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Making Large Gifts Now Won’t Harm Estates After 2025

On November 20th, the IRS announced individuals taking advantage of the increased gift and estate tax exclusion amounts in effect from 2018 to 2025 will not be adversely impacted after 2025 when the exclusion amount is scheduled to drop to levels before 2018.

The Treasury Department and the IRS issued proposed regulations which implement changes made by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).  As a result, individuals planning to make large gifts between 2018 and 2025 can do so without concern that they will lose the tax benefit of the higher exclusion level once it decreases after 2025.

In general, gift and estate taxes are calculated, using a unified rate schedule, on taxable transfers of money, property and other assets. Any tax due is determined after applying a credit – formerly known as the unified credit – based on an applicable exclusion amount.

The applicable exclusion amount is the sum of the basic exclusion amount (BEA) established in the statute, and other elements (if applicable) described in the proposed regulations. The credit is first used during life to offset gift tax and any remaining credit is available to reduce or eliminate estate tax.

The TCJA temporarily increased the BEA from $5 million to $10 million for tax years 2018 through 2025, with both dollar amounts adjusted for inflation. For 2018, the inflation-adjusted BEA is $11.18 million. In 2026, the BEA will revert to the 2017 level of $5 million as adjusted for inflation.

To address concerns that an estate tax could apply to gifts exempt from gift tax by the increased BEA, the proposed regulations provide a special rule that allows the estate to compute its estate tax credit using the higher of the BEA applicable to gifts made during life or the BEA applicable on the date of death.

To discuss more about your gift and estate tax situation, contact WFY’s Estates and Trusts Partners, Marisa Alvarado and Kevin Wiest, at info@cpa-wfy.com or (949) 910-2727.

© Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

Tax Saving Moves to Improve Your Tax Situation

Since 2018 is coming to a close now is the time to take action to proactively reduce your tax liability before the new year.  Included are a few strategies that may help with your tax situation:

  1. Harvest stock losses while substantially preserving one’s investment position. This can be accomplished by selling the shares and buying other shares in the same company or another company in the same industry to replace them, or by selling the original shares, then buying back the same securities at least 31 days later.
  2. Apply a bunching strategy to deductible contributions and/or payments of medical expenses. Beginning in 2018 the standard deduction has been increased and the itemized deduction of state and local taxes limited to $10,000 which will cause many taxpayers to lose the benefit of their itemized deductions. By bunching multiple years of charitable contributions and medical expenses into one year a taxpayer may create a taxable benefit that would not otherwise exist.  For example, a taxpayer who expects to itemize deductions in 2018 and usually contributes a total of $10,000 to charities each year, should consider refunding 2019 and 2020 charitable contributions by contributing a total of $30,000 into a donor advised charitable fund and then distribute the funds to the charities over the following two years.
  3. Take required minimum distributions (RMDs). Taxpayers who have reached age 70-½ should be sure to take their 2018 RMD from their IRAs or 401(k) plans (or other employer-sponsored retired plans). Failure to take a required withdrawal can result in a penalty of 50% of the amount of the RMD not withdrawn. Those who turned age 70-½ in 2018 can delay the first required distribution to 2019, however, this can result in taking a double distribution in 2019 (the required amount for 2018 and 2019).
  4. Use IRAs to make charitable gifts. Taxpayers who have reached age 70-½, own IRAs, and are thinking of making a charitable gift should consider arranging for the gift to be made by way of a qualified charitable contribution, or QCD—a direct transfer from the IRA trustee to the charitable organization. Such a transfer (not to exceed $100,000) will neither be included in gross income nor allowed as a deduction on the taxpayer’s return. A qualified charitable contribution before year end is a particularly good idea for retired taxpayers who don’t need all of their as-yet undistributed RMD for living expenses.
  5. Make year-end gifts. A person can give any other person up to $15,000 for 2018 without incurring any gift tax. The annual exclusion amount increases to $30,000 per donee if the donor’s spouse consents to gift-splitting. Anyone who expects eventually to have estate tax liability and who can afford to make gifts to family members should do so.

These are broad suggestions that will benefit some but not all taxpayers.  To discuss and create a personalized tax strategy be sure to contact a WFY tax specialist at info@cpa-wfy.com or (949) 910-2727.

© Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

What Is an Offer in Compromise with the IRS?

An offer in compromise can make you happy: “Oh boy, the IRS said yes, and my tax debts are over!” Or it can frustrate you. Let’s go over how to navigate the IRS settlement guidelines and see what an OIC entails.

Here’s the good news:

  • An OIC can be a fresh start from your IRS debt.
  • You no longer have to worry that the IRS will seize your wages or bank accounts.
  • Your credit score will no longer show any tax liens against you — the IRS releases them all.
  • IRS collections are put on hold and the compromise is investigated. And then — peace, ah, peace — from IRS certified-mail letters and visits from IRS revenue officers.
  • You put the debt behind you and you can go back to saving for retirement.

But here’s some of the bad news:

  • The IRS will dig deeply into your finances.
  • You have to tell the IRS where you work and bank and you must list your assets, including your house, cars, valuables and retirement accounts.
  • The IRS will look at your paystubs, tax returns, bank statements, business profit and loss statements and proof of payment of monthly bills.
  • After acceptance of the OIC, the IRS will put you on a five-year probation, requiring full compliance in filing and paying taxes. Not playing ball with all IRS expectations will default the settlement.

But wait! It gets even more dicey:

  • An OIC is not a quick fix — it can take the IRS a minimum of nine to 12 months to investigate, and another six months if an appeal is needed. The IRS allows five to 24 months to pay the settlement.
  • If you want to pay credit card, mortgage or car loan monthly bills, think again. The IRS may effectively take over your budgeting.
  • If the IRS determines it can collect what you owe, it will reject your offer, but you can appeal.
  • The settlement amount is not based on fairness, but on collectability.
  • It may not work at all! The IRS recently rejected 60 percent of the offers it received: 41,000 rejections out of a pool of 68,000 submissions!

Let’s see where that leaves us:

  • An OIC can be a wonderful way to rid yourself of the IRS bugging you.
  • You need to consider it from all angles to make sure it’s the right move for you.

A compromise is not the only way to clear the IRS out of your life. The agency can agree that you owe debt, but not force you to repay it — the IRS terms it currently uncollectible and puts you in its bad debt category and leaves you alone. The IRS has 10 years to collect the taxes. You could let the time frame expire rather than compromising. Bankruptcy may be able to eliminate taxes too. See what’s in your best interest.

The point is that you have options, and you should talk to a professional if you’re having tax problems.

© Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. 

Earn Money from California’s Training Subsidy Program

It’s Free Money, and We Can Help You Get Your Share

Do you provide formal training for your employees? Exciting news: The government wants to chip in. Yes, really. In fact, for the past 35 years the State of California has provided over $1.5 billion in training subsidies to California businesses. Smaller companies can receive up to $50,000 per year and larger companies can receive up to $375,000 per year. Never heard of this program? You’re not alone.

The funding comes from a tax that every for-profit company in the state pays, the Employment Training Tax. This tax generates over $100 million a year that is then given back to companies that successfully apply for the funds.

This is not a tax credit. It’s “free money,” given in the form of a check. The money goes to help companies cover the cost of providing training for their employees so they can more efficiently and profitably do their jobs. Almost any type of training is covered, and there are very few restrictions on who can do the training. Typically most recipient companies simply have their own in-house personnel lead the training sessions.

Examples of eligible training include:

  • Business Skills, such as Leadership, Team Building, Communication, Sales, Marketing or Customer Relations
  • Computer Skills, such as Accounting Software, ERP, MRP, CRM, Scheduling, MS Office and other software needed to run a business
  • Manufacturing Skills, which includes almost anything necessary to produce the product or service

Virtually any for-profit company with a physical location in California can take advantage of this program. And once the state cuts the check they have no hold on how the money is used.

Of course, being that this is a government program there is a lot of paperwork involved, and the learning curve for getting this paperwork figured out is fairly steep. Luckily, we’ve already cracked the code. Because of our experience we can handle over 90% of the work required to receive the funds, thus freeing you to do what you do best—run your company.

To see how this program can benefit your company please contact Jeff Myers at JMYERS@CPA-WFY.com or call 949-910-0122

© Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.