Social Security tips for couples

See 3 ways that may help married couples boost their lifetime benefits.

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Key takeaways

A couple with similar incomes and ages and long life expectancies may want to consider maximizing lifetime benefits by both delaying their claim.For couples with big differences in earnings, consider claiming the spousal benefit, which may be better than claiming your own.A couple with shorter life expectancies may want to consider claiming earlier. 

Married couples may have some advantages when deciding how and when to claim Social Security. Even though the basic rules apply to everyone, a couple has more options than a single person because each member of a couple1 can claim at different dates and may be eligible for spousal benefits.

Making the most of Social Security requires some strategy to take advantage of the basic benefit rules, however. After you reach age 62, for every year you postpone taking Social Security (up to age 70), you could receive up to 8% more in future monthly payments. (Once you reach age 70, increases stop, so there is no benefit to waiting past age 70.) Members of a couple may also have the option of claiming benefits based on their own work record, or 50% of their spouse’s benefit. For couples with big differences in earnings, claiming the spousal benefit may be better than claiming your own.

What’s more, Social Security payments are guaranteed for life and should generally adjust with inflation, thanks to cost-of-living increases. Because people are living longer these days, a higher stream of inflation-protected lifetime income can be very valuable.

But to take advantage of the higher monthly benefits, you may need to accept some short-term sacrifice. In other words, you’ll have less Social Security income in the first few years of retirement in order to get larger benefits later.

“As people live longer, the risk of outliving their savings in retirement is a big concern,” says Ann Dowd, a CFP® and vice president at Fidelity. “Maximizing Social Security is a key part of how couples can manage that risk.”

A key question for you and your spouse to discuss is how long you each expect to live. Deferring when you receive Social Security means a higher monthly benefit. But it takes time to make up for the lower payments foregone during the period between age 62 and when you ultimately chose to claim, as well as for future higher monthly benefits to compensate for the retirement savings you need to tap into to pay for daily living expenses during the delay period.

But when one spouse dies, the surviving spouse can claim the higher monthly benefit for the rest of their life. So, for a couple with at least one member who expects to live into their late 80s or 90s, deferring the higher earner’s benefit may make sense. If both members of a couple have serious health issues and therefore anticipate shorter life expectancies, claiming early may make more sense.

How likely are you to live to be 85, 90, or older? The answer may surprise you. Longevity has been steadily increasing, and surveys show that many people underestimate how long they will live. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a man turning 65 today will live to be 84.3 on average and a woman will live to be 86.6 on average. For a couple at age 65, the chances that one person will survive to age 85 are more than 75%. Further, the SSA estimates that 1 in 4 65-year-olds today will live past age 90, and 1 in 10 will live past age 95.2

Tip: To learn about trends in aging and people living longer, read Viewpoints on Fidelity.com: Longevity and retirement

Strategy No. 1: Maximize lifetime benefits

A couple with similar incomes and ages and long life expectancies may maximize lifetime benefits if both delay.

How it works: The basic principle is that the longer you defer your benefits, the larger the monthly benefits grow. Each year you delay Social Security from age 62 to 70 could increase your benefit by up to 8%.

Who it may benefit: This strategy works best for couples with normal to high life expectancies with similar earnings, who are planning to work until age 70 or have sufficient savings to provide any needed income during the deferral period.

Example: Willard’s life expectancy is 88, and his income is $75,000. Helena’s life expectancy is 90, and her income is $70,000. They enjoy working.

Suppose Willard and Helena both claim at age 62. As a couple, they would receive a lifetime benefit of $1,100,000. But if they live to be ages 88 and 90, respectively, deferring to age 70 would mean about $250,000 in additional benefits.

This chart explains potential benefits of claiming Social Security later in life.

All lifetime benefits are expressed in today’s dollars, calculated using life expectancies of 88 and 90 for husband and wife, respectively. The numbers are sensitive to life expectancy assumptions and could change.

Strategy No. 2: Claim early due to health concerns

A couple with shorter life expectancies may want to claim earlier.

How it works: Benefits are available at age 62, and full retirement age (FRA) is based on your birth year.

