The Good, Bad, and Ugly of the Tax Extenders

As write this it’s February 21st. About ten days ago Congress, in its unending wisdom, decided to extend certain “Tax Extenders” that they had let expire at the end of 2017. Yes, the undead have risen again! As soon as the IRS allows it, these are back for 2017. You can find a complete list of the extenders here. The major ones that impact individuals are:

– Exclusion from gross income of discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness
– Mortgage Insurance premiums treated as qualified residence interest
– Tuition and Fees deduction
– Certain energy credits.

Of course, there are some esoteric deductions and credits like the American Samoa economic development credit and that certain race horses are now classified as three-year property.

The Good: The IRS has already implemented a couple of these items. I can already efile returns with mortgage insurance, and tomorrow I’ll be able to efile returns with the tuition and fees deduction. That’s also great work by my software provider (ProSeries).

The Bad: Sooner or later the bill comes due. As Samuel Johnson said, “Whatever you have, spend less.” That’s something that both Democrats and Republicans in Congress need to learn. Our government, at almost all levels, is bloated and needs to be cut. It would also be nice if Congress either codified these extenders into law permanently, extended them timely, or just ended these items.

The Ugly: If you are taking one of those esoteric deductions or credits, you may need to wait a while before filing your return. The IRS is starting with the more popular (as far as implementing the extenders), so for those taking the carbon dioxide sequestration credit, you may need to file an extension; as always, it’s far better to extend than amend.

Overall, kudos to the IRS for quickly implementing many of these extenders. And for those of you who take the excise tax credit on alternative fuels are happy, too.


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