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Tax Law Changes That Can Fatten Your Refund

Written by a TurboTax Expert • Reviewed by a TurboTax CPAUpdated for Tax Year 2023 • November 22, 2023 1:06 PM
OVERVIEW

Some changes to tax relief options and forms could mean good things for your refund. Learn about a few basic steps you can take in areas such as your retirement account and energy spending to potentially see an increase.

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Key Takeaways

  • For 2023, the Standard Deduction increased to $13,850 for those filing as single or married filing separately, to $20,800 for Head of Household, and $27,700 for married filing jointly. For 2024, these amounts increase again to $14,600 for single and married filing separately, $21,900 for Head of Household and $29,200 for married filing jointly. The standard deduction is greater for the elderly and the blind.
  • To adjust for inflation, the IRS has raised the income limits for all tax brackets for 2023 and 2024.
  • The age for required minimum distributions, or RMDs, has been raised from 72 to 73 beginning in 2023 for those not already required to take RMDs. Those with traditional IRAs can make contributions past the age of 70.5 beginning in 2020.
  • The 2023 maximum employee contribution amount for 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457 plans has increased to $22,500. The SIMPLE IRA contribution limit has increased to $15,500. The 2024 amounts increase to $23,300 for 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457 plans and to $16,000 for SIMPLE IRAs.

Recent congressional acts have made a number of adjustments to the tax code, and some of these changes may affect your refund. We've rounded up 10 recent and important tax law changes that can potentially increase the amount you are refunded. It's best to review the changes that have occurred every tax year so you can be sure not to miss out on any refund advantages when you file.

1. The American Opportunity Credit changes

The once temporary American Opportunity Credit has now been made permanent. Depending on income and filing status, taxpayers who pay college-related costs for themselves, a spouse, a child, or another dependent can receive a credit for up to $2,500 in tuition and related expenses, such as course materials.

Here's how it works: You get a credit for 100% of the first $2,000 you spend on post-secondary education. After that, you can claim a credit of 25% of up to the next $2,000. The credit is partially refundable, so if it reduces the taxes you owe below zero, you can receive up to $1,000 in the form of a refund.

2. Retirement account changes

The SECURE Act and the CARES Act have created several tax-law changes for retirement plans. Here are the highlights:

  • The SECURE Act raised the minimum age of RMDs from 70.5 to 72 for anyone who turns 70.5 after 2019. However, the CARES Act allows seniors to forego RMDs in 2020 without penalty.
  • Those with traditional IRAs can now make contributions past the age of 70.5 beginning in 2020.
  • Taxpayers who are having a baby or adopting a child can now take IRA and 401(k) payouts of up to $5,000 (per parent) without paying the 10% penalty.
  • For the 2020 tax year, taxpayers under 59.5 years of age can take IRA and 401(k) payouts of up to $100,000 for coronavirus-related expenses without paying the 10% penalty. Additionally, the coronavirus-related distribution can be included in income in equal amounts over a three-year period. The taxpayer has three years to put the money back into the accounts in order to undo the tax consequences of the distribution.
  • Retirement plan loans that were due in 2020 are delayed for one year.
  • The 2023 maximum employee contribution amount for 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457 plans has increased to $22,500, and SIMPLE IRAs has also increased to $15,500. Additionally, the income ceilings on Roth IRA contributions have increased and is based on your adjusted gross income (AGI). The 2024 amounts increase to $23,000 for 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457 plans and to $15,500 for SIMPLE IRAs.

3. Standard deduction increase

The standard deduction is also undergoing tax law changes in 2023 and 2024.

2023 amounts:

Filing Status Standard Deduction
Married filing jointly under the age of 65 $27,700
Married filing jointly over the age of 65 $27,700 plus $1,500 for each spouse over the age of 65
Single or married filing separately under the age of 65 $13,850
Single or married filing separately over the age of 65 $15,700
Heads of household under the age of 65 $20,800
Heads of household over the age of 65 $22,650

2024 amounts:

Filing Status Standard Deduction
Married filing jointly under the age of 65 $29,200
Married filing jointly over the age of 65 $29,200 plus $1,550 for each spouse over the age of 65
Single or married filing separately under the age of 65 $14,600
Single or married filing separately over the age of 65 $16,550
Heads of household under the age of 65 $21,900
Heads of household over the age of 65 $23,850

4. Tax bracket changes for 2023 and 2024

To adjust for inflation, the IRS has adjusted the 2023 income limits for all tax brackets:

