Tax Advantage Reminder

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.