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Tax Planning in 2021 – Make Sure You Are Getting All The Economic Stimulus And Tax Credits You Deserve From Tax Law Changes

The COVID relief legislation signed into law, specifically the COVID-19 Economic Relief Bill in December 2020 and the American Rescue Plan in March 2021 include a number of provisions that provide economic stimulus and tax credits that could impact your 2021 tax return.

Child Tax Credit

For 2020, the credit was worth $2,000 per child 16 years old or younger. It also began to disappear as income rose above certain threshold amounts.  For some lower-income taxpayers, the credit was partially “refundable” (up to $1,400 per qualifying child) if they had earned income of at least $2,500. What “refundable” means is that the IRS will issue a refund check for the refundable amount if the credit was worth more than your income tax liability.

For 2021, this credit has been expanded. For 2021, the credit amount increases from $2,000 to $3,000 for children older than 5 years and $3,600 for children 5 years old and younger. Like 2020, this credit does get reduced or phased-out for families with higher incomes. Another important change is that the 2021 credit is fully refundable. Additionally, the $2,500-of-earned-income required is dropped for 2021 and children who are 17 years old also qualify for the 2021 credit.

Half of the 2021 credit amount is being paid in advance through monthly payments that started on July 15, 2021 and will end on December 15, 2021. You get to claim the other half of the credit on your 2021 tax return. Expect that you will have to reconcile the monthly payments that you receive from the IRS in 2021 with the child tax credit that you are actually entitled to claim when you file your 2021 return. If the credit amount exceeds the total monthly payments, you can claim the excess credit on your return.

Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

The 2020 credit covered child and dependent care expenses for either (1) a dependent child under age 13 when the care was provided, or (2) a qualifying disabled dependent or spouse of any age that lived with you. The “non-refundable credit” was worth 20% to 35% of up to $3,000 in eligible expenses for one child/disabled person or $6,000 for two or more. The percentage decreased as income exceeded $15,000.

For 2021, the child and dependent care credit is “fully refundable”. The maximum credit percentage also jumps to 35% to 50%. Also, there is an expansion of eligible care expenses are available for the credit. For 2021, the credit is allowed for up to $8,000 in expenses for one child/disabled person and $16,000 for more than one. When the 50% maximum credit percentage is applied, that puts the top credit for the 2021 tax year at $4,000 if you have just one child/disabled person in your family and $8,000 if you have more.

In addition, the full child and dependent care credit will be allowed for families making less than $125,000 a year (instead of $15,000 per year). However, this credit does get reduced or phased-out for families with higher incomes.

Recovery Rebate Credit

In the third round of stimulus checks authorized by the Federal government, taxpayers received checks for $1,400, plus an additional $1,400 for each dependent in your family. However, some people didn’t receive that much (or anything) because the payments were phased out for joint filers with adjusted gross incomes above $150,000, head-of-household filers with an adjusted gross income (AGI) above $112,500, and single filers with an AGI above $75,000. In fact, third-round stimulus checks were reduced to zero if your AGI was above $160,000 (married joint filer), $120,000 (head-of-household), or $80,000 (single).

For people who did not receive this stimulus check or received an amount less than what they should have been entitled to, relief may be available in the form of a 2021 tax credit known as the “recovery rebate credit”. Technically, your third stimulus check was an advance payment of the credit. So, when you file your 2021 return, you’ll have to reconcile the third stimulus check you received (if any) with the recovery rebate credit you’re entitled to claim. For most people, your third stimulus check payment will equal the tax credit allowed. In that case, your credit will be reduced to zero. However, if your third stimulus check was less than your credit amount, the tax you owe will be reduced by the difference (and you might even receive a refund).

The Big Picture:

With many itemized deductions having disappeared by the 2017 Tax Cuts And Jobs Act and the higher standard deduction, less taxpayers will be itemizing deductions in 2021 but there is still significant tax planning you can do.  Additionally, if the Federal government passes new legislation that will increase tax rates for certain taxpayers, the key in your tax plan for such taxpayers who will be subject to higher rates should be to defer deductions into 2022 and accelerate income in 2021.

What Should You Do?

You know that at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. we are always thinking of ways that our clients can save on taxes. If you are selected for an audit, stand up to the IRS by getting representation. Tax problems are usually a serious matter and must be handled appropriately so it’s important to that you’ve hired the best lawyer for your particular situation. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Los Angeles and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income. Also, if you are involved in cannabis, check out what our cannabis tax attorney can do for you. Additionally, if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.


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