On December 22, 2017, President Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law. Most of the new provisions go into effect on 2018's taxes. So you will file your 2017 taxes with little or no changes.

The new tax plan cuts the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent beginning in 2018. Additionally, the top individual tax rate will drop to 37 percent. The law overall cuts income tax rates, doubles the standard deduction, and eliminates personal exemptions. The corporate tax cuts are permanent but the new individual rates will expire at the end of 2025.

Personal Income Rates

How does this all affect you? Here's a breakdown based on a rough estimate of your annual salary. Employees will first see changes in their February 2018 withholdings.

TheBalance.com

The Act keeps the same seven tax brackets for individuals. The 2017 rates will be reinstated in 2026 under this law. The new plan helps higher income families the most in terms of receiving the biggest tax cuts. The Tax Foundation has said that those in the 20 to 80 percent income range would receive a 1.7 percent increase in after-tax income. Meanwhile, people in the 95 to 99 percent range would receive a 2.2 percent increase.

Business Rates

The Act has more changes for business than it does for individuals. The new corporate tax rate at 21 percent is the lowest since 1939. The United States has one of the highest business tax rates in the world, but most corporations don't pay that much. The effective rate, when you take into account deductions and loopholes, is only around 18 percent.

The Act also raises the standard deduction for pass-through businesses to 20 percent. This deduction will also expire in 2026. A pass-through business includes sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, and S corporations. This classification also includes real estate companies, hedge funds, and private equity funds. The deductions go away for service professionals when their income reaches $157,500 for singles and $315,000 for joint filers.

Another feature of the Act will allow companies to repatriate the $2.6 trillion they collectively hold in foreign cash stockpiles. They will pay a one-time tax rate of 15.5 percent on cash and 8 percent on equipment. Most famously, Apple holds $252 billion in foreign cash. This new tax rate will allow the company to bring it back to the US without a substantial tax hit. A similar “tax holiday" in 2004 provided little boost to the economy, according to the Congressional Research Service. The repatriated cash was distributed to shareholders over employees.

Changes To Deductions

The standard deduction for individuals has been doubled. Meaning, you can claim many more deductions that you could in the past. A single filer's deduction increased from $6,350 to $12,000. Married and joint-filer deductions increased from $12,700 to $24,000. These will also revert back to the 2017 level in 2026.

The Act also eliminates personal exemptions and most itemized deductions. This usually includes moving expenses, except for members of the military. Someone paying alimony can no longer deduct the payments, but those receiving them can. Deductions for charitable contributions, retirement savings, and student loan interest remain unchanged. But you can't take these as well as the standard deduction. The new law limits deductions on mortgage interest to the first $750,000 of the loan. Taxpayers can also deduct up to $10,000 in state and local taxes, but must choose between property taxes and income or sales taxes. The Act repeals the Obamacare tax for people without insurance in 2019.

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I thought I had a pretty good handle on my finances out of school. I worked several jobs while attending university and had little to no problem managing my income. However, once I graduated, I realized how much more complicated personal accounting could really be.

There were so many variables I needed to keep track of. Biweekly bills, monthly charges, and general necessities amounted to a heap of confusing numbers that were often impossible to decipher. The funniest part was that I was actually trying to do this by hand (I don't know what I was trying to prove to myself, either).

After messing up for the 17th time, I decided to give Microsoft Excel a shot. I used Excel a bit in school and I knew all the big-wig finance people used it, so what could I possibly have to lose? The answer is about six hours of my precious time. Excel isn't much of an improvement over handwriting and it's still dependent on the user to manually input all of the information. It's like doing everything by hand with the slightest help, meaning that it still required a tremendous amount of time and concentration. Well that was all for nothing, I guess.

It's sort of funny. I was certain that I could manage my personal finances with ease, when it's practically a full-time job. I was already stressed out enough with my first job and I knew I didn't have enough time to give my finances the attention it deserved.

That's why I decided to try out a budgeting app. My best friend told me that he uses an app called Truebill to manage his finances. "What does it even mean to manage your finances?" I asked him. He told me that Truebill was the personal financial assistant I wished I could have. It could aggregate all of my account information into one place and give me specific insights and actions.

I loved the idea of having full control over my finances, especially during a time of financial uncertainty, and I realized that Truebill would be the easiest way to accomplish this. The user interface is incredibly simple and intuitive, so it doesn't even feel like a finance app! Truebill offers a multitude of features, with their most popular being the ability to cancel subscriptions with the press of a button.

