Tax and Financial Planning articles

Professor William Byrnes International Tax & Financial Services

9 retirement savings tax tips

Posted by William Byrnes on April 17, 2014


You might be able to muddle through retirement without knowing each and every line of Uncle Sam’s tax code. But you’ll likely give the federal government more than its fair share of your nest egg if you don’t know what William Byrnes, author of National Underwriter’s Tax Facts, calls the big retirement plan tax facts.

Read the USA Today analysis, written by renown financial journalist Robert Powell:  “Stretching the retirement savings available for an additional 20 years of life expectancy requires correctly managing the complex retirement taxation rules established by Congress and the IRS,” says Byrnes, who is also associate dean at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Calif.

The full analysis is available on USA Today at 9 retirement savings tax tips!

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What are Five Tax Credits That May Reduce Your Taxes?

Posted by William Byrnes on April 16, 2014


In Tax Tip 2014-33, the IRS revealed five tax credits that may reduce a taxpayers taxes.  Some tax credits are refundable regardless of whether the taxpayer owes any tax for the year, the IRS pointed out.

1. The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable credit for taxpayers who work but do not earn a lot of money.  For 2013, the EITC may have increased the tax refund by as much as $6,044.  

2. The Child and Dependent Care Credit can help a taxpayer offset the cost of daycare or day camp for children under age 13, and even the costs paid to care for a disabled spouse or dependent.

3. The Child Tax Credit can reduce a taxpayer’s taxes by as much as $1,000 for each qualified child claimed on the tax return.

4. The Saver’s Credit helps workers save for retirement. For 2013, a taxpayer may have qualified if income was $59,000 or less and the taxpayer contributed to an IRA or a retirement plan at work.

5. The American Opportunity Tax Credit can offset college costs. The credit is available for four years of post-secondary education. It’s worth up to $2,500 per eligible student enrolled at least half time for at least one academic period.

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 “Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.”

The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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6 Tax Facts About Filing The Tax Return Today (April 15) and What To Do If You Can’t Pay the Full Amount of Taxes

Posted by William Byrnes on April 15, 2014


The IRS Tax Tip 2014-53 provided a series of Tax Facts of what to do if a taxpayer cannot pay the full amount of taxes owed, which I have supplemented with a couple Tax Facts from the U.S. Post Office.

1. File the Tax Return on Time to Avoid Late Filing Penalty.  File on time to avoid a late filing penalty.  By mailing or electronically filing the tax return with the postmark before or on Wednesday April 15, a taxpayer will avoid the late-filing penalty, normally 5% per month based on the unpaid balance, that applies to returns filed after the deadline.

2. Can’t File the Tax Return Today? Then File an Extension until October 15!  A taxpayer can use IRS Free File to e-file Form 4868 (PDF) Application For Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Tax Return. The extension request must be filed by midnight on April 15.  E-filed extension request will receive an IRS receipt.  A taxpayer may still mail the request for an extension Form 4868, as long at the postmark is before or on April 15.

3. Mail must be Postmarked before or on April 15!  Gone are the days that the post office accepts a 11.59 pm tax return and tax extension letter, postmarking it by midnight April 15.  Thus, the taxpayer must drop off at the post office or post office approved provider before the last pick up time of April 15 to ensure a postmark of April 15.  See https://tools.usps.com/go/POLocatorAction!input.action for the closest post office or post service drop off approved provider within a zip code.

4. Pay as Much of the Tax Due as Possible to Avoid Interest and Late Payment Penalties. In addition, any payment made with an extension request will reduce or eliminate interest and late-payment penalties that apply to payments made after April 15.  The interest rate is currently 3% per year, compounded daily, and the late-payment penalty is normally 0.5 % per month.  Pay as much as possible to reduce interest charges and a late payment penalty.

5. Use a Credit Card to Pay the Tax. The interest and fees charged by a bank or credit card company may be less than IRS interest and penalties. See credit card options

6. Use the Online Payment Agreement tool.  Ask for a payment plan before the IRS sends a bill.  The best way is to use the Online Payment Agreement tool.  File Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, with the tax return.

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Because of the constant changes to the tax law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. For over 110 years, National Underwriter has provided fast, clear, and authoritative answers to financial advisors pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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11 more annuity tax facts you need to know

Posted by William Byrnes on April 14, 2014


An annuity is a complicated beast — and during tax season, your clients’ questions can pile up faster than hospitality complaints from the crowds at Sochi. How are payments under a variable immediate annuity taxed? When is the exchange of one annuity contract for another a nontaxable exchange? Read on to find answers to these and other queries.

1. What general rules govern the income taxation of payments received under annuity contracts?

read on at LifeHealthPro

LifeHealthPro.com is the vital online destination for life & health insurance advisors, designed to provide them with the essential elements they need to run their practice and increase their bottom line including breaking news, market trends, practice tips and more.

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Only 2 days left to file a tax return? 5 tax tips for request an extension until October 15

Posted by William Byrnes on April 13, 2014


In Tax Tip 2014-52, the IRS provided the elements of possible relief for taxpayers that now realize – only 2 days left to file a tax return.  File an extension to file the tax return instead, allowing the taxpayer 6 months breathing room until October 15, 2014, to file the return.

What a Taxpayer Should Know to Request More Time to File a Tax Return!

A taxpayer can electronically file Form 4868 (PDF), Application For Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Tax Return; and (2) pay all or part of your estimated income tax due using a credit or debit card or by using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).  However, a taxpayer can still file a paper Form 4868 by mail.  Filing this form gives taxpayers until Oct. 15 to file a return. To get the extension, taxpayers must estimate their tax liability on this form and should also pay any amount due.

By properly filing this form, a taxpayer will avoid the late-filing penalty, normally 5% per month based on the unpaid balance, that applies to returns filed after the deadline.  In addition, any payment made with an extension request will reduce or eliminate interest and late-payment penalties that apply to payments made after April 15.  The interest rate is currently 3% per year, compounded daily, and the late-payment penalty is normally 0.5 % per month.

5 tax tips for filing an extension

1. A taxpayer should file on time even if unable to pay the tax due.  If a taxpayer completes a tax return but can not pay the taxes owed, do not request an extension.  Instead, the taxpayer should file the tax return on time and pay as much as possible to reduce the amount owed.  At least the taxpayer will avoid the hefty late filing penalty, which is much higher than the penalty for not paying all of the taxes owed on time.

2. Use IRS Free File to request an extension.  A taxpayer can use IRS Free File to e-file Form 4868 (PDF) Application For Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Tax Return. The extension request must be filed by midnight on April 15.  E-filed extension request will receive an IRS receipt.

3. Mail Form 4868.  A taxpayer may still mail the request for an extension Form 4868.  The envelope must be postmarked at the post office by April 15.  The safest way to guarantee such a postmark is to bring the envelope to the post office counter during office hours.

4. Extra time to file is not extra time to pay.  An extension to file will allow six additional months to file a tax return, until Oct. 15.  However, it does not provide extra time to pay the tax due by April 15.  Thus, a taxpayer must estimate and pay the tax owed by or on April 15.  Any amount not paid by April 15 will be charged interest. Moreover, the IRS may levy a penalty for not paying the tax on time.

5. Payment Options Moreover, a taxpayer can use payment options.  Apply for a payment plan using the Online Payment Agreement tool.  Or a taxpayer can file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, with a tax return. If a taxpayer is unable to make payments because of a financial hardship, the IRS will work on a payment plan with the taxpayer.

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1For over 110 years, National Underwriter has provided fast, clear, and authoritative answers to financial advisors pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format.  “Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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Tax Tips for U.S. Taxpayers with Foreign Income in 2013

Posted by William Byrnes on April 12, 2014


If a taxpayer is a U.S. citizen or resident, then the taxpayer must report income from all sources within and outside of the U.S.  The rules for filing income tax returns are generally the same whether the taxpayer is living in the U.S. or abroad. Here are seven tips from the IRS from Tax Tips 2014-43 that U.S. taxpayers with foreign income should know:

1. Report Worldwide Income.  By law, U.S. citizens and resident aliens must report their worldwide income. This includes income from foreign trusts, and foreign bank and securities accounts.

2. File Required Tax Forms.  The taxpayer may need to file Schedule B, Interest and Ordinary Dividends, with the U.S. tax return.  The taxpayer may also need to file Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. In some cases, the taxpayer may need to file FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts..

3. Consider the Automatic Extension.  If a taxpayer is living abroad and can’t file a tax return by the April 15 deadline, then the taxpayer may qualify for an automatic two-month filing extension. The taxpayer then will have until June 16, 2014 to file a U.S. income tax return. This extension also applies to those serving in the military outside the U.S. The taxpayer must attach a statement to the tax return to explain why the taxpayer qualifies for the extension.

4. Review the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.  If a taxpayer lives and work abroad, then the taxpayer may be able to claim the foreign earned income exclusion. If the taxpayer qualifies, then the taxpayer will not pay tax on up to $97,600 of wages and other foreign earned income in 2013. See Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income, or Form 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, for more details.

5. Don’t Overlook Credits and Deductions.  A taxpayer may be able to take avtax credit or a deduction for income taxes paid to a foreign country. These benefits can reduce the amount of taxes that the taxpayer must pay if both countries tax the same income.

You can get more on this topic in Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad.

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

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8 Things to be Aware of for Deducting Medical and Dental Expenses for 2013 !

Posted by William Byrnes on April 11, 2014


IRS Tax Tip 2014-21 points out that if a taxpayer intends to claim a deduction for medical expenses, there are new rules that apply that may affect these deductions for 2013.  The IRS listed eight things that a taxpayer should be aware of about the medical and dental expense deduction:

1. AGI threshold increase.  Starting in 2013, the amount of allowable medical expenses must exceed 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI) to be able to claim this deduction. The threshold was 7.5% of AGI in prior years.

2. Temporary exception for age 65.  The AGI threshold is still 7.5% of AGI if the taxpayer or spouse is age 65 or older.  This exception will apply through Dec. 31, 2016.

3. Must itemize.  To claim medical and dental expenses the taxpayer must itemize deductions on the federal tax return.  Thus, if a taxpayer claims the standard deduction, then no deduction for medical expenses.

4. Paid in 2013. You can include only the expenses you paid in 2013. If you paid by check, the day you mailed or delivered the check is usually considered the date of payment.

5. Costs to include.  A taxpayer can include most medical or dental costs that paid for that taxpayer, the spouse and the dependents.  Some exceptions and special rules apply. Any costs reimbursed by insurance or other sources don’t qualify for a deduction.

6. Expenses that qualify.  The costs of diagnosing, treating, easing or preventing disease. The cost of insurance premiums for medical care, as does the cost of some long-term care insurance.  The cost of prescription drugs and insulin also qualify.  For more examples of costs you can deduct, see IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.

7. Travel costs count.  A taxpayer may be able to claim the cost of travel for medical care. This includes costs such as public transportation, ambulance service, tolls and parking fees.  For the use of a car, it may be possible to deduct either the actual costs or the standard mileage rate for medical travel. The rate is 24 cents per mile for 2013.

8. No double benefit.  A taxpayer can’t claim a tax deduction for medical and dental expenses paid with funds from a Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Arrangements. Amounts paid with funds from those plans are usually tax-free – the salary used to fund these accounts is usually not included in taxable income.

For more than half a century, Tax Facts has been an essential resource designed to meet the real-world tax-guidance needs of professionals in both the insurance and investment industries.

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

tax-facts-online_mediumThe company also points out that the expert authors—Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.

The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.  Use coupon code Tax15 and Save 15%!

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Foreign Housing Allowance for United States Government Employees – Taxable or Non-taxable?

Posted by William Byrnes on April 10, 2014


EDN PhotoThe gross income of United States citizens and resident aliens is taxable on a worldwide basis.  In most cases, compensation for personal services such as employer payments for housing expenses is fully taxable as an employee fringe benefit unless specifically excluded from taxation.  But there are exceptions to the taxation of housing allowances such as the special rules for members of the clergy or Peace Corps volunteers.

Qualified individuals may either exclude or deduct foreign housing expenses if they have incurred housing expenses while living and working aboard. Foreign housing allowances paid to United States Government employees are treated as reimbursements for actual housing expenses and, therefore, not subject to taxation.

Link to Edward Nieto’s full analysis in his article Foreign Housing Allowance for United States Government Employees – Taxable or Non-taxable? on AdvisorFYI

Edward Nieto is a U.S. Government civilian working in Germany as a business advisor.  He has over 25 years of combined military, government, and defense industry experience.  He has also worked as a VITA tax advisor in support of military and government personnel overseas.  He may be contacted at edn2000@outlook.com

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Must a taxpayer report the value of his/her employer-sponsored health insurance coverage included on the W2?

