Tax Law Changes for Individuals
Public Law 108-27, The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, was signed by President Bush on May 28, 2003. Described below are the major changes made by the new law that affect tax years beginning in 2003. Be sure to take these changes into account when figuring any future estimated tax payments due for 2003.
- The 2003 Tax Rate Schedules have been revised to reflect the following changes.
- The tax rate brackets of 27%, 30%, 35%, and 38.6%, have been reduced to 25%, 28%, 33%, and 35%, respectively.
- The 15% rate bracket for married taxpayers filing jointly and qualifying widow(er)s has expanded to twice that of single filers.
- The maximum taxable income subject to the 10% tax rate has increased to $7,000 for single taxpayers and married taxpayers filing separately ($14,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly and qualifying widow(er)s).
- The basic standard deduction for married taxpayers filing jointly and qualifying widow(er)s has increased to $9,500 (twice that of single filers). The standard deduction for married taxpayers filing separately has increased to $4,750 (the same as that of single taxpayers).
- The maximum child tax credit has increased from $600 to $1,000 per child. Beginning on July 25, 2003, checks will be mailed to taxpayers who claimed the child tax credit for 2002. The checks are an advance payment of the increased portion of the child tax credit for 2003, up to a maximum of $400 per child, and will be based on 2002 tax return information using the number of qualifying children under age 17 as of December 31, 2003. No action is required by any taxpayer to receive an advance payment check. The checks will be mailed to qualifying taxpayers on the dates shown in the Mailing Schedule for Advance Child Tax Credit Payments . The advance payment reduces the amount of the child tax credit allowed for 2003. Any advance payment that is more than the child tax credit for 2003 does not have to be paid back.
- The alternative minimum tax exemption amount has increased to $40,250 for single taxpayers and taxpayers filing as head of household; $58,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly and qualifying widow(er)s; and $29,000 for married taxpayers filing separately.
- The maximum tax rate on net capital gain (i.e., net long-term capital gain reduced by any net short-term capital loss) has been reduced from 20% to 15% (and from 10% to 5% for taxpayers in the 10% and 15% tax rate brackets) for property sold or otherwise disposed of after May 5, 2003 (and installment sale payments received after that date). The reduced rate applies for both the regular tax and the alternative minimum tax. The higher rates that apply to unrecaptured section 1250 gain, collectibles gain, and section 1202 gain have not changed.
- The same 15% (or 5%) maximum tax rate that applies to net capital gain also applies to dividends paid by most domestic and foreign corporations after December 31, 2002. Certain dividends from regulated investment companies (such as mutual funds), real estate investment trusts, and certain foreign corporations do not qualify for the reduced rates. The 2003 Form 1099-DIV and 2003 Instructions for Form 1099-DIV will be reissued in June 2003 to add a box for the reporting of qualified dividends subject to the reduced rates.
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