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Trump’s Tax Plan: Big Changes, Big Unknowns

President Donald Trump proposed big changes to the U.S. tax system on the campaign trail, but Wednesday’s announcement of the White House’s new tax plan may mark the start of where the rubber meets the road for many Americans and their tax bills.

What does it mean for you? Here’s a guide to what is (and isn’t) in the plan.

What’s in the plan

The proposed changes would affect virtually all taxpayers in some way, though the impact would depend on your individual situation.

CURRENT BRACKETS Taxable income (married filing jointly) Tax rate $0 to $18,650 10% $18,651 to $75,900 15% $75,901 to $153,100 25% $153,101 to $233,350 28% $233,351 to $416,700 33% $416,701 to $470,700 35% $470,701 and up 39.6% PROPOSED BRACKETS Taxable income Tax rate Range TBD 10% Range TBD 25% Range TBD 35%
  • Eliminate almost every individual tax deduction: Except those for mortgage interest and charitable contributions. The plan specifically preserves those. A big one here would be the elimination of the ability to deduct state and local taxes, a move that could hurt residents of high-tax states such as California and New York.
  • Double the standard deduction: The IRS offers this deduction on a no-questions-asked basis. It’s subtracted from your adjusted gross income and lowers your taxable income. The standard deduction in 2017 is currently $12,700 for joint filers and $6,350 for single filers. The new plan proposes to roughly double that amount.
  • Relief for families with child and dependent care expenses: This is notable as a plan priority. Some tax benefits already exist for child and dependent care, but during the campaign Trump proposed tax deductions for child care and elder care expenses, a child care spending rebate to low-income parents and deductible contributions to Dependent Care Savings Accounts. Specifics of the new plan have not yet been given, however.
  • Repeal the alternative minimum tax: The AMT is an alternative method of calculating federal income tax that runs parallel to the ordinary method. Currently, taxpayers have to calculate their tax liability two times, once under each method, and pay whichever amount is higher.
  • Repeal the estate tax. This tax is levied on assets passed on to your heirs upon your death. In 2017, up to $5.49 million of an estate is already exempt from federal taxation. A repeal likely would affect only people who expect to inherit large estates.
  • Repeal the Affordable Care Act net investment income tax. This is a 3.8% tax some people must pay on their investment income, introduced to help pay for President Obama’s health care law. Couples with combined incomes above $250,000 could get a reprieve here.
  • Reduce the corporate tax rate to 15% and extend it to certain small and medium-sized businesses. Freelancers, the self-employed and other companies could get a tax break, though the details will determine how much.

» Read the White House’s full proposal

What details weren’t provided?

Lots of them.

Without knowing the size of the tax brackets, for example, it’s hard to determine which taxpayers will come out ahead in the shuffle between losing certain itemized deductions and moving to a lower tax bracket.

It’s unclear what would happen to the tax treatment on retirement contributions, such as to a 401(k) or individual retirement account, although National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn — who along with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced the plan at a press briefing — said “retirement savings will be protected.”

It’s also impossible to know what sorts of new or different tax breaks will be available for child care or elder care.

» MORE: Calculate your tax burden

What’s next?

The White House said it plans to move quickly, working with the House and Senate to flesh out the fine print and draw up a bill. Any change in tax policy or rates must be approved by Congress.

Tina Orem is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: torem@nerdwallet.com.

Dog food recalled after samples test positive for euthanasia drug

A dog food company has issued a nationwide recall after some samples tested positive for the euthanasia drug pentobarbital.

Party Animal said in a recent news release that it is recalling two lots of its Cocolicious dog food after a Texas retailer said a customer had brought samples of the food to a testing lab, which detected the drug.

The affected products, manufactured in 2015, include 13-ounce cans of Cocolicious Beef & Turkey dog food (Lot #0136E15204 04, best by July 2019) and Cocolicious Chicken & Beef dog food (Lot #0134E15 237 13, best by August 2019).

>> Read more trending news

"The safety of pets is and always will be our first priority," Party Animal said in a statement. "We sincerely regret the reports of the discomfort experienced by the pet who consumed this food."

Customers who have the recalled products "should return them to the place of purchase and will of course receive a full refund," the company said.

"Party Animal wishes to emphasize that we have submitted many recent lots of our beef flavors for testing and all have tested negative for any pentobarbital," the company added. "We have also had extensive discussions with our manufacturer regarding the potential cause of the reported contamination of the 2015 lots, and we will continue with such discussions even as we await testing results for the 2015 lots. In order to ensure adherence to our commitment to the safety of pets, we are also actively re-examining our manufacturing processes."