Posted by William Byrnes on April 10, 2014


In its Health Care Tax Tip 2014-09, the IRS answered the question:  Must a taxpayer report on the income tax return (form 1040) the value of his/her employer-sponsored health insurance coverage?  The employer has included the cost of the employer-sponsored health insurance coverage on an employee’s W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.  What must a taxpayer do with this information?

The Affordable Care Act requires employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan. Reporting the cost of health care coverage on the Form W-2 does not mean that the coverage is taxable. The value of the employer’s excludable contribution to health coverage continues to be excludable from an employee’s income, and it is not taxable. This reporting is for informational purposes only and will provide employees useful and comparable consumer information on the cost of their health care coverage.

Employers that provide “applicable employer-sponsored coverage” under a group health plan are subject to the reporting requirement. This includes businesses, tax-exempt organizations, and federal, state and local government entities (except with respect to plans maintained primarily for members of the military and their families). However, federally recognized Indian tribal governments are not subject to this requirement.  See Form-W-2-Reporting-of-Employer-Sponsored-Health-Coverage

Here is what the IRS stated about the amount shown on the W-2 “employer-sponsored health insurance coverage”.

  • The health care law requires certain employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan.
  • The amount of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage appears in Box 12 of the W-2, and has the code letters “DD” next to it.
  • Reporting the cost of health care coverage on the Form W-2 does not mean that the coverage is taxable or that it needs to be reported on the tax return.
  • The amount in Box 12 is only for government information collection only, and shows the payments made by the taxpayer and the employer and is not included in the amount shown in Box 1, which is the amount of taxable earnings.

Reporting on the Form W-2

The value of the health care coverage will be reported in Box 12 of the Form W-2, with Code DD to identify the amount. There is no reporting on the Form W-3 of the total of these amounts for all the employer’s employees.

In general, the amount reported should include both the portion paid by the employer and the portion paid by the employee. See the chart, below, and the questions and answers for more information.

An employer is not required to issue a Form W-2 solely to report the value of the health care coverage for retirees or other employees or former employees to whom the employer would not otherwise provide a Form W-2.

Form W-2 Reporting of Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage

Coverage Type

Form W-2, Box 12, Code DD

Report

Do Not Report

Optional

Major medical

X

Dental or vision plan not integrated into another medical or health plan

X

Dental or vision plan which gives the choice of declining or electing and paying an additional premium

X

Health Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) funded solely by salary-reduction amounts

X

Health FSA value for the plan year in excess of employee’s cafeteria plan salary reductions for all qualified benefits

X

Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) contributions

X

Health Savings Arrangement (HSA) contributions (employer or employee)

X

Archer Medical Savings Account (Archer MSA) contributions (employer or employee)

X

Hospital indemnity or specified illness (insured or self-funded), paid on after-tax basis

X

Hospital indemnity or specified illness (insured or self-funded), paid through salary reduction (pre-tax) or by employer

X

Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) providing applicable employer-sponsored healthcare coverage

Required if employer charges a COBRA premium

Optional if employer does not charge a COBRA premium

On-site medical clinics providing applicable employer-sponsored healthcare coverage

Required if employer charges a COBRA premium

Optional if employer does not charge a COBRA premium

Wellness programs providing applicable employer-sponsored healthcare coverage

Required if employer charges a COBRA premium

Optional if employer does not charge a COBRA premium

Multi-employer plans

X

Domestic partner coverage included in gross income

X

Governmental plans providing coverage primarily for members of the military and their families

X

Federally recognized Indian tribal government plans and plans of tribally charted corporations wholly owned by a federally recognized Indian tribal government

X

Self-funded plans not subject to Federal COBRA

X

Accident or disability income

X

Long-term care

X

Liability insurance

X

Supplemental liability insurance

X

Workers’ compensation

X

Automobile medical payment insurance

X

Credit-only insurance

X

Excess reimbursement to highly compensated individual, included in gross income

X

Payment/reimbursement of health insurance premiums for 2% shareholder-employee, included in gross income

X

Other Situations

Report

Do Not Report

Optional

Employers required to file fewer than 250 Forms W-2 for the preceding calendar year (determined without application of any entity aggregation rules for related employers)

X

Forms W-2 furnished to employees who terminate before the end of a calendar year and request, in writing, a Form W-2 before the end of that year

X

Forms W-2 provided by third-party sick-pay provider to employees of other employers

X

The chart was created at the suggestion of and in collaboration with the IRS’ Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee (IRPAC). IRPAC’s members are representatives of industries responsible for providing information returns, such as Form W-2, to the IRS. IRPAC works with IRS to improve the information reporting process.

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Energy-Efficient Home Improvements Can Lower Your Taxes

Posted by William Byrnes on April 10, 2014


The IRS reported in Tax Tip 2014-47 that a taxpayer may be able to reduce taxes if making certain energy-efficient home improvements last year.

Key Tax Facts about home energy tax credits:

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit

  • This tax credit is 30 percent (30%) of the cost of alternative energy equipment installed on or in the home.
  • Qualified equipment includes solar hot water heaters, solar electric equipment and wind turbines.
  • There is no dollar limit on the credit for most types of property. If the credit is more than the tax owed for the year, then the  unused portion of this credit can be carried forward to next year’s tax return.
  • The home must be in the U.S BUT it does not have to be the main home.
  • This credit is available through 2016.

Non-Business Energy Property Credit no longer offered after 2013 tax return

  • This credit is worth 10 percent (10%) of the cost of certain qualified energy-saving items added to the main home last year. This includes items such as insulation, windows, doors and roofs.
  • Taxpayer may also be able to claim the credit for the actual cost of certain property. This may include items such as water heaters and heating and air conditioning systems. Each type of property has a different dollar limit.
  • This credit has a maximum lifetime limit of $500, but only $200 of this limit may be for windows.
  • Main home must be located in the U.S. to qualify for the credit.
  • Obtain a written certification from the manufacturer that their product qualifies for this tax credit. They usually post it on their website or include it with the product’s packaging. Taxpayer’s may rely on such certificate to claim the credit.
  • This credit expired at the end of 2013. You may still claim the credit on your 2013 tax return if you didn’t reach the lifetime limit in prior years.

Use Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits, to claim these credits.

For more than half a century, Tax Facts has been an essential resource designed to meet the real-world tax-guidance needs of professionals in both the insurance and investment industries.  Use coupon code: TAX15 and save 15%!

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4 Tax Facts for Trading Services With Other Persons Taxable?

Posted by William Byrnes on April 9, 2014


The IRS published Tax Tip 2014-26: Four Things You Should Know About “Barter”

“Bartering” is the trading of one product or service for another. Often there is no exchange of cash. Small businesses sometimes barter to get products or services they need.  For example, a plumber might trade plumbing work with a dentist for dental services. 

If a taxpayer trade services with another person, “bartering”, then the value of the products or the services received by the taxpayer is taxable income.

Here are four facts that the IRS has alerted taxpayers to about bartering:

1. Barter exchanges.  A barter exchange is an organized marketplace where members barter products or services. Some exchanges operate out of an office and others over the Internet. All barter exchanges are required to issue Form 1099-B, Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions. The exchange must give a copy of the form to its members who barter and file a copy with the IRS.

2. Bartering income.  Barter and trade dollars are the same as real dollars for tax purposes and must be reported on a tax return. Both parties must report as income the fair market value of the product or service each received.

3. Tax implications.  Bartering is taxable in the year it occurs. The tax rules may vary based on the type of bartering that takes place. Barterers may owe income taxes, self-employment taxes, employment taxes or excise taxes on their bartering income.

4. Reporting rules.  How you report bartering on a tax return varies. If the taxpayer has a trade or business, then normally the taxpayer reports it on Form 1040,Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business.

For more information, see the Bartering Tax Center.

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12 more estate planning tax facts you need to know

Posted by William Byrnes on April 8, 2014


Estate planning is a complicated business. Before you sit down with clients, find out what Uncle Sam will demand if a life insurance policy or an annuity is part of their estate, or part of a recent inheritance.

1. When are death proceeds of life insurance includable in an insured’s gross estate?

They are includable in the following four situations: … Read all 12 Tax Fact estate planning tips at LifeHealthPro

LifeHealthPro.com is the vital online destination for life & health insurance advisors, designed to provide them with the essential elements they need to run their practice and increase their bottom line including breaking news, market trends, practice tips and more.

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10 estate planning tax facts you need to know

Posted by William Byrnes on April 7, 2014


The fiscal cliff deal cleared up every estate planning tax question ever, right? Or not. Because for as much fanfare as the new estate tax received, there are still a lot of sticky tax-related questions out there.

Like what, exactly, constitutes an estate?

Do life insurance proceeds count?

What about employer-provided income benefits?

How are annuities treated?

Here are 10 big estate planning tax questions, answered.  Read on at LifeHealthPro

LifeHealthPro.com is the vital online destination for life & health insurance advisors, designed to provide them with the essential elements they need to run their practice and increase their bottom line including breaking news, market trends, practice tips and more.

 

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10 Tax Facts: Do You Qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit To Reduce Your Taxes?

Posted by William Byrnes on April 6, 2014


In Tax Tip 2014-37, the IRS provides ten tax tips for taxpayers that pay for the care of their child or other dependent while they’re at work.  The Child and Dependent Care Credit can reduce that cost of that child care.

10 tax facts from the IRS about this important tax credit

1. A taxpayer may qualify for the credit if the taxpayer paid someone to care for a child, dependent or spouse last year.

2. The care a taxpayer paid for must have been necessary so the taxpayer could work or look for work.  This also applies to the spouse if married and filing jointly.

3. The care must have been for ‘qualifying persons.’ A qualifying person can be a taxpayer’s child under age 13.  Qualifying persons may also be a spouse or dependent who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care. T hey must also have lived with the taxpayer for more than half the year.

4.  The taxpayer and the spouse if file jointly, must have earned income, such as wages from a job.  Special rules apply to a spouse who is a student or disabled.

5. The payments for care can not go to a spouse, the parent of your qualifying person or to someone claimed as a dependent on the taxpayer’s return. Care payments also can not go to a child under the age of 19, even if the child is not claimed as a dependent.

6. The credit is worth up to 35 percent of the qualifying costs for care, depending on a taxpayer’s income. The limit is $3,000 of the total cost for the care of one qualifying person. If the taxpayer pays for the care of two or more qualifying persons, the taxpayer can claim up to $6,000 of the costs.

7. If a taxpayer’s employer provides dependent care benefits, special rules apply.

8. A taxpayer must include the Social Security number of each qualifying person to claim the credit.

9. A taxpayer must include the name, address and identifying number of each care provider to claim the credit.  This is usually the Social Security number of an individual or the Employer Identification Number of a business.

10. To claim the credit, attach Form 2441 to the tax return.

tax-facts-online_medium

Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.  Use coupon code TAX15 and save 15%!

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

2013 Home Office Deduction Easier To Calculate

Posted by William Byrnes on April 5, 2014


In Tax Tip 2014-36, the IRS alerted taxpayers about the new, simple calculation for the Home Office deduction.

If a taxpayer works from home, then it may be possible for the taxpayer to claim the home office deduction.  However, in years past this home office deduction has been rather complicated to calculate.

Starting this year (and applying to the 2013 tax return die in just 10 days), the IRS has provided a simpler option to calculate the deduction for business use of your home. The new option will save taxpayers time because it simplifies how to calculate and claim the deduction.  It also makes it easier for a taxpayer to keep records.  However, this new option for simplified method of calculation does NOT change the rules for who may claim the home office deduction.

6 tax facts about the home office deduction

1. Generally, in order to claim a deduction for a home office, a taxpayer must use a part of your home exclusively and regularly for business purposes. Also, the part of your home used for business must be:

  • the principal place of business, or
  • a place where the taxpayer meets clients or customers in the normal course of business, or
  • a separate structure not attached to the home. Examples might include a studio, garage or barn.

What clearly does NOT qualify for a home office deduction?  By example, a taxpayer sets up a computer in her bedroom on a dresser that she uses for personal emails and for keeping her business records.  In the dresser drawers are pens, paperclips, some receipts, as well as hair clips and some pieces of jewelry.  The IRS isn’t going to allow a home office deduction based on that computer on that dresser.

