The medical expense tax deduction helps millions of middle-income taxpayers of all ages confront extraordinarily high out-of-pocket health care costs
The Senate Finance Committee (SFC) recently passed its tax reform proposal — the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” This bill, like the House-passed tax legislation, warrants the attention of older Americans. Not only because it increases taxes on some taxpayers 65+, but also because it would trigger rules that, barring congressional action, would result in automatic cuts to federal programs. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, those cuts would be $136 billion in fiscal year 2018, $25 billion of which must come from Medicare.
If you’ve been following the twists and turns of the ongoing tax reform efforts moving along in Washington, you’ve likely noticed proponents often repeating a particular theme: tax cuts for middle-class Americans. But tax policy is rarely simple, and it is important to look beyond the headlines to understand if this is really the case.
Caring for a child or an aging parent can be costly. Caregivers working outside of the home may be able to offset some of these costs through the federal child and dependent care tax credit (CDCC). In 2010, 6.3 million taxpayers claimed the CDCC, reducing their tax liability by about $3.4 billion. In all likelihood child care is a much larger slice of this pie, particularly given the requirement that the dependent must live with the taxpayer for at least six months. But as the population ages, the number of taxpayers caring for older adults with chronic care needs at home may increase.
In recent years the issue of who pays and who does not pay taxes has been a focus of public attention. A look at IRS statistics about age distribution of the federal individual income tax can be enlightening.
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