Articles Posted in Tax Planning

3.18.19You’ve heard the expression “trust fund babies.” However, trusts are not just for the wealthy. They have a number of uses in estate planning and can be helpful at any asset level.

The reality of our own mortality keeps some of us up at night. For others, it’s a disturbing thought that is easily brushed aside. Whichever group you belong to, you need to have an estate plan in place. This is the only way that you can have any say in how your assets are distributed after you pass. Without an estate plan, your family will be subjected to much more stress and financial strain. One part of an estate plan is a trust.

Barron’s recent article, “Why a Trust Is a Great Estate-Planning Tool — Even if You’re Not Rich,” explains that there are many types of trusts, but the most frequently used for these purposes is a revocable living trust. This trust allows you—the grantor—to specify exactly how your estate will be distributed to your beneficiaries when you die, and at the same time avoiding probate and stress for your loved ones.

2.1.19Most donations are made in December, and charities of all shapes and sizes make the most of the holiday spirit. However, by taking a bit of time to plan out charitable giving, including doing some research and talking with your family about your legacy, your giving could have a greater impact this year and in years to come.

A rough ride in the start of the year’s markets and changes to the tax laws have left many donors wondering if they can afford to be as generous in 2019, as they were in the past. Fundraisers advise donors to think more about what non-profits have greater meaning to them and to take a more thoughtful approach to giving. Philanthropy is still good for your legacy, sense of community and, when done right, taxes.

The Reno Gazette Journal’s article, “Get an early jump on charitable giving” looks at tax planning opportunities for charitable giving, specifically in light of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD). Here’s a review of why people give. The primary reasons for donating include the following:

8.21.18Don’t assume that the new tax law means that you don’t need an estate plan. If anything, you need to review your estate plan to make sure you’re not missing out any new opportunities.

When was the last time you reviewed your estate plan? If it’s been more than a few years, you could be risking making some big mistakes, in terms of taxes and what you leave behind for your loved ones.

The new tax law in effect doubles the federal estate-tax exemption to roughly $11.2 million per person. As a result, most people won’t be subject to federal estate tax. However, before you unfriend your estate planning attorney on social media, understand that the drastic increase in the federal exemption amount means that old wills and trusts may be in dire need of an update.

1.24.18Many things change when you retire, including tax strategies. Steps that you took when you were working, may now work against you. Knowing what has changed and what you need to do can help avoid unnecessary tax liabilities.

Tax planning is different after retirement. You might think that a lower income level and fewer deductions are the only changes, but it’s not that easy. You have to understand how retirement benefits and investment returns are impacted by federal and state laws, according to a recent article in Kiplinger, “3 Tax-Planning Mistakes Retirees Too Often Make.” Here are the three most commonly made mistakes:

Tax Loss Harvesting. Tax loss selling means selling a capital asset, like a stock, for a loss to offset a gain realized by the sale of other investments. The result is that the investor avoids paying capital gains on recently sold investments. Retirees with stock holdings should review their holdings every year to determine their market exposure and any tax consequences of selling stocks with substantial capital gains.

1.22.18First, say thank you. Then, learn more about the rules about paying taxes on a financial gift.

Couples whose families are generous enough to give them help towards buying their first home are often concerned with what, if any, tax liability may be created. Do they have to pay taxes on the gift? Do their parents or in-laws pay taxes?

The tax laws on gifts can be pretty confusing, says in an article, “Are taxes owed on gift from in-laws?”

11.16.17If you roll the money over to an IRA first, you can donate funds from your 401(k) Required Minimum Distribution tax free. Be very careful to follow the rules, so that you don’t create a tax or penalty problem.

First, let’s define the RMD (Required Minimum Distributions). This is the least amount of money that someone who owns a retirement plan is required to withdraw every year, starting the year that the individual turns 70½, or, if they retire later, the year when they retire.