2. If a taxpayer uses the actual expense method, the home office deduction includes certain costs that the taxpayer paid for your home. For example, if the taxpayer rents a home, part of the rent paid could qualify for the home office deduction.  If the taxpayer own a home, part of the mortgage interest, taxes and utilities paid could correspondingly qualify. The amount of the deduction usually depends on the percentage of the home used for business.

3. Beginning with 2013 tax returns, the taxpayer may be able to use the simplified option to claim the home office deduction instead of claiming actual expenses. Under this method, the taxpayer multiplies the allowable square footage of the office area by a prescribed rate of $5.  The maximum footage allowed by the IRS is 300 square feet. The deduction maximum limit using this method is thus $1,500 per year.

4. If the taxpayer’s gross income from the business use of your home is less than the expenses, the deduction for some expenses may be limited.

5. If the taxpayer is self-employed and chooses the actual expense method, then the taxpayer should use Form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Your Home, to calculate the amount of the home office deduction.  The taxpayer claims the deduction on Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business, whether using the simplified or actual expense method.

6. If the taxpayer is an employee, then additional rules apply to claim the deduction. For example, in addition to the above tests, the business use must also be for the employer’s convenience.  By example: a “work from home” arrangement.

tax-facts-online_medium

Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

New FATCA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Released

Posted by William Byrnes on April 4, 2014


On July 1, 2014 FATCA withholding must be implemented for certain transactions (see Chapter 12 FATCA Withholding Compliance, LexisNexis® Guide to FATCA Compliance).  FATCA requires that a withholding agent must obtain an FFI’s GIIN for payments made from July 1, 2014 and must confirm that the GIIN appears on the IRS FFI List. However, an exception provides that a withholding agent does not need to obtain a reporting Model 1 FFI’s GIIN for payments made before January 1, 2015.

The IRS disclosed that “some FFIs that expect to be reporting Model 2 FFIs may not be able to register by April 25 if legal impediments would prevent them from agreeing to the terms of the FFI Agreement that would apply absent the modifications applicable to reporting Model 2 FFIs under a signed Model 2 IGA.”

“Some FFIs”, reported the IRS, “…expect to be reporting Model 1 FFIs … are concerned about missing the April 25 deadline in case the relevant IGA is not in fact signed, and therefore treated as being in effect, by July 1.”  Treasury has signed IGAs with 26 jurisdictions and has reached agreements in substance with 20 more that have been published, and is in advanced discussions with many others.  Treasury and the IRS have on April 2, 2014 issued Announcement 2014-17 to provide some level of comfort to FFIs in such jurisdictions that already have reached an IGA in substance and to USWAs paying agents.  See http://profwilliambyrnes.com/2014/04/03/treasury-releases-22-new-fatca-igas/

Moreover, the IRS has also granted an extension of 10 (ten) days, previously April 25 but now May 5, 2014 (GMT -5), for an FFI to register via the FATCA Registration Portal to be included on the PFFI Global Intermediary Identification Number (GIIN) list to be issued June 2, 2014.  But Treasury and the IRS remind all withholding agents that, in accordance with Reg. §1.1471-3(e)(3), a withholding agent that receives a Form W-8 from a payee with a GIIN that does not yet appear on the published IRS FFI List has 90 days to verify that the GIIN appears on the list before the withholding agent will be treated as having reason to know that the chapter 4 status of the payee is unreliable or incorrect. In addition, a withholding agent that receives a Form W-8 from a payee indicating that the payee has applied for a GIIN has 90 days to obtain the GIIN from the payee and verify it against the IRS FFI List before the withholding agent will be treated as having reason to know that the chapter 4 status of the payee is unreliable or incorrect.

On April 4, the following additional FATCA FAQS were released:

# Questions Answers
_Qualified Intermediaries/Withholding Foreign Partnerships/Withholding Foreign Trusts
Q1. How does a Financial Institution that is not currently a Qualified Intermediary (“QI”), a Withholding Foreign Partnership (“WP”), or a Withholding Foreign Trust (“WT”) register to become one? The process to become a QI, WP or WT has not been modified by the provisions of FATCA.

The application for Qualified Intermediary status can be found here: QI Application

Information on acquiring Withholding Foreign Partnership, or Withholding Foreign Trust status can be found here: WP/WT Application

Q2. How do FIs that are currently QIs, WPs and WTs renew their agreements? Existing QIs, WPs and WTs are required to renew their QI agreements through the FATCA registration website as part of their FATCA registration process.

All QI, WP, or WT agreements that would otherwise expire on December 31, 2013 will be automatically extended until June 30, 2014.  (Notice 2013-43; 2013-31 IRB 113).

Q3. If an FFI has a QI/WP/WT agreement in place, does the Responsible Party for purposes of the QI/WP/WT Agreement also have to the serve as the FFI’s Responsible Officer? No, the FFI’s Responsible Party for purposes of a QI/WP/WT Agreement does not have to be the Responsible Officer chosen by the FFI for purposes of certification under the regulations or for FATCA Registration purposes.
_IGA Registration
Q4. Please provide a link that lists the jurisdictions treated as having in effect a Model 1 or Model 2 IGA. The U.S. Department of Treasury’s list of jurisdictions that are treated as having an intergovernmental agreement in effect can be found by clicking on the following link: IGA LIST
Q5. How do Foreign Financial Institutions in Model 1 jurisdictions register on the FATCA registration website? Financial Institutions that are treated as Reporting Financial Institutions under a Model 1 IGA (see the list of jurisdictions treated as having an IGA in effect at IGA LIST) should register as Registered Deemed-Compliant Foreign Financial Institutions.

More information on registration can be found in the FATCA Registration Online User Guide:User Guide Link (See Section 2.4 “Special Rules for Registration”)

Q6. How do Foreign Financial Institutions in Model 2 jurisdictions register on the FATCA registration website? Financial Institutions that are treated as Reporting Financial Institutions under a Model 2 IGA (see the list of jurisdictions treated as having an IGA in effect at IGA LIST) should register as Participating Foreign Financial Institutions.

More information on registration can be found in the FATCA Registration Online User Guide:User Guide Link (See Section 2.4 “Special Rules for Registration”)

Q7. We are an FFI in a country that has not signed an IGA, and the local laws of our country do not allow us to report U.S. accounts or withhold tax. What is our FATCA classification? Unless the Treasury website provides that your country is treated as having an IGA in effect, then, because of its local law restrictions, this FFI should register as a Limited FFI provided it meets the definition shown directly below. See FATCA – Archive   for a list of countries treated as having an IGA in effect.

A Limited FFI means an FFI that, due to local law restrictions, cannot comply with the terms of an FFI Agreement, or otherwise be treated as a PFFI or RDCFFI, and that is agreeing to satisfy certain obligations for its treatment as a Limited FFI.

_Expanded Affiliated Groups
Q8. For registration purposes, can an EAG with a Lead FI and 2 Member FIs be divided into: (1) a group with a Lead FI and a member FI, and (2) a member FI that will register as a Single FI? Yes. An EAG may organize itself into subgroups, so long as all entities with a registration requirement are registered. An FI that acts as a Compliance FI for any members of the EAG is, however, required to register each such member as would a Lead FI for such members.
Q9. What is required for an entity to be a Lead FI? A Lead FI means a USFI, FFI, or a Compliance FI that will initiate the FATCA Registration process for each of its Member FIs that is a PFFI, RDCFFI, or Limited FFI and that is authorized to carry out most aspects of its Members’ FATCA Registrations. A Lead FI is not required to act as a Lead FI for all Member FIs within an EAG. Thus, an EAG may include more than one Lead FI that will carry out FATCA Registration for a group of its Member FIs. A Lead FI will be provided the rights to manage the online account for its Member FIs. However, an FFI seeking to act as a Lead FI cannot have Limited FFI status in its country of residence. See Rev. Proc. 2014-13 to review the FFI agreement for other requirements of a Lead FI that is also a participating FFI.
_Sponsoring/Sponsored Entities
Q10. We are a Sponsoring Entity, and we would like to register our Sponsored Entities. How do we register our Sponsored Entities? The Sponsoring Entity that agrees to perform the due diligence, withholding, and reporting obligations of one or more Sponsored Entities pursuant to Treas. Reg. §1.1471-5(f)(1)(i)(F) should register with the IRS via the FATCA registration website to be treated as a Sponsoring Entity. To allow a Sponsoring Entity to register its Sponsored Entities with the IRS, and, as previewed in Notice 2013-69, the IRS is developing a streamlined process for Sponsoring Entities to register Sponsored Entities on the FATCA registration website. Additional information about this process will be provided by the IRS at a later date.

While a Sponsoring Entity is required to register its Sponsored Entities for those entities to obtain GIINs, the temporary and proposed regulations provide a transitional rule that, for payments prior to January 1, 2016, permit a Sponsored Entity to provide the GIIN of its Sponsoring Entity on withholding certificates if it has not yet obtained a GIIN. Thus, a Sponsored Entity does not need to provide its own GIIN until January 1, 2016 and is not required to register before that date.

_Responsible Officers and Points of Contact
Q11. What is a Point Of Contact (POC)? The Responsible Officer listed on line 10 of Form 8957 (or the online registration system) can authorize a POC to receive FATCA-related information regarding the FI, and to take other FATCA-related actions on behalf of the FI. While the POC must be an individual, the POC does not need to be an employee of the FI. For example, suppose that John Smith, Partner of X Law Firm, has been retained and been given the authority to help complete and submit the FATCA Registration on behalf of an FI. John Smith should be identified as the POC, and in the Business Title field for this POC, it should state Partner of X Law Firm.
_Financial Institutions
Q12. Are U.S. Financial Institutions (USFIs) required to register under FATCA? If so, under what circumstances would a USFI register? A USFI is generally not required to register under FATCA. However, a USFI will need to register if the USFI chooses to become a Lead FI and/or a Sponsoring Entity or seeks to maintain and renew the QI status of a foreign branch that is a QI. Furthermore, a USFI with a foreign branch that is a reporting Model 1 FFI is required to register on behalf of its foreign branches (and should identify each such branch when registering). A USFI with non-QI branch operations in a Model 2 jurisdiction or in a non-IGA jurisdiction is not required to register with the IRS.
Q13. Is a Foreign Financial Institution (“FFI”) required to obtain an EIN? If the FFI has a withholding obligation and will be filing Forms 1042 and Forms 1042-S with the Internal Revenue Service, it will be required to have an EIN. Please see publication 515 (“Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens and Foreign Entities”) for further information about U.S. Withholding requirements. SeePub. 515. An FFI is also required to obtain an EIN when it is a QI, WP, or WT (through the application process to obtain any such status) or when the FFI is a participating FFI that elects to report its U.S. accounts on Forms 1099 under Treas. Reg. §1.1471-4(d)(5).
How does a FFI apply for a EIN if it does not already have one? If a FFI does not have an EIN, it may apply for one using Form SS-4 (“Application for Employer Identification Number”) or the online registration system. See Apply-for-an-Employer-Identification-Number-(EIN)-Onlinefor more information.
_Exempt Beneficial Owners
Q14. We are a foreign central bank of issue. Will we be subject to FATCA withholding if we do not register? You will generally be exempt from FATCA Registration and withholding if you meet the requirements to be treated as an exempt beneficial owner (e.g. as a foreign central bank of issue described in Treas. Reg. § 1.1471-6(d), as a controlled entity of a foreign government under Treas. Reg. §1.1471-6(b)(2), or as an entity treated as either of the foregoing under an applicable IGA). A withholding agent is not required to withhold on a withholdable payment to the extent that the withholding agent can reliably associate the payment with documentation to determine the portion of the payment that is allocable to an exempt beneficial owner in accordance with the regulations. However, an exempt beneficial owner may be subject to withholding on payments derived from the type of commercial activity described in Treas. Reg. § 1.1471-6(h).
Q15. We are a foreign pension plan. Will we be subject to FATCA withholding if we do not register? You will be exempt from FATCA Registration and withholding if you meet the requirements to be treated as a retirement fund described in Treas. Reg. § 1.1471-6(f), or under an applicable IGA. A withholding agent is not required to withhold on a withholdable payment to the extent that the withholding agent can reliably associate the payment with documentation to determine the portion of the payment that is allocable to an exempt beneficial owner (in this case, a retirement fund) in accordance with the regulations.
_NFFEs
Q16. How should an entity seeking the FATCA status of “direct reporting NFFE” (other than a sponsored direct reporting NFFE) register for this status to obtain a GIIN in order to avoid FATCA withholding? A direct reporting NFFE is eligible to register for this status and when registering should complete an online registration (or, alternatively, submit a paper Form 8957) based on the instructions provided in this FAQ.   For registrations occurring in years after 2014, it is anticipated that both the online registration user guide and the Instructions for Form 8957 will be updated to incorporate this information.