Read more here.

The Airbnb Hotel Tax: What Guests & Hosts Need to Know

The summer travel season is nearly upon us and if you’re a fan of staying with Airbnb hosts instead of hotels, you probably already know some locations charge some or all of the same taxes that hotels charge.

If you don’t already know that, surprise! The number of locations charging taxes for that spare room or whole house is only growing. Beginning May 1, Texas will join 30 other states where taxes are charged at either the local or state level or a combination of both.

Clearly, there’s a financial benefit for the communities levying these taxes. The Dallas Morning News estimates Airbnb would’ve remitted an estimated $8 million in Texas state taxes in 2016. However, it’s not the states and cities that initiated the effort. For that, you can thank the hotel industry, which has been lobbying hard for the taxes.

Why?

“Airbnb has brought hotel pricing down in many places during holidays, conventions and other big events when room rates should be at their highest and the industry generates a significant portion of its profits,” Vijay Dandapani, chief executive of the Hotel Association of New York City, told The New York Times in a recent article.

While Airbnb has said on its website it is happy to collect its fair share of taxes, there’s clearly some negative feelings about how it’s all gone down.

“The hotel hypocrisy is almost unbelievable,” Nick Papas, a spokesman for Airbnb, said in an email. “The hotel cartel wanted Airbnb to collect taxes and when we implemented a way to do so, they changed their position and lobbied cities to leave millions of dollars on the table.”

The continuing fight has led to a variety of tax schemes across states and municipalities, creating a confusing landscape for hosts and guests.

What It Means for Airbnb Hosts & Guests

For Hosts

If you’re considering becoming a host, be aware that the taxes present some confusion for some people renting out their spaces.

The reasons are numerous and varied. To start, no one really likes paying taxes. But additional layers of frustration can come with the Airbnb taxes. They can be levied and remitted in different ways depending on the tax laws in particular states or municipalities and Airbnb’s agreement with those entities. Then there are the host’s options of how to charge guests once taxes are implemented. Many hosts get confused when it comes to collecting the tax, where to note it on the listing and the bookkeeping process.

Jeff Cook, who owns several properties in Pennsylvania, said sales and use taxes were already in place when he started hosting with Airbnb several years ago. “The biggest issue here is that many people weren’t paying it simply because they didn’t think they had to,” he said. “I paid it from the get-go, because I wanted my business to be legitimate.”

But it wasn’t easy. Cook’s price for guests bakes in the 6% state and 3% local tax, so he doesn’t note it on his site and doesn’t have to worry about asking for local taxes when guests arrive. His revenue is submitted to Airbnb, but then it gets a little complicated.

Airbnb removes their 9% fee and sends him the remainder, he said. “And then I have to figure out what the tax amounts are independently. If something could be done better … perhaps if they distinguished between the tax and the regular revenue that would be helpful. The lump sum is sent to me, I figure out what the correct tax amounts are, and then I submit a return and payment to the appropriate authorities.”

Laura Jesse, a host in San Antonio, said she’s ambivalent about the tax that begins in Texas next week. “I live near projects that were funded in part with the [state’s occupancy] tax,” she said. “I get a fair amount of convention business as I live near downtown, etc.”

As for raising her rates to offset the taxes, Jesse said she has no plans to do so at this time.

Of course, taxes aren’t the only costs Airbnb hosts face. Here are a few others you’ll want to know about. But the spare money can still help you do things like pay off debt (you can see how your debt affects your credit with a credit report snapshot on Credit.com). It’s also good to keep in mind that many of the expenses involved with renting out your space are tax-deductible. See which ones you can write off here.

For Guests

Taxes mean your stays are probably costing more – anywhere from 3% to 15% depending on locale and host. On top of that, the process can become confusing depending on how the host applies those taxes to your bill.

Airbnb addresses how that can be done on its Airbnb Citizen site, but there are no clear-cut guidelines available, so many hosts are left scratching their heads and conferring with other hosts on how they alert guests and even charge them.

Airbnb offers guidance thusly:

“If you determine that you need to collect tax, you can usually either add it within a Special Offer or ask your guests to pay it in person. In each case, it’s important that guests are informed of the exact tax amount prior to booking. If you choose to collect tax outside of your listing’s rates, please note that it should be collected only upon arrival and that we are unable to assist with collection.”

