Money Matters: What does tax reform mean for you?

Education Resources, Finance 411,

Just before the end of 2017, a major tax overhaul was signed into law. The coverage was hard to miss, but that doesn’t mean your audience has a good understanding of the changes.

The new law is complex, divisive, and impacts the finances of anyone filing income tax. Financial decisions people make in 2018 could be affected by some significant changes to the tax code.

The Journal of Accountancy has published a summary of the new provisions, a great place to start in growing your own understanding of the new tax code so you can walk your audience through what the changes will mean to them.

How it will affect individuals

Visualizations are one great way to present complex numerical data in an easy-to-consume way. Side-by-side comparisons of the old and new tax rates can illustrate the changes particularly well, as in this example from NPR

.One challenge with visualizations, though, is that they are a good way to present general information, but do not necessarily help your audience identify impacts on them, specifically. Michigan Public drilled down by looking at how the tax bill impacts Michigan’s economy in particular.

Or, get even more specific like CBS news, in this report examining how the tax bill will affect three families with different financial situations. CBS found viewers willing to share their finance information, but your station could create Jane and John Does with income numbers representative of people living in your coverage area.

To calculate how the new tax plan will affect individuals, check out any one of these 8 tax calculators. Since the new tax forms and instructions have not yet been released, these calculators are just a guide, and some are more detailed than others, so they may show slightly different results, even with the same financial inputs.

How it will affect businesses

Many consumers have been focusing on how the tax changes impact their individual returns, but consider another angle: the new tax code includes some significant changes for businesses as well. Take a look at major employers in your area and how the changes will affect them. WCPO in Cincinnati found the changes may be a mixed bag for businesses, and even looked at how one specific provision could have a big impact on one Ohio industry.

How state & local governments are responding

Another way to localize this national story is to look at any tax changes your state or local government may be considering in the wake of the federal overhaul. WHEC spoke with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on how the changes may affect New Yorkers and his plans to counter the measure he finds largely disagreeable, as do several other democratic state governors and legislators.

Weekly Money Matters personal finance content for your newsroom is sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education. Submit your story idea.