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Any state and local tax, including state income and property tax, may be included in this calculation, but the aggregate deduction may not exceed $10,000. The limit applies only to state and local taxes imposed on individuals, not businesses, Friedman explains, so taxpayers “should scrutinize their state and local tax payments to determine if any might be regarded as business-related.” Affluent taxpayers living in most states are likely to find that their individual state tax payments significantly exceed $10,000. “Of course, these taxpayers receive no tax benefit from incurring state tax payments in excess of this limitation.” A homeowner can deduct interest paid on aggregate mortgage principal up to $750,000, down from $1 million under prior law. As under former law, the mortgages may be held on one or two residences, provided the total amount does not exceed this limitation, with existing home mortgages being grandfathered. The Act also eliminates the deduction for interest paid on home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), including interest paid on existing line-of-credit borrowings. The IRS recognizes an exception to this new disallowance where HELOC proceeds are used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan. Thus, for example, interest on home equity loan proceeds used to build an addition to that home is typically deductible, while interest on the same loan used to pay personal living expenses, such as credit card debt or college tuition, is not. While interest incurred on mortgage debt in excess of $750,000 produces no tax benefit (absent grandfather protection), for “the projected 90% of taxpayers who do not itemize, interest on a lower loan amount also produces no tax benefit.” The new tax law does not impose more restrictive rules on charitable contribution deductions, but actually increases the percentage of current-year income from which charitable contributions may be deducted from 50% to 60%. However, Friedman explains, “the doubling of the standard deduction will limit the tax benefit of charitable contributions made by most filers.” With the new tax law, “once again conventional wisdom is reversed. Taxpayers were encouraged to make charitable donations because the government would pay part of the outlay. Now almost all taxpayers will bear the full cost of their donations, and thus have no tax reason to make them. Only taxpayers who itemize will get a tax benefit from their contributions.” With some planning, however, Friedman said that taxpayers under the following two scenarios may be able to claim a tax benefit from charitable contributions that otherwise would not yield one. Bundling contributions with donor-advised funds:  Taxpayers who otherwise take the standard deduction could consider “bundling” a number of years’ charitable contributions into a single year, so as to exceed the standard deduction in that year and receive a tax benefit. Taxpayers considering this “bundling” might not want their charities to receive five years’ contributions at once, or they might wish to change the charitable recipients in future years.

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