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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.

Pass-Through Entities and the 20 Percent Tax Break

Small-business owners and partners are scratching their heads over the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and how the new 20 percent tax deduction for pass-through entities will work.

Here’s a little background

A pass-through entity can be a partnership, S corporation, limited liability company or partnership, or sole proprietorship — basically, most of the country’s small businesses. Owners and shareholders of these entities are taxed on earnings based on individual, not corporate, tax rates. Effectively, company earnings, losses and deductions pass through to the individual’s personal tax rates, which, in the past, were typically lower than corporate rates. The pass-through deduction was a nice tax break.

But things have changed.

In 2017, the U.S. corporate tax rate was 35 percent, one of the highest in the industrialized world. The new bill slices that rate to a flat 21 percent, which is lower than the top individual tax rate of 37 percent. Earners who fall into that top tax tier would be silly to claim a pass-through deduction, because their individual rate is now higher than the corporate rate. Say bye-bye to that tax break.

Not so fast. To even things out, lawmakers have allowed pass-through owners to deduct 20 percent of their qualified business income, or QBI, from their personal income taxes, whether or not they itemize. Unlike the corporate tax cut, which is permanent, this pass-through deduction lasts only through 2025, unless Congress extends it.

A 20 percent pass-through deduction is nothing to sneeze at. If you have, say, $100,000 in pass-through income, you can reduce your income taxes by $4,800 if you’re in the 24 percent income tax bracket.

What is QBI?

QBI is, essentially, the profit a pass-through business makes during a year.

QBI includes:

  • Rental income from a rental business.
  • Income from publicly traded partnerships.
  • Real estate investments trusts.
  • Qualified cooperatives.

QBI does not include:

  • Dividend income.
  • Interest income.
  • S corporation shareholder wages.
  • Business income earned outside the United States.
  • Guaranteed payments to LLC members or partnership partners.
  • Capital gain or loss.

Here’s the hitch

In order to take advantage of the pass-through deduction, you must have net taxable income from your businesses. If you don’t make any profit, you can’t deduct 20 percent from nothing.

The QBI from each business is calculated separately. If you have several businesses, and one or more loses money in a given year, you will deduct that loss from the QBI from the profitable businesses.

More considerations

Hey, if there weren’t always more considerations, you wouldn’t need us. Whether you can take advantage of all, some or none of the pass-through tax deduction depends on how much money you earn and how you earn it.

For instance, if your taxable income falls below $315,000 if married filing jointly or $157,500 if single, you can take full advantage of the pass-through deduction. But if your taxable income is more than $315,000/$157,500, taking the deduction will depend on your total income and the kind of work you do. If you perform a personal service, such as doctor or consultant, you’ll lose the deduction at certain income levels. The details are still unclear, and we’re looking forward to reviewing future guidance.

The new pass-through deduction can be a nice tax break for folks who qualify. Not sure if you do? Contact us at info@cpa-wfy.com, and we’ll help you navigate the murky waters surrounding the new tax law and pass-through deduction. We’ll see if you’re entitled to anything and, if so, how much.

© Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

Bracket Changes and More From the IRS

You haven’t even filed your 2017 taxes yet, but the IRS has already announced changes that will affect your 2018 taxes, which you’ll be filing in 2019. The changes were announced in Revenue Procedure 2017-58, which runs 28 pages, but below are some key points. How do these changes impact you?

Of course, if any meaningful tax reform is passed, anything can be changed. We’ll keep you posted on any developments that affect you.