Filing status and income Marginal Tax Rate
Single over $578,125

Married filing jointly over $693,750

37%
Single over $231,250 to $578,125

Married filing jointly over $462,500 to $693,750

35%
Single over $182,100 to $231,250

Married filing jointly over $364,200 to $462,500

32%
Single over $95,375 to $182,100

Married filing jointly over $190,750 to $364,200

24%
Single over $44,725 to $95,375

Married filing jointly over $89,450 to $190,750

22%
Single over $11,000 to $44,725

Married filing jointly over $22,000 to $89,450

12%
Single up to $11,000

Married filing jointly up to $22,000

10%

The IRS has further adjusted the 2024 income limits for all tax brackets as well:

Filing status and income Marginal Tax Rate
Single over $609,350

Married filing jointly over $731,200

37%
Single over $243,725 to $609,350

Married filing jointly over $487,450 to $731,200

35%
Single over $191,950 to $243,725

Married filing jointly over $383,900 to $487,450

32%
Single over $100,525 to $191,950

Married filing jointly over $201,050 to $383,900

24%
Single over $47,150 to $100,525

Married filing jointly over $94,300 to $201,050

22%
Single over $11,600 to $47,150

Married filing jointly over $23,200 to $94,300

12%
Single up to $11,600

Married filing jointly up to $23,200

10%

 

TurboTax Tip:

For tax years 2022 through 2032, you may be able to claim a credit worth 30% of the cost of certain energy-efficient equipment installed in your home, including solar water heaters, solar panels, fuel cells, and wind turbines. The credit is not refundable, but the excess can be carried forward to future tax years.

 

5. Charitable cash donation changes

For 2020 and 2021, the CARES Act suspended the 60% of AGI limit for most charitable cash deductions, which allows for more deductions by taxpayers who itemize. This does not apply if the cash donations go to a donor-advised fund or private nonoperating foundation. Additionally, taxpayers who don't itemize can deduct qualified charitable cash contributions up to $300 in 2020 and 2021 regardless of filing status and up to $600 in 2021 if married filing jointly.

For 2023 you will need to itemize your deductions to claim your charitable contributions.

6. W-4 changes

In 2020, the IRS changed the Form W-4. Workers no longer claim withholding allowances on the form. The new Form W-4 is now simplified and requires information about filing status, number of dependents, number of jobs, estimated tax breaks, and other income that may be reported on a 1040. Employees are not required to submit a new Form W-4 unless they are hired after 2019 or want to adjust their withholdings.

7. Form 1099-MISC and Form 1099-NEC changes

For tax year 2020 and onward, Form 1099-MISC has been revamped and Form 1099-NEC is back. Because of these changes, employers will no longer report nonemployee compensation of $600 or more on Form 1099-MISC. These types of payments to non-employees should be reported on a Form 1099-NEC. These payments include commissions, fees, prizes, awards, or any form of compensation to nonemployees. These forms should be given to the payee and filed with the IRS by January 31 each year.

The IRS planned to implement changes to the 1099-K reporting requirement for the 2023 tax year. However, the IRS recently delayed the implementation of the new $600 reporting threshold for transactions from third party processors like Venmo and Paypal, reverting tax year 2023 back to the previously higher 1099-K reporting threshold (over $20,000 in payments and more than 200 transactions).

However, some individual states have already begun to use the lower reporting threshold. Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia have a $600 threshold for requiring 1099-K in effect for 2023. North Carolina and Montana also have a $600 threshold, although state tax officials have said these states may offer relief. If you don’t receive a 1099-K, the IRS still expects you will report all your income, regardless of the amount.

There is no threshold for payment card transactions.

8. Long-term care premium deduction changes

For taxpayers who itemize on Schedule A or self-employed taxpayers who complete a Schedule 1 of Form 1040, the limits for long-term care premium deductions have been raised for 2023 and 2024.

2023 amounts:

  • Age 40 or under: $480
  • Age 41 to 50: $890
  • Age 51 to 60: $1,790
  • Age 61 to 70: $4,770
  • Age 71 and over: $5,960

2024 amounts:

  • Age 40 or under: $470
  • Age 41 to 50: $880
  • Age 51 to 60: $1,760
  • Age 61 to 70: $4,710
  • Age 71 and over: $5,880

9. Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) changes

In early 2013, Congress made the AMT "patch" permanent to prevent millions of taxpayers from having to pay AMT in 2013 and beyond.

The exemption amounts for 2023 are:

  • $81,300 for single and head of household filers.
  • $126,500 for married couples filing jointly and surviving spouses.
  • $63,250 for married people filing separately.

The exemption amounts for 2024 are:

  • $85,700 for single and head of household filers.
  • $133,300 for married couples filing jointly and surviving spouses.
  • $66,650 for married people filing separately.

10. Energy-efficiency credit changes

If you installed certain energy-efficient equipment in your home, such as solar water heaters, solar panels, fuel cells, and wind turbines, you may be able to claim a credit worth 26% of the expense in tax years 2020 and 2021. The credits jump back up to 30% beginning in 2022 through 2032. After this it goes back down to 26% for 2033 and to 22% in 2034. The credit expires after 2034. The credit is not refundable, but the excess can be carried forward to future tax years.

