Dec 23, 2017

Wealthy Americans are already exploiting the tax plan

CPAs, lawyers and financial advisers tell Bloomberg personal-finance writer Ben Steverman that they are still trying to sort out the new law's financial consequences for major life decisions:

  • Estate planning: "Starting in 2018, single people who die with about $11 million would not be subject to the estate tax, up from $5.5 million. Married couples can shield about $22 million from estate and gift taxes. ... The higher thresholds expire in 2026."
  • David Scott Sloan, co-chair of global private wealth services at Holland & Knight in Boston: "We're lining up appointments for January because of the tax-free gifting opportunities."
  • Business ownership: "The pass-through deduction could also create an incentive for more workers to quit their jobs and become independent contractors. But the law also could complicate the taxes of many Americans who are self-employed now, including so-called gig economy workers such as Uber drivers."
  • Marriage: "Under current law, many two-income couples end up paying more in taxes by getting married. The law eliminates that marriage penalty for couples making less than a combined $600,000.""But be advised: Those individual tax-rate changes are set to end in 2026 -- after that, your marriage might have to be just about love.

N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Paul J. Feiner, supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh in Westchester County, on a rush of property owners who want to prepay 2018 taxes to beat the $10,000 cap on deducting state, local and property taxes:

  • "I'm getting swamped with many, many calls, usually one an hour, from people who want to prepay their taxes."

Go deeper

America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."