Tax Benefits Increase Slightly Due to Inflation

In 2011, personal exemptions and standard deductions will rise and tax brackets will widen due to inflation, the Internal Revenue Service announced last week.

These inflation adjustments relate to eight tax provisions that were either modified or extended by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 that became law on Dec. 17. New dollar amounts affecting 2011 returns, filed by most taxpayers in early 2012, include the following:

 

Tax Benefits Increase Slightly Due to Inflation

  • The value of each personal and dependent exemption, available to most taxpayers, is $3,700, up $50 from 2010.
  • The new standard deduction is $11,600 for married couples filing a joint return, up $200, $5,800 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up $100, and $8,500 for heads of household, also up $100. The additional standard deduction for blind people and senior citizens is $1,150 for married individuals, up $50, and $1,450 for singles and heads of household, also up $50. Nearly two out of three taxpayers take the standard deduction, rather than itemizing deductions, such as mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes.
  • Tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status. For a married couple filing a joint return, for example, the taxable-income threshold separating the 15-percent bracket from the 25-percent bracket is $69,000, up from $68,000 in 2010.
  • The maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low- and moderate- income workers and working families rises to $5,751, up from $5,666 in 2010. The maximum income limit for the EITC rises to $49,078, up from $48,362 in 2010.The credit varies by family size, filing status and other factors, with the maximum credit going to joint filers with three or more qualifying children.
  • The modified adjusted gross income threshold at which the lifetime learning credit begins to phase out is $102,000 for joint filers, up from $100,000, and $51,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $50,000.

 

Tax Benefits Increase Slightly Due to Inflation

Several tax benefits are unchanged in 2011. For example, the monthly limit on the value of qualified transportation benefits (parking, transit passes, etc.) provided by an employer to its employees, remains at $230. Details on these inflation adjustments can be found in Revenue Procedure 2011-12.

By law, the dollar amounts for a variety of tax provisions, affecting virtually every taxpayer, must be revised each year to keep pace with inflation. Most of the new dollar amounts, including retirement-plan-related adjustments, were announced in October. To avoid confusion, the eight provisions released today were not included in the October announcements, due to the anticipated impact of extender legislation.

Top 5 Facts about Dependents and Exemptions

When you prepare to file your tax return, there are two things that will factor into your tax situation: dependents and exemptions. Here are five important facts the IRS wants you to know about dependents and exemptions before you file your 2009 tax return.

 

Top 5 Facts about Dependents and Exemptions

  1. If someone else claims you as a dependent, you may still be required to file your own tax return. Whether or not you must file a return depends on several factors, including the amount of your unearned, earned or gross income, your marital status, any special taxes you owe and, any advance Earned Income Tax Credit payments you received.
  2. Exemptions reduce your taxable income. There are two types of exemptions: personal exemptions and exemptions for dependents. For each exemption you can deduct $3,650 on your 2009 tax return. Exemption amounts are reduced for taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is above certain levels, depending on your filing status.
  3. If you are a dependent, you may not claim an exemption. If someone else – such as your parent – claims you as a dependent, you may not claim your personal exemption on your own tax return.
  4. Your spouse is never considered your dependent. On a joint return, you may claim one exemption for yourself and one for your spouse. If you’re filing a separate return, you may claim the exemption for your spouse only if they had no gross income, are not filing a joint return, and were not the dependent of another taxpayer.
  5. Some people cannot be claimed as your dependent. Generally, you may not claim a married person as a dependent if they file a joint return with their spouse. Also, to claim someone as a dependent, that person must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national or resident of Canada or Mexico for some part of the year. There is an exception to this rule for certain adopted children. See IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information for additional tests to determine who can be claimed as a dependent.

For more information on exemptions, dependents and whether or not you or your dependent needs to file a tax return, see IRS Publication 501. The publication is available below or can be ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information