While most of us are happy to leave 2020 behind, there’s still one more loose end to tie up. Filing taxes. With the global pandemic, there have been some significant changes to the tax code. So, you need to be up to date on what those changes are.
1. Tax Bracket Changes
Tax brackets have changed a bit, so depending on your income, your household tax bracket may change. The rates themselves haven’t changed, but the brackets have increased by a marginal amount to cover annual inflation.
As an example, if you are single and made $86,100 in taxable income last year you would be in the 22% bracket. That doesn’t mean that you’re paying 22% on your entire income, just that you are taxed up to that amount. You’re taxed 10% on the first part up to about $14k, then 12% on the next part up to nearly $54k, and 22% on the last approximately $24k.
2. Boost To Charitable Contributions Allowance
Owing to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as CARES Act, you will no longer have to itemize the deductions in order to claim charitable contributions. So even if you don’t itemize and simply take the standard deduction for the 2020 tax year, you can still deduct $300 in donations to charity. Additionally, if you do itemize, you can deduct up to your full remaining adjusted gross income, based on your donations to charity.
3. Stimulus Checks
One of the more widely-known benefits of the CARES Act, was the aid payments of $1,200 and $600. These were sent to millions of Americans. These payments were aimed at giving people some cash relief during the initial and continuing economic shutdowns. While they are not counted as taxable income, they are going to be treated as our old friend the “refundable tax credit” that is basically an advance on next year’s refund.
4. Unemployment Benefits
This year was hard for a lot of people. Many of them needed to turn to unemployment benefits to try to stay afloat. If you were one of those people, you may have had the option to have income taxes automatically withheld. If so, hopefully, you used that option, otherwise, you will need to pay up come tax time. However, if you do owe, you can pay all at once. You can also split the amount into 4 payments that you would pay as quarterly payments.
5. No-Penalty Retirement Withdrawals
If you needed it, the CARE Act allowed workers under 59 and a half to pull up to $100k from their 401(k) plan or IRA without any penalty. This does have the negative of counting as income and is then taxed as such. However, if you put it back into your IRA or 401(k) plan inside of three years, that tax can be refunded back.