  • The standard deduction for married filing jointly rises to $13,000 for tax year 2018, up $300. For single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately, the standard deduction rises to $6,500 in 2018, up from $6,350 in 2017, and for heads of households, the standard deduction will be $9,550 for tax year 2018, up from $9,350 for tax year 2017.
  • The personal exemption for tax year 2018 rises to $4,150, an increase of $100. The exemption is subject to a phase-out that begins with adjusted gross incomes of $266,700 ($320,000 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $389,200 ($442,500 for married couples filing jointly).
  • The bracket changes have not gone up significantly from the previous year. For example, the floor for the 28 percent “married — filing jointly” category is up from $153,101 to $156,151. The details of each bracket are described in the revenue procedure.
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount for tax year 2018 is $55,400, and begins to phase out at $123,100 ($86,200 for married couples filing jointly, for whom the exemption begins to phase out at $164,100). The 2017 exemption amount was $54,300 ($84,500 for married couples filing jointly). For tax year 2018, the 28 percent tax rate applies to taxpayers with taxable incomes above $191,500 ($95,750 for married individuals filing separately).
  • The tax year 2018 maximum Earned Income Credit amount is $6,444 for taxpayers filing jointly who have three or more qualifying children, up from a total of $6,318 for tax year 2017. The revenue procedure has a table providing maximum credit amounts for other categories, income thresholds and phase-outs.
  • For tax year 2018, the monthly limitation for the qualified transportation fringe benefit is $260, as is the monthly limitation for qualified parking.
  • For calendar year 2018, the dollar amount used to determine the penalty for not maintaining minimum essential health coverage remains as it was for 2017: $695.
  • For tax year 2018, for participants who have self-only coverage in a Medical Savings Account, the plan must have an annual deductible that is not less than $2,300, an increase of $50 from tax year 2017, but not more than $3,450, an increase of $100 from tax year 2017. For self-only coverage, the maximum out-of-pocket expense amount is $4,600, up $100 from 2017. For tax year 2018, for participants with family coverage, the floor for the annual deductible is $4,600, up from $4,500 in 2017; however, the deductible cannot be more than $6,850, up $100 from the limit for tax year 2017. For family coverage, the out-of-pocket expense limit is $8,400 for tax year 2018, an increase of $150 from tax year 2017.
  • For tax year 2018, the adjusted gross income amount used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the Lifetime Learning Credit is $114,000, up from $112,000 for tax year 2017.
  • For tax year 2018, the foreign earned income exclusion is $104,100, up from $102,100 for tax year 2017.
  • Estates of decedents who die during 2018 have a basic exclusion amount of $5.6 million, up from a total of $5.49 million for estates of decedents who died in 2017.
  • The annual exclusion for gifts increased to $15,000, an increase of $1,000 from the exclusion for tax year 2017.

Contact us at info@cpa-wfy.com, and we’ll explain how they change your tax situation.

© Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

Senate Tax Plan Outline Released

The Senate Republican’s tax reform plan was released last week. Several proposals changed from the House Tax bill. The key changes in the plan from the current law are as follows:

Individuals:

  • Current tax rates: Seven brackets from 10% to 39.6%.
  • Proposed tax rates: Seven brackets at 10%, 12%, 22.5%, 25%, 32.5%, 35% and 38.5%.
  • Current standard deduction: $6,350 individuals and $12,700 married filing joint.
  • Proposed standard deduction: $12,000 individuals and $24,000 married filing joint.
  • Elimination of personal exemptions, worth $4,050 per person.
  • Increase child tax credit from $1,000 to $1,650 and add a $500 credit for nonchild dependents.
  • Eliminate most itemized deductions, including property taxes and state and local tax deductions (will keep charitable contributions and medical expense deduction).
  • Continue to exclude from gross income up to $500,000 for joint filers ($250,000 for other filers) on the sale of a principal residence if the taxpayer owned and used the home for five out of the previous eight years (currently two out of five years). The exclusion would be available once every five years  (currently every two years).
  • Repeal of the alternative minimum tax.
  • Double the exemption for the estate tax amount to $10 million (no plan for repeal).

Businesses:

  • Small and family-owned business and flow through entities (Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships and S Corporations) will receive an additional 17.4% deduction of domestic qualified business income (limited to 50% of the W-2 wages of the taxpayer) effective in 2018. Certain professional service businesses are not eligible for the deduction, with a possible exemption if the qualified income is less than $150,000 (joint filers).
  • Proposed C Corporation tax rate 20% effective in 2019 (most other provisions begin in 2018).
  • Imposing a one-time 10% tax on accumulated foreign earnings, reduced to 5% for illiquid assets.
  • Nonresidential and residential rental property tax depreciation reduced to 25 years.
  • Increase Section 179 expensing limitation, deducting the cost of certain property, to $1 million and the phase out threshold to $2.5 million (currently $510,000 expense limitation with $2 million phaseout) and certain nonresidential property improvements would also qualify for Section 179 expense.
  • Limit the deduction for net interest expenses incurred by a business in excess of 30% of the business’s adjusted taxable income and any disallowed interest may be carried forward indefinitely.
  • Eliminate the deduction allowed for Section 199 domestic manufacturing activities after 2018.
  • Disallow deductions for entertainment, amusement or recreation but retain 50% deduction for business related meals.

WFY will update you as the plan progresses into a bill.

Contact us at info@cpa-wfy.com to discuss how to maximize your 2017 tax benefits through comprehensive year-end tax planning.