Reminder Of Tax Advantages To Take Advantage Of While Available
• Energy tax credits for homeowners. As part of the December changes, lawmakers extended the “25(C)” credit for energy-efficient improvements, but in a way that will be useful to few. The amount of the credit has shrunk to a maximum of $500 per taxpayer per lifetime, so those who took last year’s $1,500 credit under this provision don’t qualify. The current version expires at the end of 2011.
• Investment taxes. Rates continue at historic lows for both long-term capital gains and dividends. For taxpayers in the 15% income tax bracket and below, the rate is zero. For those in the 25% bracket and above, the rate is 15% (see table). Expires: end of 2012.
• Estate and gift taxes. The system has been overhauled, with a top rate of 35% and one exemption of $5 million per individual for estate, gift and generation-skipping taxes alike. For those who can stand to part with assets, it’s now possible to shift large amounts of wealth. Expires: end of 2012.
The annual exclusion for tax-free gifts remains $13,000 per donor. A giver may make an unlimited number of $13,000 gifts, as long as they are to different individuals. Gifts of tuition and payments for medical care also are exempt.