 However, if the retirement plan account is an IRA or the account owner is a 5% owner of the business sponsoring the retirement plan, the RMDs have to start once the account holder is age 70 ½—even if she’s not retired. The rules of what can and cannot be done with retirement plans are very strict, so you may need help from a professional.

10.30.17There’s more than retirement savings power in a Roth IRA. Used properly, it can help cut your beneficiary’s tax liability, regardless of if and when tax reform becomes reality.

If you’re interested in reducing the taxes your heirs will have to pay, you’re probably concerned about the discussion about tax reform going on in Washington these days. Unfortunately, there’s no way to be certain what, if any, changes will actually occur. In the meantime, your estate planning attorney can help you structure your estate, so that less of it ends up being consumed by taxes. That includes moving funds into non-taxable accounts, including Roth IRAs.

Motley Fool’s recent article, “A Clever Way to Cut Your Heirs' Income Taxes,” says the money you put into a Roth retirement savings account has already been taxed. It was taxed on the contributions you made or as a rollover from a tax-deferred retirement savings account. As a result, everything in that account is now non-taxable for income-tax purposes. As the Roth has been open for at least five years prior to your death, the money in that account won’t be subject to federal income taxes.

IRS 8.31.17Taxpayers who have a valid extension until October 15, 2017 to file income tax returns and who live in the covered Texas disaster area may be helped by the IRS extending the filing periods.

IRS announced certain relief from deadlines relating to filing and certain tax deposits for Hurricane Harvey victims. The IRS action covers filings that were due or matters that occurred on or after August 23, 2017(1). Returns for tax payers who have valid filing extensions in the affected Texas Counties have filing deadlines extended again until January 31, 2018. The extensions for eligible taxpayers also includes the quarterly estimated income tax payments originally due on Sept. 15, 2017 and Jan. 16, 2018, and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on Oct. 31, 2017. In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Aug. 23, 2017, and before Sept. 7, 2017, will be abated as long as the deposits were made by Sept. 7, 2017.

Generally, the persons eligible for this relief include individuals who live, and businesses whose principal place of business is located, in the covered disaster area. The returns eligible include individual, corporate, and estate and trust income tax returns; partnership returns, S corporation returns, and trust returns; estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax returns; and employment and certain excise tax returns), that have either an original or extended due date occurring on or after Aug. 23, 2017, and before Jan. 31, 2018. Affected taxpayers that have an estimated income tax payment originally due on or after Aug. 23, 2017, and before Jan. 31, 2018, will not be subject to penalties for failure to pay estimated tax installments as long as such payments are paid on or before Jan. 31, 2018.

8.11.17Living trusts can achieve different goals, depending upon how they are drafted. Knowing the fundamentals will help you decide how to go forward.

It’s important to know that not all living trusts are the same. However, common reasons for using a living trust are for privacy and avoiding probate. Placing assets in a living trust also provides protection to beneficiaries from divorce, nursing home costs, legal actions and creditors. Should a living trust be part of your estate plan?

The Green Bay Press-Gazette’s recent article, “Common questions about a living trust,” notes that this can be especially important for a beneficiary who may have special needs. A Special Needs Trust can be created so their government program benefits, like Medicaid, won’t be impacted by their inheritance. Let’s look at some specific situations:

8.4.17New regulations from the Department of Labor may come into play for Americans deciding which type of account is best for their retirement savings.

There are significant differences between 401(k)s and IRAs, and as reported in a recent post on, “Advantages and disadvantages to a 401k and an IRA,” a number of new regulations from the Department of Labor makes this a good time to review the pros and cons of these popular retirement savings plans.

401(k): A 401(k) can potentially be less expensive than other investment vehicles, due to the number of participants. Many also have a loan provision for access to your principal, if you need it in an emergency. If you retire early, qualified plans may have an age 55 withdrawal privilege that gets you around the 10% withdrawal excise tax provision.  However, if you’re still working, you may be able to push back your required minimum distribution (RMD), if you’re over age 70 and still participating in the plan. You’ll also have creditor protection in the typical qualified plans. Those are some of the general positives.

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