Since 2019 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:
- 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. The increased standard deduction and limited itemized deduction of state and local taxes to $10,000 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 2019 and usually contributes a total of $10,000 to charities each year, should consider prefunding 2020 and 2021 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.
- Take required minimum distributions (RMDs). Taxpayers who have reached age 70-½ should be sure to take their 2019 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 Failure to take a required withdrawal can result in a penalty of 50% of the amount of the RMD not withdrawn.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 2019 can delay the first required distribution to 2020, however, this can result in taking a double distribution in 2020 (the required amount for 2019 and 2020).
- 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.
- Make year-end gifts. A person can give any other person up to $15,000 for 2019 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.
- Reinvest capital gains in Opportunity Zones. Capital gains reinvested within 180 days into an qualified opportunity fund allows for federal tax deferral and partial tax exemption and tax free appreciation if held for the required ten year period.
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 email@example.com or (949) 910-2727.
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WFY was proud to be a Full House Sponsor of TACA’s 13th Annual “Ante Up for Autism” benefit gala.
The Autism Community in Action’s (TACA) Orange County chapter held its 13th annual “Ante Up for Autism” fundraising gala on Saturday October 26, 2019 at the Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach. Wright Ford Young & Co. was proud to continue its long standing support of TACA through a program sponsorship of the very successful event. TACA is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2000 by Glen and Lisa Ackerman with the mission to provide education, support and hope to families living with autism. TACA is headquartered in Irvine, CA with staff and volunteers working across the country.
To learn more about TACA, visit www.tacanow.org
On November 8th, WFY Senior Tax Partner, Kahni Bizub, will be one of the panelists for WealthWise Financial Services’s 2019 Business Owner Summit.
The 2019 Business Owner Summit is a day-long event which includes discussing topics such as scaling your business, income tax strategies, retirement plans strategies, and more. The keynote speakers are Jacob M. Gerber, an equity & multi-asset investment director, and E. Luke Farrell, a fixed income investment director.
Kahni Bizub’s specialty is tax planning and compliance services for closely-held and family-owned businesses and their key executives in the service, manufacturing, and distribution industries. She has served some of the same clients for her entire career and believes in building strong CPA-client relationships. Such a rapport allows her to best understand her clients’ needs and tailor services specific to each client. Kahni is also involved in multiple business organizations including Vistage, AICPA, and CalCPA.
If you’d like to learn more about the 2019 Business Owner Summit, click here.
Wright Ford Young & Co. had the privilege of serving as the title sponsor to the Veterans Legal Institute’s annual Lawyers for Warriors event on Monday, September 23rd. Senior audit partner Jeff Myers spoke on Wright Ford Young’s behalf to honor our ongoing partnership with the Veterans Legal Institute.
Lawyers for Warriors is an event that started four years ago where over 250 business leaders who represent legal, medical, financial, military, and other professional industries can network, enjoy wine and appetizers, and recognize those legal community leaders who have graciously offered their services to our veteran heroes. All the proceeds of this event go to Veterans Legal Institute to continue their mission to ensure veterans can receive free legal services.
We want to congratulate the following people for their awards at this event: Stephens Friedland, LLP for Law Firm of the Year, Volunteers of America Los Angeles for Community Partner of the Year, Judge Lon F. Hurwitz for Veteran Advocate of the Year, and David Price, Esq. for Attorney of the Year.
If you’d like to learn more about Veterans Legal Institute or the Lawyers for Warriors event, please go to https://www.vetslegal.com/
On Thursday, September 26th, a group of our Wright Ford Young & Co. employees attended California State University, Fullerton’s Meet the Firms event as well as Northern Arizona University’s Career & Graduate School Expo.
These type of meet and greet events are a way for students and professionals in the accounting community to network with a wide range of firms from boutique to the Big Four. We attend these events to educate students about WFY and what we do, and encourage them to get a hands-on learning experience with our firm.