Who it may benefit: Couples planning on a shorter retirement period may want to consider claiming earlier. Generally, one member of a couple would need to live into their late 80s for the increased benefits from deferral to offset the benefits sacrificed from age 62 to 70. While a couple at age 65 can expect one spouse to live to be 85, on average, couples who cannot afford to wait or who have reasons to plan for a shorter retirement, may want to claim early.

Example: Carter is age 64 and expects to live to 78. He earns $70,000 per year. Caroline is 62 and expects to live until age 76. She earns $80,000 a year.

By claiming at their current age, Carter and Caroline are able to maximize their lifetime benefits. Compared with deferring until age 70, taking benefits at their current age, respectively, would yield an additional $113,000 in benefits—an increase of nearly 22%.

This chart explains that a couple with a shorter life expectancy may want to claim Social Security early.

All lifetime benefits are expressed in today’s dollars, calculated using life expectancies of 78 and 76 for husband and wife, respectively. The numbers are sensitive to life expectancy assumptions and could change.

Strategy No. 3: Maximize the survivor benefit

Maximize Social Security—for you and your spouse—by claiming later.

How it works: When you die, your spouse is eligible to receive your monthly Social Security payment as a survivor benefit, if it’s higher than their own monthly amount. But if you start taking Social Security before your full retirement age (FRA), you are permanently limiting your partner’s survivor benefits. Many people overlook this when they decide to start collecting Social Security at age 62. If you delay your claim until your full retirement age—which ranges from 66 to 67, depending on when you were born—or even longer, until you are age 70, your monthly benefit will grow and, in turn, so will your surviving spouse’s benefit after your death. (Get your full retirement ageOpens in a new window)

Who it may benefit: This strategy is most useful if your monthly Social Security benefit is higher than your spouse’s, and if your spouse is in good health and expects to outlive you.

Example: Consider a hypothetical couple who are both about to turn age 62. Aaron is eligible to receive $2,000 a month from Social Security when he reaches his FRA of 66 years and 6 months. He believes he has average longevity for a man his age, which means he could live to age 85. His wife, Elaine, will get $1,000 at her FRA of 66 years and 6 months and, based on her health and family history, anticipates living to an above-average age of 94. The couple was planning to retire at 62, when he would get $1,450 a month, and she would get $725 from Social Security. Because they’re claiming early, their monthly benefits are 27.5% lower than they would be at their FRA. Aaron also realizes taking payments at age 62 would reduce his wife’s benefits during the 9 years they expect her to outlive him.

This chart shows how waiting to claim may increase the Social Security survivor benefit.

All lifetime benefits are expressed in today’s dollars, calculated using life expectancies of 85 and 94 for husband and wife, respectively. The numbers are sensitive to life expectancy assumptions and could change.

If Aaron waits until he’s 66 years and 6 months to collect benefits, he’ll get $2,000 a month. If he delays his claim until age 70, his benefit—and his wife’s survivor benefit—will increase another 28%, to $2,560 a month. (Note: Social Security payout figures are in today’s dollars and before tax; the actual benefit would be adjusted for inflation and possibly subject to income tax.)

Waiting until age 70 will not only boost his own future cumulative benefits, it will also have a significant effect on his wife’s benefits. In this hypothetical example, her lifetime Social Security benefits would rise by about $69,000, or 16%.

Even if it turns out that Elaine is overly optimistic and she dies at age 90, her lifetime benefits will still increase approximately 34% and she would collect approximately $129,000 more in Social Security benefits than if they had both claimed at 62 (vs. both waiting until age 70 to claim Social Security).

In situations where the spouse’s Social Security monthly benefit is greater than their partner’s, the longer a spouse waits to claim Social Security, the higher the monthly benefit for both the spouse and the surviving spouse. For more on why it’s often better to wait until at least your FRA before claiming Social Security, read Viewpoints on Fidelity.com: Should you take Social Security at 62?

In conclusion

Social Security can form the bedrock of your retirement income plan. That’s because your benefits are inflation-protected and will last for the rest of your life. When making your choice, be sure to consider how long you may live, your financial capacity to defer benefits, and the impact it may have on your survivors. Consider working with your Fidelity financial advisor to explore options on how and when to claim your benefits.

