SALT TALK: Life Coaching, GPS or Tax Planning

Posted by Wayne K. Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Oct 26, 2020 11:40:41 AM

What do these three items have in common? Depending on whom you ask, they can all help you find your way. Not knowing much about life coaching, and as a male being devoid of the gene to ask directions (even from an inanimate object), I tend to be most helpful providing direction in the form of tax planning.

In an earlier blog, I discussed the trend towards single factor apportionment formulas. Today, we will address its first cousin, market-based or customer-based sourcing. In the old-world manufacturing economy, it was easy to “find your way.” You sent thingamajigs[1] to your customer in Ohio and (very) generally speaking, receipts would be sourced to the thingamajigs’ destination, Ohio. So a New York- based manufacturer would get the benefit of apportioning a percentage of his or her tax base outside of New York and either to Ohio (if there was nexus in Ohio, a topic for at least another 100 posts) or possibly to nowhere.

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TAX TALK: Avoid the Pitfalls of Buying and Selling Mutual Fund Shares

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Oct 26, 2020 9:20:00 AM

If you invest in mutual funds, be aware of some potential pitfalls involved in buying and selling shares.

Surprise Sales 

You may already have made taxable “sales” of part of your mutual fund investment without knowing it.

One way this can happen is if your mutual fund allows you to write checks against your fund investment. Every time you write a check against your mutual fund account, you’ve made a partial sale of your interest in the fund. Thus, except for funds such as money market funds, for which share value remains constant, you may have taxable gain (or a deductible loss) when you write a check. And each such sale is a separate transaction that must be reported on your tax return.

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Topics: TAX TALK

SALT TALK: Change of NY Domicile Successful by Dumping Old Girlfriend; Keeping Old Dog

Posted by Wayne K. Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Oct 19, 2020 11:40:00 AM

In light of the current COVID-19-inspired flight from New York, it is worth revisiting the issue of change of domicile. A New York State Tax Appeals Tribunal Decision[1] held that a taxpayer successfully demonstrated, by clear and convincing evidence, a change in domicile from New York City to Dallas, Texas. The extremely well-reasoned Opinion is notable in recognizing the domicile change occurred through a complex series of events and not simply by one overt act. Rather than simply reiterating the Tax Department’s own Nonresident Audit Guidelines, (which, despite what an auditor may tell you, are not the law) the Tribunal looked to the precedential jurisprudence and reminded all that a change of domicile is a question of fact, not a question of law. The circumstances surrounding the changes can vary widely depending on the individual.

The details of the Opinion are way too complex to cover in this short space, but the series of events which evidenced the intent to abandon the old domicile and establish a new one included the termination of a relationship with his long-term girlfriend, changing career goals and circumstances, listing of his $2.4 million New York City apartment, renting a small apartment in Dallas, and culminated with moving his “large, senior dog[2]” to Dallas.

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TAX TALK: What Tax Records Can You Throw Away?

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Oct 19, 2020 9:20:00 AM

October 15 was the deadline for individual taxpayers who extended their 2019 tax returns. (The original April 15 filing deadline was extended this year to July 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) If you’re finally done filing last year’s return, you might wonder: Which tax records can you toss once you’re done? Now is a good time to go through old tax records and see what you can discard.

The General Rules

At minimum, you should keep tax records for as long as the IRS has the ability to audit your tax return or assess additional taxes, which generally is three years after you file your return. This means you potentially can get rid of most records related to tax returns for 2016 and earlier years.

However, the statute of limitations extends to six years for taxpayers who understate their adjusted gross income (AGI) by more than 25%. What constitutes an understatement may go beyond simply not reporting items of income. So a general rule of thumb is to save tax records for six years from filing, just to be safe.

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Topics: TAX TALK

SALT TALK: New Jersey Enacts Millionaires Tax — Immediate Action Required

Posted by Wayne K. Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Oct 12, 2020 11:40:00 AM

My colleagues Sarah Kim J.D., LL.M. and Ken Maeng, J.D. examine New Jersey’s recently signed fiscal 2021 budget which includes a so-called “millionaires tax” and will require immediate action by employers and high net worth taxpayers.

