It’s becoming increasingly likely that certain popular — but temporary — tax breaks will be allowed to expire at the end of 2013. Should you be alarmed? Not necessarily.
There is a history of Congress renewing tax breaks after they expire, although this is not the usual route. And quite a few of the about-to-expire breaks have a history of being renewed for various reasons, including the stimulus they provide for the economy, especially during congressional election years, which 2014 will be. Still, one never knows what Congress is capable of when it comes to taxes.
Among the expiring provisions of interest to high-net-worth individuals and businesses:
Generous tax write-offs for new business property. From computers used in a home office to certain building improvements, a business can expense (fully depreciate) up to $500,000 in property acquired in 2013, subject of course to certain income limitations. But starting in 2014, only $25,000 in new personal property (not building improvements) can be expensed annually, assuming this economy-boosting tax break isn’t adjusted or renewed next year.
Tax-advantaged transfers from an IRA to a charity, for those age 70 ½ or older. For 2013, up to $100,000 can be transferred directly to a qualified charity and not count as income. At the same time, the transfer does count toward the IRA’s required minimum distribution. Note that for this purpose, donor-advised funds (DAFs) are not considered qualified charities. Congress has re-authorized this tax break three times in the past.
The itemized deduction for state and local sales taxes. Washington State residents have benefited from this tax break for years. Since our state doesn’t tax income, this is in lieu of the state-tax deduction that residents of California and other income-taxing states get to take.
The alternative-energy tax credit. This is for homeowners and non-business entities that install solar or other environmentally friendly energy sources or devices.
The 20% tax credit for research and development (R&D). This tax break has expired 15 times since it was introduced in 1981 and has been renewed each time.