 

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The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.

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TURBOTAX DESKTOP GUARANTEES

TurboTax Desktop Individual Returns:

  • 100% Accurate Calculations Guarantee – Individual Returns: If you pay an IRS or state penalty or interest because of a TurboTax calculation error, we’ll pay you the penalty and interest. Excludes payment plans. This guarantee is good for the lifetime of your personal, individual tax return, which Intuit defines as seven years from the date you filed it with TurboTax Desktop. Excludes TurboTax Desktop Business returns. Additional terms and limitations apply. See License Agreement for details.

  • Maximum Refund Guarantee / Maximum Tax Savings Guarantee - or Your Money Back – Individual Returns: If you get a larger refund or smaller tax due from another tax preparation method by filing an amended return, we'll refund the applicable TurboTax federal and/or state software license purchase price you paid. This guarantee is good for the lifetime of your personal, individual tax return, which Intuit defines as seven years from the date you filed it with TurboTax Desktop. Excludes TurboTax Desktop Business returns. Additional terms and limitations apply. See License Agreement for details.

  • Audit Support Guarantee – Individual Returns: If you receive an audit letter from the IRS or State Department of Revenue based on your 2023 TurboTax individual tax return, we will provide one-on-one question-and-answer support with a tax professional, if requested through our Audit Report Center, for audited individual returns filed with TurboTax Desktop for the current 2023 tax year and, for individual, non-business returns, for the past two tax years (2021, 2022). Audit support is informational only. We will not represent you before the IRS or state tax authority or provide legal advice. If we are not able to connect you to one of our tax professionals, we will refund the applicable TurboTax federal and/or state license purchase price you paid. This guarantee is good for the lifetime of your personal, individual tax return, which Intuit defines as seven years from the date you filed it with TurboTax Desktop. Excludes TurboTax Desktop Business returns. Additional terms and limitations apply. See License Agreement for details.

  • Satisfaction Guarantee/ 60-Day Money Back Guarantee: If you're not completely satisfied with TurboTax Desktop, go to refundrequest.intuit.com within 60 days of purchase and follow the process listed to submit a refund request. You must return this product using your license code or order number and dated receipt.

TurboTax Desktop Business Returns:

  • 100% Accurate Calculations Guarantee – Business Returns: If you pay an IRS or state penalty or interest because of a TurboTax calculation error, we’ll pay you the penalty and interest. Excludes payment plans. You are responsible for paying any additional tax liability you may owe. Additional terms and limitations apply. See License Agreement for details.

  • Maximum Tax Savings Guarantee – Business Returns: If you get a smaller tax due (or larger business tax refund) from another tax preparation method using the same data, TurboTax will refund the applicable TurboTax Business Desktop license purchase price you paid. Additional terms and limitations apply. See License Agreement for details.

  • Satisfaction Guarantee/ 60-Day Money Back Guarantee: If you're not completely satisfied with TurboTax Desktop, go to refundrequest.intuit.com within 60 days of purchase and follow the process listed to submit a refund request. You must return this product using your license code or order number and dated receipt.

TURBOTAX DESKTOP

  • Installation Requirements: Product download, installation and activation requires an Intuit Account and internet connection. Product limited to one account per license code. You must accept the TurboTax License Agreement to use this product. Not for use by paid preparers.

  • TurboTax Desktop Products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees may apply for e-filing state returns. E-file fees may not apply in certain states, check here for details. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase. Software updates and optional online features require internet connectivity.

  • Fastest Refund Possible: Fastest federal tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary. The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.

  • Average Refund Amount: Sum of $3140 is the average refund American taxpayers received based upon IRS data date ending 02/17/23 and may not reflect actual refund amount received.

  • TurboTax Product Support: Customer service and product support hours and options vary by time of year.

  • #1 Best Selling Tax Software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2022 TurboTax products.

  • Deduct From Your Federal or State Refund (if applicable): A $40 Refund Processing Service fee may apply to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.

  • Data Import: Imports financial data from participating companies; Requires Intuit Account. Quicken and QuickBooks import not available with TurboTax installed on a Mac. Imports from Quicken (2021 and higher) and QuickBooks Desktop (2021 and higher); both Windows only. Quicken import not available for TurboTax Desktop Business. Quicken products provided by Quicken Inc., Quicken import subject to change.

  • Audit Defense: Audit Defense is a third-party add-on service provided, for a fee, by TaxResources, Inc., dba Tax Audit. See Membership Agreements at https://turbotax.intuit.com/corp/softwarelicense/ for service terms and conditions.

All features, services, support, prices, offers, terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.

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