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Articles Tagged with IRS

Nathan VinsonBelieve it or not, the end of 2020 is quickly approaching (insert collective sigh of relief). While I think most of us are ready to start looking forward to 2021 and would prefer to not even have to utter the words 2020 anymore, now is the time to finish off the year strong by reviewing simple, yet important, year-end tax planning and wealth transfer tips.

When most people think of tax planning and wealth transfer, they may have in mind complex estate planning documents and an overload of legal and accounting advice.  But that doesn’t have to be the case.  Here are three simple tips that you can implement with relative ease, though you will want to consult your tax advisor first.

1. The Annual Gift Tax Exclusion. The simplest tax planning and wealth transfer technique involves the all-too-familiar annual gift tax exclusion.  The annual gift tax exclusion is an amount that a person may give to another person without having to file a gift tax return or otherwise report to the IRS.  The current exclusion is $15,000 per person receiving the gift.  The exclusion is indexed for inflation, but it may only increase in $1,000 increments.  Further, married taxpayers may elect “gift-splitting,” which basically doubles the amount of the gift that they may make to one person using the gift tax exclusion; for each person receiving the gift, the limitation would be $30,000 rather than $15,000.  For example, if a married couple has two children and four grandchildren, they can give up to $30,000 to each of these people tax-free and without having to report it to the IRS.  Therefore, the married couple may transfer $180,000 total to the children and grandchildren.  Going further, if the children are also married, the taxpayers may give an additional $30,000 to each child’s spouse, which may be desirable if the child and the spouse hold a joint checking or investment account.  Note, however, that a gift tax return would need to be filed if the taxpayers elect gift-splitting.  The gifts are not taxable at all, but the IRS would like to know that the $30,000 was gifted via gift-splitting.

By Nathan Vinson, Partner

English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

balance-business-calculator-163032-300x205Recently, a colleague asked me what I thought was a simple question about the required minimum distributions that those over 70 ½ must take each year from their retirement accounts. In the course of doing the research to answer that question, I discovered it’s not easy to determine exactly how required minimum distributions must be taken.

By Nathan Vinson, Attorney and Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

estate planWe’ve had lots and lots of questions about the new tax law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in late 2017. It is a large, complicated and sweeping bill that the average person may have some trouble deciphering, which is understandable. We wanted to tackle here what we see as one of the major benefits for those planning their estates: doubling the exemption for estate taxes.

If you’re looking to a solid guide to all of the tax law changes, read The Motley Fool’s take on it here.

In 2011, this base was set at $5 million, and it was indexed for inflation, meaning that you could leave up to $5 million (plus the adjustment for inflation) to your heirs and your estate would pay no estate tax. For tax year 2017, that amount was $5.49 million once adjusted for inflation.

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tax booksEach year, the Treasury Department examines the cost of living in the U.S. and adjusts limitations for retirement plans and many other similar items that affect taxpayers throughout the U.S. As has happened previously, the Treasury raised the limits for contributions to pensions and other retirement plans such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and most 457 plans.  All of this helps today’s workers save for retirement with pre-tax dollars, which is a tremendous benefit.

Our tax code requires the Secretary of the Treasury to make this adjustment.

The biggest news is that the contribution limit to employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as the above-mentioned 401(k)s, etc., has gone from $18,000 for calendar 2017 to $18,500 for calendar 2018. If you were bumping up against this limit in 2017, you can now adjust and put in just a little bit more, which is always good news.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Improvements to tax law and reducing taxes are a very popular item on most politicians’ platforms. You won’t find anyone who openly says people should pay more. At least, not anyone currently serving in office.

They’re right, by the way – our tax code is far too cumbersome and it changes constantly. (And no, I’m not running for office.)

President Trump has indicated he wants to reform the tax code and change the way people pay taxes. Lawmakers are reportedly discussing how to do that while paying for expensive new initiatives. How can you do it all?

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By Nathan Vinson, attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

This time of year is nice, isn’t it? It’s warm and pleasant out, and maybe a little bit more laid back at work. Tax time is behind you (yes!) and it’s not time to think about next year’s taxes.

OR IS IT?

Well, we hate to break it to you, but yeah, it is time to think about it NOW. It’s July. More than half of the year is gone. If you haven’t set up a good filing system for your receipts and other tax-related information, you need to – and soon. If you’ve got a giant pile of paperwork and receipts, hey, you’re not alone – but don’t let this linger.

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By Nathan Vinson

elderly womanBetween our phones and our e-mail, everyone in America (and likely around the world) is hit with scams every day. We’re promised millions by the wife of a dead African dictator, or told that the caller is from the IRS and needs payment of back taxes immediately. Door-to-door sales people tell us there is something wrong with our roof. Insurance flyers attempt to scare us into thinking that something horrible will happen if we don’t buy their insurance.

Most of us brush this stuff off without a thought. We hang up on the scammers, delete those spam e-mails and move on. But for the elderly, it’s hard to tell the difference between a genuine offer that needs our attention and fraud.

While we all fear looking stupid or gullible, what’s truly frightening for an elderly person is the prospect of looking dumb in front of someone we love and trust. Asking for help as you get older is difficult. Scammers know this – and push the elderly into it by insisting their offer is for a limited time or that dire consequences can result if they don’t act right now.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

gambling taxes

We’ve written previously about gambling taxes, highlighting this issue mainly because of the affection Kentucky has for horse racing. And as you well know, we’re in the midst of horse racing season. Keeneland had its spring meet, and Churchill Downs is now open for the season, with the Kentucky Derby set for May 7. This will be followed by the Preakness in Baltimore and the Belmont Stakes in New York, and the Breeder’s Cup in November in California.

Lots of us love to put a little dough (or a lot!) down on a horse at the track. There was some talk earlier this year of lowering the threshold at which tracks were required to report winnings to the IRS, but that never moved forward, so far as we can tell.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

We’ve heard more than one report of people getting called by scammers pretending to be the IRS, wanting money for back taxes or claiming that the IRS is going to IRS doorwaysue you. Make no mistake: the IRS will not call you.

This time of year, as many people are working on tax filings, anticipating returns and otherwise crunching numbers, the IRS is top of mind, and the scammers know it.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

If you own a small business, offering health insurance to your employees is likely one of your biggest headaches. There are an incredible number of options for health insurance, including the use of health savings accounts. Some small businesses have never offered it for those reasons, and because the costs of it can send a company’s expenses through the roof.

It’s understandable – and until recently, it was entirely legal. Employees could go elsewhere for insurance, such as through a spouse’s work or purchase it privately. But the Affordable Care Act changed all of that. The Act mandates that businesses offer health insurance to employees and their dependents. The rules were phased in over time (but they’re here now), and it’s only for those businesses that hit certain thresholds. An excellent Associated Press article recently outlined all of the thorny problems for small businesses. You can read that here.

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