Next steps to consider

 

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This information is intended to be educational and is not tailored to the investment needs of any specific investor.This article uses the Annuity 2000 mortality table to determine longevity, which is a narrower universe than the Social Security Administration’s. The Social Security Administration uses a mortality table that averages the entire nation. The Annuity 2000 table better reflects the typical Fidelity client, skewing toward a somewhat more educated and affluent individual with a slightly longer life span.1. On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all states and have their marriage recognized by other states. This ruling made it possible for same-sex couples to benefit from SSA programsOpens in a new window.2. https://www.ssa.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.htmlOpens in a new windowLifetime benefits are determined by calculating the present values of the Social Security payments over time. The present values are calculated by discounting the Social Security payouts by an inflation-adjusted rate of return. The illustrations use the historical average yield of U.S. 10-Year TIPS for discounting.The benefit calculations and discounting in this article do not account for the effect of taxes. The after-tax discount rate for an individual could be very different from another depending on multiple factors, including the sources and levels of income. For individualized estimates, one could try the Retirement Estimator from the Social Security Administration. It assumes a person is in good health. Average longevity corresponds with a 50% chance of living to a stated age. Above-average longevity corresponds with a 25% chance of living to a stated age.The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Fidelity does not provide legal or tax advice. Fidelity cannot guarantee that such information is accurate, complete, or timely. Laws of a particular state or laws that may be applicable to a particular situation may have an impact on the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of such information. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and are subject to change. Changes in such laws and regulations may have a material effect on pretax and/or after-tax investment results. Fidelity makes no warranties with regard to such information or results obtained by its use. Fidelity disclaims any liability arising out of your use of, or any tax position taken in reliance on, such information. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.Investing involves risk, including risk of loss.Votes are submitted voluntarily by individuals and reflect their own opinion of the article’s helpfulness. A percentage value for helpfulness will display once a sufficient number of votes have been submitted.

Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC, 900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917702419.7.2

Business Meal & Entertainment Expense Deductions

Tax Business Tax Tips For Schedule C Filers1 54986ceb23dc8

Deductions for business meals are back on the table. Allaying initial fears, the IRS recently provided clarification concerning food and beverage deductions under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in Notice 2018-76. Based on this guidance, many of your business clients may still qualify for some write-offs.

Significantly, the TCJA eliminated the traditional 50% deduction for business entertainment and meals, effective in 2018. Therefore, clients can no longer write off expenses relating to entertainment, recreation or amusement like the cost of a play or concert tickets following a substantial business discussion. However, the TCJA generally preserved the other rules for food and beverage expenses under Section 274, including the strict substantiation requirements.

This led to arguments in the tax community as to whether certain business meal expenses would remain deductible. (Clearly, deductions for meals are still available for taxpayers traveling away from home on business.) Under the interim guidance provided in Notice 2018-76, the IRS says that a 50% deduction is allowed for food and beverage expenses if the following conditions are met:

  • The expense is an ordinary and necessary business expense under Section 162(a) paid or incurred during the tax year when carrying on any trade or business;
  • The expense isn’t lavish or extravagant under the circumstances;
  • The taxpayer, or an employee of the taxpayer, is present when the food or beverages are furnished;
  • The food and beverages are provided to a current or potential business customer, client, consultant or similar business contact; and
  • For food and beverages provided during or at an entertainment activity, they are purchased separately from the entertainment, or the cost of the food and beverages is stated separately from the cost of the entertainment on one or more bills, invoices or receipts.

Furthermore, the IRS indicated it won’t allow the crackdown on entertainment and meal deductions to be circumvented by inflating the amount charged for food and beverages.

Notice 2018-76 contains three examples illustrating how the IRS intends to interpret these rules. All three examples involve attending a sporting event with a business client and having food and drink while attending the game.

Example 1: Taxpayer A takes a customer to a baseball game and buy the hot dogs and drinks. The tickets are nondeductible entertainment, but Taxpayer A can deduct 50% of the cost of the hot dogs and drinks purchased separately.

Example 2: Taxpayer B takes a customer to a basketball game in a luxury suite. During the game, they have access to food and beverages, which are included in the cost of the tickets. Both the cost of the tickets and the food and beverages are nondeductible entertainment.