Wright Ford Young & Co. thanks California State University, Fullerton and Northern Arizona University for another great Meet the Firms recruiting event on Thursday, September 26th. We are very fortunate to have a long standing relationship with the accounting schools and hardworking students in which many of our employees are alumni.
Wright Ford Young & Co.’s Audit Partner, Cyndi LeBerthon, has been appointed Chair of the CalCPA Peer Review Committee for the term 2019 through 2021.
This committee of 20 members is responsible for overseeing all peer reviews of CPA firms in California, Arizona and Alaska administered by CalCPA. The peer review committee evaluates the results of the peer reviews, determines the need for follow up remedial or corrective actions, and oversees the performance of AICPA qualified peer reviewers in California, Arizona and Alaska. These measures taken ensure compliance with the AICPA Peer Review Program. Cyndi has served on the peer review committee since 2015 and is honored to be able to give back to the accounting profession through this volunteer, invitation-only role.
If you’d like to learn more about WFY’s Audit Partner, Cyndi LeBerthon, click here.
Wright Ford Young & Co. is seeking qualified candidates to join our tax department team! We are looking for hard-working, dedicated people who are willing to learn and flourish in their careers. Full-time positions are available for the following departments:
- Tax Professional (at least 3 years of experience)
On January 4th, Wright Ford Young & Co. hosted the MGI North America West Coast Area Meeting at our offices in Irvine, CA.
Joe Tarasco, Regional Director, and Nancy Damato, Director of Marketing, starting the meeting off by talking about key points such as MGI North America new member recruiting initiatives and activities, marketing assessment calls/web meetings with MGI North America members, a guide about foreign companies doing business in United States, and upcoming conferences.
The meeting continued with discussions concentrating on MGI firm collaboration and practice management updates along with topics including business development, technical and niche areas, succession planning, and more.
Our WFY Tax Partner, Andy Bautista, hosted the meeting and said, “It was a great day spent with colleagues and friends, sharing ideas and ‘best practices,’ as well as networking and socializing. The meeting served as a reminder of how proud the respective firms are to be part of the MGI Worldwide network.”
Wright Ford Young & Co. is a member of MGI Worldwide, a Top 20 international accounting network of independent audit, tax and accounting firms, which brings together the expertise of some 6,000 professionals in over 300 locations around the world. Through MGI Worldwide, our firm benefits from connections with people we get to know and trust in all corners of the globe.
According to a recent SFGate poll, 53% of Bay Area residents interviewed want to leave California.(1) We have been hearing similar comments from seminar attendees across the state, and we know many of you have clients who are attempting to “move out of California.”
Keep in mind, one of the FTB’s longest running, and most active, audit programs is the residency audit program. The FTB looks closely at a taxpayer who moves from California, and often they are high income taxpayers who have large amounts of income after they change their residency to another state. However, lower income taxpayers can also be caught in this trap.
Recently, we heard of two examples of clients who want to leave California — but not completely.
Case study #1: High-income taxpayer who is expecting a large capital gain from the sale of very appreciated stock will move out of state. However, he will keep the California home that has been in his family for generations.
Case study #2: Woman moves to a non-tax state, buys a home there, and keeps her California home to which she returns periodically to oversee care of her mother. She has income from both California and the other state.
Each of these taxpayers is in the danger zone. Let’s look at the rules for residence and domicile and apply them to these case studies, as this is the key to being a nonresident.
Residence and domicile
A “resident” is an individual who is:
- In California for other than a temporary or transitory purpose; or
- Domiciled in California, but who is outside California for a temporary or transitory
A domicile is the place where an individual has his or her true, fixed, permanent home and principal establishment, and to which place he or she has, whenever absent,the intention of returning. It is the place in which an individual has voluntarily fixed the habitation of self and family, not for a mere special or limited purpose, but with the present intention of making a permanent home, until some unexpected event shall occur to induce an adoption of some other permanent home.(2)
If a person has not changed their domicile, they continue to be California residents for income tax purposes, even if they are outside of California for most or all of the year.
