How the PATH Act Could Reduce Your Taxes This Year

Mark Skousen

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.

There is good news for taxpayers and investors. Last December, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, known as the PATH Act. It is one of the few times Congress has accurately described its legislation.

Most of the changes in the PATH Act became permanent provisions of the tax code. The new law offers a number of ways certain taxpayers can reduce what goes to the government and what they can keep to use as they want.

Here are the most significant changes:

  1. The Act allows businesses to deduct immediately up to $500,000 in capital expenditures — tools, equipment and computers.
  1. The tax law permits you to deduct state sales taxes without even showing receipts. You can elect to deduct state and local sales taxes in lieu of state and local income taxes. Figure it both ways and decide for yourself. This provision is especially useful for those who live in states that have no income tax, such as Florida, Nevada and Tennessee. To figure your sales tax deduction, go to the “Sales Tax Calculator” at https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Sales-Tax-Deduction-Calculator. I did it and got a deduction of $2,500!
  1. Allows seniors over 70 ½ years old to make contributions directly from an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to a charitable organization without facing taxes. IRAs can be great tax-free vehicles. You get a deduction when you contribute to an IRA, your funds can accumulate without paying taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains and, if you give the IRA funds to a charity, you pay no taxes ever.

I suggest you contact your accountant about these benefits and others before April 15.

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One final comment: The PATH Act also now requires the IRS to terminate employees who take official actions for political purposes. After the IRS scandal involving the targeting of conservative political groups, it’s about time!

You Blew It! Why Does the United States Keep Minting Coins that Americans Hate?

Starting in 2007, the U.S. Mint was required to create a new series of $1 coins commemorating U.S. presidents. But Americans apparently don’t like the $1 coin, just as they never took to the minting of the Sacagawea dollar, and collectors aren’t especially enamored with the coins either.

Yet despite their unpopularity, the U.S. Mint continues to produce millions of these coins.

The U.S. Federal Reserve, meanwhile, stores 1.1 billion of these unusable $1 coins, despite the government spending $67 million during the past three years on promotions to encourage Americans to buy and to use the coins.

Fortunately, the coin series will end in 2016 with the making of the Ronald Reagan coin.

Meanwhile, the American Eagle silver and gold coin series continues to be very popular. More than 50 million silver dollars were minted last year and were sold out on several occasions. Unfortunately, they too disappear from the public, stuffed in safe deposit boxes around the country.

Do you want the United States to start using the $1 coins? Just eliminate the $1 paper dollar. Years ago, Britain got rid of the one pound note, and substituted the one pound coin, and naturally it worked. The United States may find similar success in using such a move to replace the paper dollar bill with a dollar coin.

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Upcoming Conferences

Investment U Conference, April 13-16, Carlsbad, California: Join me, Alex Green, Karim Rahemtulla, Rick Rule, Frank Holmes, Eric Fry, Marc Lichtenfeld, Jim Rickards, and Spencer Abraham (former U.S. Secretary of Energy) at the five-star Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, California. I will be speaking on “Taking on the Financial Terrorists: Is the Golden Age of Investing Over?” Plus, I will have a special one-on-one panel with Alex Green. To sign up or get more information, go to http://www.investmentu.com or call 1-800-926-6575.

Las Vegas MoneyShow, May 9-12, Caesars Palace: Join me along with Eagle Financial colleagues Doug Fabian and Bryan Perry. I’ll be moderating a general session panel on gold with Peter Schiff, Frank Holmes  and Brien Lundin. The sparks will fly! Other speakers include Art Laffer, Gary Shilling, Charles Payne, Jeff Hirsch, Lou Navellier, Jim Stack and Dave Phillips. Obtain details by calling 1-800-970-4355 and mentioning priority code 040754.

 

In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my e-letter column from last week about an example of the negative impact of value-added taxes. I also invite you to comment in the space provided below my commentary.

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