In general, for purposes of completing the registration of a direct reporting NFFE, substitute the words “direct reporting NFFE” for the words “financial institution” wherever  they appear in the online registration user guide (or in the Instructions for Form 8957).  Unless specific instructions for a registration question are described here in this FAQ, please use the generally applicable instructions provided in the online registration user guide (or in the Instructions for Form 8957).

Part 1

Question 1 – - Select “Single”.

Question 4 – - Select “None of the above”.

Question 6 – - Select “Not applicable”.

Question 7 – - Select “No”.  (If using the portal online, selecting “no” will automatically skip Questions 8 and 9.)

Question 8 – - Skip this question (which relates to branches)

Question 9 – - Skip all parts (a) through (c) of this question (which relate to branches).

Question 10 – - Enter the information of the individual who will be responsible for ensuring that the direct reporting NFFE meets its FATCA reporting obligations and will act as a point of contact with the IRS in connection with its status as a direct reporting NFFE.

Part 2 – - It is not necessary for a direct reporting NFFE to complete this section. (If using the portal online, selecting Single in question 1 will automatically skip Part 2.)

Part 3 – - It is not necessary for a direct reporting NFFE to complete this section. (If using the portal online, selecting “Not Applicable” in question 6 will automatically skip Part 3.)

Part 4 – - The individual who completes this part must have the authority to provide the certification.

Direct reporting NFFE QIs/WPs/WTs should renew their agreements through the existing traditional paper process.  Instructions can be found at the following link (Question IX), see:Qualified-Intermediary-Frequently-Asked-Questions

Q17. How should a sponsor of a sponsored direct reporting NFFE register itself for this status and obtain a GIIN? A sponsor of a sponsored direct reporting NFFE is a sponsoring entity (see Treas. Reg. § 1.1471-1T(b)(124)) and  should complete an online registration (or, alternatively, submit a paper Form 8957) as a sponsoring entity, based on the instructions provided in this FAQ.  A sponsoring entity need only complete one registration to act as the sponsor for both sponsored FFIs and sponsored direct reporting NFFEs.  For registrations occurring in years after 2014, it is anticipated that both the online registration user guide and the Instructions for Form 8957 will be updated to incorporate this information, including by incorporating the definition of sponsoring entity provided in Treas. Reg. § 1.1471-1T(b)(124).

In general, for purposes of having a sponsor register a sponsored direct reporting NFFE, substitute the words “sponsor of a direct reporting NFFE” for the words “sponsoring entity” wherever they appear in the online registration user guide (or in the Instructions for Form 8957).  Unless specific instructions for a registration question are described here in this FAQ, please use the generally applicable instructions provided in the online registration user guide (or in the Instructions for Form 8957).

Part 1

Question 1 – - Select “Sponsoring Entity”.

Question 4 – - Select “None of the above”.

Question 6 – - Select “Not applicable”.

Question 7 – - Select “No”. (If using the portal online, selecting “no” will automatically skip Questions 8 and 9)

Question 8 – - Skip this question (which relates to branches)

Question 9 – - Skip all parts (a) through (c) of this question (which relate to branches).

Question 10 – - Enter the information of the individual who will be responsible for ensuring that the direct reporting NFFE meets its FATCA reporting obligations and who will act as a point of contact with the IRS in connection with its obligations as a sponsoring entity.

Part 2 – - It is not necessary for a sponsor of a direct reporting NFFE to complete this section.  (If using the portal online, selecting Sponsoring Entity in question 1 will automatically skip Part 2.)

Part 3 – - It is not necessary for a sponsor of a direct reporting NFFE to complete this section. (If using the portal online, selecting “Not Applicable” in question 6 will automatically skip Part 3.)

Part 4 – - The individual who completes this part must have the authority to provide the certification.

_Registration Update
Q18. Why has my registration been put into “Registration Incomplete”? What can I do? If your registration has been put into Registration Incomplete status, it is because the IRS has identified an issue with your registration.  If you are Registration Incomplete status, please review your registration for any of the following errors and update it accordingly:

  1. The FFI has identified itself as a Qualified Intermediary with a QI-EIN of which the IRS has no record.  (If you have QI, WP or WT Agreement signed with the IRS, please contact the Financial Intermediaries Team for further assistance.)
  2. The RO has been identified with initials only and no specific name has been provided.
  3. The RO does not appear to be a natural person.
  4. Notice 2013-43 stated that any registrations submitted prior to  January 1, 2014 would be taken out of submit and put into Registration Incomplete status. Thus, if your registration was submitted prior to  January 1, 2014, you must  re-submit your registration assuming that none of the other abovementioned reasons (1-3) are an issue with the FFI’s registration.

After you have updated your registration, you must resubmit in order for your registration to be processed.

 

Additional FAQs are available for the FATCA Registration System and the FATCA FFI List.

book coverPractical Compliance Aspects of Exchange of Information, FATCA and GATCA

For in-depth analysis of the practical compliance aspects of financial service business providing for exchange of information of information about foreign residents with their national competent authority or with the IRS (FATCA), see Lexis Guide to FATCA Compliance, 2nd Edition just published!

The LexisNexis® Guide to FATCA Compliance (2nd Edition) comprises 34 Chapters grouped in three parts: compliance program (Chapters 1–4), analysis of FATCA regulations (Chapters 5–16) and analysis of Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) and local law compliance challenges (Chapters 17–34), including intergovernmental agreements as well as the OECD’s TRACE initiative for global automatic information exchange protocols and systems. The 34 chapters include many practical examples to assist a compliance officer contextualize the regulations, IGA provisions, and national rules enacted pursuant to an IGA.  Chapters include by example an in-depth analysis of the categorization of trusts pursuant to the Regulations and IGAs, operational specificity of the mechanisms of information capture, management and exchange by firms and between countries, insights as to the application of FATCA and the IGAs within new BRIC and European country chapters.

Posted in FATCA | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Employers Face Stiff Obama Care Excise Taxes (aka Penalties)

Posted by William Byrnes on April 4, 2014


The Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) (“Obama Care”) may lead to stiff excise taxes for midsize and larger employers that misclassify employees as independent contractors (see §4980H Shared responsibility for employers regarding health coverage).  The term “applicable large employer” means, with respect to a calendar year, an employer who employed an average of at least 50 full-time employees on business days during the preceding calendar year.  The term “full-time employee” means, with respect to any month, an employee who is employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week.  However, employers with less than a 100 employees have a transition period until 2016 for the application of §4980H.

Employers that misclassify employees as independent contractors already face potential tax liability and tax penalties for each misclassified employee.  In addition to these current potential liabilities and penalties for misclassification, employers will now face excise tax assessments under the ACA.   This new excise tax is $2,000 per employee not covered by a qualifying employer medical plan.  However, to encourage compliance with the ACA, if less than 95% of the employees of an employer are covered by a qualified medical employer plan, then a stiffer penalty of $2,000 for every employee of the company may be imposed, albeit with an exemption of the excise tax applying to the first 30 employees.

By example, an employer has 50 workers of which the employer has classified 80% (40) as employees and the remaining 20% (10) as independent contractors.  The employer provides a medical insurance plan for the 40 employees that qualifies for purposes of the ACA.  The §4980H issue is moot, meaning it does not need to be considered, because the employer does not reach the minimum 50 employee threshold.  But now the problem …

The IRS audits the employer and determines that the employer has misclassified the 10 independent contractors, and re-classifies them as employees.  The employer has employment tax issues, and penalties to contend with, regarding the 10 employees.  But also, §4980H now applies because the employer has reached 50 employees.  Worse yet, the employer has not covered 95% of its employees with qualified medical coverage.  Instead of 40 employees covered out of 40 covered for 100% coverage, after audit the employer is determined to have only covered 80% of employees (40 out of 50), missing the minimum 95% threshold.   Thus, the excise tax does not apply to just the 10 employees but instead applies to all employees, with an allowance for the first 30.  How much excise tax will be owed then?  50 employees, subtracting the allowance for the first 30, leaves 20 employees multiplied by the excise  tax of $2,000, thus $40,000 for the year (on top of normal employment taxes and penalties for the 10 misclassified employees).

Classification of a worker as either an “employee” or an “independent contractor” is based on the common law standard of an examination of the facts and circumstances of the relationship between the employer and the worker to assess whether the employer has the right to direct and control the performance of services.  Substantial case law has developed from disputes between employers and the IRS, and between workers, who may want to be classified as independent contractors to better leverage tax deductions, and the IRS.

tax-facts-online_medium

Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

Posted in Compliance, Taxation | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ten Tax Facts about Capital Gains and Losses

Posted by William Byrnes on April 4, 2014


In Tax Tip 2014-27, the IRS discussed capital gains and losses.  The IRS stated that when a taxpayer sells a ’capital asset,’ the sale usually results in a capital gain or loss. A ‘capital asset’ includes most property owned and used for personal or investment purposes.

10 tax facts about capital gains and losses:

1. Capital assets include property such as a home or a car. They also include investment property such as stocks and bonds.

2. A capital gain or loss is the difference between the “basis” and the amount earned upon the sale of the asset.  The basis is usually what the taxpayer paid for the asset.

3. A taxpayer must include all capital gains in income.  Beginning in 2013, a taxpayer may be subject to the Obama Care “Net Investment Income Tax”.  The NIIT applies at a rate of 3.8% to certain net investment income of individuals, estates, and trusts that have income above statutory threshold amounts.

4. A taxpayer can deduct capital losses on the sale of investment property (such as an apartment building) but can not deduct losses on the sale of personal-use property (such as the family home).

5. Capital gains and losses are either long-term or short-term, depending on how long the property is owned.  If a taxpayer owns the property for more than one year, the gain or loss is long-term.  If owned one year or less, the gain or loss is short-term.

6. If long-term gains are more than long-term losses, the difference between the two is a “net long-term capital gain”.  If net long-term capital gain is more than net short-term capital loss, then the taxpayer has a ‘net capital gain.’

7. The tax rates that apply to net capital gains will usually depend on a taxpayer’s income.  For lower-income individuals, the rate may be zero percent on some or all of their net capital gains.  In 2013, the maximum net capital gain tax rate increased from 15 to 20 percent. A 25 or 28 percent tax rate can also apply to special types of net capital gains.

8. If capital losses are more than capital gains, the taxpayer can deduct the difference as a loss on the tax return. This loss is limited to $3,000 per year, or $1,500 if filing married but separate returns.

9. If total net capital loss is more than the deduction limit above, the losses above the allowable deduction can be carried over to next year’s tax return.  The carried over losses will be treated as if they happened next year.

10. File Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets, with the federal tax return to report your gains and losses.   Also file Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses with the federal tax return.

2014_tf_on_investments-m2014 Tax Facts on Investments provides clear, concise answers to often complex tax questions concerning investments.  Pertinent planning points are provided throughout.

Organized in a convenient Q&A format to speed you to the information you need, 2014 Tax Facts on Investments delivers the latest guidance on:

  • Mutual Funds, Unit Trusts, REITs
  • Incentive Stock Options
  • Options & Futures
  • Real Estate
  • Stocks, Bonds
  • Oil & Gas
  • Precious Metals & Collectibles
  • And much more!

Key updates for 2014:

  • Important federal income and estate tax developments impacting investments, including changes from the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
  • Expanded coverage of Reverse Mortgages
  • Expanded coverage of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
  • More than 30 new Planning Points, written by practitioners for practitioners, in the following areas:
    • Limitations on Loss Deductions
    • Charitable Gifts
    • Reverse Mortgages
    • Deduction of Interest and Expenses
    • REITs

Plus, you’re kept up-to-date with online supplements for critical developments.  Written and reviewed by practicing professionals who are subject matter experts in their respective topics, Tax Facts is the practical resource you can rely on.

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Expanded EU Savings Directive Enacted By EU Commission – National Adoptions before 2016 !

Posted by William Byrnes on April 3, 2014


EU Council Announces March 2014 Adoption of Expanded EU Savings Directive

On Saturday, March 22, 2014 the EU Council’s General Secretariat announced that it will adopt major amendments to the EU Directive on taxation of savings income.  That Monday, March 24, the EU Commission adopted amendments to expand the application of the EU Savings Directive.   The amendments address the current loopholes, such as application to trusts, to foundations, and to investment income that is comparable to interest income.  By January 2016 each EU State must adopt national legislation enacting the directive within its system, and implement the directive by January 1, 2017.  See the EU Commission’s Presentation Powerpoint.