Don’t keep the house
The key to these case studies is domicile. In order to be a nonresident of California for tax purposes, the taxpayer must show that their domicile is in another state. The FTB will assume any taxpayer that left the state but kept a home in California has retained their California domicile (because they “intend to return”). So, that is one big step against the taxpayer.
In case study #1, the taxpayer must dispose of the property or they will have trouble proving they ended the residency. This is going to be a particularly difficult situation because the taxpayer has significant income from the sale of his appreciated stock, and the FTB will argue that he is only trying to change his residence to avoid the California tax on that income. We would typically recommend that the taxpayer sell their California residence and purchase a residence in their new home state. However, the taxpayer does not want to sell his home because it has been in the family for generations.
Simply having the children rent the family home will make it hard to prevail, as the FTB may argue that the taxpayer can return to the home at any time. One suggestion might be to gift the home to the children or put the home in an irrevocable trust for the children.
In case study #2, the taxpayer has relatively low income, but the FTB is still likely to find that she continues to be a California resident. Keeping the home here indicates that she intends to return to California, especially if she is periodically using it and working occasionally in California. If the FTB audits her, she will surely lose. The best way for her to end her residency is to sell the home and not work in California when she comes to care for her mother. She can stay with friends or in a hotel, but not in her home.
Cases where taxpayers won and lost
A good way to understand factors that will help or hurt taxpayers in these situations is to review cases where taxpayers have lost on residency issues.
In the Appeal of Murray, the taxpayers were domiciled in California prior to the husband signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers.(3) The Board ruled in favor of the FTB, and found that the taxpayer maintained a domicile in California because the taxpayer and his family resided in Ohio only during the seven-month basketball season. They maintained two homes in California — one occupied by his mother-in-law and the other presumably vacant — and continued to use financial advisors, doctors, and had business registrations in California.
In Appeal of Cummings, the taxpayers had moved to Nevada — or so they thought.(4) However, they retained two homes in California and one in Reno, Nevada. Credit card transactions and amounts and locations of expenses for each spouse demonstrated an overwhelming presence in California. Following all trips, the Cummings always returned to their California location. The Board found that the taxpayers were still California residents.
In Appeal of Norton, the taxpayers, contemplating retirement, began construction of a residence in California and listed their Connecticut homes for sale.(5) In February 1990, they rented a small apartment in California and lived in it until their new home was finished. The Board determined that residency began on April 10, 1990, when the taxpayers moved much of their furniture, including a piano that had been kept in storage, and brought one of their vehicles to California.
In Appeal of Lau,(6) which was dismissed by the FTB before the BOE made a decision, the Board was posed to rule in favor of taxpayers who had retired from running their California business and had moved to Nevada. Due to the poor housing market, they had retained their California home along with its custom made furnishings, kept their Kaiser health plan, their golf membership (which they were unable to sell), and cars in California to use while they were visiting family and checking in on their business interests. The Board indicated that they felt that the taxpayers had demonstrated their intent to establish a Nevada domicile.
In Appeal of Bills,(7) taxpayers allowed their adult daughter to stay in their California home and purchased another home in Washington to move into when the husband retired from his investment company. The BOE ruled that the taxpayers had established a Washington domicile in only one week, even though they made frequent and extended stays in California immediately thereafter. The Board emphasized the subjective intent test rather than a quantitative objective test in establishing domicile.
2 18 Cal. Code Regs. §17014(c)
3 May 22, 2013, Cal. St. Bd. of Equal., Case No. 469418
4 Appeal of Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings (October 7, 1999) Cal. St. Bd. of Equal., Case No. 98A-1239
5 Thomas H. Paine and Teresa A. Norton (October 7, 1999) Cal. St. Bd. of Equal., Case No. 98A-0741
6 Appeal of Lau, Cal. St. Bd. of Equal., No. 739838, heard March 25, 2015, dismissed May 7, 2015
7 Appeal of Bills (April 28, 2016) Cal. St. Bd. of Equal., Case Nos. 610028, 782397
This article is reprinted with permission of Spidell Publishing, Inc.® ©2019