Every year brings a number of changes in various financial rules and regs that impact our personal financial planning. Here’s a guide to some of the more significant changes for 2016.
If you participate in a 401(k), 403(b), 457(b) or the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan, you can contribute $18,000 in 2016—the same as in 2015. Participants age 50 or older can add another $6,000—again, no change from 2015.
Those contributing to an IRA are stuck with the same $5,500 limit that was in place for 2015. Those age 50 and older can add another $1,000—again, the same as in 2015.
Some IRA contributors (those not covered by a workplace plan but married to someone who is) can make a bit more money in 2016 and still deduct the amount of their contribution. For others, the income limits remain as they were in 2015. The details are available on the IRS web site.
Health Savings Accounts
For those with a high-deductible health insurance plan, singles can save $3,350—the same limit as in 2015. Families can save $6,750—up from $6,650. If you are 55 or older, or will turn 55 in 2016, you can save an additional $1,000—unchanged from 2015.
In order to be able to use a health savings account, your health insurance deductible is not required to be any higher than it was in 2015. For singles, it needs to be at least $1,300. For families, it needs to be at least $2,600.
Remember, money you contribute to an HSA is tax deductible and unused money can be carried over from year to year. An HSA can even serve as an additional tax-advantaged way to save for retirement expenses.
There’s more information about HSA rules and regs here.
If you’re eligible to contribute to a flexible spending account where you work, the IRS has kept the contribution limit to $2,550 in 2016—the same as it was in 2015. In 2014, the IRS loosened the use it or lose it restriction that applied to FSAs, giving employers the freedom to allow employees to carry over up to $500 of unused FSA money from one year to the next or to use up unspent money in a two-and-a-half month grace period at the start of a new year. Employers are not obligated to offer either benefit, so check with your HR department to find out about your company’s policies.
Tax Brackets, Standard Deductions, and Personal Exemptions
Tax brackets have been adjusted for inflation. You can see all the details in this Forbes article.
The standard deductions remain as they were in 2015—$6,300 for singles and $12,600 for married couples filing jointly.
The personal exemption amount is $4,050 for 2016—up from $4,000 in 2015.
Social Security and Medicare
The Social Security withholding rate will remain as it has been—6.2% of income for employees and 6.2% for employers. The maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security tax remains at $118,500.
The Medicare withholding rate will remain as it has been as well—1.45% of income paid by employees and 1.45% paid by employers. There is no limit on the amount of income subject to this tax.
High earners will continue to be subject to two additional Medicare taxes thanks to provisions in the Affordable Care Act. First, an additional .9% Medicare tax is owed on income above $200,000 for singles or $250,000 for married couples filing jointly. Those income thresholds are unchanged from 2015.
Second, anyone making more than the income thresholds just mentioned may be subject to an additional 3.8% Medicare tax on investment income, including interest, dividends, capital gains, the taxable portion of annuity payments, and more. This tax is owed on the lesser of net investment income for the year or the extent to which modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeds the thresholds mentioned above. The tax is not owed if MAGI does not exceed those thresholds. If income does exceed those thresholds, the tax is only owed to the degree that there is net investment income.
Those receiving Social Security will see no cost-of-living increase in their checks in 2016 because the government’s Consumer Price Index showed no increase.
If you use your vehicle for business purposes (does not include commuting), you’ll be able to deduct 54 cents a mile in 2016—down from 57.5 cents in 2015. The deductible rate for medical or moving purposes is lower as well in 2016, at 19 cents per mile—down from 23 cents per mile in 2015. The rate when using your vehicle for charitable purposes remains as it was in 2015: 14 cents per mile.
Very few households have to worry about federal estate taxes anymore due to high estate tax exemptions. In 2016, that exemption is $5.45 million per person—up from $5.43 million. Married couples can make use of twice that amount.
How will these changes impact your budget or other financial planning for 2016?