Example 3: The facts involving Taxpayer C are the same as they are for Taxpayer B, except that the invoice for the basketball game tickets separately states the cost of the food and beverages. As a result, Taxpayer C can deduct 50% of the cost of the food and beverages.

The IRS has announced it plans to issue proposed regulations on this issue. It is requesting comments by December 2, 2019. 

What “Closing Costs” Can I Deduct When Purchasing a Home?

IRS Publication 530

When you purchased your home, you may have paid what is called “settlement” or “closing costs” in addition to the contract price. These costs are typically divided between you and the seller according to the sales contract. If you built your home, these costs were probably paid when you bought the land or settled on your mortgage.

What You Can and Can’t Deduct
To deduct expenses of owning a home, you must file Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, and itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040). If you itemize, you can’t take the standard deduction.
There are three primary discussions: real estate taxes, sales taxes, and home mortgage interest.
Generally, your real estate taxes and home mortgage interest are included in your house payment.
Your house payment. If you took out a mortgage (loan) to finance the purchase of your home, you probably have to make monthly house payments. Your house payment may include several costs of owning a home. The only costs you can deduct are state and local real estate taxes actually paid to the taxing authority and interest that qualifies as home mortgage interest. These are discussed in more detail later.
Some nondeductible expenses that may be included in your house payment include:

• Mortgage insurance premiums,

• Fire or homeowner’s insurance premiums, and
• The amount applied to reduce the principal of the mortgage.


Minister’s or military housing allowance. If you are a minister or a member of the uni-formed services and receive a housing allowance that isn’t taxable, you still can deduct your real estate taxes and your home mortgage interest. You don’t have to reduce your deductions by your nontaxable allowance. For more information, see Pub. 517, Social Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers, and Pub. 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide.
Nondeductible payments. You can’t deduct any of the following items.
• Insurance, including fire and comprehensive coverage, mortgage insurance, and title insurance.
• Wages you pay for domestic help.
• Depreciation.
• The cost of utilities, such as gas, electricity, or water.
• Most settlement costs. See Settlement or closing costs under Cost as Basis, later, for more information.
• Forfeited deposits, down payments, or ear-nest money.

For additional tax information for homeowners, please see IRS Publication 530.

529 basics

Defining 529s

Wondering how a 529 plan can help you save for your child’s future? First, you’ll need to know some basics.

529_basics_1.jpg

What is a 529 college savings plan?

It’s a type of investment account you can use for higher-education savings. 529 plans are usually sponsored by states.

Where does the name come from?

It comes from Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, which specifies the plan’s tax advantages.

What makes these savings vehicles so powerful?

Tax savings. Your earnings grow federally tax-deferred, qualified withdrawals are tax-free,* and some states (like New York) have other tax benefits as well.**

Learn about the Direct Plan’s tax benefits

Owners and beneficiaries

Who can open a 529 plan account?

Just about anybody can open a 529 account—parents, grandparents, other relatives, friends—as long as he or she is a U.S. citizen or a resident alien. As an account owner, you’ll pick investments, assign a beneficiary, and determine how the money is used. If you’re a New York State taxpayer, you can also benefit from the state tax deduction.**

See how you can benefit by saving with the Direct Plan

How much financial knowledge do I need to start investing in the plan?

There are options for every level of investor which are described in detail in the Disclosure Booklet and Tuition Savings Agreement. Your choices will depend on how comfortable you are with risk and when you expect your student to need the money.

Find out more about choosing your investments

What’s a beneficiary?

A beneficiary is the future student, or the person you open the account for. You can open an account for a child, grandchild, friend, or even yourself. The only rule is that the beneficiary must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien with a valid Social Security number or other taxpayer identification number.

What happens if the beneficiary doesn’t want to continue his or her education?

If that’s the case, you have a couple of options. You can stay invested in case he or she decides to attend school later, as there’s no age limit on using the money. Or you can change the beneficiary to an eligible family member.

You can also withdraw the money for other uses. However, a 10% penalty tax on earnings (as well as federal and state income taxes) may apply if you withdraw the money to pay for nonqualified expenses.

Using the money

How can I use the money in a 529 account?

