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Highlights of 2013 Tax
Tax Season Starts January 31, 2014: IRS starts to process individual tax returns on January 31, 2014.

New top tax bracket 39.6%: if taxable income exceeds $400,000 for single, $425,000 for head of household (HOH), $450,000 for married filing jointly (MFJ) or qualifying widow (QW), and $225,000 for married filing separately (MFS) returns.

Itemized deduction and personal exemption limitation:Phase-out rule applies if adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds $250,000 (Single), $300,000 (MFJ/QW), $275,000 (HOH), $150,000 (MFS).

Alternative Minimum Tax exemption: $51,900 for unmarried individuals and $80,800 for MFJ, and $40,400 for MFS.

Social Security tax and self-employment tax: The 2013 tax rate for the employee share of Social Security is 6.2%, reduced by 2%.  Reflecting this, the self-employment tax rate is 15.3%.

Additional Medicare taxes:
0.9% additional Medicare Tax on wages and net self-employment income exceeding $250,000 (MFJ), $125,000 (MFS), or $200,000 (any other filing status).
3.8% additional Medicare Tax on net investment income exceeding $250,000 (MFJ), $125,000 (MFS), or $200,000 (any other filing status).
Q&As for Additional Medicare Tax

AGI floor for Medical Expense increased, meaning less deduction: The AGI floor is 10% if you and your spouse are under age 65.  If either you or your spouse is age 65 or older, AGI floor is still 7.5%.

American Opportunity Tax Credit :
The credit is now effective through 2017.

Foreign earned income exclusion: $97,600 for 2013.

Simplified method for Home Office deduction:The method allows for a deduction of $5 per square foot of home office, limited to 300 square foot ($1,500 max) regardless of actual cost.  No depreciation expense is allowed with this method. 

Tax rates on long-term capital gain and qualified dividend income: 0% for taxpayers with 10% or 15% tax bracket; 15% for taxpayers with 25% to rate below 39.6% bracket; 20% for taxpayers with 39.6% bracket.

Brokerage Form 1099 due is Feb 15: Your brokerage company will issue Form 1099 by February 15.  Broker reporting of cost basis in 1099-B includes sales of mutual fund shares acquired after 2011.  In case you received a revised/corrected 1099 statement, please immediately provide the new information to us.  For capital gain calculation, please obtain Gain/Loss statement, if not included in your 1099.

Find Statement K-1 of Publicly Traded Partnership: You can find your K-1 online at

Bonus depreciation: 50% of the cost of business property acquired in 2013.

Standard mileage rates:

56.5 cents per mile for business;
24.0 cents per mile for medical and moving; and
14.0 cents per mile for charitable volunteers.
(Rate for business includes 23.0 cents of depreciation.)

Vehicle depreciation limits: Max depreciation for a car placed in service in 2013 is $11,160, if bonus depreciation applies; otherwise $3,160. For a light truck and van, $11,360 and $3,360, respectively.

Annual exclusion for gifts: Per-donee exclusion for gifts of present interests is $14,000.

IRS recognizes legal same-sex marriage:
Legally-married same-sex couples are treated as married for federal income tax purposes. [Note] Registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or other similar formal relationships are not considered as marriage.

Short sale on main home is not cancellation of debt income in California:
IRS answered to Senate Barbara Boxer in a Chief Council letter that short sale of a CA principal residence converts the mortgage to a non-recourse loan, and for federal income tax purpose, it is treated as a sale, not cancellation of debt income.
[Update] In May 2014, IRS changed its position described above. If the original mortgage wass a recourse loan, the 2011 California Code of Civil Procedure does not change the chractoer of the loan for tax purposes; therefore, short sale on main home is cancellation of debt income in California.

Small business health care tax credit: Employers that pay at least 50% of the health insurance premiums for their employees in 2013 may be able to claim 35% credit, but starting 2014 only for employees enrolled in qualified plans through health insurance exchange.

Foreign Account Reporting Requirements:
FinCEN Report 114, replacing TD F 90-22.1  Each US person who has a financial interest in or signature authority over any foreign bank and financial accounts that exceed $10,000 in aggregate value in any time during the calendar year must report to Dept of Treasury by June 30 of the succeeding year.  This form is not filed with your tax return; you need to e-file this form at

Form 8938 must be filed with your tax return if you hold any interest in a specified foreign financial asset and the aggregate value of all those assets exceeds $50,000.  Be careful: penalty on non-filing is at least $10,000.    
All Charitable Contributions require evidence: IRS is very strict with substantiation requirement for charitable contribution deduction. IRS disallows deductions for any contribution of $250 or more unless the taxpayer substantiates the contribution by a contemporaneous written acknowledgement of the contribution by the donee organization. Make sure you keep receipts, acknowledgment letter, etc. For this reason, if you would like to make cash contribution, write a check.

Recordkeeping: Keeping well-organized tax record.  Especially, many taxpayers tend to forget keeping business mileage logs if used their cars for business, required by IRS.

IRS e-file provider

CA e-file provider

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