The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made big changes to how the government calculates your income taxes. Most of the changes took effect in 2019 and applied to your 2018 federal tax return. But a few changes went into effect in 2020, and applied for the first time to your 2019 return. The Internal Revenue Service also made adjustments for inflation to some deductions, credits, and tax brackets.
New for 2019 Tax Year: Affordable Care Act Fee Dropped
The health care law’s “individual mandate” is eliminated starting with tax year 2019.
New, Higher Standard Deduction Adjusts for Inflation
The law nearly doubled the standard deduction for most filers last year. The standard deduction for tax year 2019 was
$12,200 for individuals (up $200 from last year to adjust for inflation)
$18,350 for heads of household (up $350)
$24,400 for married couples filing jointly (up $400)
Standard Deduction Versus Itemizing
Deductions lower the amount of income that you pay tax on. You can take the standard deduction or you can itemize deductions. Your standard deduction may now be greater than your total itemized deductions. Learn how to decide to take the standard deduction or to itemize.
Itemized Deduction Changes for 2019
Many itemized deductions were eliminated or capped in 2018. Here are a couple of new changes for 2019.
New Alimony and Divorce Payments
If you pay alimony under a divorce or separation agreement created or changed in 2019 or later, you cannot deduct it.
- If you receive alimony under an agreement made or modified in 2019 or later, it won’t be included in your taxable income.
- For tax year 2019, you can deduct unreimbursed medical and dental expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, just like last year.
The threshold was supposed to go up to 10% for 2019 but was canceled out as part of a new law signed in late 2019.
Tax Rates Stay the Same as in 2018
Tax rates fell last year under the new tax law. The rates remain the same this year, ranging from 10% to 37%. The tax brackets, or income ranges, increased slightly for inflation. Check out this table with the 2019 and 2018 tax rates and brackets.
Personal and Dependent Exemptions Remain at Zero
These were eliminated last year. Prior to that, they lowered your taxable income by $4,050 each for you, your spouse, and your dependents. The higher standard deduction and increases in other credits may help offset the loss of the exemptions.
Child Tax Credit Stays the Same After Doubling in 2018
Tax credits are better than deductions because they reduce your tax bill dollar-for-dollar. The Child Tax Credit now reduces your taxes up to $2,000 per child under 17. (This change went into effect last year.) Many more families now qualify for the credit as income limits have gone up to
$200,000 for individual filers (the same as last year and up from $75,000 two years ago)
$400,000 for married filing jointly (the same as last year and up from $110,000 two years ago)
This is a “refundable” credit, meaning you can get up to $1,400 per child back even if your 2019 tax bill is $0. You must claim the credit on your tax return to get it.
Social Security Number Required for Child Tax Credit
Any child you claim for the Child Tax Credit must now have a Social Security number. They must have the number by the due date of your tax return (including extensions).
Credit for Other Dependents, Created Last Year, Stays at $500
You can now claim a credit for your other dependents, including kids 17 and up and other relatives. To qualify, a dependent must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. Green Card holder.
Learn More About Tax Reform Law Changes
For more information about the tax law changes, see: