President Donald Trump on Dec. 22 signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and this sweeping reform of the U.S. federal tax system will mean significant tax cuts for most individuals, families, and businesses.
Because most workers have taxes withheld from their paychecks, these tax changes could have a big impact on take-home pay and household budgets.
Those changes to paychecks could come as soon as February, when the IRS is supposed to have new wage-withholding guidance available to businesses. Currently, however, the IRS has instructed employers to continue using the old, 2017 withholding tables.
Once the IRS releases its 2018 tables that incorporate the changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, most workers will see either larger paychecks, or little change in them.
Workers with children and those with moderate incomes will likely experience significant changes—increases—in the size of their paychecks.
A single individual earning the median wage of $50,000 a year can expect a $35 to $45 increase in their biweekly or semimonthly paycheck. That amounts to an additional $1,100 in take-home income per year.
A married couple with three children and $75,000 in income can expect an additional $65 to $75 in their combined biweekly or semimonthly paychecks, or close to $2,000 per year.
The primary source of higher paychecks will be the new tax law’s lower rates and higher child tax credit.
The new tax law lowered marginal tax rates virtually across the board. That means the IRS will direct employers to withhold less of workers’ wages.
For example, income previously taxed at a 15 percent rate will now be taxed at a 12 percent rate, and much of the income that was previously taxed at a 25 percent rate will now be taxed at a 22 percent rate. Lower rates mean less money withheld and thus higher take-home pay.
Child Tax Credit
The doubling of the child tax credit, from $1,000 to $2,000, along with a higher phase-out level and a higher threshold for the refundable portion will translate to less tax withholding for workers with children.
Employees who receive the full benefit of the child tax credit can expect to receive about $40 more per child in each paycheck.
Of course, the new tax law does away with personal exemptions, which previously provided an additional per-child tax benefit ranging from $0 to a little more than $1,000 per child, depending on the taxpayer’s income level.
The near-doubling of the standard deduction, along with the increase in the phase-out and the refundability of the child tax credit will go a long way in making up for the loss of personal exemptions for most taxpayers. On net, the higher child tax credit will result in significant increases in workers’ take-home pay.
Pass-Through Income for Small Businesses
Workers with pass-through income from a small business or LLC can also expect to submit lower tax payments to the IRS.
The new tax bill provides a 20 percent deduction for certain pass-through income, and that income is also subject to the new, lower tax rates.
For a small business with $150,000 in annual income, the new tax law will likely translate to about $2,500 less in quarterly income tax payments to the federal government, or $10,000 less per year.
Most retirees receive a large share of their income from fixed sources, such as Social Security, pensions, or 401(k) withdrawals. Thus, they are unlikely to experience changes in their monthly income because of the tax bill.
Many retirees will, however, experience a change in their total tax bill. For most, that will be a positive change, meaning a lower total tax bill.
The new tax law will not affect either the level of Social Security or 401(k) payments and withdrawals or the taxation of those payments and withdrawals. It will, however, generally result in lower tax rates on income from earnings or pensions.
For many seniors, that will mean either lower quarterly tax payments to the IRS or income tax refunds when they file their 2018 taxes next year.
Higher Refunds in 2018
Since employers won’t receive the new tax-withholding tables until February, most workers will pay more in taxes than they owe during the first few weeks of the year. Consequently, tax refunds for 2018 (which will come in 2019 after workers file their 2018 taxes) will likely be larger than in future years when the correct withholding tables apply for the entire year.
Although not perfect, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will have significant, positive effects on the economy.
Some businesses have already responded to those anticipated changes by granting bonuses and wage increases and by making or planning for additional investments. Individuals, too, will soon see the benefits of tax reform by taking home bigger paychecks.
The vast majority of businesses and individuals will benefit, thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.