So, if your host suddenly asks you to hand over a little cash to cover the taxes, it’s probably not a scam. As Airbnb explains on its site, “this needs to be clearly stated on the listing prior to booking.” So, if the host can’t show you where that’s stated, you should be wary.

Hopefully, however, most hosts will bake in the taxes like Cook does, and you will see only a price increase at your favorite Airbnb homes.

“I think separating taxes as a line item [on guest bills] would help clarify the issue for people,” Cook said. “I’m a big supporter of Airbnb. I think they are an awesome company, and as they evolve and grow, distinguishing tax through line items would be beneficial to everyone.”

Related Articles

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

7 Hacks for Using American Express' Membership Rewards Program

There are a few different transferable points programs available, but over the years one of the most popular has always been American Express’ Membership Rewards program. The reason is because of the ample ways points can be used and the wide selection of credit cards that can help you earn points quickly. Let’s take a deeper look into how you can earn Membership Rewards points and the different ways you can receive ultimate value.

1. Transfer Points to Loyalty Partners

One of the best ways to receive maximum value for your Membership Rewards points is to transfer them to one of the many loyalty partners. There is a large selection of both hotels and airlines and each of the following partners will transfer 1-to-1 unless noted.

  • Aeromexico — 1-to-1.6
  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Air France/KLM (Flying Blue)
  • Alitalia
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Asia Miles
  • British Airways — 250-to-200
  • Delta Air Lines
  • El Al Israel Airlines — 1,000-to-20
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Plus — 250-to-200
  • JetBlue Airways — 250-to-200
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin America — 200-to-100
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways
  • Choice Hotels
  • Hilton Hotels — 1-to-1.5
  • Starwood Hotels — 1,000-to-333

To get the most value out of each point, you could use them for one of the following redemptions.

All Nippon Airways From the United States to Japan

Until recently, the All Nippon Airways award chart was based on distances. That used to provide many sweet spots for award travel. Even though they have changed to a region based award chart, there are still some great deals. One of them is round-trip flights from the United States to Japan. You can fly round-trip in coach for just 40,000 miles during low season and business class for 75,000 miles, also in the low season.

All Nippon Airways From the United States to Asia Zone 2

You could use All Nippon Airways miles to fly round-trip from the United States to Asia Zone 2 for just 55,000 in coach or 100,000 in business class. Asia Zone 2 is classified as Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Flying Blue From the Continental United States to Hawaii

A great use of Flying Blue miles is to fly round-trip from anywhere in the continental United States to Hawaii for just 30,000 miles.

Aeroplan From the United States to Oceania

Transferring Membership Award points to Aeroplan will allow you to use 90,000 miles to fly round-trip from the United States to Australia, New Zealand or anywhere in the South Pacific. You could make this trip for 80,000 United miles, but what makes using Aeroplan miles worth it is that they will allow you to make two stopovers before reaching your destination. That means you could fly to Tahiti and make stops in both Australia and New Zealand on the way.

British Airways From Miami to Lima, Peru

If hiking to Machu Picchu is on your bucket list, you might want to consider flying British Airways from Miami to Lima, Peru. Because British Airways has a distance-based award chart, the flight in coach is just 12,500 miles each way.

2. Buy Gift Cards

Another way to use your Membership Rewards is to receive gift cards from different restaurants, retailers and for travel. The value you receive will be anywhere from a half-cent to one cent per point.

3. Go Shopping

You could also use your points to shop online with certain retailers. Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com and Newegg.com offer 0.7 cents per point. Other partner retailers give you a half-cent per point in value.

4. Use American Express Travel or Airbnb

There are a few different ways you can use your points on travel beyond transferring them to partners. You can book airfare on American Express Travel for one cent per point. You could also book with Airbnb for 0.7 cents per point.

5. Enjoy Entertainment

If you want to redeem your points for concert tickets or for a Broadway show you can do so through Ticketmaster.com, AXS and Telecharge.com. The value is a half-cent per point.

6. Ride With Uber

You could also use your Membership Reward points to pay for Uber rides. You will receive one cent value per point used.

7. Get a Statement Credit

Finally, you could choose to use your points to receive a statement credit. However, by doing this, you will only receive 0.6 cents value per point.

Cards That Earn Membership Rewards Points

There are quite a few different credit cards that give you the opportunity to earn Membership Rewards points. Below you will find a few of our favorite cards.

Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express has been one of the elite cards available for a few years. When you sign up you will receive 60,000 Membership Reward points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. You can then receive five points per dollar spent on flights and hotels when booked through the airline and by using American Express Travel. All other purchases will receive one point per dollar.

Earlier this year, the annual fee on the Platinum card increased from $450 to $550. This will put the card out of reach for many people. But before you discard the idea of adding it to your wallet, you should consider the travel benefits. Not only will you receive a $200 airline fee credit, which will pay for things like change fees or baggage fees, you also receive a $200 Uber credit. You will receive up to a $100 statement credit to cover the cost of either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. In addition, you will receive Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton Honors Gold status. Plus, the next time you travel, it will be in comfort. You will have access to the Delta Sky Club, Centurion Lounges, Airspace Lounges and a Priority Pass Select membership.

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

Another of the elite cards from American Express is the Premier Rewards Gold Card. When you sign up for this card, you receive 25,000 Membership Reward points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. You receive three points per dollar spent on any airfare purchased directly with airlines. You also receive two points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets. All other purchases will earn one point per dollar. There is a $195 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year. Other than the earnings potential, the other benefits can make the annual fee worthwhile to travelers. Each year you receive a $100 airline fee credit. You also receive two points per dollar when you book a hotel through the Hotel Collection. Plus, you receive a $75 hotel credit for qualifying charges.

Amex EveryDay Preferred

When you sign up for the Amex EveryDay Preferred card you receive 10,000 Membership Reward points after spending $1,000 in the first three months. When you use the card at U.S. supermarkets, you receive two points per dollar, on up to $6,000 in purchases each year, and one point per dollar on everything else. Also, if you use your card 20 or more times on purchases in a single billing period you’ll earn 20% extra points on those purchases minus returns and credits. Terms and limitations apply.

At the time of this writing, the EveryDay Preferred also offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. After that, your APR will be a variable 13.74% to 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors. This card has an annual fee of $95.

If you don’t already have one of these cards keep in mind you’ll need excellent credit to qualify. You can see where your credit stands by getting your two free credit scores on Credit.com.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

The Best (& Worst) Cities for New Graduates Seeking Work

Graduation season is around the corner, which means it’s time to put that degree to work.

Many graduates have little to tie them to any particular place, so they can choose to start their careers where jobs are available. But which cities have the most jobs?

Data provided by Monster, the employment website, show the best and worst cities for job seekers, based on the number of openings. Monster used the CEB TalentNeuron tool to analyze all entry-level job ads posted online from January 1 to March 22, 2017 that require a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree.

Where to Look for Work

Monster also released data on the occupations with the most openings (physical therapist was tops), and that offered the highest entry-level pay (software developers). Those first paychecks are increasingly important for new graduates, who face a growing mountain of student loan debt. (Wondering how student loan debt is affecting your credit? Check out a free snapshot of your credit report on Credit.com.)

Locations on the list are all in metropolitan statistical areas with populations of at least 200,000 or counties with populations of at least 15,000.

10th Best: Philadelphia

8,304 job postings

9th Best: Houston

10,021 job postings

8th Best: Seattle

10,512 job postings

7th Best: Atlanta

10,937 job postings

6th Best: Washington, D.C.

11,132 job postings

5th Best: San Francisco

11,244 job postings

4th Best: Boston

11,498 job postings

3rd Best: Los Angeles

11,933 job postings

2nd Best: Chicago

15,503 job postings

Best: New York

31,682 job postings

You can see the worst cities for new graduates seeking work on Credit.com. 

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

6 Hotels Worth Visiting Just for the Shops

Today’s gift shop hawks more than cheap toothpaste and forgettable postcards. Thanks to boutique hotels and upscale chains, everything from kimono robes to portable speakers are now up for grabs. We’ve rounded up six gift shops worth a stop on your travels, based on research and recommendations.

Hotel San José Store at Hotel San José, Austin, Texas

No trip to the live music capital would be complete without a South by Southwest onesie or a leather Baggu backpack roomy enough to fit your iPad Mini. You’ll find all this and more at the well-edited housewares shop — just make sure not to go over budget.

Madison Hall at Chicago Athletic Association, Chicago 

Take a trip back in time to the jazz-fueled 1930s, when Aesop skincare, Tatine candles and Monocle Magazine were all the rage. Oh wait, that’s today? Never mind, you’ll still find what you need — and don’t need — at this stylish extension of the Roman + Williams hotel.

