How the New Tax Law Affects Medical Deductions, Property Taxes

Ask us anything: We're getting questions from readers about the new tax law. While there's a lot still to be learned about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, people are asking about changes to the retirement savings credit and property taxes. No matter your question, we've got answers from some of the nation's top tax and financial planning experts. So, don't be shy. Send your questions about the new tax law to Robert.Powell@TheStreet.com. We'll try to answer and publish as many as we can about how it's going to affect your investments, retirement savings and taxes.

Editor's note: The following questions were answered by David Desmarais, a shareholder in the private client services group at KLR.

Question: Does the tax law include a 7.5% medical deduction threshold for 2017 and 2018?

Answer: All taxpayers who itemize their deductions would be able to write off qualifying medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income for tax years 2017 and 2018. After that, the threshold would return to the current 10%.

Question: If you received a copy of your 2017 property tax bill, can you prepay half of it and take the deduction in 2017?

Answer: In general, whether a taxpayer is allowed a deduction for the prepayment of state or local real property taxes in 2017 depends on whether the taxpayer makes the payment in 2017 and the real property taxes are assessed prior to 2018. A prepayment of anticipated real property taxes that have not been assessed prior to 2018 are not deductible in 2017.

Question: Are there any changes to the retirement savings credit, Form 8880, which also appears on line 51 of the 1040? Also, are there any changes to the health savings account (HSA), Form 8889, which also appears on line 25 of the 1040?

Answer: There were no changes to retirement savings credit or HSA's in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. HSA limits for 2017 were $3,400 for self-only and $6,750 for family. For 2018, the amounts increased to $3,450 for self-only and $6,900 for family.

Question: Does the $10,000 limit include state, local and real estate taxes or just state and local income taxes, (SALT)? If it's just SALT, wouldn't a person have to make a lot of money for it to be $10,000 in taxes?

Answer: The $10,000 limit includes state and local income taxes and property taxes. State income tax rates vary, but someone who has $196,000 in taxable income in Massachusetts would be capped out on the $10,000 limit, even if he/she had no property taxes.

Question: My property taxes are included in my house payment. How does the new tax law affect me? I live in Iowa currently.

Answer: If the property tax payments were still held in escrow at Dec. 31, 2017 and the mortgage company/bank where the loan is held did not make the payment to the town/city you live in, you won't get a benefit of those escrowed amounts on your 2017 income tax return.

Got questions about the new tax law? Email Robert.Powell@TheStreet.com

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