Brief Background on EU Savings Directive

The liberalization of capital markets and the free movement of capital within the EU borders revealed how important it was to establish cooperation with a view to preventing, in the direct taxation area, fraud and evasion linked to cross-border financial investments. The problem with taxpayers moving their investments to Member States which did not impose taxation at source while the taxpayers simultaneously under-reported to their respective State of residence (or not reporting at all) the income earned. The EU Savings Directive was adopted to address this situation, coming into effect in 2005.

The mechanism of the Directive works by imposing an obligation to any paying agent in an EU Member State which makes a payment to an individual resident in the other Member State which is the beneficial owner of the income, to report that payment of interest to the competent tax authorities of the Member State in which the paying agent is established. The competent tax authorities of that (source) State in turn transfer the information collected to the competent tax authority of the residence of the beneficial owner. Based on the information received it is possible for the State of residence of the beneficial owner to verify if the amount is declared for tax purposes and to tax the corresponding income.

Loopholes Reported in 2008

In his 2004 Report on the Regulatory, Competitive, Economic and Socio-Economic Impact of the European Union Code of Conduct on Business Taxation and Tax Savings Directive to the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Overseas Territories of The Virgin Islands (British), Turks & Caicos Islands, Anguilla and Montserrat, Professor William Byrnes undertook an in-depth analysis of the EU Savings Directive identifying several loopholes that would require later amendments for it to achieve its objectives.

The Savings Directive loopholes include:

• Territorial scope: It is limited to intra-community situations in which a paying agent from one Member State pays to an individual resident in another Member State. It does not apply to payments from outside the EU, i.e. when the paying agent is located in a third (non-EU) State or to payments to beneficial owners who reside in third States.

• Personal scope: it does not apply to persons other than individuals, in particular payments made to legal entities. This limitation provides individuals with opportunities to circumvent the Savings Directive by using an interposed legal person or arrangement.

• Material scope: it does not cover other forms of savings like insurance products, pensions, some tailored investment funds, return on derivative contracts, structured products, etc.

These and other loopholes have been formally reported by the European Commission since 2008. The main findings of a report produced by the Commission identified as a major problem lack of “consistent treatment of other comparable situations”.[1] Pursuing this aim of consistency requires that interest payments obtained by an individual through intermediate vehicles are consistently put on an equal footing with interest payments directly received by the individual. This consistency of coverage is required not only to ensure the effectiveness of the Directive, but also compliance with the rules of the internal market and fair competition between comparable financial products and structures.

proposal was submitted to the Council which aimed at extending the scope of the Directive.[2] 

European Council Announces Amended Savings Directive Adoption in March 2014

On March 22, 2014 the European Council reported in a press release[3] that (emphasis added):

The European Council welcomes the Commission’s report on the state of play of negotiations on savings taxation with European third countries (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and San Marino) and calls on those countries to commit fully to implementing the new single global standard for automatic exchange of information, developed by the OECD and endorsed by the G20, and to the early adopters initiative.

The European Council calls on the Commission to carry forth the negotiations with those countries swiftly with a view to concluding them by the end of the year, and invites the Commission to report on the state of play at its December meeting. If sufficient progress is not made, the Commission’s report should explore possible options to ensure compliance with the new global standard.

In the light of this, the Council will adopt the Directive on taxation of savings income at its next March 2014 meeting.

The European Council invites the Council to ensure that, with the adoption of the Directive on Administrative Cooperation by the end of 2014, EU law is fully aligned with the new global standard.

What About the Withholding Exception for Austria and Luxembourg?

While most Member States adopted the exchange of information regime provided in the 2005 Savings Directive, three Member States with a tradition of bank secrecy—Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria—preferred to adopt, during a transitional period, a withholding tax regime. They were authorized to adopt a withholding tax (now 35%) on interest income that is paid to individual savers resident in other EU Member States. In the meantime Belgium decided to discontinue applying the transitional withholding tax as of 1 January 2010 and exchange information instead.

Therefore, only Luxembourg and Austria are currently entitled to levy a withholding tax. Luxembourg has notified the EU Commission that from next year, January 1, 2015 it will discontinue applying the transitional withholding tax and thus begin automatically exchanging information for applicable accounts from that date.

Thus, only Austria has expressed that it will maintain the withholding tax option. Austria’s finance minister is quoted in April 2013 stating: “All this data exchange will not put one red cent in my tax coffers, …. I want to have the money, not a data cemetery.”[4]  However, in light of the Council’s press release on Saturday, this position has probably changed.

The Austria’s Chancellor had also indicated that Austria may begin automatic exchange regarding the interest from savings accounts beginning 2014.[5] Although this statement is different from the Luxembourg commitment towards automatic exchange of information, it would not be surprising that Austria will soon also endorse this automatic exchange standard within the scope of applying the Savings Directive, in light of FATCA, GATCA, and the Council’s press release.

book coverPractical Compliance Aspects of Exchange of Information, FATCA and GATCA

For in-depth analysis of the practical compliance aspects of financial service business providing for exchange of information of information about foreign residents with their national competent authority or with the IRS (FATCA), see Lexis Guide to FATCA Compliance, 2nd Edition just published!

William H. Byrnes, author of six Lexis international tax titles, has achieved authoritative prominence with more than 20 books, 100 book chapters and supplements, and 1,000 media articles.  In 2008 he was appointed Associate Dean at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, previously obtaining Professor of Law with Tenure at St. Thomas University.   William Byrnes was a Senior Manager, then Associate Director of international tax for Coopers and Lybrand, and consulted for clients involved with Africa, Europe, Asia, the Indian sub-continent, and the Caribbean.   He has been commissioned by a number of governments on tax policy.

[1] See Commission Staff Working Document, “Refining the present coverage of Council Directive 2003/48/EC on taxation of income from savings”, SEC (2008), p. 559.

[2] See “Proposal for a Council Directive amending Council Directive 2003/48/EC on taxation of savings income in the form of interest payments”, COM (2008) 727 final, of November 13, 2008.

[3] Conclusions, European Council, Brussels, Euco 7/1/14, 21 March 2014.

[4]“All this data exchange will not put one red cent in my tax coffers,” finance minister Maria Fekter said on 13 April. “I want to have the money, not a data cemetery.”  Stamatoukou, Eleni, “EU Savings Directive to be modified”, New Europe Online, (April 15, 2013) Available at http://www.neurope.eu/article/eu-savings-directive-be-modified.

[5] Austria’s position regarding the extension of the EU Savings Directive requires that such extension be also imposed through international agreements with San Marino, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Andorra, and Monaco.  However, it is unclear if Austria has since backtracked and made these five agreements a pre-condition for its own automatic information exchange on savings income for depository accounts.  See Bodoni, Stephanie, EU Push For Savings-Tax Deal Fought By Luxembourg, Austria, Bloomberg (Nov 14, 2013).  Available at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-14/eu-set-to-fail-to-meet-savings-tax-goal-on-luxembourg-opposition.html.

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Treasury releases 22 new FATCA IGAs

Posted by William Byrnes on April 3, 2014


Treasury released 22 new IGAs the past week and yesterday, April 2.  Hionduras and Luxembourg both have Model 1 IGAs that are now in effect.  The other 20 countries and jurisdictions include signed but not yet in effect Model 1 IGA, except for Austria which has signed a Model 2 that has not yet entered into effect.  See below.

The following jurisdictions are treated as having an intergovernmental agreement in effect:

Jurisdictions that have signed agreements:

Model 1 IGA

Model 2 IGA

all NEW —> Jurisdictions that have reached agreements in substance and have consented to being included on this list (beginning on the date indicated in parethesis):

Model 1 IGA

  • Australia (4-2-2014)
  • Belgium (4-2-2014)
  • Brazil (4-2-2014)
  • British Virgin Islands (4-2-2014)
  • Czech Republic (4-2-2014)
  • Gibraltar (4-2-2014)
  • Jamaica (4-2-2014)
  • Kosovo (4-2-2014)
  • Latvia (4-2-2014)
  • Liechtenstein (4-2-2014)
  • Lithuania (4-2-2014)
  • New Zealand (4-2-2014)
  • Poland (4-2-2014)
  • Portugal (4-2-2014)
  • Qatar (4-2-2014)
  • Slovenia (4-2-2014)
  • South Africa (4-2-2014)
  • South Korea (4-2-2014)
  • Romania (4-2-2014)

Model 2 IGA

  • Austria (4-2-2014)

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Advance Pricing Agreements Report released by IRS

Posted by William Byrnes on April 3, 2014


Report Concerning Advance Pricing Agreements (2013)

Highlights excerpted:

In February of 2012, the former APA Program was moved from the Office of Chief Counsel to the Office of Transfer Pricing Operations, Large Business and International Division of the IRS (TPO) and combined with the United States Competent Authority (USCA) staff responsible for transfer pricing cases, thereby forming the Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement (APMA) Program.  During the last quarter of 2013, new proposed revenue procedures governing APA applications and MAP applications were released for public comment in Notice 2013-79, 2013-50 I.R.B. 653, and Notice 2013-78, 2013-50 I.R.B. 633, respectively. These proposed revenue procedures reflect the changes in APMA’s structure, and more importantly, were informed by the cumulative experience of more than 20 years of APA practice in the United States, which has produced more than eleven hundred unilateral and bilateral agreements since 1991.

During 2013, the APMA Program continued to benefit from the merger and processing efficiencies that began in 2012. For the second year in a row, the number of executed APAs increased (from 140 in 2012 to 145 in 2013). The median completion time fell from 39.8 months in 2012 to 32.7 months in 2013. The increase in efficiency is further illustrated by the fact that the number of executed APAs (145) again surpassed the number of applications filed (111).

Part I of this report includes information on the structure, composition, and operation of the APMA Program; Part II presents statistical data for 2013; and Part III includes general
descriptions of various elements of the APAs executed in 2013, including types of transactions covered, transfer pricing methods used, and completion time.

The 111 APA applications received during 2013, represent a slight decrease from the 126 received in 2012.  Almost 75 percent of the bilateral applications filed in 2013 involved either Japan or Canada.  The APMA Program increased the number of APAs executed in its second year. The 145 APAs executed in 2013 surpassed the previous record of 140 executed agreements set in 2012. Of the 145 agreements executed in 2013, 68 of the agreements (47 percent) were new APAs (i.e., not renewal APAs), an increase from the 57 (41 percent) new APAs executed in 2012.

In 2013, approximately 55 percent of the APAs executed involved transactions between a non-U.S. parent and a U.S. subsidiary; 40 percent of the APAs executed involved transactions between a U.S. parent and a non-U.S. subsidiary; and the remaining 5 percent involved transactions that included either a partnership or a branch. In 2012, approximately 75 percent of the APAs executed involved transactions between a non-U.S. parent and a U.S. subsidiary, while the remaining 25 percent involved transactions between a U.S. parent and a non-U.S. subsidiary.

Although more than 75 percent of covered transactions involve tangible goods and services transactions, the IRS also has successfully completed numerous APAs involving transfers of intangibles.  More than 60 percent of the tested parties in the APAs executed in 2013 involved distribution or related functions, e.g., marketing and product support.

In controlled transactions using the CPM/TNMM, the Operating Margin was the most common profit level indicator (PLI) used to benchmark results for transfers of tangible and intangible property. Per the applicable regulations, Operating Margin is defined as the ratio of operating profits to sales. The Berry Ratio, defined as the ratio of gross profit to operating expenses, was applied as the profit level indicator in 8 percent of the controlled transactions that used the CPM/TNMM. Each other profit level indicator accounted for a smaller share.

For services transactions, the majority of cases applied the Services Cost Method or the CPM/TNMM. The Services Cost Method evaluates the amount charged for certain services with
reference to the total services costs.

For the APAs executed in 2013 that used external comparables data in the analysis, the most widely used data source for comparables was the Standard and Poor’s Compustat database. Other sources were also used in appropriate cases, e.g., where the tested party was not the U.S. entity. The most commonly used sources are:

  • Disclosure
  • Mergent
  • Orbis
  • GlobalVantage
  • Worldscope
  • OneSource
  • Osirus

practical_guide_book

Lexis’ Practical Guide to U.S. Transfer Pricing, 28 chapters from 30 expert contributors led by international tax Professor William Byrnes,  is designed to help multinationals cope with the U.S. transfer pricing rules and procedures, taking into account the international norms established by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is also designed for use by tax administrators, both those belonging to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and those belonging to the tax administrations of other countries, and tax professionals in and out of government, corporate executives, and their non-tax advisors, both American and foreign.  Fifty co-authors contribute subject matter expertise on technical issues faced by tax and risk management counsel.

