The Making Work Pay credit is a new but temporary refundable credit. Qualified taxpayers will either take the credit through a reduction in the amount of income tax withheld from their paycheck by allowing a credit against income tax in an amount equal to the lesser of 6.2 percent of the individual’s earned income or $400 ($800 for married couples filing jointly), or in a lump sum when filing their income tax return for the tax year.
Note. Individuals who are self-employed may qualify for the credit as well, to the extent earnings from self-employment are taken into account in computing taxable income.
The credit applies retroactively to the start of 2009 and extends through 2010. Up to the maximum $400/$800 credit amount is allowed for each year. The credit begins to phase out for individuals with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeding $75,000 ($150,000 in the case of married couples filing jointly). The credit will be phased out at a rate of 2 percent above the MAGI limits.
The ARRTA also provides a one-time payment of $250 to individuals on a fixed income, including railroad retirement beneficiaries, Social Security recipients, disabled veterans, as well as retired government workers who are not eligible for Social Security benefits. The $250 payment will reduce the individual’s otherwise allowable Making Work Pay credit to which they may be entitled. This payment will only be made in 2009, likely around mid-year.
Both itemizers and non-itemizers can take advantage of a new but temporary above-the-line deduction for state and local sales taxes or excise taxes paid on the purchase of a new (qualifying) motor vehicle. Both domestic and foreign vehicles qualify as well as motor homes, SUVs, light trucks and motorcycles weighing no more than 8,500 gross pounds.
The deduction is allowed in computing AMT, but is not available to taxpayers who elect to deduct state and local sales and use taxes in lieu of income taxes as an itemized deduction. The deduction begins to phase-out for taxpayers with adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeding $125,000 ($250,000 for joint filers). Additionally, deductible sales/excise taxes cannot exceed the portion of tax attributable to the first $49,500 of the purchase price.
The ARRTA raises the maximum amount of the first-time home buyer tax credit to $8,000 (up from $7,500) and extends the credit through December 1, 2009. The ARRTA also completely eliminates any repayment requirement for purchases made after January 1, 2009 if the taxpayer does not sell or otherwise dispose of the property within 36 months from the date of purchase. However, if the taxpayer does dispose of the residence within this time, pre-ARRTA rules for recapture apply, requiring the home buyer to repay any credit amount received to the government over 15 years in equal installments. Purchases on or after April 9, 2008 and before January 1, 2009 are still governed by the original first-time home buyer tax credit rules enacted last year in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.
The ARRTA temporarily enhances and expands the Hope education tax credit (renaming it the American Opportunity education tax credit) for 2009 and 2010. The credit is increased in amount, to a maximum of $2,500 per year and extended to all four years of college education. Additionally, the credit is subject to more generous phase-out levels of $80,000 of AGI for individuals and $160,000 for joint filers. For 2009 and 2010, up to 40 percent of the American Opportunity credit is refundable.
Distributions from qualified tuition programs (also known as “529 plans”) used to pay a beneficiary’s qualified higher education expenses are tax-free. For 2009 and 2010, ARRTA allows beneficiaries to use distributions from QTPs to pay for computers, laptops and computer technology, including internet access.
The ARRTA increases the refundable portion of the child tax credit for both 2009 and 2010. For 2009 and 2010, the child tax credit is refundable to the extent of 15 percent of the taxpayer’s earned income in excess of $3,000.
For 2009 and 2010, the ARRTA temporarily increases the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for working families with three or more children. The new law (1) increases the credit to 45 percent of a family’s first $12,570 of earned income for families with three or more children and (2) adjusts the start of the EITC phase-out range upwards by $1,880 for joint filers, regardless of the number of children.
The ARRTA boosts alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption amounts for 2009. The new amounts are slightly higher than last year’s exemptions but much higher than the amounts they had been set to revert to had this remedial provision not been passed.
The 2009 exemption amounts are:
The new law also provides that for 2009 nonrefundable personal credits may offset both regular tax and the AMT.
The ARRTA temporarily excludes up to $2,400 of unemployment compensation from a recipient’s gross income for 2009. Unemployment benefits are otherwise includible in a recipient’s gross income for tax purposes. As such, any unemployment benefits over $2,400 in 2009 will be subject to federal income tax.