Okay, I had no idea how many subscriptions I was still subscribed to. In fact, I wasn't even using a quarter of the subscription services I was signed up for. Subscription boxes, streaming services, my old gym, and even an old subscription to my favorite magazine--it was all there and I was livid. How could I let myself waste all of this money and how did I never catch this? Thank goodness for Truebill.

Truebill also offers bill negotiations. There is a 40% fee based on how much you save and Truebill even claims that there is an 85% chance that they'll be able to lower your bill once a negotiation is requested. Why wouldn't I take them up on this? There was zero risk and I would only have to pay once my bill was lowered (which means that I would be saving money regardless).

More standard features of Truebill include the ability to generate a credit report on-demand and even request a pay advance. I only used the pay advance feature once when I wanted to buy a gift for my mom, but didn't have enough cash in hand and Truebill automatically reimbursed itself when I got my next paycheck.

The credit report is another fantastic feature and practically taught me what good credit meant. Truebill's credit report basically shows you which financial decisions have the most significant impact on your credit score and ways that you can improve your credit month-over-month. I've never had such control over my credit and it feels good.

I'll be the first to admit that I was extremely naive coming out of school. I figured that as long as I was attentive, I could manage my finances with ease. We manage money to some extent throughout our entire lives, but once you're thrown out on your own, it's a completely different story. With Truebill, I've finally been able to take control over my finances and stay on top of all of my responsibilities.

Update: Our friends at Truebill are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to sign-up for Truebill.

My buddies and I always try to make it out to a game, but we never really care which one we end up at. Obviously we have our favorite sports and teams, but it was rarely about what game we went to or who we saw playing. It was about watching the game live.

In the early months of lockdown, all we had was Korean baseball, and trust me, we loved it. The only issue was, none of us had any idea what the commentators were saying. Even then, a few of my friends weren't huge fans of baseball. They were into sports like football and basketball, ones that moved at a quicker pace with less down-time in between plays.

We decided to see if there were any other events going down and came across horse racing. Yes, horse racing. It was perfect--short, fast-paced, and most importantly, an opportunity for betting.

I had never really considered watching a horse race any time other than the Belmont Stakes, but the prospects of the sport seemed exhilarating. Even better, with horse racing we knew we could still recreate the atmosphere of a race track. Salty snacks? Check. Stale beer? Check. A simple and easy way to bet? Check.

One quick Google search later, we came across TVG, powered by FanDuel. It's an online betting platform that takes you right to the heart of the action. We were a little apprehensive about using a mobile app to place our bets, but TVG's ability to bet on live horse races from all over the world was too good to pass up.

Here are 5 reasons why we are obsessed with horse racing thanks to TVG:

1. Betting has never been easier

Use your phone or computer to watch and bet on live horse races in real-time. TVG offers a bunch of features to make betting even simpler--live odds and handicapping tips leverage recent learnings to help you make your best bet. Not to mention, TVG's exclusive race content and wagering guide offers an under-the-hood look into the strategy behind horse race betting.

2. The biggest selection of horse races out there

If you're looking to drop a little dough on a horse race, chances are your best option is your local race track. But watching the same few horses races over and over again isn't the most exciting thing. With TVG you have access to over 150 tracks worldwide with races happening consistently throughout the day.

3. Get a generous sign-up offer when you place your first bet

Once you register your account, you will be eligible for a $200 risk-free bet. All you have to do is place your first bet and you're covered. If you happen to lose, TVG will insure you for up to $200 as a sort of wagering credit. I may have been a little trigger happy when placing my first bet, so having this insurance was a great perk. There are also a bunch of promotional offers available year-round.

4. Making deposits and cashing out at the touch of button

With a ton of payment options such as PayPal, BetCash, debit/credit, wire transfers, and other third-party services, making a deposit is a breeze. But what about the payout? Depending on your deposit method, your withdrawal will be available in a few days. No more waiting in-line to collect your winnings!

5. Watching live races with your friends while betting is exhilarating

Even when we were watching Korean baseball, Zoom calls with my friends were a little dull.

With TVG, we haven't had this sort of fun in months! Every weekend we'll turn on a race and throw our bets in. After a few races, and quite a few drinks, we'll tally up our winnings to see who won the most! Sometimes it's not even about making money, but just having a good time.

TVG is the perfect way to add a little excitement to an otherwise mundane afternoon. It introduced me to the world of horse racing, a sport I never would have considered otherwise.

The races just keep ramping up and thanks to TVG, I can always get in on the fun.

UPDATE: The biggest derby in horse racing is THIS WEEKEND. Get in on the action with your $200 risk-free bet!

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