 

 

 

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FATCA Jurisdictions Treated as Having an IGA in Effect and 10 Day Extension for FFI Registration

Posted by William Byrnes on April 2, 2014


Foreign financial institutions (FFIs) and US withholding agents (USWAs) have presented compliance concerns to Treasury and the IRS about the status of FFIs in jurisdictions that are known to be in an advanced stage of concluding an IGA, but have not yet signed such agreement.  Treasury has signed IGAs with 26 jurisdictions and has reached agreements in substance or is in advanced discussions with many others.

Treasury and the IRS have on April 2, 2014 issued Announcement 2014-17 to provide some level of comfort to FFIs in such jurisdictions that already have reached an IGA in substance and to USWAs paying agents.

Moreover, the IRS has also granted an extension of 10 (ten) days, previously April 25 but now May 5, 2014 (GMT -5), for an FFI to register via the FATCA Registration Portal to be included on the PFFI Global Intermediary Identification Number (GIIN) list to be issued June 2, 2014.

On July 1, 2014 FATCA withholding must be implemented for certain transactions (see Chapter 12 FATCA Withholding Compliance, LexisNexis® Guide to FATCA Compliance).  FATCA requires that a withholding agent must obtain an FFI’s GIIN for payments made from July 1, 2014 and must confirm that the GIIN appears on the IRS FFI List. However, an exception provides that a withholding agent does not need to obtain a reporting Model 1 FFI’s GIIN for payments made before January 1, 2015.

The IRS disclosed that “some FFIs that expect to be reporting Model 2 FFIs may not be able to register by April 25 if legal impediments would prevent them from agreeing to the terms of the FFI Agreement that would apply absent the modifications applicable to reporting Model 2 FFIs under a signed Model 2 IGA.”

“Some FFIs”, continued the IRS Notice, “…expect to be reporting Model 1 FFIs … are concerned about missing the April 25 deadline in case the relevant IGA is not in fact signed, and therefore treated as being in effect, by July 1.”

Relevant portions of Announcement 2014-17 are excerpted below.

Expansion of IGAs Treated as Being in Effect to Include Agreements in Substance

This announcement aims to address these concerns by providing that the jurisdictions listed on the Treasury and IRS websites as jurisdictions that are treated as having an IGA in effect will also include jurisdictions that, before July 1, 2014, have reached agreements in substance with the United States on the terms of an IGA and have consented to be included on the Treasury and IRS list, even if those agreements have not yet been signed.

Such jurisdictions will be treated as having an IGA in effect from the date that the jurisdiction provides its consent (or April 2, 2014, the date of the public release of this announcement, if later) until December 31, 2014, the date by which the IGA must be signed in order for this status to continue without interruption. Treasury expects to add jurisdictions to this list in the coming weeks as additional jurisdictions consent to inclusion on the list and additional agreements in substance are reached. Jurisdictions that reach agreements in substance on or after July 1, 2014, will not be included in the list of jurisdictions that are treated as having an IGA in effect until the IGA is signed.

The text of the agreements in substance that are treated as being in effect will not be published by the IRS or Treasury until the IGA is signed. Instead, the list will specify only whether the relevant IGA is a Model 1 or a Model 2 IGA. Until the IGA is signed, the jurisdiction will be treated as having in effect the relevant model provisions. This means that an FFI resident in, or organized under the laws of, a jurisdiction that is listed on the Treasury and IRS websites as having reached an agreement in substance will be permitted to register on the FATCA registration website consistent with its treatment under the relevant model IGA and will be permitted to certify its status to a withholding agent consistent with that treatment.

New Dates for Registering to Ensure GIIN Inclusion on the IRS FFI List

Finally, Treasury and the IRS remind all withholding agents that, in accordance with Reg. §1.1471-3(e)(3), a withholding agent that receives a Form W-8 from a payee with a GIIN that does not yet appear on the published IRS FFI List has 90 days to verify that the GIIN appears on the list before the withholding agent will be treated as having reason to know that the chapter 4 status of the payee is unreliable or incorrect. In addition, a withholding agent that receives a Form W-8 from a payee indicating that the payee has applied for a GIIN has 90 days to obtain the GIIN from the payee and verify it against the IRS FFI List before the withholding agent will be treated as having reason to know that the chapter 4 status of the payee is unreliable or incorrect.

Jurisdictions that have signed agreements:

Model 1 IGA

Model 2 IGA

Jurisdictions that have reached agreements in substance and have consented to being included on this list (beginning on the date indicated in parethesis):

Model 1 IGA

  • Australia (4-2-2014)
  • Belgium (4-2-2014)
  • Brazil (4-2-2014)
  • British Virgin Islands (4-2-2014)
  • Czech Republic (4-2-2014)
  • Gibraltar (4-2-2014)
  • Jamaica (4-2-2014)
  • Kosovo (4-2-2014)
  • Latvia (4-2-2014)
  • Liechtenstein (4-2-2014)
  • Lithuania (4-2-2014)
  • New Zealand (4-2-2014)
  • Poland (4-2-2014)
  • Portugal (4-2-2014)
  • Qatar (4-2-2014)
  • Slovenia (4-2-2014)
  • South Africa (4-2-2014)
  • South Korea (4-2-2014)
  • Romania (4-2-2014)

Model 2 IGA

  • Austria (4-2-2014)

book coverPractical Compliance Aspects of Exchange of Information, FATCA and GATCA

For in-depth analysis of the practical compliance aspects of financial service business providing for exchange of information of information about foreign residents with their national competent authority or with the IRS (FATCA), see Lexis Guide to FATCA Compliance, 2nd Edition just published!

The LexisNexis® Guide to FATCA Compliance (2nd Edition) comprises 34 Chapters grouped in three parts: compliance program (Chapters 1–4), analysis of FATCA regulations (Chapters 5–16) and analysis of Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) and local law compliance challenges (Chapters 17–34), including intergovernmental agreements as well as the OECD’s TRACE initiative for global automatic information exchange protocols and systems. The 34 chapters include many practical examples to assist a compliance officer contextualize the regulations, IGA provisions, and national rules enacted pursuant to an IGA.  Chapters include by example an in-depth analysis of the categorization of trusts pursuant to the Regulations and IGAs, operational specificity of the mechanisms of information capture, management and exchange by firms and between countries, insights as to the application of FATCA and the IGAs within new BRIC and European country chapters.

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Transition into retirement seamlessly with combo DIA-variable annuity

Posted by William Byrnes on April 2, 2014


While deferred income annuities have gained a prominent position in the retirement income planning game, the newest entrant into the annuity marketplace is poised to change the way these products operate for good. This is because the new deferred income annuity comes wrapped up within a variable annuity product, allowing clients to access the best of both worlds though a single annuity contract.

By structuring the deferred income annuity as a rider, rather than as a stand-alone contract, insurance carriers can now provide clients with the ability to participate in market gains while ensuring sufficient income even late into retirement, without the need to purchase, manage, or exchange multiple annuity contracts.

Read the analysis of William Byrnes and Robert Bloink at > LifeHealthPro <

LifeHealthPro.com is the vital online destination for life & health insurance advisors, designed to provide them with the essential elements they need to run their practice and increase their bottom line including breaking news, market trends, practice tips and more.

Posted in Retirement Planning | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

IRS Releases Final FATCA Form W-8BEN-E

Posted by William Byrnes on April 2, 2014


The IRS has released the new 2014 Form W-8BEN-E (2-2014) that coincides with FATCA and QI entity classification reporting requirements.

The newest version of Form W-8BEN-E must be used by entities that are beneficial owners of a payment, or of another entity that is the beneficial owner. The form has thirty parts, whereas the draft form only had twenty-seven.  All filers will complete Parts I and XXIX.

Part I of the form requires general information, the QI status, and the FATCA classification of the filer.  Question 4 of Part I requests the QI status. If the filer is a disregarded entity, partnership, simple trust, or grantor trust, then the filer must complete Part III if the entity is claiming benefits under a U.S. tax treaty. Question 5 requests the FATCA classification of the filer. The classification indicated determines which one of the Parts IV through XXVIII must be completed.

Part XXIX requires certification, under penalty of perjury, by the payee or a person authorized to sign on the payee’s behalf.  This part of the final form also contains the following language that does not appear in the current form: “I agree that I will submit a new form within 30 days if any certification made on this form becomes incorrect.”

Note that if the filer is a passive NFFE, it must complete Part XXVI as well as Part XXX if it has substantial U.S. owners.  For a Passive NFFE, a specified U.S. person is a substantial U.S. owner if the person has more than a 10 percent beneficial interest in the entity.

Completion of the other parts of the final form W-8BEN-E will depend upon the FATCA classification of the filer. The classifications on the newest version Form W-8BEN-E maintain the classification of a Restricted Distributor (previously Part X, but in the final form Part XI) (see the Rev. 2013 version of the W-8BEN-E).  The complete list of classifications by part is as follows:

Part I Identification of Beneficial Owner
Part II Disregarded Entity or Branch Receiving Payment.
Part III Claim of Tax Treaty Benefits (if applicable). (For chapter 3 purposes only)
Part IV Sponsored FFI That Has Not Obtained a GIIN
Part V Certified Deemed-Compliant Nonregistering Local Bank
Part VI Certified Deemed-Compliant FFI with Only Low-Value Accounts
Part VII Certified Deemed-Compliant Sponsored, Closely Held Investment Vehicle
Part VIII Certified Deemed-Compliant Limited Life Debt Investment Entity
Part IX Certified Deemed-Compliant Investment Advisors and Investment Managers
Part X Owner-Documented FFI
Part XI Restricted Distributor
Part XII Nonreporting IGA FFI
Part XIII Foreign Government, Government of a U.S. Possession, or Foreign Central Bank of Issue
Part XIV International Organization
Part XV Exempt Retirement Plans
Part XVI Entity Wholly Owned by Exempt Beneficial Owners
Part XVII Territory Financial Institution
Part XVIII Excepted Nonfinancial Group Entity
Part XIX Excepted Nonfinancial Start-Up Company
Part XX Excepted Nonfinancial Entity in Liquidation or Bankruptcy
Part XXI 501(c) Organization
Part XXII Non-Profit Organization
Part XXIII Publicly Traded NFFE or NFFE Affiliate of a Publicly Traded Corporation
Part XXIV Excepted Territory NFFE
Part XXV Active NFFE
Part XXVI Passive NFFE
Part XXVII Excepted Inter-Affiliate FFI
Part XXVIII Sponsored Direct Reporting NFFE
Part XXIX Certification
Part XXX Substantial U.S. Owners of Passive NFFE

book coverPractical Compliance Aspects of Exchange of Information, FATCA and GATCA

For in-depth analysis of the practical compliance aspects of financial service business providing for exchange of information of information about foreign residents with their national competent authority or with the IRS (FATCA), see Lexis Guide to FATCA Compliance, 2nd Edition just published!

The LexisNexis® Guide to FATCA Compliance (2nd Edition) comprises 34 Chapters grouped in three parts: compliance program (Chapters 1–4), analysis of FATCA regulations (Chapters 5–16) and analysis of Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) and local law compliance challenges (Chapters 17–34), including intergovernmental agreements as well as the OECD’s TRACE initiative for global automatic information exchange protocols and systems. The 34 chapters include many practical examples to assist a compliance officer contextualize the regulations, IGA provisions, and national rules enacted pursuant to an IGA.  Chapters include by example an in-depth analysis of the categorization of trusts pursuant to the Regulations and IGAs, operational specificity of the mechanisms of information capture, management and exchange by firms and between countries, insights as to the application of FATCA and the IGAs within new BRIC and European country chapters.

