We have nearly finished covering the changes made to individual taxation! Business owners can prepare for the upcoming crash course in new tax structures, but for now, we return to the adjustments that affect those who itemize their deductions.
First is the State and Local Tax Deduction, known as SALT. Previously, taxpayers could deduct the entirety of their property taxes as well as one of income or sales taxes. This was a huge benefit to taxpayers in high-tax states: just six states claimed half of the total amount this deduction was used for. Congress limited this deduction to $10,000, starting with tax year 2018. Certain states immediately moved to find ways around this limitation. California, for example, introduced legislation that essentially allowed taxpayers to make a charitable contribution to a fund, which the state then treated as payment towards the state income tax. The state still receives its tax money, and the taxpayer gets his or her deduction, though it comes by way of the charitable contribution deduction instead of the SALT deduction.
Speaking of the charitable contribution deduction, Congress raised the deduction cap—a rare move given the incentive of the more significant standard deduction. Previously, taxpayers could deduct contributions up to 50% of their adjusted gross income. Congress rained this limit to 60%.
One last substantial deduction exists for home mortgage interest, and Congress changed this deduction in a few different ways. Under previous law, homeowners could deduct mortgage interest on loans up to one million dollars. Congress reduced this limit by 25%, and now taxpayers can deduct interest on $750,000 worth of new loans, with existing million dollar loans grandfathered in. The division happened on December 14, 2017: loans taken out before that day have the benefit of the older rule. Additionally, taxpayers could previously deduct interest on home equity loans up to $100,000. Congress removed this deduction completely. The only exception to this occurs if proceeds on the loan are used to improve the home.