Disclaimer: I am not a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), tax advisor or tax lawyer. Please talk with your CPA, tax advisor, or tax lawyer before making any investment decisions that may have tax consequences for your investments. One of my investment rules is know the tax ramifications of any investment that you plan to make before you make it, and make it tax efficient, whether under current tax laws or forecasted future tax changes. Taxes and/or government fees will be increasing over the next 5 years to help pay for the federal, state and local government deficits and future government entitlement programs (for example, health care). For example, to pay for the new health care plan high income earners in 2013 will experience an increase in Medicare payroll tax (.9%) and an additional tax (3.8%) on qualified dividends and capital gains.Former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts (BTC) were intended to expire at the end of 2010, reverting to the previous tax code for long-term capital gains and qualified dividends, reviving the estate tax and restoring the top marginal bracket of 39.6% at the beginning of 2011. On December 17, 2010 President Obama and the US Congress extended Bush’s tax cuts for another 2 years (ending January 1, 2013), made changes to the estate tax and added a 2% reduction of the payroll (social security) tax. This will be one of largest stimulus packages for the US economy ever – approaching $1 trillion US.Long-term capital gains tax (on assets held longer than one year): The current tax rate of 0% for taxpayers in the 10% and 15% tax brackets as of 2008 and 15% for everybody else will not change for the next two years. The pre-BTC rates were 10% for the 15% tax bracket and 20% for everybody else.Qualified dividends: Qualified dividends will continue to be taxed at a maximum rate of 15% for the next two years. The pre-BTC rate was ordinary income based on your highest tax bracket. For example if you were a high income earner and your tax bracket was 39.6% your qualified dividends would have been taxed at 39.6% (this could be as high as 43.4% in 2013).Top income tax bracket: Bush’s tax cuts eliminated the top income tax bracket of 39.6% making the 35% the highest tax bracket and created a new 10% bracket for low income earners. Congress and President Obama extended 35% as the highest tax bracket and the 10% tax bracket for the next 2 years.Revival of the estate tax:In 2010, as a result of several unusual circumstances, there is no limit on the size of an estate that is exempt from federal estate taxes. Starting in 2011 (and ending in 2013) the exemption will be $5 million per person and for a married couple up to $10 million will be exempt from federal and gift taxes. The top tax rate applied to the portion of estates exceeding those limits will be 35%, the lowest tax rate in 80 years.Payroll tax decrease: Wage earners received a social security tax reduction of 2%, making the tax rate 4.2% up to the cap of $106,800 in 2011 (the cap will increase in 2012). If your wage income is at or over the cap, this will result in savings of $2,136, or about $40 per weekly paycheck. Congress did not renew the Making Work Pay tax credit of up to $400 for working individuals and up to $800 for married taxpayers filing joint returns (this was up to a maximum adjusted gross income level). Consequently, working individuals who earn less than $20,000 ($40,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly) will have less money in their paycheck starting in 2011.The tax rate on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends which are most important to investors will stay the same for the next two years. All these tax changes will revert to their pre-BTC tax rates on January 1, 2013. With President Obama, all of the House of Representatives and 1/3 of senators up for reelection at the end of 2012, expect the US tax rates to be a major campaign issue in the 2012 election.A good strategy is to always keep interest/ dividend-paying and non-tax efficient investments in your non-taxable accounts. Also, any investments for which there is a high degree of difficulty determining the tax liability, i.e. trading stocks, future contracts, exotic ETFs, etc., should be invested through your non-taxable accounts.Between the extended Bush tax rates and payroll tax decreases (costing the US government almost $1 trillion in revenue over the next two years) and Quantitative Easing 2, the US government has created the largest stimulus ever in its quest to grow the economy and reduce a persistent US unemployment rate hovering close to 10%. If this stimulus does not lead to job growth and reduce the unemployment rate, the issue will become: how do you reduce structural unemployment issues which take a long time period to resolve? This will be difficult to resolve in the current US political environment which everything is short focus on the next election.