10 Tax Changes for 2008

April 1, 2008

Plan now and you’ll be in a better position to know what you’ll owe Uncle Sam this time next year.

1. More money for gas. The standard mileage deduction for business increases to 50.5 cents per mile. Note that mileage rates for medical or moving purposes fall to 19 cents per mile.

2. More money for retirement. You can contribute $5,000 to your IRA ($6,000 if you’re over 50) in 2008.

3. No breaks for sales taxes. The provision permitting taxpayers to deduct state sales taxes — a big plus in states with no income tax — expired at the end of 2007.

4. More tax breaks for retirement savings. Married taxpayers with joint income of up to $85,000 will be able to deduct IRA contributions if they file jointly; individuals with income of up to $53,000 can take the deduction.

5. Higher standard deduction. If you’re one of the two thirds of taxpayers who don’t itemize, you’ll be able to deduct $10,900 as a married couple filing jointly ($5,450 for singles) in 2008.

6. No tax on some capital gains. Joint filers whose taxable income doesn’t exceed $65,100 and single filers with income that doesn’t exceed $32,550 don’t have to pay any tax on capital gains they realize in 2008; the rate for other taxpayers remains at 15 percent.

7. More time to sell a house when you lose a spouse. Taxpayers who lose a spouse now have up to two years after that death to take the maximum exclusion of $500,000 in gain on the sale of a principal residence. The other requirements for the exclusion must have been met before the death.

8. Less money back for some hybrid cars. While buying a hybrid car can still save you taxes, the tax credit has been phased out on many popular models such as the Toyota Prius. Check out the 2008 Model Year Hybrid List at www.irs.gov before you buy.

9. Tougher taxes for kids. Children 18 and under or fulltime students up to 24 years old will pay taxes at their parents’ tax rate for investment income over $1,700. Note that this rate doesn’t apply to wages a child earns.

10. Higher cutoffs for Social Security. The maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security tax increases to $102,000 in 2008.