Your account can be used for any purpose but please note the following:

Federal tax issues:  To qualify for federal tax-free withdrawals on earnings, the money must be used for qualified expenses for the beneficiary at an eligible educational institution or to pay expenses for tuition in connection with enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school (K-12 tuition).*

Qualified expenses include tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for enrollment or attendance; the purchase of certain computer equipment, software, internet access, and related services, if used primarily by the beneficiary while enrolled at an eligible educational institution; certain room and board expenses during academic periods in which the beneficiary is enrolled at least half-time; and certain expenses for students with special needs.  Qualified expenses also include K-12 tuition of up to $10,000 per year per beneficiary.

New York State tax issues:  To qualify for New York State tax-free withdrawals on earnings, the money must be used for qualified higher education expenses at an eligible educational institution.  Under New York State law, distributions for K-12 tuition expenses are considered nonqualified withdrawals and will require the recapture of any New York State tax benefits that have accrued on contributions.

Other state tax issues:  Outside New York, some states may require recapture of tax deductions or tax credits previously taken for K-12 tuition withdrawals.  Consult your tax and financial advisors for more information.

Can 529 accounts only be used to pay for college?

No. Your 529 account can be used to pay for qualified higher-education expenses at any eligible educational institutions, including:

  • Postsecondary trade and vocational schools.
  • 2- and 4-year colleges.
  • Postgraduate programs.

Search for eligible schools

Does it matter what state the beneficiary’s school is in?

No. Although you’ll be investing in a 529 plan sponsored by the State of New York, the student can attend any eligible educational institution (including eligible trade and vocational schools) in the United States or abroad.

Getting started

How much does it cost to start?

There are no fees to open an account in New York’s 529 College Savings Program Direct Plan, and there is no minimum contribution amount to get started. Once you have an account, you’ll pay only $1.30 in fees per year for every $1,000 you invest in the Direct Plan (0.13% total annual asset-based fee).

How much can I invest?

529 account contribution limits are generally high—ranging from $200,000 or more, depending on the state. For the Direct Plan, you can contribute up to $520,000 on behalf of one beneficiary. This amount includes all New York-sponsored 529 savings accounts held for the same beneficiary.

What if I don’t have time for this?

We can see how you might feel that way—most parents are pretty busy these days. But starting to save early can make a big difference, and after you’ve completed your research, opening an account only takes about 10 minutes.

Read the Disclosure Booklet

See why saving early matters

Learn about opening a Direct Plan account

Need more information?

You can find more answers on our FAQs page. Or you can call us at 877-NYSAVES (877-697-2837) on business days from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Eastern time.

Get answers to your questions

#IRS launches new #Tax #Withholding Estimator; Redesigned online tool makes it easier to do a #paycheck checkup

https://apps.irs.gov/app/tax-withholding-estimator

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today launched the new Tax Withholding Estimator, an expanded, mobile-friendly online tool designed to make it easier for everyone to have the right amount of tax withheld during the year.

The Tax Withholding Estimator replaces the Withholding Calculator, which offered workers a convenient online method for checking their withholding. The new Tax Withholding Estimator offers workers, as well as retirees, self-employed individuals and other taxpayers, a more user-friendly step-by-step tool for effectively tailoring the amount of income tax they have withheld from wages and pension payments.

“The new estimator takes a new approach and makes it easier for taxpayers to review their withholding,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “This is part of an ongoing effort by the IRS to improve quality services as we continue to pursue modernization and enhancements of our taxpayer relationships.”

The IRS took the feedback and concerns of taxpayers and tax professionals to develop the Tax Withholding Estimator, which offers a variety of new user-friendly features including:

  • Plain language throughout the tool to improve comprehension.
  • The ability to more effectively target at the time of filing either a tax due amount close to zero or a refund amount.
  • A new progress tracker to help users see how much more information they need to input.
  • The ability to move back and forth through the steps, correct previous entries and skip questions that don’t apply.
  • Enhanced tips and links to help the user quickly determine if they qualify for various tax credits and deductions.
  • Self-employment tax for a user who has self-employment income in addition to wages or pensions.
  • Automatic calculation of the taxable portion of any Social Security benefits.
  • A mobile-friendly design.

