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BruceCM:

Unfortunately, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes to the tax code have pushed me into a higher marginal tax bracket. This will raise our Medicare premiums a few years earlier than would have occurred under the old tax laws. Hate when that happens!

I have gotten into the bad habit of equating my Taxable Income to my Adjusted Gross Income. The last sentence is clearly wrong as you point out.

If you are retired, married filing jointly with two dependents (self and spouse) and you took the standard deduction in 2017....which from the sources of income you've given suggests you would, then your tax bill will decline under the TCJA.

Unfortunately, the last time it was beneficial for me to claim the standard deduction on my Federal and state tax returns was around 1974. Since then, I've been using itemized deductions to reduce my taxable income.

When filing my 2017 tax returns, personal exemptions and itemized deductions reduced my taxable income by a little over $39,000. Miscellaneous itemized deductions exceeding the 2% AGI limitation account for $27,000 and more than the $26,600 standard deduction available to me under TCJA in 2018.

Were my income the same in 2018 as it was in 2017, I would have enjoyed some benefit from the TCJA. Unfortunately, in addition to the loss of $12,400 in deductions, my taxable Social Security income increased by 2% from 2017 and my RMD income increased by 17% in 2018 over 2017. The net effect being a 25% increase in my tax liability.

As an aside, I took the full hit on my NUA withdrawal in 2013 to make a sizable investment that yielded tax exempt dividends. I liquidated the investment at the end of 2016 to harvest capital losses to offset capital gains in 2016 and 2017.
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