that the credit became available to middle-income taxpayers. Also of note: The phaseout thresholds for the credit are not inflation adjusted. As a result, each year the credit benefit gradually diminishes for higher-income taxpayers.

Child tax credit income phaseouts will change will TCJA tax changes end.

If the IRS allows the credit to revert to the pre-TCJA amount of $1,000 and the lower income phaseout levels, it will have a significant negative impact on families.

You may recall that for one year during the Covid-19 pandemic, the child credit amount increased to $3,000 or $3,600, depending on the child’s age. Other temporary changes were also made. Some in Congress want to permanently bring back these enhancements. That possibility could become part of any legislation negotiations surrounding the sunsetting or extension of TCJA provisions.

Home Mortgage Interest Limitations

Before the passage of TCJA, taxpayers could deduct as an itemized deduction the interest on $1 million ($500,000 for married taxpayers filing separately) of acquisition debt and the interest on $100,000 of equity debt secured by their first and second homes. With the passage of TCJA, the $1 million limitation was reduced to $750,000 for loans made after 2017. Any deduction of non-acquisition home equity debt interest was suspended (not allowed). A return to pre-TCJA levels will tend to benefit higher-income taxpayers with more expensive homes and higher mortgages.

Tier 2 Miscellaneous Deductions

The TCJA suspended the itemized deduction for miscellaneous deductions for tax preparation fees, unreimbursed employee business expenses, and investment expenses. The most notable of these is unreimbursed employee expenses. This allowed employees to deduct the cost of such things as union dues, uniforms, profession-related education, tools, and other expenses related to their employment and profession not paid for by their employer. Investment expenses included investment management fees charged by brokerage firms and tax preparation fees, including the cost of tax return preparation and tax planning expenses. The IRS allowed these types of expenses only to the extent they totaled more than 2% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income.

Phaseout of Itemized Deductions

Before TCJA itemized deductions were phased out for higher income taxpayers. The IRS annually adjusted the phaseout thresholds for inflation and for 2017, the year before TCJA took effect, the AGI thresholds equaled $313,800 for married taxpayers filing jointly (half that for married filing separately), $261,500 for single filers, and $287,650 for those filing as head of household. The TCJA suspended the phaseouts, which only benefited higher-income taxpayers. If the phaseout is reinstated, it will negatively affect upper-income taxpayers, and increase the complexity of their returns.

SALT Limits

SALT is the acronym for “state and local taxes”. TCJA limited the annual SALT itemized deduction to $10,000. This primarily impacted residents of states with high state income tax and real property tax rates, such as NY, NJ, and CA. Several states have developed somewhat complicated work-a-rounds to the $10,000 limits that benefit taxpayers who have partnership interests or are shareholders in S corporations. The elimination of the SALT limitation will favor those residing in states with a state income tax and those with larger property taxes.

Moving Deduction

Before the implementation of the TCJA, taxpayers could deduct unreimbursed job-related moving costs where the commuting distance increased to 50 miles or more from the prior home and provided the individual worked at the new location full-time for 39 weeks of the first 52 weeks (39 weeks first year and 78 weeks in first 2 years for self-employed persons). The TCJA also suspended the ability of an employee to be reimbursed for qualified moving expenses by his or her employer and exclude the reimbursement from compensation. The TCJA did not suspend the moving deduction for active-duty military members. It also did not suspend the qualified moving expense reimbursement from being excluded from active duty taxable compensation. A restoration of this deduction (or exclusion) would benefit taxpayers relocating because of a job change where the employer is not (or is) reimbursing the cost of the move.

Commuting Tax Benefits

Before TCJA, an employer could reimburse an employee up to $20 a month for commuting to work on a bicycle. The $20 ($240 annually) was not taxable to the employee, and the employer could deduct the $20. The TCJA suspended that benefit for bike commuters for years 2018 through 2025. In addition, although employers can provide a tax-free benefit to employees for transit passes, commuter transportation, and qualified parking, the employer is unable to deduct those expenses under the TCJA. For 2023, the maximum monthly exclusion for these fringe benefits is $300 ($3,600 annually). The sunsetting of the TCJA may provide an incentive for employers to once again provide the bicycle commuting benefit to their employees.

Personal Casualty Losses

Personal casualty losses are part of the Schedule A itemized deductions. The TCJA suspended these losses that did not result from a federally declared disaster. If this deduction is restored, individuals will be able to deduct unreimbursed losses that exceed $100 per casualty and to the extent that these casualties exceed 10% of the individual’s AGI for the year.

Estate Tax Exclusion

The TCJA virtually doubled the inflation-adjusted estate and gift tax exclusion as illustrated in the table below. This benefited wealthier taxpayers with larger estates. Also illustrated in the table is the inflation-adjusted amount for 2023.

Most taxpayers have estates well under the pre-TCJA exclusion amount and the restoration of lower amounts will not affect them. However, this is not true of wealthier taxpayers, especially considering the estate tax rate is currently 40%.

Tax Brackets

TCJA altered the tax brackets, and although most taxpayers benefited, higher-income taxpayers benefited the most. They received a 2.6% cut in the top tax rate. The table only reflects different tax brackets. They may or may not apply to the same levels of income.

A return to the pre-TCJA rates would have the largest negative effect on higher-income taxpayers.

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)

As part of the TCJA, Congress did eliminate the Corporate AMT, and even though they had also vowed to eliminate the individual AMT when the final TCJA passed, it was still there. But they did include a modest increase of the AMT exemption amounts and a huge increase in exemption amount phase-out thresholds. These, in addition to several other regular tax changes made by the TCJA that eliminated certain itemized deductions that caused the AMT in the past, virtually wiped away the AMT for most taxpayers affected by it in years before 2018. Depending on what changes Congress makes when the TCJA expires, the AMT could again cause grief for many taxpayers.

Qualified Business Income (QBI) Deduction

As part of the TCJA, Congress changed the tax-rate structure for C corporations to a flat rate of 21% instead of the former graduated rates that topped out at 35%. Needing a way to equalize the rate reduction for all taxpayers with business income, Congress came up with a new deduction for businesses not organized as C corporations.

This resulted in a new and substantial tax benefit for most non-C corporation business owners in the form of a deduction that is generally equal to 20% of their qualified business income (QBI). If allowed to sunset with the TCJA, businesses (generally small businesses) will lose a substantial deduction.

Of course, these potential changes assume Congress does not extend or alter any of them. And they aren’t the only tax issues impacted by the December 31, 2025, TCJA sunset date, but are probably those that will affect the most taxpayers. Depending upon your particular circumstances, these possible changes can potentially impact your long-term planning such as buying a home, retirement planning, estate planning, future tax liability, and other issues.

Have questions about how your taxes may change when the TCJA sunsets? Call Fiducial at 1-866-FIDUCIAL or make an appointment at one of our office locations to discuss your situation.

Ready to book an appointment now? Click here. Know someone who might need our services? We love referrals!