In addition, the new Tax Withholding Estimator makes it easier to enter wages and withholding for each job held by the taxpayer and their spouse, as well as separately entering pensions and other sources of income. At the end of the process, the tool makes specific withholding recommendations for each job and each spouse and clearly explains what the taxpayer should do next.

The new Tax Withholding Estimator will help anyone doing tax planning for the last few months of 2019. Like last year, the IRS urges everyone to do a Paycheck Checkup and review their withholding for 2019. This is especially important for anyone who faced an unexpected tax bill or a penalty when they filed this year. It’s also an important step for those who made withholding adjustments in 2018 or had a major life change.

Those most at risk of having too little tax withheld include those who itemized in the past but now take the increased standard deduction, as well as two-wage-earner households, employees with nonwage sources of income and those with complex tax situations.

To get started, check out the Tax Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov.

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EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Update

Minimum Investments, Targeted Employment Area Designations Among Reforms

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and #Immigration Services (#USCIS) will publish a final rule on July 24 that makes a number of significant changes to its #EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, marking the first significant revision of the program’s regulations since 1993. The final rule will become effective on Nov. 21, 2019. 

New developments under the final rule include:

  • Raising the minimum investment amounts;
  • Revising the standards for certain targeted employment area (TEA) designations;
  • Giving the agency responsibility for directly managing TEA designations;
  • Clarifying USCIS procedures for the removal of conditions on permanent residence; and
  • Allowing EB-5 petitioners to retain their priority date under certain circumstances.

Under the EB-5 program, individuals are eligible to apply for conditional lawful permanent residence in the United States if they make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and create or, in certain circumstances, preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

“Nearly 30 years ago, Congress created the EB-5 program to benefit U.S. workers, boost the economy, and aid distressed communities by providing an incentive for foreign capital investment in the United States,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “Since its inception, the EB-5 program has drifted away from Congress’s intent. Our reforms increase the investment level to account for inflation over the past three decades and substantially restrict the possibility of gerrymandering to ensure that the reduced investment amount is reserved for rural and  high-unemployment areas most in need. This final rule strengthens the EB-5 program by returning it to its Congressional intent.”

Major changes to EB-5 in the final rule include:

  • Raising minimum investment amounts: As of the effective date of the final rule, the standard minimum investment level will increase from $1 million to $1.8 million, the first increase since 1990, to account for inflation. The rule also keeps the 50% minimum investment differential between a TEA and a non-TEA, thereby increasing the minimum investment amount in a TEA from $500,000 to $900,000. The final rule also provides that the minimum investment amounts will automatically adjust for inflation every five years. 
  • #TEA designation reforms: The final rule outlines changes to the EB-5 program to address gerrymandering of high-unemployment areas (which means deliberately manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency). Gerrymandering of such areas was typically accomplished by combining a series of census tracts to link a prosperous project location to a distressed community to obtain the qualifying average unemployment rate. As of the effective date of the final rule, DHS will eliminate a state’s ability to designate certain geographic and political subdivisions as high-unemployment areas; instead, DHS would make such designations directly based on revised requirements in the regulation limiting the composition of census tract-based TEAs. These revisions will help ensure TEA designations are done fairly and consistently, and more closely adhere to congressional intent to direct investment to areas most in need. 
  • Clarifying USCIS procedures for removing conditions on permanent residence: The rule revises regulations to make clear that certain derivative family members who are lawful permanent residents must independently file to remove conditions on their permanent residence. The requirement would not apply to those family members who were included in a principal investor’s petition to remove conditions. The rule improves the adjudication process for removing conditions by providing flexibility in interview locations and to adopt the current USCIS process for issuing Green Cards.
  • Allowing EB-5 petitioners to keep their priority date: The final rule also offers greater flexibility to immigrant investors who have a previously approved EB-5 immigrant petition. When they need to file a new EB-5 petition, they generally now will be able to retain the priority date of the previously approved petition, subject to certain exceptions.

For more information on USCIS and our programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis) and Instagram (/uscis)

#Divorce or #separation may have an effect on #taxes

Taxpayers should be aware of tax law changes related to alimony and separation payments. These payments are made after a divorce or separation. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed the rules around them, which will affect certain taxpayers when they file their 2019 tax returns next year.

