MEDIA/PRESS

T&E TALK: Make Health Care Decisions While You’re Healthy

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on May 20, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Estate planning isn’t just about what happens to your assets after you die. It’s also about protecting yourself and your loved ones. This includes having a plan for making critical medical decisions in the event you’re unable to make them yourself. And, as with other aspects of your estate plan, the time to act is now, while you’re healthy. If an illness or injury renders you unconscious or otherwise incapacitated, it will be too late.

Without a plan that expresses your wishes, your family may have to make medical decisions on your behalf or petition a court for a conservatorship. Either way, there’s no guarantee that these decisions will be made the way you would want, or by the person you would choose.

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Topics: T&E TALK

SALT TALK: New Internet Taxes and Wayfair? Don’t Forget the Use Tax

Posted by Wayne K. Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on May 13, 2019 11:30:00 AM

Many science fiction adventures have posited the idea of a parallel universe, but to my knowledge, we have not found intelligent life out there yet. Readers don’t fret. If you had your heart set on discovering a parallel universe, just take the lead of state government. Go out and create your own.

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Topics: SALT TALK

T&E TALK: Does your Estate Plan Include a Formula Funding Clause?

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on May 13, 2019 7:00:00 AM

The gift and estate tax exemption is higher than it’s ever been, thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which temporarily doubled the exemption to an inflation-adjusted $10 million ($20 million for married couples who design their estate plans properly). This year, the exemption amount is $11.4 million ($22.8 million for married couples).

If you’re married and you executed your estate planning documents years ago, when the exemption was substantially lower, review your plan to ensure that the increased exemption doesn’t trigger unintended results. It’s not unusual for older estate planning documents to include a “formula funding clause,” which splits assets between a credit shelter trust and the surviving spouse — either outright or in a marital trust.

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Topics: T&E TALK

TAX TALK: Plug into Tax Savings for Electric Vehicles

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on May 6, 2019 9:17:00 AM

While the number of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) is still small compared with other cars on the road, it’s growing — especially in certain parts of the country. If you’re interested in purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle, you may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. (Depending on where you live, there may also be state tax breaks and other incentives.)

However, the federal tax credit is subject to a complex phaseout rule that may reduce or eliminate the tax break based on how many sales are made by a given manufacturer. The vehicles of two manufacturers have already begun to be phased out, which means they now qualify for only a partial tax credit.

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Topics: TAX TALK

T&E TALK: Single Parent? Estate Planning Requires Special Considerations

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on May 6, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here’s a fast fact: The percentage of U.S. children who live with an unmarried parent has jumped from 13% in 1968 to 32% in 2017, according to Pew Research Center’s most recent poll.

While estate planning for single parents is similar to estate planning for families with two parents, when only one parent is involved, certain aspects demand your special attention.

5 Important Questions

Of course, parents want to provide for their children’s care and financial needs after they’re gone. If you’re a single parent, here are five questions you should ask:

  1. Have I selected an appropriate guardian? If the other parent is unavailable to take custody of your children should you become incapacitated or unexpectedly die, your estate plan must designate a suitable, willing guardian to care for them.
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Topics: TAX TALK

TAX TALK: Entrepreneurs: How to Treat Expenses on your Tax Returns

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Apr 29, 2019 9:20:00 AM

Have you recently started a new business? Or are you contemplating starting one? Launching a new venture is a hectic, exciting time. And as you know, before you even open the doors, you generally have to spend a lot of money. You may have to train workers and pay for rent, utilities, marketing and more.

Entrepreneurs are often unaware that many expenses incurred by start-ups can’t be deducted right away. You should be aware that the way you handle some of your initial expenses can make a large difference in your tax bill.

Key Points on How Expenses are Handled

When starting or planning a new enterprise, keep these factors in mind:

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Topics: TAX TALK

T&E TALK: If College Financing is Integral to Your Estate Plan

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Apr 29, 2019 7:00:00 AM

The staggering cost of college makes it critical for families to plan carefully for this major expense and, in many cases, grandparents want to play a role. As you examine the many financing options for your grandchildren, be sure to consider their impact on your estate plan.

Make Direct Payments

A simple, but effective, technique is to make tuition payments on behalf of your grandchild. So long as you make the payments directly to the college, they avoid gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax without using up any of your $11.4 million gift or GST tax exemptions or your $15,000 annual gift tax exclusion.

A disadvantage of direct payments is that, if your grandchild is young, you have to wait until the student has tuition bills to pay. So there’s a risk that you’ll die before the funds are removed from your estate.

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Topics: T&E TALK

SALT TALK: Counting Days: The Tax Consequences of Getting Sick

Posted by Wayne K. Berkowitz CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Apr 23, 2019 10:00:00 AM

For those of you familiar with the comic strip Dilbert, my favorite strip ever involves Dilbert pointing out to his boss that they did an extensive research study and determined that forty percent of sick days are taken on Monday and Friday. (For those of you who don’t have similarly warped senses of humor, Monday and Friday are forty percent of the five day work week.) While New York doesn’t care what day of the week you are sick, getting ill in New York can have serious consequences for your day count and the statutory residency test.

Last post, I pointed out that there is “no shopping or dining exception” but fortunately there is a limited medical day exemption. The State’s Audit Guidelines have adopted a policy that confinement to a medical institution for any reason in New York does not constitute a day in New York. This policy is significantly more generous than the much harder stance taken by auditors in the past which essentially required the taxpayer to experience a significant medical emergency and be carted off to the hospital involuntarily.

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Topics: SALT TALK

TAX TALK: Three Questions to Consider after You’ve Filed Your Return

Posted by Hal Zemel, CPA, J.D., LL.M. on Apr 23, 2019 9:55:00 AM

Once your 2018 tax return has been successfully filed with the IRS, you may still have some questions. Here are brief answers to three questions that we’re frequently asked at this time of year.

Question #1: What tax records can I throw away now?

At a minimum, keep tax records related to your return for as long as the IRS can audit your return or assess additional taxes. In general, the statute of limitations is three years after you file your return. So you can generally get rid of most records related to tax returns for 2015 and earlier years. (If you filed an extension for your 2015 return, hold on to your records until at least three years from when you filed the extended return.)

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Topics: TAX TALK

T&E TALK: Spendthrift Language in a Trust Helps Safeguard Assets

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Apr 22, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Protecting assets from creditors is a critical aspect of estate planning, but you need to think about more than just your own creditors: You also need to consider your heirs’ creditors. Adding spendthrift language to a trust benefiting your heirs can help safeguard assets.

What is Spendthrift Language?

Despite its name, the purpose of a spendthrift trust isn’t just to protect profligate heirs from themselves. Although that’s one use for this trust type, even the most financially responsible heirs can be exposed to frivolous lawsuits, dishonest business partners or unscrupulous creditors. A properly designed spendthrift trust can protect assets against such attacks.

It can also protect your loved ones in the event of relationship changes. If one of your children divorces, your child’s spouse generally can’t claim a share of the trust property in the divorce settlement.

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Topics: T&E TALK

About Berdon Blogs

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