The Biden administration has proposed a variety of tax changes. Revisions to income taxes are likely to affect many taxpayers. Here’s a summary of the most notable proposals and strategies to consider if they are passed into law.
These are some of the major changes if this income tax plan passes into law:
Top income tax rate would increase from 37% to 39.6% and start at lower incomes – $509,300 rather than $628,300 for couples and $452,700 rather than $523,600 for individuals.
Corporate tax rate increases from 21% to 28%.
Carried interest would be taxed as ordinary income rather than capital gain – partner’s interest in profits earned by a hedge fund or private equity fund – would be.
1031 like-kind exchange would be limited to gains of $500,000 or less, a common strategy to defer capital gain taxes on real estate transactions.
Capital gains would be taxed as ordinary income for taxpayers with income over $1 million and would include the 3.8% Affordable Care Act Medicare surtax, resulting in a total rate increase for top earners to 43.4% from the current 23.8%.
3.8% Medicare surtax would apply to all net investment income – passive and active – for taxpayers with adjusted gross income (AGI) over $400,000 rather than only applying to passive net investment income for individuals with AGI above $200,000 and married couples above $250,000.
20% pass-through income tax deduction would be eliminated for small business owners.
Strategies to Consider
Accelerate taxable income to avoid future taxation at higher proposed rates. Examples can include Roth conversions, capital gain harvesting, accelerating shareholder dividends, exercising non-qualified or incentive stock options, or accelerating gain under 453(d) for installment sales.
Spread out or defer taxable income to remain under proposed new thresholds for higher tax rates. Examples can include doing Roth conversions over multiple years, using 453 installment sales, charitable remainder trusts, 1031 like-kind exchanges, or investing in Opportunity Zones.
Shift taxable income to other family members to remain under proposed new thresholds for higher tax rates. Examples can include using charitable remainder trusts and family limited partnerships.
Avoid taxable income to minimize or avoid exposure to higher proposed tax rates. Examples can include investing in Opportunity Zones, 1202 Qualified Small Business Tax, using Incomplete Gift Non-Grantor Trusts to save state income taxes, or charitable lead trusts.
Carefully time deductions to maximize the resulting tax benefit of the deduction if income tax rates increase or certain limitations are imposed, or caps eliminated. Examples can include deferring business expenses, delaying unrealized capital loss harvesting, or accelerating vs. deferring itemized deductions such as SALT and charitable donations.
These are still proposals, not yet law, but thinking ahead is always a good practice. While reducing taxes is important, we shouldn’t let the tax tail wag the planning dog. But if you find yourself significantly impacted by these proposals, waiting could be costly and you should consider taking action sooner than rather than later.
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