Chapter 1 Background and Current Status of FATCA
Chapter 2 Practical Considerations for Developing a FATCA Compliance Program
Chapter 3 FATCA Compliance and Integration of Information Technology
Chapter 4 Financial Institution Account Remediation
Chapter 5 FBAR and Form 8938 Reporting and List of International Taxpayer IRS Forms
Chapter 6 Determining U.S. Ownership of Foreign Entities
Chapter 7 Foreign Financial Institutions
Chapter 8 Non-Financial Foreign Entities
Chapter 9 FATCA and the Offshore Trust Industry
Chapter 10 FATCA and the Insurance Industry
Chapter 11 Withholding and Qualified Intermediary
Chapter 12 FATCA Withholding Compliance
Chapter 13 ”Withholdable” Payments
Chapter 14 Determining and Documenting the Payee
Chapter 15 Framework of Intergovernmental Agreements
Chapter 16 Analysis of Current Intergovernmental Agreements
Chapter 17 European Union Cross Border Information Reporting
Chapter 18 The OECD Role in Exchange of Information: The Trace Project, FATCA, and Beyond
Chapter 19 Germany-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and its Implementation
Chapter 20 Ireland-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and its Implementation
Chapter 21 Japan-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and its Implementation
Chapter 22 Mexico-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and its Implementation
Chapter 23 Switzerland-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and its Implementation
Chapter 24 The United Kingdom-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and its Implementation
Chapter 25 Exchange of Tax Information and the Impact of FATCA for Brazil
Chapter 26 Exchange of Tax Information and the Impact of FATCA for The British Virgin Islands
Chapter 27 Exchange of Tax Information and the Impact of FATCA for Canada
Chapter 28 Exchange of Tax Information and the Impact of FATCA for Spain
Chapter 29 Exchange of Tax Information and the Impact of FATCA for China
Chapter 30 Exchange of Tax Information and the Impact of FATCA for Netherlands
Chapter 31 Exchange of Tax Information and the Impact of FATCA for Luxembourg
Chapter 32 Exchange of Tax Information and the Impact of FATCA for Russia
Chapter 33 Exchange of Tax Information and the Impact of FATCA for Turkey
Chapter 34 Exchange of Tax Information and the Impact of FATCA for India

For previous FATCA analysis see http://profwilliambyrnes.com/category/fatca/

FATCA Experts Selected for the Lexis’ Guide  (please contact williambyrnes@gmail.com for an introduction to any of the below FATCA implementation experts)

Theodore C. Ahlgren, Esq. Ted Ahlgren concentrates his practice on international tax, trust, and estate planning. He has advised numerous U.S. and non-U.S. financial institutions, corporations, high net worth individuals, and their advisors on a variety of U.S. federal income, transfer, and withholding tax issues and has represented individuals and financial institutions in audits and voluntary disclosures. He participated in the submission of comments to Treasury and the IRS on the proposed FATCA regulations, and has written and spoken extensively on FATCA and other topics of relevance to international tax and estate planning. Contributions include chapter 7: Foreign Financial Institutions.

Devang Ambavi Devang Ambavi is Manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd, India (PwC). He has over six years of experience in advising clients in multidisciplinary areas including international tax, domestic tax, exchange control and regulatory matters. More recently, he was on a two year secondment to PwC New York where he advised US based Funds on global structuring and international tax issues on a cross-jurisdictional basis. Contribution includes chapter 34: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for India.

Kyria Ali FCCA CIA CFE MCSI Kyria Ali, with her in-depth experience and qualifications in securities and investment (CISI), internal and forensic auditing (CIA and CFE) and financial background (FCCA) is strategically positioned as a leading business advisor in the BVI, Eastern Caribbean and Central American region. Very knowledgeable of the offshore sector, she has assisted many organisations, in the financial services industry, with risk management, compliance, FATCA and other tax related matters; just some of the areas addressed by the suite of business advisory services she provides. Contribution includes chapter 26: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for the The British Virgin Islands.

Michael Alliston, Esq.  Michael Alliston is a solicitor in the London office of Herbert Smith Freehills LLP. He advises on a range of corporate tax matters including mergers and acquisitions, corporate reorganizations, general finance and capital markets transactions. He also has particular experience in real estate and investment fund transactions and much of his work involves a cross-border element. Michael regularly advises clients on the transactional implications of FATCA from a UK law perspective and presents externally on the subject. Contribution includes chapter 24: U.K.-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and Its Implementation.

Maarten de Bruin, Esq. Maarten de Bruin advises on domestic and international tax aspects of commercial and (structured) finance transactions for Stibbe Simont. Maarten joined Stibbe’s tax department in 1989 and moved to the New York office in 1993 where he became partner in 1997. While in New York he graduated from New York University (tax LLM) and spent 6 months in the tax department of Cravath Swaine & Moore. He returned to the Amsterdam office of Stibbe in 1999 where he focused on clients in the industrial and real estate sector. His clients include Accor, Tata, APG and Super de Boer. Contribution includes chapter 30: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for the Netherlands.

Jean-Paul van den Berg, Esq. Jean-Paul van den Berg is a tax partner of Stibbe Simont whose areas of expertise include the application of tax treaties and EU law, major public and private cross-border mergers and acquisitions, private equity transactions (fund formation and investments), tax structuring, structured finance, debt restructuring, and corporate reorganizations. He is a regular speaker and author of articles in his practice area. He is currently based in our Amsterdam office. Previously, from 2008–2012 he was the resident tax partner in Stibbe’s New York offices and from 2002–2005 he was based in Stibbe’s London office. Contribution includes chapter 30: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for the The Netherlands.

Prof. William H. Byrnes, Esq.  William Byrnes has achieved authoritative prominence with 30 book and compendium volumes, 97 book & treatise chapters and book supplements, 1,000 articles, and the monthly subscription Tax Facts Intelligence available via Lexis.com. He is the author of several Lexis multi-volume publications including Foreign Tax & Trade Briefs; Tax Havens of the World; Money Laundering, Asset Forfeiture and Recovery, and Compliance—A Global Guide, and a Practical Guide to U.S. Transfer Pricing. Professionally, William Byrnes was a Senior Manager then Associate Director of international tax for Coopers and Lybrand based in its Johannesburg office. Academically, William Byrnes obtained the title of tenured law professor in 2005 at St. Thomas University and in 2008 the level of Associate Dean at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. William Byrnes pioneered online legal education in 1995, and established the first online LL.M. offered by an ABA accredited law school. The International Tax & Financial Services graduate program enrolls approximately 200 professionals annually pursuing a Master or Doctorate.

Amanda Castellano, Esq.   Amanda Castellano, an attorney working on tax, business, nonprofit and estate planning matters spent three years as an auditor with the Internal Revenue Service. She is currently a tax consultant based in Portland, Oregon. She graduated summa cum laude from Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where she served as Chief Notes Editor on the Thomas Jefferson Law Review. Contribution includes chapter 1: Introduction (Accidental American).

Luzius Cavelti, Esq. Luzius obtained his law degree from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He is qualified as certified tax expert (specialization in international tax) and holds an LL.M. degree from the Columbia School of Law. Luzius is admitted to the bar in Zurich and works as associate at Tappolet & Partner in Zurich. Luzius is specialized in international and domestic tax law. Contribution includes chapter 23: Switzerland-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and Its Implementation.

Peter Cotorceanu, Esq. Peter Cotorceanu is the Head of Product Management for Trusts and Foundations at UBS AG in Zurich. He was previously UBS’s Head of Wealth Structuring Consulting for UHNW clients in Zurich. In his current role, Peter is responsible for UBS’s FATCA compliance for trusts, foundations, and other fiduciary structures. Before joining UBS, Peter practiced law for over 20 years, both in Switzerland and the U.S., most recently at Baker & McKenzie Zurich. His practice concentrated on trust and estate planning and transfer taxes. Peter was also a law professor for a number of years at Washburn University School of Law, Topeka, Kansas and (as an adjunct) at the Marshall-Wythe School of Law, College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Peter is a former member of the Board of Governors of Virginia State Bar’s Trusts and Estates Section, as well as the Kansas Judicial Council’s Probate Advisory Committee and Estate Tax Advisory Sub-Committee.  Peter is admitted to practice in New Zealand as well as in Maryland and Virginia. He has an LL.B. (Hons) from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, a J.D. (With Distinction) from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, and an Executive LL.M. (Tax) from the New York University School of Law.  Peter is certified as a Trusts and Estates Practitioner (TEP) by STEP, and is a member of the International Bar Association and International Tax Planning Association, among other professional organizations.  Contribution includes chapter 9: FATCA and the Offshore Trust Industry.

Bruno Da Silva, LL.M.  Bruno da Silva works at Loyens & Loeff, European Direct Tax Law team, is a tax treaty adviser for the Macau special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, and is also a researcher at the Amsterdam Centre for Tax Law of the University of Amsterdam. He lectures at different institutions such as the University of Leiden, University of Amsterdam, International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD), Universidade Católica Portuguesa and IBDT (Brazil). He obtained an LL.M. in International Tax Law and he is currently pursuing his Ph.D. Contribution includes chapter 17: European Union Cross Border Information Reporting; and chapter 18: The OECD Role On Exchange Of Information: The TRACE Project, FATCA, and Beyond.

Prof. J. Richard Duke, Esq.  Richard Duke,  attorney, is  a member of the Alabama and the Florida Bar, specializing over forty years in income and estate tax planning and compliance, as well as asset protection, for high net wealth individuals. He served as Counsel to the Ludwig von Mises Institute for Austrian Economics 1983–1989 and a Fellow and Honorary Legal Scholar of the International Academy of Tax Advisors. Over his career he has served on numerous American Bar Association Committees and written many articles for legal and financial publications, several books, and was named to the list of “Top 100 Attorneys” in the U.S., Worth magazine, December 2005-2008. He is a Professor of Law of the LL.M. International Tax Program of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California and was an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Cumberland School of Law of Samford University International for Tax and Asset Protection Planning from 1983–1999. Contribution includes chapter 10: Withholding and Qualified Intermediary Reporting, chapter 11: Withholding and FATCA, chapter 12: “Withholdable” Payments, and chapter 13: Determining and Documenting the Payee.

Dr. Jan Dyckmans, Esq.  Jan Dyckmans is a German attorney at Flick Gocke Schaumburg in Frankfurt am Main, Germany where advises clients on corporate tax law in general and on international tax law matters in particular. He studied law at the University of Würzburg, Germany, where he was awarded his doctorate in 2008.  Contribution includes chapter 19: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for Germany.

Umurcan Gago, Esq., Umurcan Gago is a partner of PwC Turkey. He is a member of the Istanbul Bar and an Independent Chartered Accountant and Financial Advisor. Umurcan is specialised in cross border financial transactions, financial structures/products, conventional and structured financial products, investment banking products, international tax planning, securities law related matters, and financial structuring.   Contribution includes chapter 33: Exchange of Tax Information and the Impact of FATCA for Turkey.

Dr. F. Alfredo García Dr. F. Alfredo García is professor of Financial and Tax Law at the University of Valencia and Jean Monnet Chair of EU Law and Taxation. He is professor of European Taxation at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in California, and has been visiting professor at the Universities of London, Harvard, Leiden, Leuven, Bergamo and Georgetown.  Contribution includes chapter 28: Spain-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and its Implementation.

Dr. Valcir Gassen Dr. Valcir Gassen is a Professor of Federal University of Brasilia (UnB), participating with the support CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education of Brazil. His hold a law degree from the University of Northwest of State of Rio Grande do Sul; an LL.M. from the Federal University of Santa Catarina; Ph.D. from the Federal University of Santa Catarina and Post-doctoral research from the University of Alicante, Spain. He coordinates since 2009 the Research Group in State, Constitution and Tax Law, with undergraduate and graduate students in UnB. Contribution includes chapter  25: Exchange of Tax Information and the Impact of FATCA for Brazil.

Arne Hansen Arne Hansen is a legal trainee of the Hanseatisches Oberlandesgericht (Higher Regional Court of Hamburg), Germany and previously undertook his stage at the Frankfurt office of Flick Gocke Schaumburg. He studied law at the University of Bayreuth, Germany, and the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He further completed an additional qualification in economics with the focus on finance and taxation at the University of Bayreuth. He is finalizing his doctoral thesis on a topic of international tax law with special regard to double tax treaties. Contribution includes chapter 20: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for Germany.

Mark Heroux, J.D. Mark Heroux, Principal in the Tax Services Group at Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, joined the firm in 2008. He has more than 25 years of tax litigation, technical, and program management experience. Mark began his career in 1986 with the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, and left public service in 2000. Mark specializes in IRS procedures including the withholding requirements of the US Internal Revenue Code, and dispute resolution including transfer pricing and the negotiation of Advance Pricing Agreements. He leads the IRS Practice and Procedures group, and has provided tax and business advisory services to large and mid-size financial institutions, and high net worth individuals. Contribution includes chapter 26: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for the The British Virgin Islands.

