The effects of the new tax bill include significant preferences given to pass-through corporations, such as LLCs and S-Corporations:
[F]or the first time since the United States adopted an income tax, a higher rate would be applied to employee wages and salaries than to income earned by proprietors, partnerships and closely held corporations.
Some of the practical effects:
Expect the best-paid dentists to turn into corporations so that they can take advantage of the new 20 percent corporate tax rate, instead of having to pay a top marginal rate of nearly 40 percent on some of their income. Individual income taxes can be deferred on profits left inside a corporation instead of deposited in a personal account. What’s more, corporations can deduct local and state taxes, which individual filers can’t.
So if you are, like most people, a wage-earner who works for someone on an hourly or salary basis, you’re going to watch as small business owners and those who can classify what they do as a business and thus incorporate see their after-tax income magically increase by almost 20 percent.
A middle class benefit? Trump’s concern for the little guy realized? Hardly:
“Wage income will be the highest taxed income,” said John L. Buckley, a chief of staff for Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation in the 1990s. That’s what more than 80 percent of working Americans get.
“I think it’s grossly unfair.” he added. “Somebody working for a wage gets a higher tax rate than somebody doing the same job under a different legal structure.”
For businesses that can take advantage of the rules, though, things have become more complicated, especially for specified service businesses that earn more than certain amounts annually:
Under the conference agreement, you don’t want to be a “specified service business.” Although long and tortuous, the official definition of the term is worth quoting:
“A specified service trade or business means any trade or business involving the performance of services in the fields of health, law, consulting, athletics, financial services, brokerage services, or any trade or business where the principal asset of such trade or business is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees or owners, or which involves the performance of services that consist of investing and investment management trading, or dealing in securities, partnership interests, or commodities.”
The engineering and architecture lobbies were successful in getting their professional activities dropped from that list.
Yes… lobbyists are alive and well. The whole specified service business thing for those types of businesses not in the architecture or engineering fields is a potential clusterfuck if you’re not careful (i.e., if you earn too much):
This disqualification doesn’t apply if you operate a specified service business and your taxable income falls under $157,500 ($315,000 if you’re married).
Furthermore, if your taxable income exceeds these thresholds ($157,500 or $315,000 in taxable income), the Sec 199A deduction doesn’t immediately zero out. The deduction phases out as you move from $157,500 to $207,500 in taxable income if you’re single (or from $315,000 o $415.000 if you’re married).
No matter what they tell you, DC is still the swamp, and Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan are its most notable slimy critters.
Update: An even deeper dive into the tax bill details that’s worth reading.