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New Tax Law Raised Your Paycheck

Federal Tax

New Tax Law Raised Your Paycheck

Hello Money Nerve followers

I have had so many questions regarding the new tax law from my clients this year. People want to know how it will affect them and what action they should take. This in-depth article from MarketWatch gives you some advice for reviewing how the new tax law will impact your finances

About 90% of wage earners saw an increase in their paycheck this month now that the 2018 federal tax withholding tables are out.

The new tax law tables determine how much tax employers take out — or withhold — from an employee’s paycheck and the 2018 tables reflect the updated tax rates under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as well as other changes that affect individuals, including a repealed personal exemption and increase in the standard deduction. Under the new law, there are still seven tax brackets, but six of them are lower.

Deciding How Much Money to Withhold

Workers choose how much money they want their employer to withhold from their paychecks on a Form W-4, usually claiming either 1 or 0 allowances. The higher the number of allowances, the less money is withheld, which means a larger paycheck. But when people choose fewer allowances (and have more money withheld), they’ll see the money with the new tax law when they file their returns the following year and get a refund.

The new tax law lowered federal tax brackets, hence the extra money in paychecks now. The changes are automatic, and if people want to adjust their withholdings, they will have to go to their employer and submit a new Form W-4 to do so.

Keep or Invest the Extra Money

This is the eternal question and the answer is, “it depends.” Some might find the extra cash will help them reach financial goals or pay off debts, but others say workers might want to adjust their withholdings so they don’t get a pay increase right away.

Why? The money might not be put to good use or, in certain cases, employees may end up having to pay more income tax next year, tax experts said. “If they’re afraid they’re going to spend it and not save it, then they should increase withholdings,” said Michael Berry, head of the advanced planning team for Voya Financial.

Tax Refunds

About 62% of taxpayers expect to receive a refund this year, according to a Credit Karma Tax survey, and half of those people already know what they’ll do with it. Only 11% intend to use the refund for a vacation or major event, and 6% said they’ll use it to buy themselves something. Another 20% said they plan to save it for a rainy day, 18% said they’ll use it to pay off credit card debt, 16% said it will go toward paying off other debts, 10% are saving for a major purchase, like a home or car, and others mentioned student loans, medical debts or helping family members.

Income Taxes

The new tax law act keeps the seven income tax brackets but lowers tax rates. Employees will see changes reflected in their withholding in their February 2018 paychecks. These rates revert to the 2017 rates in 2026.

The Tax Act creates the following chart. The income levels will rise each year with inflation. But they will rise more slowly than in the past because the Act uses the chained consumer price index. Over time, that will move more people into higher tax brackets. This graph along with a detailed list of the tax changes is provided by The Balance.

Income Tax Rate Income Levels for Those Filing As:
2017 2018-2025 Single Married-Joint
10% 10% $0-$9,525 $0-$19,050
15% 12% $9,525-$38,700 $19,050-$77,400
25% 22% $38,700-$82,500 $77,400-$165,000
28% 24% $82,500-$157,500 $165,000-$315,000
33% 32% $157,500-$200,000 $315,000-$400,000
33%-35% 35% $200,000-$500,000 $400,000-$600,000
39.6% 37% $500,000+ $600,000+

Trump’s tax plan doubles the standard deduction. A single filer’s deduction increases from $6,350 to $12,000, while the deduction for Married and Joint Filers increases from $12,700 to $24,000. It reverts back to the current level in 2026. It eliminates personal exemptions and most itemized deductions but keeps deductions for charitable contributions, retirement savings, and student loan interest.

 Pull those February pay stubs and see what changes have happened! Use this opportunity to start a savings account and invest in your future!


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BUDGET: What does this mean to you?

financial freedom with budgets
The Money Nerve Budget

BUDGET: What does this mean

to you?

Budget: an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time. Or “keeping within the household budget.” Many people cringe when they hear the word budget, and instantly assume it is a gloomy, painful process of giving up all the joy in their lives!

Since the word budget has such a bad rap, let’s make a change and call it “proactive money management” or a forecast. A forecast is a general vision of what’s to come; it allows us to make decisions for the next few days. We all know that the weatherman isn’t always exactly right, often changing the outlook as the clouds roll in faster or the sun bumps up the temperature.

When you forecast how you want to spend and save your money, you are pushing out your projection for the next week, month, 1-year plan and beyond. Just like a weather forecaster evaluates new information to share with viewers, you may have to adjust your financial timetable as “life” happens.

Be Honest and Accurate

To accurately predict the weather, you must set the destination. Knowing the temperature in Seattle has no meaning if you live in Miami. With your finances, you need to know where you are; how much you bring home and what your monthly expenses are. Creating an estimate of how you want to direct or point your extra money into different funnels establishes a roadmap for the plans or goals you set for the future.

If you are like 90% of Americans, you tend to inflate your salary and round down your bills. Try to flip that assessment around. By underestimating your take-home pay and then basing your monthly bills at the highest projected amount, you have now given yourself a cushion of cash reserves. That’s refreshing!

Inflow and Outflow

A budget doesn’t always mean cutting costs; it is merely a plan for how your money will flow into your life and then dispersed to others for the benefits you want. Most people apply their money to three main priorities: food, housing, and transportation. These are essential components for a higher quality of life, and once you have these taken care of, you can begin to set aside money for other important goals or dreams.

Write down every expense, good or bad. Don’t pretend that you always spend money wisely. We all have habits and plenty of opportunities to be wasteful with our dollars.

One of my colleagues Kelli, (aka the Freebie Finding Mom) has developed a handy budget sheet to track your cash easily. Take a moment to download this helpful resource HERE.

Finding Balance

If you discover there is not enough money for the three essentials of housing, food and transportation, then you must explore your options to find a reasonable balance. You could cut down on one of these components, (smaller apartment or using coupons for groceries) or you could ask for a raise, look for another job or add a second job on the weekends. Creating a forecast (or budget) of what bills need to be paid each month, along with one time expenses that come up each year –– gives you a good guesstimate of where your cash flows in and out. A lot of people arrange to get monthly insurance bills instead of one massive bill annually, and this makes it easier to stay on track and “In-Budget.”

Financial Freedom

Work your desires into your budget. Save for special events and big purchases. Once you have identified where your money comes in and how you want to spend it, you have the power to change your plans. You have opened a new door of opportunity with intentional, proactive choices. The benefits of forecasting your money flow include less financial stress, a new sense of understanding of what’s important and the freedom to choose how you spend your money!

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