Berdon Blogs

SALT TALK: Take My Tax . . . Please (California)

Posted by Wayne Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Jul 31, 2017 9:15:00 AM

I’ve addressed real estate transfer tax traps before (February 21, 2017, July 11, 2016, October 12, 2015, October 5, 2015) and the concept of the controlling interest transfer. Simply put, state real property transfer taxes used to be simple; if you transferred title to the property, the tax applied.  Life got more complicated and taxpayers got smarter.  What about the sale of a business that owns real property?  If the buyer were to purchase the existing business entity, the deed stays in the name of the existing business and no transfer tax would apply.  Clever property owners came up with the idea to put the property in a special purpose entity specifically to hold title to the property they wished to sell.  The buyer would purchase the entity, real property and all.  Under the old simplistic transfer tax statutes the tax wouldn’t apply.

Read More


T&E TALK: ABLE Accounts for Loved Ones with Special Needs

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Jul 31, 2017 7:15:00 AM

For families with disabled loved ones who are potentially eligible for means-tested government benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), estate planning can be a challenge. On the one hand, you want to provide the most comfortable life possible for your family member. On the other hand, you don’t want to jeopardize his or her eligibility for needed government benefits.

For many years, the most effective solution to this problem has been to set up a special needs trust (SNT). But beginning in 2014, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act created Internal Revenue Code Section 529A, which authorizes the states to offer tax-advantaged savings accounts for the blind and severely disabled, similar to Sec. 529 college savings plans.

Read More

Topics: T&E TALK

TAX TALK: Tax Planning Strategies for Businesses

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Jul 24, 2017 11:40:00 AM

Tax reform has been a major topic of discussion in Washington, but it’s still unclear exactly what such legislation will include and whether it will be signed into law this year. However, the last major tax legislation that was signed into law — back in December of 2015 — still has a significant impact on tax planning for businesses. Let’s look at three midyear tax strategies inspired by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act:

  1. Buy Equipment. The PATH Act preserved both the generous limits for the Section 179 expensing election and the availability of bonus depreciation. These breaks generally apply to qualified fixed assets, including equipment or machinery, placed in service during the year. For 2017, the maximum Sec. 179 deduction is $510,000, subject to a $2,030,000 phaseout threshold. Without the PATH Act, the 2017 limits would have been $25,000 and $200,000, respectively. Higher limits are now permanent and subject to inflation indexing.
Read More

Topics: TAX TALK

SALT TALK: Remote Sellers - Cry Uncle, Not Wolf?

Posted by Wayne Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Jul 24, 2017 9:24:00 AM

Some of my readers may have thought that I was crying wolf as far back as February 29, 2016 and again on May 8, 2017 as well as October 24, 2016.  As it turns out, I wasn’t and now just might be the time we have to face the music.  You see dear readers, as of July 1, Colorado is now enforcing the infamous “tattle-tale” rule enacted almost seven years ago.

I’m not sure if Colorado was Connecticut’s inspiration, but rumor has it that Connecticut has been recently sending demand letters to remote sellers (sellers with no place of business or other connection with the State, other than its customers) requesting that the remote seller either register for and collect and remit Connecticut sales tax or provide to the Department of Revenue Services (“DRS”) a list of Connecticut customer names, addresses, items purchased, quantities sold and amounts paid.  Apparently DRS wasn’t crying wolf as a press release was issued back in March indicating this was in the works.

Read More


T&E TALK: IRS Simplifies Rules for Making the Portability Election

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Jul 24, 2017 7:05:00 AM

Recently, the IRS issued a Revenue Procedure that allows certain estates to make a late portability election without first filing a ruling request. Portability is a tax law provision that permits a surviving spouse to take advantage of the deceased spouse’s unused combined gift and estate tax exemption which is currently $5.49 million.

But portability isn’t automatic: It’s available only if the deceased spouse’s estate makes a portability election on a timely filed estate tax return. This return is due nine months after death, with a six-month extension option, regardless of whether any tax is owed.

What’s New?

Read More

Topics: T&E TALK

SALT TALK: Traps In Transactions:  To Bulk Up or Not?

