Inflation Tax Adjustments May Give You a Bigger Tax Refund

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Tax deductions and credits are a tax filer’s best friend. Each year, the IRS makes adjustments to many tax deductions and credits to keep up with inflation.

Late last year, the IRS announced adjustments to more than forty tax provisions, many of which will now put more money into your pocket. We discuss those that increased as well as notable figures that did not.

Increase to the Standard Deduction

The standard deduction, taken by filers who do not itemize deductions, increased by $100 to $6,300 for single filers and married filing separately. Married couples filing jointly saw an increase of $200 to $12,600.

Increase to Personal Exemption
The personal exemption increased by $50 to $4,000. This exemption reduces your taxable income and you can deduct it for yourself, your spouse if you are married, and for each of your dependents. The phase-out of this benefit was not increased.

Increase to Elective Contribution Limits
Saving for retirement is important and you were able to save more in 2015 as the limits for 401(k), 403(b), most 457, and the government’s Thrift Savings Plan all increased to $18,000. The catch-up provision if you are 50 and older also increased to $6,000. IRA contribution limits did not change and remained at $5,500 ($6,500 for 50 and older).

Increase to Earned Income Tax Credit
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit that helps working taxpayers with low to moderate income. The credit is determined by income thresholds, dependents, and other categories but the maximum was increased to $6,242 for taxpayers who file jointly and have 3+ qualifying children.

Increase to Alternative Minimum Tax Exemption
The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) is an alternative income tax calculation originally used to stop wealthier taxpayers from using clever loopholes to pay less in income tax, however because it was not adjusted for inflation in the past, more middle-class taxpayers were taking a hit.  Now Congress addressed this issue by automatically adjusting the AMT exemption amount for inflation each year. For 2015 it was increased to $53,600 for single filers and $83,400 for married couples filing jointly.

Increase to Estate Related Figures
Two estate related amounts were increased. First, the exclusion amount for estates of those who died in 2015 was increased to $5,430,000 from $5,340,000. The annual overall gift tax exclusion was not increased and remains $14,000.

Increase to Flexible Spending Arrangements
There were a few more increases worth noting including the limit on the amount employees could contribute to an employer-sponsored flexible spending arrangement. That amount increased by $50 to $2,550 per year.

Notable Non-Increases
Not all figures were increased with inflation. The Child & Dependent Care Credit remained at up to 35% of $3,000 for one dependent and up to 35% of $6,000 for two or more dependents.  The maximum for the Adoption Credit did not change and is still $13,400.

Education credits and deductions remained the same. The American Opportunity Tax Credit is still $2,500 with the same phase outs. The Lifetime Learning Credit worth up to $2,000, kept the same phase outs as 2014 and the Student Loan Interest Deduction maximum held at $2,500 with the same phase outs.

While not all tax benefits increased, a whole lot of them did and will likely put a few hundred dollars more back into your pocket. Be sure to spend it wisely!

TurboTax makes it effortless to get all of the tax deductions and credits you deserve by asking simple questions about you.  There’s no need to know tax laws or tax forms and TurboTax will check for over 350 tax deductions and credits so you can get your maximum tax refund.

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