Ballymaloe Shop at Ballymaloe House, Shangarry, Cork, Ireland 

Turns out Shangarry, once home of Pennsylvania founder William Penn, is a great place to stock up on bakeware. And kitchen utensils. And Irish cookbooks. After rolling out of bed from the Ballymaloe House next door, you can literally spend the day kitting out your kitchen in Celtic style. Who would blame you?

Drake General Store at The Drake, Toronto

Drake aptly bills itself as “a classic general store, a flea market stand and a museum shop all rolled into one,” where you’ll find practical and not-so-sensible gifts. Local goodies like Nicolas Vahe cake mix and Bata sneakers are tempting, but save your cash for the colorful Kreafunk headphones.

Eloise Shop at The Plaza, New York 

Little girls — and little girls at heart — will be delighted by The Plaza’s pink-and-black homage to its most famous resident. Cool your heels in the living room or stage an impromptu costume party in the fashion room. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy this glimpse into the world of author Kay Thompson’s heroine.

Thornwillow Press at The St. Regis, New York 

If your idea of a perfect weekend is thumbing through books in a wood-paneled library, hightail it to the “cognac room” off the St. Regis hotel’s lobby. There you’ll find the stately ambience of Thornwillow Press, where the selection of paper, ink and gilt are enough to make this writer’s eyes water. As you’d expect, all their printing is done at an old-fashioned factory.

Save on Your Next Trip 

Planning a trip to New York to visit Eloise? You should probably make a plan to save on your travels. Rewards cards are a great way to do it, and they can help you nab some freebies — hello, first class — if you swipe them wisely. Remember, before you apply for any credit card, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re likely to qualify. You can do that on Credit.com, where you’ll get two of your credit scores for free.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Chipotle investigating credit card data breach

Chipotle Mexican Grill is investigating a data breach in its payment processing system after reporting a sharp increase in sales.

The fast-casual restaurant said it recently detected unauthorized activity on its network that supports the payment system. Chipotle said the transactions occurred from March 24 to April 18, and the company believes it took the proper precautions to stop the breach.

>> Read more trending news

The breach dominated the company’s other announcement that same-store sales grew 17.8 percent in the first quarter. Compared to the first quarter of 2016, revenue increased more than 28 percent to $1.07 billion. The chain also opened up 57 new restaurants.

Steve Ells, founder, chairman and CEO of Chipotle, said the year "is off to a strong start, as our restaurant managers and teams are energized by our renewed focus on the customer."

He added: "By simplifying the focus in our restaurants to only those elements that lead to a great guest experience, our operations have improved every single month, which gives us confidence that we are on our way to achieve our mission to ensure that great food made with whole unprocessed ingredients is accessible to everyone.”

The increase in sales comes after Chipotle’s flurry of food contamination incidents a couple years ago. 

United unveils 10 policy changes, will pay bumped passengers up to $10,000

United Airlines has announced 10 policy changes after a video of passenger David Dao being dragged off a plane went viral earlier this month.

>> Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat

In what may be the biggest change, the airline will now offer travelers as much as $10,000 to relinquish their seats on overbooked flights, up from $1,350, according to Bloomberg.

>> United Airlines passengers describe scene as man dragged off flight

In a Thursday news release, the airline also pledged to take the following actions:

  • “Limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.
  • “Not require customers seated on the plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.
  • “Establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines or ground transportation to get customers to their final destination.
  • “Ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.
  • “Provide employees with additional annual training.
  • “Create an automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans.
  • “Reduce the amount of overbooking.
  • “Empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.
  • “Eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a 'no questions asked' policy on lost luggage.”

In a statement, United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized for the incident and said the airline is "taking concrete, meaningful action to make things right and ensure nothing like this ever happens again."

>> United Airlines changes policy after man dragged from plane

"Our review shows that many things went wrong that day, but the headline is clear: Our policies got in the way of our values and procedures interfered in doing what's right," Munoz said. "This is a turning point for all of us at United, and it signals a culture shift toward becoming a better, more customer-focused airline. Our customers should be at the center of everything we do, and these changes are just the beginning of how we will earn back their trust."

>> Read more trending news

Read more here.

Video: How to Get A Low Credit Card Interest Rate

MoneyTips

Are you struggling to keep up with the interest payments on your credit card? In the video above, Nerdwallet Credit and Banking Expert Sean McQuay describes ways to get credit cards with low interest rates. If you want more credit, check out MoneyTips' list of credit card offers.
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