6 Important Tax Changes for 2015

Tax filing season is upon us, and it is time to gather all your paperwork and organize it so you are ready to (hopefully) file well ahead of the deadline. When you file your return this year, you will not see any major changes to the tax code, but there are some adjustments you should be aware of. Here are six tax-filing changes to keep in mind when filing your 2015 taxes: Sales Tax

The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Exemption is Higher: The Alternative Minimum Tax was once one of the most feared taxes for income earners in certain tax brackets. For years, lawmakers would implement a short-term fix right before the deadline so they could satisfy their concerned constituents. A couple years ago, Congress finally made this fix automatic by tying the AMT exemption to inflation. This avoids the worry of having to come back every year to address this issue. For the 2015 tax year, the AMT exemption increases by $800 to $53,600 for singles and by $1300 to $83,400 for married couples filing jointly.

The Standard Deduction is Higher: The standard deduction will go up a little bit for tax year 2015. For single filers, the standard deduction increases from $6,200 to $6,300. Married couples filing jointly will see an increase from $12,400 to $12,600; and for heads of household, the deduction goes from $9,100 to $9250.

The Personal Exemption is Slightly Higher: The personal exemption will increase for tax year 2015 from $3,900 to $3,950. In addition, the personal exemption is slowly phased out for those in higher income brackets.

The Threshold for the Top Income Tax Bracket is Higher: The top federal income tax rate is currently 39.6%, and the amount you must earn to fall into this bracket has increased for tax year 2015. For single filers, the threshold goes up from $406,750 to $413,200. For married couples filing jointly, the threshold goes up from $457,600 to $464,850.

The Estate Tax Exclusion is Higher: The federal estate tax impacts those with high net worth estates, and is particularly hard on those with estates that have a high asset value with very little available cash (such as farmers and ranchers). There is a fairly generous estate tax exemption, however, and in 2015 it increases from $5.34 million up to $5.43 million.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Penalties are Higher: The penalties for not carrying health insurance started out in 2014 at a fairly innocuous $95 per adult or 1% of income, whichever is greater. Unfortunately, the low fine was only temporary to give taxpayers time to adjust to the new health care law. For 2015, the fine goes up to $285 per adult or 2% of income, a dollar increase of 300%. This will begin to cause financial pain for some taxpayers. The bad news is, next year it gets worse; the fine for 2016 will be $695 per adult or 2.5% of income.

There are several other changes that may impact your 2015 tax return. To find out if there are any that pertain to your specific circumstances, speak with your local accounting firm.

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