Friday, October 01, 2010

Tax Hikes to Expect in 2011

As we wait for Congress to take up a handful of tax and financial issues, taxpayers across the country are wondering what tax laws will change in 2011. A handful of tax cuts and incentives are scheduled to expire at the end of the year, and unless Congress takes action Americans are going to pay more taxes in 2011. These hikes are going to affect more than just taxpayers making over $200,000 per year. There are dozens of tax changes on the horizon that could hit families of all kinds of different income levels. To help readers of my blog prepare for the potential changes, I have put together the following list of tax hikes to expect in the coming year.

Income Tax Rates

Depending on what action Congress takes on the Bush tax cuts, income tax rates could increase significantly in 2011. President Obama has urged congress to only allow the cuts to expire for taxpayers making over $200,000. However, Congress must decide the fate of these tax rates and unless they pass legislation in the next few months, tax rates will increase for all taxpayers. For more information on the impact of the Bush tax cuts check out this blog entry I posted a few weeks ago.

Estate Tax

As many of you already know, the estate tax expired at the end of last year and was not extended. Therefore taxpayers who inherited a sizeable amount of money this year did not have to pay the standard estate tax. Next year the tax is scheduled to be reinstated at a higher rate (55%). It will also target taxpayers receiving smaller estates. Additionally, if Congress does take up the issue they might instate a retroactive tax that could affect Americans who thought they were able to avoid the estate tax.


Qualified dividends are currently taxed at 15% because of the Bush tax cuts. However, if the cuts are allowed to expire, that rate will increase to nearly 40% for some taxpayers. This could represent a significant increase to taxpayers who rely on income from dividends.

Capital Gains

Another area the Bush tax cuts would impact is the capital gains rates. Depending on how Congress acts, the rates could rise to 20% in 2011. The increase is likely to only hit high-income taxpayers, and if you are worried about the hike then you might want to consider selling off some of your gains in 2010. However, you should always speak with a financial advisor to determine the most advantageous strategy.

Sin Taxes

Lots of taxpayers have seen drastic increases on cigarette taxes over the past year as local government agencies seek sources of additional revenue. However, these are not the only sin taxes that have increased. As part of the health care reform bill an indoor tanning tax was instituted, and going in to 2011 you can expect to see many more sin tax increases, especially at state and local levels.

Marriage Penalty

Married taxpayers should be concerned about another looming tax hike in 2011. Unless Congress addresses the issue, the "marriage penalty" will return next year, which has significant implications on couples that have significantly different income levels. Luckily, some of these taxpayers might be able to avoid the penalty by filing separately.

Deduction Caps

Although not a direct tax hike, the new deduction caps looming in 2011 will force many high-income taxpayers to pay more to Uncle Sam. President Obama has expressed interest in limiting the value of deductions at 28%, but has faced significant opposition. Many charitable groups have spoken out against this tax change, with fear that it will result in fewer donations from Americans.

Business Taxes

Small and large businesses should also expect tax increases in the next year. There are going to be higher SECA taxes for owners of S firms and partnerships, restrictions on worker classifications, and an elimination of the deduction for domestic production.


The last thing that any taxpayer wants to hear is that the likelihood of an IRS audit will increase in the next year. However, the White House has been pushing the IRS to crackdown on both small businesses and individuals. Earlier in the year Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner even asked Congress for additional funds to support the increased collection efforts.

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