The Coming Reversal of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Will Be a Financial Setback for America’s High-Income-Earners and High Net-Worth Individuals
Published Friday, September 29, 2023 at: 8:21 AM EDT
When the Tax Cuts And Jobs Act (TCJA) was signed into law on December 22, 2017, it was the most sweeping rewrite of U.S. tax law since the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Now, it’s about to be undone.
On December 31, 2025, tax rules changed by TCJA affecting individuals will expire. Reversal of the seismic shift wrought by TCJA is widely expected because TCJA increased the U.S. Government debt and materially weakened the nation’s balance sheet. Now, two years before expiration of TCJA, it is time to begin financial planning moves to minimize the impact of the coming reversion to pre-TCJA tax rules.
In the financial press and among tax nerds, the expiration at the end of 2025 is often referred to as a “sunset” of TCJA, misleadingly conjuring up a proverbial day at the beach. Far from it, the expiration will be jarring financially for many wealthy individuals.
To appreciate the depth and breadth of the changes just ahead, consider these key reforms ushered in by TCJA:
- Before TCJA, 68.7% of individual filers claimed the standard deduction, and about a third of all individual returns itemized deductions. After TCJA became effective in tax-year 2018, IRS data show nearly 90% of individuals claimed the standard deduction; only 11% of individual filers itemized deductions — vastly simplifying tax-filing.
- TCJA permanently slashed the maximum corporate income tax rate by 40%, from 35% to 21%, but tax cuts for individuals would be temporary, lasting from 2018 through 2025.
- Most income-tax brackets for individuals were reduced, but only from 2018 through 2025.
- For high-income earners, TCJA reduced the top marginal tax bracket from 39.6% to 37%.
- The amount exempt from estate tax doubled to $11.2 million, and after annual adjustments for inflation, now is $12.9 million.
- Owners of sole proprietorships, partnerships, S corporations, and some trusts and estates, have been eligible to deduct up to 20% of income from a qualified trade or business, but reversion to pre-TCJA rules ends that tax break after 2025.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the research arm of Congress, has projected TCJA will increase U.S. budget deficits by about $1.5 trillion between 2018 and 2027, raising the federal debt from 91.2% of annual gross domestic product (GDP) in June 2017 to 97.5% of annual GDP in 2027.
CBO estimates TCJA reduced federal revenue by $0.47 trillion over 10 years, before accounting for the modest GDP growth it spawned.
TCJA's negative impact on the long-term federal debt makes it more likely reversion to pre-TCJA laws will spur Congress to enact new legislation to reduce the impact on some taxpayers while hiking taxes for others. Examining the impact on your personal situation of the expiration of TCJA will better prepare high-income-earning and high-net-worth individuals for any new tax rules.
The rewards of planning for expiration of TCJA's sweeping changes are significant for many clients and prospects, as are the consequences of failing to plan.
Nothing contained herein is to be considered a solicitation, research material, an investment recommendation, or advice of any kind, and it is subject to change without notice. Any investments or strategies referenced herein do not take into account the investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific person. Product suitability must be independently determined for each individual investor. Tax advice always depends on your particular personal situation and preferences. You should consult the appropriate financial professional regarding your specific circumstances. The material represents an assessment of financial, economic and tax law at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. Forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties. Actual results, performance, or achievements may differ materially from those expressed or implied. Information is based on data gathered from what we believe are reliable sources. It is not guaranteed as to accuracy, does not purport to be complete, and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions. This article was written by a professional financial journalist for Advisor Products and is not intended as legal or investment advice.
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