Tax Law Changes for 2012 Federal Income Tax Returns

The calendar has rolled into 2013, which means in the next few months you need to file your federal income tax.  Although this may not be the first time you have had to file, you may not remember all of the tax law changes that went into effect for the 2012 tax year.  Read on for a refresher on the most significant changes.

If you are looking for additional information about relief from past due taxes you owe, please see our web site’s “back taxes” page.

Tax Return Filing by April 15

In 2012, because April 15 fell on a Sunday and Monday, April 16, was Emancipation Day, federal income tax returns were not due until April 17.  But this year, federal income taxes must be filed and paid by the normal due date of April 15, 2013, since it falls on a Monday and is not a government holiday.

Tax Returns Accepted as of January 30

Some of the tax laws in effect for the 2012 tax year were not passed until Congress passed legislation to avert the fiscal cliff in the first few days of 2013.  The IRS then needed time to make adjustments to various tax forms and processing systems to properly reflect the tax law changes.

As of January 30, the IRS had made those adjustments and was ready to start accepting 2012 federal income tax filings.

Increase in Standard Deductions

As with most tax years, standard deductions have changed, rising slightly from those offered in 2011 and with increases varying by your filing status:

  • Single of $5,950 (up $150)
  • Married filing jointly of $11,900 (up $300)
  • Married filing separately of $5,950 (up $150)
  • Head of Household of $8,700 (up $200)

As with other tax years, only those who choose not to itemize will benefit from the increase in standard deductions.

Increase in Exemptions

As with the standard deductions, the exemption amount for those filing federal income tax and all dependents claimed on their has increased to $3,800, up $100 from last year’s rate.

Unlike standard deductions, everyone filing taxes can taken advantage of exemptions, even if they choose to use itemized deductions.

Increase in Tax Brackets

Tax brackets have likewise increased in 2012 from 2011 amounts.  Following are the tax brackets you should be using:

Tax rate Single Married filing jointly Married filing separately Head of household
10% Up to $8,700 Up to $17,400 Up to $8,700 Up to $12,400
15% $8,701 – $35,350 $17,401 – $70,700 $8,701- $35,350 $12,401 – $47,350
25% $35,351 – $85,650 $70,701 – $142,700 $35,351 – $71,350 $47,351 – $122,300
28% $85,651 – $178,650 $142,701 – $217,450 $71,351 – $108,725 $122,301 – $198,050
33% $178,651 – $388,350 $217,451 – $388,350 $108,726 – $194,175 $198,051 – $388,350
35% $388,351 or more $388,351 or more $194,176 or more $388,351 or more

The information above is general in nature and should not be considered legal advice, as it is only a few of the key tax law changes that will affect many who are filing taxes for 2012.  You should speak with a tax attorney if you want guidance about your specific tax situation or questions.

How can I get help filing my federal income tax?

If you have questions about federal income tax or need help filing your return, you can start by calling the telephone number located at the top of this web site.  A tax attorney who is familiar with changes in tax law will get in touch with you and answer all of your questions.

Conversation with a tax attorney are completely confidential, and the initial conversation is free of charge and does not obligate you to anything further.  Therefore, you have every reason to enter your information below and be on your way to dealing with your tax issues.

by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.