Posted by Wayne Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Jul 17, 2017 11:40:00 AM

I have lost count as to the number of times I have received a panicked call (from non-clients, of course) days before a transaction is about to close. The question is often the same; “What’s all this noise I hear about the bulk sales tax?”

Well, the good news is there is no additional tax added to the sale of a business or all of its assets. The bad news, however, is that states have a bulk sales notification requirement and the rules are as diverse as the states themselves.

Read More


TAX TALK: Tax Consequences of Renting Out Your Vacation Home

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Jul 17, 2017 10:27:37 AM

Now that we’ve hit midsummer, if you own a vacation home that you both rent out and use personally, it’s a good time to review the potential tax consequences:

If you rent it out for less than 15 days: You don’t have to report the income. But expenses associated with the rental (such as advertising and cleaning) won’t be deductible.

If you rent it out for 15 days or more: You must report the income and you will have to split your expenses between deductible rental expenses and nondeductible personal expenses. The expenses are split based on the ratio of the personal use days and the rental use days. You can deduct any mortgage interest and real estate taxes allocated to your personal use as an itemized deduction, subject to the mortgage interest limitations.

Read More

Topics: TAX TALK

T&E TALK: Fraudulent Transfer Laws Can Undo Your Estate Plan

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Jul 17, 2017 7:05:00 AM

A primary goal of your estate plan is to transfer wealth to your family according to your wishes and at the lowest possible tax cost. However, if you have creditors, be aware of fraudulent transfer laws. In a nutshell, if your creditors challenge your gifts, trusts, or other strategies as fraudulent transfers, they can quickly undo your estate plan.

Two Fraud Types

Most states have adopted the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (UFTA). The act allows creditors to challenge transfers involving two types of fraud that you should be mindful of as you weigh your estate planning options:

  1. Actual Fraud. This means making a transfer or incurring an obligation “with actual intent to hinder, delay, or defraud any creditor,” including current creditors and probable future creditors.
Read More

Topics: T&E TALK

TAX TALK: Summer is a Good Time to Start Your 2017 Tax Planning

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Jul 10, 2017 11:40:00 AM

You may be tempted to forget all about taxes during summertime, when “the livin’ is easy,” as the Gershwin song goes. But if you start your tax planning now, you may avoid an unpleasant tax surprise when you file next year.  Summer is also a good time to set up a storage system for your tax records. Here are some tips:

Take Action When Life Changes Occur

Some life events (such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child) can change the amount of tax you owe. When they happen, you may need to change the amount of tax withheld from your pay. To do that, file a new Form W-4 with your employer. If you make estimated payments, those may need to be changed as well.

Read More

Topics: TAX TALK

SALT TALK: Texas Issues New Specialty License Plate for Complying with State Tax Law

Posted by Wayne Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Jul 10, 2017 9:19:00 AM

Well, not really. But if you go to the Texas DMV website you will see they have over 452 different types of specialty license plates to choose from. (55 are discontinued)  So upon receiving a “no change” letter for a recently completed Texas audit, which in addition to informing me that my client had no additional tax liability, I was awestruck by the following additional language:

Let me commend you for your diligent and successful efforts to comply with the applicable Texas law. The manner in which you have handled your obligations helps make each tax dollar go further in paying for the essential services provided by state government. I also want to thank you for the cooperation and courtesy extended to my auditor during the audit.

Read More


About Berdon Blogs

Our experts examine the latest trends, economics, business conditions and industry issues to provide timely information you need to maximize your tax advantages and meet your financial goals.

SALT TALK: Hear an insider’s perspective on the business issues, legislative updates in state and local tax, and tax aspects behind today’s headlines.

T&E TALK: Gain insights into how changes in tax laws, shifts in the financial markets, and regulatory concerns will impact assets and affect preserving and transferring wealth.

TAX TALK: Get an all-inclusive perspective on regulatory changes, industry issues, and trends from our team of multidisciplinary tax professionals – many of whom also hold J.D. and LL.M degrees.

Subscribe to Berdon Blogs

Recent Posts