President Joe Biden’s latest tax proposal may require any couple thinking about filing for divorce to do some planning. Biden wants higher taxes on the wealthiest 1% to help fund education, paid leave, childcare and other social programs, and there are other other changes which may impact your divorce.
Taxes and Doughnuts
In 2017, President Trump signed the the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) into law. The TCJA generally reduced tax rates overall, and reduced the highest individual income tax rate from 39.6% to 37%. Almost all of the individual tax cuts expire at the end of 2025 unless Congress extends them.
However, there is a new president, a new Congress, and there is little doubt president Biden’s proposal will increase your taxes and impact your divorce. For instance, the Biden Plan would revert the top individual income tax rate for taxable incomes above $400,000 to 39.6%.
Even still, the proposal could still affect people earning under $400,000 too. There’s also social security taxes. Right now, a Social Security tax is imposed on wages up to $142,800. Wages above the $142,800 ‘wage cap’ are not subject to Social Security tax.
But Biden is proposing a shrinking doughnut hole for Social Security. Earnings between $142,800 and $400,000 wouldn’t be taxed, but that doughnut hole would shrink each year as the $142,800 wage cap increases.
The Biden Plan also taxes long-term capital gains and qualified dividends at the ordinary income tax rate of 39.6 percent on income above $1 million instead of at the current top capital gain rate of 20%.
Itemized deductions are also impacted under the Biden Plan. His plan caps the tax benefit of itemized deductions to 28 percent of value for those earning more than $400,000, and restores the Pease limitation on itemized deductions. The Pease limitation capped how much you could deduct. The Pease limitation was repealed under TCJA.
Divorce and Tax
I’ve written about divorce and tax changes before. The impact president Trump’s TCJA changes took on divorce was huge. Most notably, Trump’s tax changes eliminated the alimony deduction. People become less willing to pay as much in alimony because of the loss of the deduction.
That change, it was claimed, disproportionately hurt women who tend to earn less and are more likely to be on the receiving end of alimony payments.
On the other hand, the alimony deduction itself has also been criticized. For example, the government argues the deduction is a burden on the IRS because, if the alimony amounts ex-spouses report paying and receiving don’t match, it can force the agency to audit two people who may already be feuding.
Divorce Taxes and Child Credits
The Biden Plan also includes two significant proposals concerning tax credits related to children. These proposals, if passed, could cause couples to spend more time arguing over who will claim the children to maximize tax benefits.
Under the TCJA, the dependency exemption was eliminated altogether, and was replaced by an expanded Child Tax Credit. If you have kids under the age of 17, you likely qualify for the CTC. The CTC provides a tax credit of up to $2,000 per child under age 17. The CTC begins to phase out for single taxpayers with an adjusted gross income over $200,000 and married taxpayers over $400,000.
The Biden Plan increases the CTC from a maximum credit of $2,000 to $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17, and $3,600 for children under age The CTC would also be made fully refundable, removing the $2,500 reimbursement threshold and 15 percent phase-in rate.
In the corporate world, the TCJA reduced corporate tax rates from a maximum rate of 35% to a flat 21% tax rate on taxable income. The Biden Plan would increase the corporate income tax rate from 21% to 28%.
At this point, no one knows what part of President Biden’s tax proposals will become law, or what the final law would look like. But any couples considering divorce should keep an eye on these proposals and how they could impact your after-tax income and assets after separation.
The CNBC article is here.