A quick summary of how taxes for 2012 and 21013 stand as of March 2012.  Please keep in mind new legislation may extend, change or cut any of these provisions.

New Taxes or Provisions Expiring at the end of 2012

Federal income tax rates— After December 31, 2012, we’re scheduled to go from six federal tax brackets (10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, and 35%) to five (15%, 28%, 31%, 36%, and 39.6%).

Long-term capital gains rate— Currently, long-term capital gain is generally taxed at a maximum rate of 15%. And, if you’re in the 10% or 15% marginal income tax bracket, a special 0% rate generally applies. Starting in 2013, however, the maximum rate on long-term capital gains will generally increase to 20%, with a 10% rate applying to those in the lowest (15%) tax bracket (though slightly lower rates might apply to qualifying property held for five or more years). And while the current lower long-term capital gain rates now apply to qualifying dividends, starting in 2013, dividends will be taxed at ordinary income tax rates.

2% payroll tax reduction— The recently extended 2% reduction in the Social Security portion of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll tax expires at the end of 2012.

Itemized deductions and personal exemptions— Beginning in 2013, itemized deductions and personal and dependency exemptions will once again be phased out for individuals with high adjusted gross incomes (AGIs).

Tax credits and deductions— The earned income tax credit, the child tax credit, and the American Opportunity (Hope) tax credit revert to old, lower limits and (less generous) rules of application. Also gone in 2013 is the ability to deduct interest on student loans after the first 60 months of repayment.

Marriage penalty relief— Tax changes that were originally made to address a perceived “marriage penalty” expire at the end of 2012. If you’re married and file a joint return with your spouse, you’ll see the effect in the form of a reduced 2013 standard deduction amount, as well as in lower 2013 tax bracket thresholds in the tax rate tables (i.e., couples move into higher rate brackets at lower levels of income).

New taxes effective in 2013

Two new Medicare-related taxes created by the health-care reform legislation passed in 2010 take effect in 2013:

Additional Medicare payroll tax— The hospital insurance (HI) portion of the payroll tax–commonly referred to as the Medicare portion–increases by 0.9% (from 1.45% to 2.35%) for those with wages exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly, and $125,000 for married individuals filing separately). The rate for self-employed individuals increases from 2.9% to 3.8% on any self-employment income that exceeds the dollar thresholds above.

Medicare contribution tax on unearned income— A new 3.8% Medicare contribution tax is imposed on the unearned income of high-income individuals. The tax generally applies to the net investment income of individuals with modified adjusted gross income that exceeds $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly, and $125,000 for married individuals filing separately).

Manuel A. Martinez is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ focused on helping families and small businesses in the Charleston and Mount Pleasant area. The following information is reprinted with permission from Forefield, Inc. Copyright 2006-2012.