Experts say taxpayers preparing to file their 2012 returns should seek some guidance this year because the delay in congressional action on fiscal cliff legislation could mean confusion over what credits and deductions still exist.
The alternative minimum tax or AMT has been patched — permanently — and several tax credits and deductions that technically expired at the end of 2011 were extended as part of the fiscal cliff legislation.
The Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting returns Jan. 30, an eight-day delay necessitated by the late congressional action.
The standard deduction has been adjusted higher for inflation, to $11,900 for married couples filing jointly, $8,700 for heads of households and $5,950 for single taxpayers.
Each personal exemption is worth $3,800 this year, up from $3,700 in 2011.
And taxpayers will have the choice of deducting state and local sales taxes instead of state and local income taxes -- good for states that don't have an income tax.
Key numbers to know when filing your 2012 tax returns, according to the Internal Revenue Service:
—Each personal or dependent exemption is worth $3,800.
—$11,900 for married couples filing a joint return, and qualifying widows and widowers
—$5,950 for singles and married individuals filing separate returns
—$8,700 for heads of household
—Taxpayers who are 65 or older or who are blind may be eligible for a higher standard deduction.
ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX THRESHOLD:
—$78,750 for a married couple filing a joint return, and qualifying widows and widowers
—$50,600 for singles and heads of household
INCOME TAX BRACKETS:
—10 percent, 15 percent, 25 percent, 28 percent, 33 percent, 35 percent
EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT:
To qualify income can be no greater than:
—$45,060 ($50,270 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children
—$41,952 ($47,162 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children
—$36,920 ($42,130 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child
—$13,980 ($19,190 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children
Investment income cannot be more than $3,200 or less for the year.
—$5,891 with three or more qualifying children
—$5,236 with two qualifying children
—$3,169 with one qualifying child
—$475 with no qualifying children
—0 percent if taxpayer is in the 10 percent or 15 percent income tax brackets
—15 percent top rate if taxed in higher brackets
—Taxed at a top rate of 35 percent in 2012, with the first $5.12 million in value exempted for individual estates and $10.24 million for family estates
—Traditional IRA contribution limit: $5,000
—Additional contribution if over 50: $1,000
DEFERRED RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS:
— 401(k), 403(b),: $17,000
—Additional contribution if 50 or older: $5,500
STANDARD MILEAGE RATES:
—55.5 cents a mile
Medical reasons or qualified move
—23 cents a mile
—14 cents a mile