Broker Check

January 21, 2009

Happy New Year!

Hope it is a fitting phrase for Barack Hussein Obama’s Presidency

   The following tax rates and amounts are effective for 2009:

  1. OASDI rate remains at 6.2% but wage base rises to $ 106,800 from $102,000.

  2. Medicare rate remains at 1.45% and there is no wage limit.

  3. The maximum earnings one can earn before social security benefits will start to be withheld is $37,680 for those under age 66. Those between age 62 and age 66 can earn $14,160. For each $2 earned above that, $1 of benefits is lost. There is no limit on earnings for those older than 66 and eight months. The retirement age for social security continues to rise this year. Those turning 62 this year are affected. They will get reduced benefits if they start receiving payments before they attain age 66. Ultimately, anyone born after 1959 will not get full benefits before age 67. Social Security benefits will rise 5.8%.

  4. Personal exemptions rise to $3,650 and exemptions will begin to phase out at $250,200 of AGI for couples; for singles, $166,800. Taxpayers in the phaseout zones face higher marginal income tax rates. Personal exemptions do not count for Alternative Minimum Tax purposes.

  5. Standard deduction will rise to $11,400 plus $1,100 for each spouse 65 or older, up from $10,900. For children age 14 who must file returns, it remains at $850

  6. Income tax rates will remain at 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33% and 35%. Those in the 15% or lower brackets receive a 5% rate on gains. 15% bracket is doubled for marrieds over singles for 2008. Dividends are taxed at 15%.

  7. Alternative Minimum Tax rate remains at 26% on first $175,000 of income for marrieds for 2006-2009 and 28% over that. Exemptions from the minimum tax drop to pre-2001 levels so more individuals will be subject to this tax.

  8. Back up withholding rate remains at 30%.

  9. 401(k), 403(b) and 457 contribution pay-in limitation rises to $16,500, with $5,500 more for employees 50 and older.  Ceiling on Simple plans rises to $11,500 but folks age 50 or older can put in an additional $2,500 in 2009.

  10. Maximum level of pay on which pay-ins to plans can be based upon rises to $245,000 from $230,000, with the maximum pay-in for defined contribution plans rising to $49,000 from $46,000. Percentage of compensation that can be put in remains at 100%. Profit Sharing percentage remains at 25%.  Benefit limit rises to $195,000, from $185,000.

  11. Business meal and entertainment deductibility remains at 50%. Standard business mileage allowance is lowered to 55¢ per mile,  from 58.5¢ Medical travel and moving expense rate rises to 24¢ from 19¢. Charitable driving rate is still 14¢ a mile.

  12. Federal estate tax exemption rises to $3,500,000. Maximum Estate and Gift rate remains at 45%. Lifetime gift tax exemption remains at $1,000,000.

  13. Maximum amount of equipment eligible for expense election for small businesses rises to $133,000, down from the temporary $250,000 2008 ceiling

  14. Simplified per diem allowances are up slightly.

  15. Phaseout for IRA deductions start at $89,000 and ends at $109,000 for couples. Phaseout for singles is from $53,000 to $63,000. If only one spouse is covered by a plan, the phaseout zone for deducting a payin for the spouse who is not covered begins at $166,000 of AGI and ends at $176,000. Contribution limit remains at $5,000. If 50 or older, can contribute up to $6,000.

  16. The interest exclusion on U.S. Savings Bonds redeemed to pay qualified higher education expenses starts to phase out at AGI above $104,900 for marrieds.

  17. Eligible portion of long term care premium rises to $3,980 for those age 71 and older, $3,180 between ages 60 and 70, $1,190 between ages 50 and 60, $600 from 40 to 50 and $320 for age 40 and under, deductible as medical expenses.

  18. Medicare Part B premium remains at $96.40, for those singles with AGI under $85,000, others will pay up to 3 times.

  19. The nanny tax threshold rises to $1,700, up from $1,600.No social security tax is due for domestics paid $1,700 or less this year. It is not indexed for inflation. FUTA is due whenever a domestic employee is paid $1,000 or more in a calendar quarter in the current or prior year.

  20. The exemption from the Kiddie Tax for 2008 remains at $1,800. A parent will be able to elect to include a child’s income on the parent’s return for 2009 if the child’s income is more than $850 and less than $8,500 and the child needs to be less than 20.  If earned income of child is less than ½ the support, age rises to 24.   If Kiddie Tax applies, a child’s earned income over $1,800 is taxed at the parents’ marginal rate

  21. Low and middle income savers can still get a tax credit of up to $1,000 for contributions made to IRAs and qualified plans. Credit disappears for marrieds when AGI hits $55,500, $27,750 for singles.

  22. Adoption tax credit rises to 100% of up to $12,150 of expenses. Phaseout starts at $182,180 AGI.

  23. Hope and Lifetime Learning credit phaseout for MFJ starts at $100,000, $50,000 for singles. The maximum Hope credit remains at $1,800.

  24. Gift tax exclusion rises to $13,000 per donee for gifts made in 2009.

  25. The limit on deducting payins to Health Savings Accounts rises to $5,950 for family coverage and $3,000 for individual coverage. Account owners born before 1955 can put in an additional $1,000. Ceiling on out of pocket cost rises to $11,600 for family coverage and $5,800 for individual coverage.  IRAs can now be rolled into HSAs.

  26. The 10% credit for energy saving improvements up to a maximum credit of $500 returns for 2009.  See our August 2005 Newsletter for details.

  27. The up to $250 above the line deduction for teachers’ out of pocket classroom related expenses remains through 2009.

  28. Companies can deduct 6% of income from U.S production activities.

  29. U.S. taxpayers working abroad have a higher exclusion, $91,400, up from $87,600.

  30. Itemizers can deduct private mortgage insurance premiums in 2009 if the policy was issued after 2006.

  31. Federal minimum wage is $5.15, food service employees, $2.13. New Jersey and New York Minimum wage is $7.15.  New York tipped employees, $4.29.  Connecticut minimum wage is $7.65, tipped employees $5.41.  Pennsylvania minimum wage is $5.65 with tipped employees $2.83.

  32. Casualty losses on non-business assets are subject to a $500 floor in 2009, up from $100.

  33. S Corporations and partnerships owe a penalty of $89 per owner or partner per month for up to 12 months for failure to file on time.

  34. If you are 701/2 or older, you can skip payouts from plans and IRAs for 2009 if you want without penalty. Heirs need not take withdrawals in 2009 from inherited plans and IRAs.

Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Medical Workers

   Get a break.  Any local and real estate tax rebates they receive are not taxable.

Retired Public Safety Officers

   Can exclude from gross income taxes up to $3,000 for qualified health insurance premiums as of 2007.  If you are a retired law enforcement officer or firefighter, then you will need to separately inform us of your health insurance premium payments.

NY State Middle Class STAR Rebate Program

   New York real property owners who received a STAR rebate in 2008 from their school tax bills should declare the rebate as a reduction of their real estate taxes paid.

New York City School Tax Credit

   For joint filers with incomes of $250,000 or less will rise to $335 from $310. Other filing statuses will be one half the amount.  For taxpayers with income of more than $250,000 the credit amounts remain at $230 for joint filers and $115 for all others. For each tax year beginning on or after January 1, 2010 the more than $250,000 income determination will be adjusted for inflation.

   As always, if you have any questions about these or any other matters, do not hesitate to call me.

   Remember, We’re Here For You!!