Berdon Blogs

SALT TALK: New York Enacts Incentive for Home Savings (I Think)

Posted by Wayne Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Jan 15, 2018 11:40:00 AM

The music metaphor of the week takes me back to my high school swim team days. For Saturday practice only, our coach would let us bring in a record album of our choosing, which he would play over the public address system while we swam laps. The only catch, and it was a big one, was that if he didn’t like the music, the album would be dropped into the pool and its owner would have to retrieve the soggy vinyl from the deep end. I’ll never forget when the Cars first album was released in 1978 and “All Mixed Up” was blaring over the PA system. Shortly thereafter, one of my teammates was descending to retrieve his record.

So, I couldn’t help being all mixed up on the enactment of New York State’s brand new home savings incentive. You see, apparently the legislation was signed, sealed, and delivered in December of 2017, only to be postponed by another piece of legislation earlier this month requiring that “The Division of Housing and Community Renewal shall issue a report with detailed recommendations and findings to the governor . . .” 

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Topics: SALT TALK

TAX TALK: 401(k) Contribution Limit Increases for 2018; Most Others Remain Stagnant

Posted by Michael Eagan, J.D., LL.M. on Jan 15, 2018 9:20:00 AM

Retirement plan contribution limits are indexed for inflation, but with inflation remaining low, most of the limits remain unchanged for 2018.  One piece of good news for taxpayers who’re already maxing out their contributions is that the 401(k) limit has gone up by $500. The only other limit that has increased from the 2017 level is for contributions to defined contribution plans, which has gone up by $1,000.

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Topics: TAX TALK

T&E TALK: Include Potential Incapacity in Your Estate Planning Strategies

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Jan 15, 2018 7:00:00 AM

Most estate plans focus on what happens after you die. But without arrangements for what will happen in the event you become mentally incapacitated, your plan is incomplete. If an accident, illness, or other circumstances render you unable to make financial or health care decisions — and you don’t have documents in place to specify how these decisions will be made, and by whom — a court-appointed guardian will have to act on your behalf.

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Topics: T&E TALK

SALT TALK: Back to School, Back to Residency Issues

Posted by Wayne Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Jan 8, 2018 11:30:00 AM

We all knew it was going to happen. It’s a little less light when we get up in the morning; the kids will be home from camp soon (very soon, remember when Summer camp was really for the Summer, not just seven weeks or less); and our vacation rentals will be coming to an end. I inevitably start to think of humorous school-related anecdotes to ease the transition. 

One of my favorites is straight out of the Rodney Dangerfield movie, Back to School. Mr. Dangerfield plays a well-seasoned, millionaire businessman who barely graduated high school but returns to college with his son. During his first economics class, Mr. Dangerfield asks the professor to explain exactly what a widget is. The professor annoyingly answers that it just doesn’t matter.  Mr. Dangerfield quickly snaps back, “Tell that to the bank.”

My other favorite anecdote comes from personal experience. During my first year of law school, more than two thirds of the way through our first semester of criminal law, our professor posed a question to one of my fellow students. She had no idea what the answer was, so the professor snapped back that she should try looking in her copy of the New York Penal Code. Without hesitation, she removed the Penal Code from her book bag and proceeded to unwrap it in front of the entire class.

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Topics: SALT TALK

T&E TALK: Appointing the Right Trustee for Your Living Trust Provides Peace of Mind

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Jan 8, 2018 9:21:00 AM

A living trust is a cornerstone of many estate plans. During your life, you can serve as the trustee and manage the assets just as you would if you owned them outright. However, you must choose a trustee to oversee and administer the trust after your death (and during your lifetime, should you become unable to act as trustee).

Trustee Job Description

  • Manage all trust assets, perhaps including securities and business and real estate interests, until they’re distributed;
  • Maintain detailed records and prepare transaction statements;
  • Handle collections, distributions and payments;
  • Ensure all tax returns are prepared and filed; and
  • Settle the trust.

In addition, the trustee must be available to respond to all inquiries from beneficiaries.

Trustee Types to Consider

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Topics: T&E TALK

TAX TALK: TCJA Temporarily Expands Bonus Depreciation

Posted by Michael Eagan, J.D., LL.M. on Jan 8, 2018 7:00:00 AM

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enhances some tax breaks for businesses while reducing or eliminating others. One break it enhances — temporarily — is bonus depreciation. While most TCJA provisions go into effect for the 2018 tax year, you might be able to benefit from the bonus depreciation enhancements when you file your 2017 tax return.

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Topics: TAX TALK

TAX TALK: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act - Key Provisions Impacting Individuals

Posted by Michael Eagan, J.D., LL.M. on Jan 2, 2018 10:43:09 AM

On December 20, 2017 Congress completed passage of the largest federal tax reform law in more than 30 years. Commonly called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (TCJA), the new law means substantial changes for individual taxpayers.

The following is a brief overview of some of the most significant provisions. Except where noted, these changes are effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026.

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Topics: TAX TALK

SALT TALK: Written in Reverse – Federal Tax Overhaul and Impact on the States

Posted by Wayne Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Jan 2, 2018 9:17:00 AM

I'm writing this to you in reverse . . . No nothin' was planned . . . I've seen you blankly stare . . . I can see it all from here . . . From just a few glimpses . . . Now that lightbulb's gone off . . .

I apologize for the reference so soon again, to the band Spoon, but with just a little rearranging of the lyrics to their song “Written in Reverse, “ it becomes apparent to me that back in 2009 they must have been anticipating what state tax practitioners would be thinking upon the next major overhaul of the Internal Revenue Code.

While all of the questions and issues raised by the new federal tax law’s impact are a long way from being answered, I wanted to provide my readers with a preliminary and far from all-inclusive list of potential state and local issues we all need to start thinking about now.

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Topics: SALT TALK

T&E TALK: Address Your Pet in Your Estate Plan Using a Pet Trust

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Jan 2, 2018 7:00:00 AM

A pet is often considered a member of the family. So if you want to ensure that a beloved pet is cared for after you’re gone, one way is to make provisions for your pet through a trust.

This legally sanctioned arrangement allows you to set aside funds for the animal’s care. After the pet dies, any remaining funds are distributed among your heirs as directed by the trust’s terms.

Pet Trust in Action

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Topics: T&E TALK

SALT TALK: State Tax Debts - Don't Believe Everything You Read

Posted by Wayne Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Dec 18, 2017 11:40:00 AM

This week’s post is unusual in that it takes us to two very disparate points in time: The first being sometime last week, and the second being the third grade. This week, one of my clients received a “Notice of Intended Federal/NJ State Offset.” It’s a good thing I paid careful attention to my third grade teacher, Mrs. Maupin, who reminded us at least once a week not to believe everything we read.

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Topics: SALT TALK

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