Here are some facts that will help people understand these changes and who they will impact:

  • The law relates to payments under a divorce or separation agreement. This includes:
    • Divorce decrees.
    • Separate maintenance decrees.
    • Written separation agreements.

  • In general, the taxpayer who makes payments to a spouse or former spouse can deduct it on their tax return. The taxpayer who receives the payments is required to include it in their income.

  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, alimony or separate maintenance payments are not deductible from the income of the payer spouse, or includable in the income of the receiving spouse, if made under a divorce or separation agreement executed after Dec. 31, 2018. 

  • If an agreement was executed on or before Dec. 31, 2018 and then modified after that date, the new law also applies. The new law applies if the modification does these two things:
    • It changes the terms of the alimony or separate maintenance payments.
    • It specifically says that alimony or separate maintenance payments are not deductible by the payer spouse or includable in the income of the receiving spouse.

  • Agreements executed on or before Dec. 31, 2018 follow the previous rules. If an agreement was modified after that date, the agreement still follows the previous law as long as the modifications don’t do what’s described above.

More Information:
Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals
Publication 5307, Tax Reform Basics for Individuals and Families

Share this tip on social media — #IRSTaxTip: Divorce or separation may have an effect on taxes. https://go.usa.gov/xyD4F

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Personal income tax up-to-date information for 2018 (Articles 22 and 30)

Select to view another year   – Year –  2018         2017  2016 2015 2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001     

The following changes were not reflected on the forms for 2018 when they went to print.

If any of the following updates impact a tax form that you are responsible for filing, and you have not yet filed such form, you must incorporate these updates when filing such form.

If you have already filed such form, and one of the following updates affects a calculation previously reported, you must file an amended form reflecting such update.

Select a tax form from the following list to identify the changes affecting that form. If a form is not listed, there have been no changes affecting that form.


IT-201, IT-203
IT-203-I
IT-205-I
IT-225-I
IT-196
IT-196-I
IT-203-X, IT-203-X-I


  • IT-225-ISee updated informationregarding a New York deduction for student loans discharged due to death or disability. As a result of the new law, the Subtraction modificationschart beginning on page 16 is corrected to include:The table below may contain content too wide for the screen. To view all of its content, please use the scrollbarat the bottom of the table, or scrollthe table itself if using a touch device.Subtraction Modification ChartModification 
    numberDescriptionReturnsIT-201IT-203IT-204IT-205S-134Student loans discharged due to death or disabilityXXX
  • IT-201, IT-203Form IT-201, line 77 should read as follows: 

    77        Amount overpaid 
    (if line 76 is more than line 62, subtract line 62 from line 76; see page 33)Form IT-203, line 67 should read as follows: 

    67        Amount overpaid 
    (if line 66 is more than line 59, subtract line 59 from line 66; see page 37)
  • IT-201-I, IT-203-IOn page 4 of the printed version of the paper form, the freefilelogo was omitted from the E-file your returnad. It is correct on the web version of the forms listed above.

    The NYS 529 college savings account Plan codechart in the instructions for Form IT-195, Allocation ofRefund, should read as follows:Plan code chart corrections Plan codeDescription552New York’s 529 College Savings Program Direct Plan553New York’s 529 Advisor Guided College Savings Program
  • IT-203-IForm IT-203-I, page 28, line 33 instructions should read as follows: 2. Use Form IT-196, New York Resident, Nonresident, and Part-Year Resident Itemized Deductions, and its instructions to compute your New York itemized deduction. Compare the Form IT-196, line 49 amount to your New York standard deduction amount from the standard deduction table. For greater tax savings, enter the larger of these amounts on line 33 and mark an in the appropriate box, Standard or Itemized.
  • IT-205-INote: See up-to-date information for 2018 Form IT-225-I, below, if you have any of these deductions:
    • IRC section 199A deduction;
    • deduction for foreign real property taxes;
    • deduction for taxes under IRC section 164 that was limited to $10,000; or
    • miscellaneous itemized deductions disallowed under IRC section 67(g).
  • IT-225-I

1. On page 5, above addition modification A-201, add the following:

A-120 IRC section 199A deduction

If an estate or trust was allowed a deduction under IRC section 199A in computing federal taxable income, then enter the amount of that deduction.

