It is that time of year again where you should consider meeting with a tax professional to discuss any year end strategies that might reduce your 2022 taxes. The following are some of the tax breaks from which you may benefit, as well as the strategies that you could use to minimize your taxable income and the resulting federal tax liability for 2022.
Earned Income Credit
The earned income tax credit (EITC) is determined by multiplying your earned income for the year (but only up to a maximum amount of earned income) by a credit percentage that varies depending on whether you have any qualifying children and, if so, the number of qualifying children. The EITC is also subject to a limitation based on your adjusted gross income. For 2022, the maximum amount of the EITC is (1) $560 for a taxpayer with no qualifying children, (2) $3,733 for a taxpayer with one qualifying child, (3) $6,164 for a taxpayer with two qualifying children, and (4) $6,935 for a taxpayer with three or more qualifying children. In addition, the EITC cannot be claimed if your investment income (including interest, dividends, capital gain net income, and net rental income) exceeds $10,300 for 2022.
Dependent Care Credit
If you incurred expenses to care for a child or another dependent so that you can work, you may be eligible for the child and dependent care credit. This credit is available to individuals who, in order to work or to look for work, have to pay for childcare services for dependents under age 13. The credit is also available for amounts paid for the care of a spouse or a dependent of any age who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care. The credit is not available for amounts paid to a dependent or a taxpayer under age 19. The amount of the credit is a specified percentage of your total employment-related expenses – generally, 35 percent reduced (but not below 20 percent) by one percentage point for each $2,000 by which your adjusted gross income for the tax year exceeds $15,000. Employment-related expenses incurred during any tax year which may be considered cannot exceed $3,000 for one qualifying individual or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals.
Premium Tax Credit
A health insurance subsidy is available in the form of a premium assistance tax credit for eligible individuals and families who purchase health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the “Exchange.” The provision is the result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). This credit is refundable and payable in advance directly to the insurer on the Exchange. In the past, individuals with incomes exceeding 400 percent of the poverty level were not eligible for these subsidies. However, because of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, the cap was eliminated for tax years beginning in 2021 or 2022 and therefore, anyone can qualify for the subsidy. In addition, the percentage of your income paid for a health insurance under a PPACA plan is limited to 8.5 percent of income. Thus, if you buy your own health insurance directly through an Exchange, you can receive increased tax credits to reduce your premiums.
Education-Related Deductions and Credits
Certain education-related tax deductions, credits, and exclusions from income may be available for 2022. For example, tax-free distributions from a qualified tuition program, also referred to as a Section 529 plan of up to $10,000 are allowed for qualified higher education expenses. Qualified higher education expenses for this purpose include tuition expenses in connection with a designated beneficiary’s enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school, i.e. kindergarten through grade 12. It also includes expenses for fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for the participation in certain apprenticeship programs and qualified education loan repayments in limited amounts. A special rule allows tax-free distributions to a sibling of a designated beneficiary (i.e., a brother, sister, stepbrother, or stepsister). As a result, a 529 account holder can make a student loan distribution to a sibling of the designated beneficiary without changing the designated beneficiary of the account.
Depending on your modified adjusted gross income for the year, you may also qualify for: (1) an American Opportunity Tax Credit of up to $2,500 per year for each eligible student; (2) a Lifetime Learning credit up to $2,000 for tuition and fees paid for the enrollment or attendance of yourself, your spouse, or your dependents for courses of instruction at an eligible educational institution; (3) an exclusion from income for education savings bond interest received; and (4) a deduction for student loan interest.
If you can afford to do so, investing the maximum amount allowable in a qualified retirement plan will yield a large tax benefit. If your employer has a 401(k) plan and you are under age 50, you can defer up to $20,500 of income into that plan for 2022. Catch-up contributions of $6,500 are allowed if you are 50 or over. If you have a SIMPLE 401(k), the maximum pre-tax contribution for 2022 is $14,000. That amount increases to $17,000 if you are 50 or older. The maximum IRA deductible contribution for 2022 is $6,000 and that amount increases to $7,000 if you are 50 or over.
Life events can have a significant impact on your tax liability. For example, if you are eligible to use head of household or surviving spouse filing status for 2022 but will change to a filing tax status of single for 2023, your tax rate will go up. If you married or divorced during the year and changed your name, you need to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA). Similarly, the SSA should be notified if you have a dependent whose name has been changed. A mismatch between the name shown on the tax return and the SSA records can cause problems in the processing of tax returns and may even delay tax refunds.
Hiring a tax resolution expert is the best action a taxpayer could take in a tax matter before the IRS or a state tax authority.
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