New Tax Law Takes Aim at a Different Measure of Inflation

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As we make an auspicious start in the new year with a new tax law, let’s look at one bit of information from that law that related to the consumer price index — basically what the tax implications would be from changes in utilizing measures of inflation. Here is that passage:

For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 (Dec. 31, 2018 for figures that are newly provided under the Act for 2018 and thus won't be reset until after that year, e.g., the tax brackets set out above), dollar amounts that were previously indexed using CPI-U will instead be indexed using chained CPI-U (C-CPI-U). (Code Sec. 1(f), as amended by Act Sec. 11002(a)) This change, unlike many provisions in the Act, is permanent

Was I the only one who saw this in the codification of the new tax law and smiled? It’s time for all the macroeconomics geeks to have their moment. I am one of them, having minored in economics. This seems so small, but it really isn’t.

Let’s take a moment and give you the definition of inflation:

In economics, inflation is a sustained increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy over a period of time. When the price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation reflects a reduction in the purchasing power per unit of money – a loss of real value in the medium of exchange and unit of account within the economy.

So, what is CPI-U and C-CPI-U anyway? CPI-U is an acronym for Consumer Price Index for All Urban Customers, and C-CPI-U is Chained Consumer Price Index. What does this mean and why should you care?

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About Craig W. Smalley, EA

Craig Smalley

Craig W. Smalley, MST, EA, has been in practice since 1994. He has been admitted to practice before the IRS as an enrolled agent and has a master's in taxation. He is well-versed in US tax law and US Tax Court cases. He specializes in taxation, entity structuring and restructuring, corporations, partnerships, and individual taxation, as well as representation before the IRS regarding negotiations, audits, and appeals. In his many years of practice, he has been exposed to a variety of businesses and has an excellent knowledge of most industries. He is the CEO and co-founder of CWSEAPA PLLC and Tax Crisis Center LLC; both business have locations in Florida, Delaware, and Nevada. Craig is the current Google small business accounting advisor for the Google Small Business Community. He is a contributor to AccountingWEB and Accounting Today, and has had 12 books published on various topics in taxation. His articles have also been featured in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, and several other newspapers, periodicals, and magazines. He has been interviewed and been a featured guest on many radio shows and podcasts. Finally, he is the co-host of Tax Avoidance is Legal, which is a nationally broadcast weekly Internet radio show.


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