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TAX TALK: To Survive an IRS Audit Get Ready in Advance

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Oct 12, 2020 9:22:48 AM

IRS audit rates are historically low, according to the latest data, but that’s little consolation if your return is among those selected to be examined. But with proper preparation and planning, you should fare well.

In fiscal year 2019, the IRS audited approximately 0.4% of individuals. Businesses, large corporations, and high-income individuals are more likely to be audited but, overall, all types of audits are being conducted less frequently than they were a decade ago.

There’s no guarantee that you won’t be picked for an audit, because some tax returns are chosen randomly. However, the best way to survive an IRS audit is to prepare for one in advance. On an ongoing basis you should systematically maintain documentation — invoices, bills, cancelled checks, receipts, or other proof — for all items to be reported on your tax returns. Keep all your records in one place. And it helps to know what might catch the attention of the IRS.

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Topics: TAX TALK

T&E TALK: A Fiduciary Roadmap

Posted by Ada Clapp, J.D. on Oct 12, 2020 7:00:00 AM

If you are like most people, your life is complicated. There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of puzzle pieces. If you sometimes find it challenging to manage your own affairs just imagine how difficult it would be for your executor, guardian, or attorney-in-fact to do so. These “fiduciary” roles are often assigned to family members or close friends who have little or no information about your assets, your testamentary plan or the legal documents you have in place. The kindest and most responsible thing you can do for your loved ones is to leave them “a fiduciary roadmap” to help them find those puzzle pieces.  

What is a Fiduciary Roadmap?

In order for your guardian or attorney-in-fact to manage your financial affairs should you become incapacitated, or for your executor to administer your estate upon your death, they will need knowledge of your assets and the ability to access certain legal documents. A fiduciary roadmap is something you leave your fiduciaries to help them do this. Because this is a highly personal process, the roadmap can take many forms and be provided in many different formats. To prepare a fiduciary roadmap, you will first need to get organized.

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Topics: T&E TALK

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

Posted by Wayne K. Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Oct 5, 2020 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.

Just imagine that you are in a legitimate tax controversy with one of many tax jurisdictions. You are able to rest easily as you know it is being handled by your expert advisor at Berdon. The audit process was difficult but you decided, along with your advisor, that the auditor was simply inexperienced and clearly came up with the wrong result. So a timely protest is filed with the appropriate office. You even receive correspondence indicating your timely protest has been received and will be scheduled for review sometime in the future.

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TAX TALK: Plan for Income Taxes as Part of Your Estate Plan

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Oct 5, 2020 9:42:39 AM

As a result of the current estate tax exemption amount ($11.58 million in 2020), many estates no longer need to be concerned with federal estate tax. Before 2011, a much smaller amount resulted in estate plans attempting to avoid it. Now, because many estates won’t be subject to estate tax, more planning can be devoted to saving income taxes for your heirs.

While saving both income and transfer taxes has always been a goal of estate planning, it was more difficult to succeed at both when the estate and gift tax exemption level was much lower. Here are some strategies to consider.

Plan gifts that use the annual gift tax exclusion. One of the benefits of using the gift tax annual exclusion to make transfers during life is to save estate tax. This is because both the transferred assets and any post-transfer appreciation generated by those assets are removed from the donor’s estate.

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Topics: TAX TALK

TAX TALK: If You Manage Your Own Portfolio, Can You Deduct Related Expenses?

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Sep 29, 2020 10:30:00 AM

In some cases, investors have significant related expenses, such as the cost of subscriptions to financial periodicals and clerical expenses. Are they tax deductible? Under the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, these expenses aren’t deductible through 2025 if they’re considered expenses for the production of income. But they are deductible if they’re considered trade or business expenses. (For tax years before 2018, production-of-income expenses were deductible, but were included in miscellaneous itemized deductions, which were subject to a 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income floor.)

In order to deduct investment-related expenses as business expenses, you must figure out if you’re an investor or a trader — and be aware that it’s more advantageous (and difficult) to qualify for trader status.

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Topics: TAX TALK

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.

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