SALT TALK: NYS Guidance Clarifies Penalty and Interest Relief for Late Payment of Sales Tax Due March 20th

Posted by Richard Goldstein, J.D. on Mar 23, 2020 4:22:05 PM

The New York State Department of Taxation & Finance has issued guidance clarifying penalty and interest relief for late payment of sales tax due on March 20. Certain taxpayers are not eligible for relief, including the following:

  • Sales Tax Vendors who are required to file returns on a monthly basis, and
  • Participants in the Promptax program for sales and use tax or prepaid sales tax on fuel.

Additionally, relief is not automatic and will be granted on a case by case basis. The Governor issued an executive order expanding the Tax Commissioner’s authority to abate late filing and payment penalties to also allow the Commissioner to abate interest on quarterly sales and use tax filings and remittances with a due date of March 20, 2020 for those who were unable to timely file and pay as result of the COVID-19 virus, such as:

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TAX TALK: Keep Life Insurance Out of Your Estate

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Mar 23, 2020 9:20:00 AM

If you have a life insurance policy, you probably want to make sure that the life insurance benefits your family will receive after your death won’t be included in your estate. That way, the benefits won’t be subject to the federal estate tax.

Under the estate tax rules, life insurance will be included in your taxable estate if either:

  • Your estate is the beneficiary of the insurance proceeds, or
  • You possessed certain economic ownership rights (called “incidents of ownership”) in the policy at your death (or within three years of your death).

The first situation is easy to avoid. You can just make sure your estate isn’t designated as beneficiary of the policy.

The second situation is more complicated. It’s clear that if you’re the owner of the policy, the proceeds will be included in your estate regardless of the beneficiary. However, simply having someone else possess legal title to the policy won’t prevent this result if you keep so-called “incidents of ownership” in the policy. If held by you, the rights that will cause the proceeds to be taxed in your estate include:

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Topics: TAX TALK

T&E TALK: Are Your Payable-on-Death Accounts Coordinated With Your Estate Plan?

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Mar 23, 2020 7:00:00 AM

Payable-on-death (POD) accounts provide a quick, simple, and inexpensive way to transfer assets outside of probate. They can be used for bank accounts, certificates of deposit or even brokerage accounts. Setting one up is as easy as providing the bank with a signed POD beneficiary designation form. When you die, your beneficiaries just need to present a certified copy of the death certificate and their identification to the bank, and the money or securities are theirs.

Beware of Pitfalls

POD accounts can backfire if they’re not coordinated carefully with the rest of your estate plan. Too often, people designate an account as POD as an afterthought without considering whether it may conflict with their wills, trusts or other estate planning documents.

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Topics: T&E TALK

SALT TALK: Governor Cuomo’s Press Conference Leads to More Questions regarding NYS Tax Deadline

Posted by Wayne K. Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Mar 20, 2020 3:15:45 PM

During Governor Andrew Cuomo’s press conference today, in response to a question from a reporter regarding whether New York State was going to have a new tax deadline, the Governor responded, “The new deadline is the federal deadline.”

The Governor immediately handed off to the State Budget Director Robert Mujica, who confirmed that since the New York deadline is tied to the federal deadline, New York’s deadlines will be extended as well.

When asked about the sales tax deadline, Mr. Mujica responded that “we are going to forgive interest and penalties related to the sales tax.” When asked if the sales tax deadline was being pushed back, Mr. Mujica responded “the deadline stays the same. But there is no interest or penalties for those who can’t pay.” The Budget Director’s comments expressly addressed sales tax. His statement also appeared to cover business and personal income taxes, but we await official clarification on this. 

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TAX TALK: Home is Where the Tax Breaks Might Be

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Mar 16, 2020 9:20:00 AM

If you own a home, the interest you pay on your home mortgage may provide a tax break. However, many people believe that any interest paid on their home mortgage loans and home equity loans is deductible. Unfortunately, that’s not true.

First, keep in mind that you must itemize deductions in order to take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction.

Deduction and Limits for “Acquisition Debt”

A personal interest deduction generally isn’t allowed, but one kind of interest that is deductible is interest on mortgage “acquisition debt.” This means debt that’s: 1) secured by your principal home and/or a second home, and 2) incurred in acquiring, constructing or substantially improving the home. You can deduct interest on acquisition debt on up to two qualified residences: your primary home and one vacation home or similar property.

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Topics: TAX TALK

T&E TALK: Trusts to Consider When Estate Planning for a Blended Family

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Mar 16, 2020 7:00:00 AM

No one said estate planning is easy, and this is especially true if you have a “blended family.” The good news is that there are two trust types — a qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trust and an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) — that can provide for your children from a previous marriage while also taking care of your current spouse and any children from your current marriage.

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Topics: T&E TALK

SALT TALK: Is Wayfair a Pandemic?

Posted by Wayne K. Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Mar 9, 2020 11:40:00 AM

Riding the commuter rails this morning, it certainly felt like one of those holiday Mondays where everyone else has the day off and you still head to work. After taking a quick mental inventory of holidays past and future, I realized this was just any other day. Or so I thought.

Did I hear NYC’s very own Mayor de Blasio tell me to walk to work and not take the subway if this was in fact an option. I was sure to heed his advice and take the twenty-minute walk from Penn Station to my office. Although riding the LIRR, it appears others took it one step further and didn’t travel to work at all.

According to CNN, which today began calling the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, the criteria for what qualifies is not universally defined. Apparently even the World Health Organization doesn’t agree on a definition. But turning to Wikipedia, we find that “a pandemic is an epidemic occurring on a scale which crosses international boundaries, usually affecting a large number of people.”

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TAX TALK: Self-employed? You Might Be Eligible For Home Office Deductions

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Mar 9, 2020 9:20:00 AM

If you’re self-employed and work out of an office in your home, you may be entitled to home office deductions. However, you must satisfy strict rules.

If you qualify, you can deduct the “direct expenses” of the home office. This includes the costs of painting or repairing the home office and depreciation deductions for furniture and fixtures used there. You can also deduct the “indirect” expenses of maintaining the office. This includes the allocable share of utility costs, depreciation and insurance for your home, as well as the allocable share of mortgage interest, real estate taxes and casualty losses.

In addition, if your home office is your “principal place of business,” the costs of traveling between your home office and other work locations are deductible transportation expenses, rather than nondeductible commuting costs. And, generally, you can deduct the cost (reduced by the percentage of non-business use) of computers and related equipment that you use in your home office, in the year that they’re placed into service.

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Topics: TAX TALK

T&E TALK: Second Marriage? Time to Update your Estate Plan

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Mar 9, 2020 7:00:00 AM

If you’re in a second marriage or planning another trip down the aisle, it’s vital to review and revise (if necessary) your estate plan. You probably want to provide for your current spouse and not inadvertently benefit your former spouse. And if you have children from each marriage, juggling their interests can be a challenge. Let’s take a look at a few planning tips.

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Topics: T&E TALK

SALT TALK: Live the Life You Choose

Posted by Wayne K. Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Mar 2, 2020 3:45:00 PM

Can’t you hear the jingle playing with the singers belting out the lyrics, “Berdon LLP, Accountants and Advisors, call #########.

I expect to hear this retort over and over this week as our new Berdon radio campaign hits the airwaves today. Friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances and others just can’t resist a good-natured tease. My phone will be ringing with old familiar voices looking for a good laugh and maybe even to reconnect.

We are going to be running a rotating series of tax tips focused on planning to help you “live the life you want to lead.” One of these tips will be offered by me and of course will deal with state and local tax, specifically the perils of being found a tax resident of multiple states.

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