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Just When You Thought It Was Safe to File for 2017

Everyone thought that Congress was done in December after it passed its most sweeping tax law change package in 30 years. I mean after all, only an idiot when wait until February to pass tax law for the previous year right?

Well we're gonna need a bigger program. Lost in the shuffle was a bill filed late in December by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that addressed many tax provisions that were set to expire in 2017. The IRS, understandably, released tax forms based on the law as it existed on 12/31/2017. Tax software vendors, released software based on the law, and those forms, as they existed on 12/31/2017.

So what happened? This sitting bill was passed and signed into law on the morning of February 10th. Because, why not?

Here's what's changed. Many otherwise expired provisions were reinstated for 2017, but the most prominent ones are listed here.

  • exclusion from gross income of discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness. (except on California returns, because we like to do bizarre and illogical things)

  • mortgage insurance premiums treated as qualified residence interest, otherwise known as PMI

  • above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses

  • credit for nonbusiness energy property

  • credit for residential energy property

  • credit for new qualified fuel cell motor vehicles

  • credit for alternative fuel vehicle refueling property

  • credit for 2-wheeled plug-in electric vehicles

So what to do? Well if you don't have any of these things, you won't have a problem. If you do, you should probably wait until the IRS reprograms its 2017 return software to handle it and issues guidance on where to report them. Its highly unlikely the IRS will revamp the layout of the forms. Then for software vendors to update their software.

If you already filed and you would benefit from some of these items, you either file a superseding return (ask me) between now and April 17th, or wait until after that date and file an amended return. If you feel a need to complain, google Sen. Hatch's office and let them know how you feel.

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