2. On page 13, above subtraction modification S-201, add the following:

S-138 State and local tax deduction other than state and local sales taxes and income taxes

If an estate or trust claimed a deduction for taxes under IRC section 164 that was limited to $10,000 as provided in IRC section 164(b)(6)(B), or that was denied under IRC section 164(b)(6)(A), then enter the amount of state and local taxes that the estate or trust was not able to deduct for federal income tax purposes because of such limitation or denial, other than state and local sales taxes and income taxes as described in Tax Law § 615(c)(1).

Note: In determining the makeup of the $10,000 of deduction claimed by the estate or trust under IRC section 164, it shall be presumed that the $10,000 first comprises the state and local income taxes (or sales taxes, if applicable) the estate or trust accrued or paid during the taxable year.

S-139 Miscellaneous itemized deductions

If an estate or trust had miscellaneous itemized deductions, as described in and limited by IRC section 67 (excluding the deductions described in section 67(e)), that the estate or trust was not able to deduct for federal income tax purposes due solely to IRC section 67(g), then enter the amount disallowed under IRC section 67(g).

3. Addition modifications chart beginning on page 15 is corrected to include:

Modification numberDescriptionReturns
IT-201IT-203IT-204IT-205
A-120IRC section 199A deductionX


4. Subtraction modifications chart beginning on page 16 is corrected to include:

Modification numberDescriptionReturns
IT-201IT-203IT-204IT-205
S-138State and local tax deduction other than state and local sales taxes and income taxes   X
S-139Miscellaneous itemized deductionsX
  • IT-196

    Form IT-196, lines 16, 17, and 18 should read as follows:

16        Gifts by cash or check (see instructions)

17        Other than by cash or check (see instructions)

18        Carryover from prior year (see instructions)

  • IT-196-I

1. On pages 3, 4, and 5, replace the entire Gifts to charity section with the following: 

Gifts to charity

Line 16

  • If you claimed an itemized deduction for gifts to charity by cash or check on your federal income tax return, enter the amount from federal Schedule A, line 11.

  • If you did not claim an itemized deduction for gifts to charity on your federal income tax return, compute the amount to enter on line 16 of Form IT-196 as if you had, using the 2018 instructions for federal Schedule A.

Line 17

  • If you claimed an itemized deduction for gifts to charity other than by cash or check on your federal income tax return, enter the amount from federal Schedule A, line 12.

  • If you did not claim an itemized deduction for gifts to charity on your federal income tax return, compute the amount to enter on line 17 of Form IT-196 as if you had, using the 2018 instructions for federal Schedule A.

Line 18

  • If you claimed an itemized deduction for gifts to charity on your federal income tax return and have a carryover from a prior year, enter the amount from federal Schedule A, line 13.

  • If you did not claim an itemized deduction for gifts to charity on your federal income tax return, compute the amount to enter on line 18 of Form IT-196 as if you had, using the 2018 instructions for federal Schedule A.




2. Form IT-196-I, page 17, line 24b for the Unreimbursed employee business expenses worksheet should read as follows:

Line 24b – If you leased a vehicle for a term of 30 days or more, you may have to reduce your deduction for vehicle lease payments by an amount called the inclusion amount.

For tax years beginning in 2018, all vehicles are subject to a single inclusion amount threshold for passenger automobiles leased and put into service in 2018.

You may have an inclusion amount for a passenger automobile if:
the lease term began in:and the vehicle’s fair market value on the first day of the lease exceeded:
2018$50,000

For tax years prior to 2018, see inclusion tables below.

You may have an inclusion amount for a passenger automobile if:
the lease term began in:and the vehicle’s fair market value on the first day of the lease exceeded:
2014, 2015, 2016, or 2017$19,000
You may have an inclusion amount for a truck or van if:
the lease term began in:and the vehicle’s fair market value on the first day of the lease exceeded:
2014, 2015, 2016, or 2017$19,500

See the 2018 IRS Publication 463, Travel, Gift, and Car Expenses, to determine your inclusion amount.

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