Beginning in March 2009, and effective for 2009 and 2010, the ARRTA increases the income exclusion for transit passes and van pooling to $230 per month.
Code Sec. 25C provides a tax credit for energy efficient improvements made to a taxpayer’s home. The ARRTA increases the Code Sec. 25C residential energy property credit to 30 percent (up from 10 percent), raises the maximum cap to a $1,500 aggregate amount for 2009 and 2010 installations, eliminates the pre-2008 $500 lifetime cap, and makes other modifications to the credit. Taxpayers can use the credit for insulation materials, exterior windows and doors, skylights, central air conditioning, and hot water boilers, among many other energy efficient improvements.
The ARRTA also removes the individual dollar caps under the Code Sec. 25D residential energy efficient property credit for solar hot water property, wind energy property and geothermal heat pumps. Moreover, if you are interested in an environmentally-friendly car, the ARRTA modifies the credit for plug-in electric vehicles, although they are not yet on the market.
Hiring Steven was quite possibly the best decision of my life! Steven took the time to hear every single one of my concerns and address them in an extremely clear, concise and thorough manner. He guided me through the notoriously complicated and stressful process of probate with the utmost of compassion and dedication. Thank you Steven!
I highly recommend Steven J. Fromm for all your estate and tax planning needs. He has the most complete and thorough knowledge of current as well as pending federal, state, and local tax codes of any professional that I have ever been involved with. His ability to totally sort out your current financial condition and relate it to a plan to minimize your tax liability and allow you to sleep at night is without equal. He is professional, timely, creative, and an advocate for your needs, whether its personal or business. You can be assured that you will be well taken care of, with cutting edge/ sound financial and tax advice by Steven J. Fromm.
I have always found Steve to be very responsive, accurate and creative in legal matters presented to him. He demonstrates a good business sense. We have collaborated on several highly technical issues over the years. I look forward to our continuing relationship.
Steven has been instrumental in helping my partner and I to create a secure and satisfying estate plan, which meets or exceeds all of our wishes and contains contingencies for everything from medical issues to wealth management and living wills. In this process, Steven has also become a friend. If you need Estate Planning, Tax Advice, a Will or a trust, etc., we highly recommend Steven Fromm, Esquire. He will listen and be sensitive to your unique situation.
Steve is an excellent attorney who has provided help for my family personally for business, tax, and other services for many years. He is extremely knowledgeable and thorough, and is extremely good at explaining legal concepts to me in clear terms understandable to a non-attorney. It is difficult to pick only three attributes above, since Steve’s work meets most if not all of the attributes above.
Steve is an excellent corporate attorney who has a deep understanding of corporate law, taxes and estate planning. He’s been extremely helpful to me in keeping my many companies and business ventures organized, focused and squeaky clean. He’s very strong in estate planning and wealth preservation as well. Finally, his follow through is air tight and utterly dependable.
Steven is a trusted adviser. We depend on him for so many things. He is patient, listens to our needs and makes excellent suggestions. He is extremely talented. We value his advice and have recommended him unhesitatingly to friends and family.
Steve Fromm is a superb lawyer and I highly recommend him! After a terrible experience with a previous lawyer concerning an estate administration, I entered his office feeling very deflated, confused and discouraged. However, I left his office feeling enthusiastic and eager to get down to business. My situation was very unique, I needed his expertise for an array of things and Steve was able to address all of my needs. With a limited timeframe and an extreme amount of obstacles to overcome he worked meticulously, diligently and accomplished extraordinary results. His professionalism is incomparable and I am forever grateful.
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From their offices in Philadelphia, PA, the law firm of Steven J. Fromm & Associates, P.C. provides a full range of estate planning, probate and estate administration, tax, business and corporate legal services to clients throughout eastern Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley, the Lehigh Valley Area, the Five-County Area, Bucks County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Chester County, Philadelphia County, Berks County, Lehigh County, Lancaster County, York County, Harrisburg, Norristown, Doylestown, Media, West Chester, Allentown, Lancaster, and Reading.