Véronique Hoffeld, Esq. Véronique Hoffeld, attorney-at-law, is a member of the Management Committee of Loyens & Loeff Luxembourg and heads the Luxembourg Commercial and Litigation department.  She can be considered as a generalist lawyer, whose activities cover matters in the areas of commercial law (negotiation of contracts), litigation and arbitration, bankruptcy & restructuring, IP law, real estate law, environment law, E-commerce and new technologies. Véronique is also occasionally involved in maritime and administrative law matters.  Prior to joining Loyens & Loeff Luxembourg, Véronique worked for more than 10 years in another important Luxembourg law firm at which she was made partner in 2003. Véronique is a member of the Luxembourg Bar since 1996.  Contributions include chapter 31: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for Luxembourg.

Rob. H. Holt, Esq. Rob H. Holt is a practicing attorney of thirty years licensed in New York and Texas representing real estate investment companies, university professors, and a variety of other business owners in the formation of their entities, business contracts, and distribution and channel documentation. He is currently completing his LL.M. in Taxation from Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Rob and his wife of 29 years live in College Station/Bryan, Texas. He is an avid, amateur ballroom dancer and loves the waltz, foxtrot, and tango. Contribution includes chapter 7: Foreign Financial Institutions.

Rajul Jain Rajul Jain is Senior Manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd, India (PwC). He has more than 11 years of  International professional experience which involves proactively leading global teams and providing Financial and Strategic analysis, advice on RBI and Regulatory frameworks,  Designing  Compliance frameworks, Project management  advice and performing Enterprise risk reviews. Contribution includes chapter 34 Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for India.

Richard Kando, CPA  Richard Kando, a Certified Public Accountant (New York) is a Director at Navigant Consulting. Richard specializes in forensic accounting and compliance matters relating to Government investigations, anti-money laundering and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”). Richard is a leader of Navigant’s FATCA task force. Previously, Richard served as a Special Agent with the IRS Criminal Investigation Division where he received the U.S. Department of Justice—Tax Division Assistant Attorney General’s Special Contribution Award. Contribution includes chapter 2: Practical Considerations for Developing a FATCA Compliance Program.

Denis Kleinfeld, Esq., CPA. Denis Kleinfeld is Of Counsel to Fuerst Ittleman David & Joseph, PL, in Miami, Florida and a Professor of Law of the LL.M. International Tax Program of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California. The author of chapters in prominent legal publications, he has written extensively in professional and general circulation magazines and publications on a wide variety of tax, insurance, estate planning, treaty planning, domestic and international asset protection, and investment issues as well as observations on relevant political, social and economic issues. Mr. Kleinfeld is the founder of, and now serves as co-chairman for, the Florida Annual Wealth Protection Conference and is a speaker at a wide variety of professional conferences, seminars, and symposiums in the United States and around the world. After obtaining his B.S. degree in Accountancy from the University of Illinois in 1967 and obtaining his license as a Certified Public Accountant, Mr. Kleinfeld enrolled at the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, graduating in 1970. He was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1970 and was employed as an attorney with the Internal Revenue Service in the Estate and Gift Tax Division for four years before going into private practice. Mr. Kleinfeld has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983, and is also a member of the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the American Bar Association, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Contribution includes chapter 1: Introduction and chapter 5: FBAR & 8938 FATCA Reporting.

Richard L. Knickerbocker, Esq. Richard L. Knickerbocker is the senior partner in the Los Angeles office of the Knickerbocker Law Group. He is the former City Attorney of the City of Santa Monica. He was designated Super Lawyer five years running by Los Angeles magazine, made numerous television appearances and has extensive publications. He has taught law in various colleges and law schools and is a certified civil trial advocate and appellate specialist. He graduated from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law with both a J.D. and an LL.M. degree. Contributions include chapter 11: Withholding and FATCA and chapter 13: Determining and Documenting the Payee.

Saloi Abou-Jaoude’ Knickerbocker  Saloi Abou-Jaoude’ Knickerbocker is a Legal Administrator in the Los Angeles office of the Knickerbocker Law Group. She holds LL.M. (Summa Cum Laude) in International Taxation and Financial Services has earned her J.D. (Summa Cum Laude). She has concentrated her practice and research on shari’a finance. She has published Shari’a Finance: Rapid Expansion With the Islamic Golden Age—Some International Taxation Implications in the TaxTalk Magazine (South Africa).  Contributions include chapter 11: Withholding and FATCA and chapter 13: Determining and Documenting the Payee.

Shinjini Kumar Shinjini Kumar is Executive Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd, India (PwC). She is the Sector leader for Banking and Capital Markets and also heads Financial Services regulatory practice at PwC India. Prior to joining PwC in 2010, Shinjini has held senior positions at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Bank of America-Merill Lynch. Her vast experience with the regulator and industry gives her the distinctive opportunity to engage with the industry, media and policy makers on important issues affecting the industry. Contribution includes chapter 34 Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for India.

Mathias M. Link, Esq., LL.M.  Mathias Link is a counsel in the Frankfurt office of Hengeler Mueller. He is qualified as German attorney-at-law and tax consultant, holds an LL.M. degree from Columbia University and is also admitted to the New York bar. He advises corporate clients, banks and financial services institutions on a variety of tax matters including mergers and acquisitions, reorganizations, finance and capital markets transactions. He has particular expertise in the structuring of private equity, real estate and investment fund transactions and his main focus is on international tax aspects. Mathias regularly advises clients on the implications of FATCA from a German law perspective.  Contribution includes chapter 19: Germany.-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and Its Implementation.

Jinghua Liu, JD Jinghua Liu is a partner in the Tax group at Baker & McKenzie and is based in the Beijing office. She heads the tax dispute resolution practice in China. She joined Baker & McKenzie in 2004 and has been practicing China tax law since then. She is a frequent speaker at international tax conferences on PRC taxation and international tax planning, and authored and co-authored various articles in leading tax publications. Chambers Asia Pacific lists her as one of the recommended lawyers for tax in 2011 and 2012.  Contribution includes chapter 29: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for China.

Jeffrey Locke, Esq. Jeffrey Locke is Director at Navigant Consulting. At Navigant, he is a leader of the FATCA Task Force and has drafted numerous white papers and articles concerning the practical implementation of FATCA. Prior to joining Navigant, he served as an assistant New York state attorney general in the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, worked in the prosecutor’s office for the United Nations in Kosovo and was an assistant public defender in Philadelphia. He received his law degree from Columbia Law School. Mr. Locke recently contributed a chapter to the book “International Prosecutors” published by Oxford University Press. Contribution includes chapter 2: Practical Considerations for Developing a FATCA Compliance Program.

Josh Lom  Josh works at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP having graduated from Oxford University. Contributions include chapter 24: UK-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and Its Implementation.

Jason R. Miller  Jason R. Miller recently spent the summer as a stagier at PwC Istanbul working with Umurcan Gago to author several chapters on Turkey for Lexis publications.  He will graduate in 2014 from Thomas Jefferson School of Law with his Juris Doctorate specializing in Global Legal Studies and Business Law.  Jason has a BS in Business Administration from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, with a concentration in Human Resources.  He has contributed to publications for LexisNexis and Wolters Kluwer, including chapters on Company Law, AML, FATCA, and Foreign Tax and Trade Briefs.  Jason is an Editor of the Thomas Jefferson Law Review.   Contribution includes: chapter 33 Exchange of Tax Information and the Impact of FATCA for Turkey.

Dr. Robert J. Munro Dr. Robert Munro is the author of 35 published books including Lexis’ three volume Tax Havens of the World, two volume Foreign Tax & Trade Briefs, and Money Laundering, Asset Forfeiture and Recovery, and Compliance—A Global Guide. He is a Professor of the International Tax & Financial Services Graduate Program of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California. A former Law Librarian at University of Florida College of Law, Dr. Munro was the Director of the Center for International Financial Crimes Studies at UF and continues as a Senior Research Fellow and Director of Research for North America of CIDOEC at Jesus College, Cambridge University, England. He has addressed audiences at Cambridge University, the University of Florida, the University of London, the CIA and the U.S. State Department and created, organized and chaired over twenty conferences in Miami, Aruba, Curacao, the Bahamas, Washington, D.C., New York City, Cambridge, England and San Francisco.

Rachel O’Toole  Rachel O’Toole BA, LL.B, BL, is a barrister-at-law licensed in Ireland and holds the Master of Laws, International Taxation & Financial Services (Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego). She practices a wide range of civil litigation. Besides her role as trial advocate, her work includes advice in financial and debt related issues, planning law compliance, implementation and compliance of European environmental law, and construction and contract disputes. She is an accredited civil and commercial mediator. She has researched and presented papers on current and emerging areas of financial law and compliance facing practitioners in Ireland. Contribution includes Chapter 20: Ireland-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and Its Implementation.

Dr. Maji C. Rhee  Maji C. Rhee is a professor of Waseda University located in Tokyo, Japan where she teaches courses on language and legal communications. Rhee received her Ed.D. from Rutgers, her LL.M. in International Taxation & Financial Services from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and is currently finishing her J.S.D. dissertation on transfer pricing in Japan. Contribution includes chapter 21: Japan-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and Its Implementation.

Jean Richard, Esq. Jean Richard, a Canadian attorney, previously worked for the Quebec Tax Department, as a Senior Tax Manager with a large international accounting firm and as a Tax & Estate consultant for a pre-eminent Canadian insurance company. He is currently the Vice President and Sr. Wealth Management Consultant of the BMO Financial Group. He completed a LL.L. at University of Montreal, was admitted to the Quebec Bar Association in 1981. He also completed the Canadian ‘In Depth Tax Course’ (Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountant), a Master in International Taxation with the Australian School of Taxation (ATAX), University of New South Wale, Sydney, Australia and a LL.M. in International Tax and Financial Services (International Taxation) with the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. He is a licensed financial planner and financial security advisor.  Contribution includes chapter 27: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for Canada.

Michael J. Rinaldi, II, CPA.  Mr. Rinaldi represents U.S. and foreign institutions and families in a broad range of advisory activities including private equity real estate opportunity funds, with regard to formation, acquisitions, operations, dispositions and development of significant properties and portfolios. He is a Professor in the graduate international tax law program at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where he teaches on Trusts, Private Equity Funds and Tax Treaties. Professor Rinaldi has authored several publications for Kluwer Law International, Jordan’s and LexisNexis. He is licensed as a certified public accountant in the District of Columbia and is a member of the International Tax Planning Association (ITPA), the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and the American Bar Association, Tax Section-Partnership and US Activities of Foreigners & Tax Treaties Committees. He holds graduate degrees in accounting and tax law (both US and International). Contributions includes chapter 6: Determining U.S. Ownership Under FATCA; chapter 7: Foreign Financial Institutions; and chapter 8: Non-Financial Foreign Entities.

Edgardo Santiago-Torres, Esq. Edgardo Santiago-Torres is an attorney at law, principal of Santiago Law Group, LLC, and of counsel of the Knickerbocker Law Group, representing individuals and entities in corporate, taxation, and estate planning litigation. Mr. Santiago is also a Certified Public Accountant and a Chartered Global Management Accountant, pursuant to the AICPA and CIMA rules and regulations, admitted by the Puerto Rico Board of Accountancy to practice Public Accounting in Puerto Rico. He holds an LL.M. in International Taxation and Financial Services (highest honors) and a Juris Doctor (honors) of the University of Puerto Rico School of Law.  Contributions include chapter 11: Withholding and FATCA and chapter 13: Determining and Documenting the Payee.

Hope M. Shoulders, Esq.  Hope M. Shoulders is a licensed attorney in the State of New Jersey. She is currently consulting for a major insurance company assisting with their implementation of FATCA. She is also an adjunct professor for the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She  previously worked for General Motors, National Transportation Safety Board and the Department of Commerce. She completed her LL.M. in International Taxation from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California. She is a contributor of numerous articles and completed her thesis on OECD transfer pricing and business restructuring. She earned her J.D. and her MBA from the University of Tennessee and a Bachelors of Science from the University of Virginia. Contribution includes chapter 10: FATCA and the Insurance Industry.

Jason Simpson, LL.M., CRA, CCA  Jason Simpson is the Director of the Miami office for Global Atlantic Partners, overseeing all operations in Florida, the Caribbean and most of Latin America. He has worked previously as a bank compliance employee and advisor at various large and mid-sized financial institutions over the past ten years. He has been a key component in the removal of Cease and Desist Orders as well as other written regulatory agreements within a number of Domestic and International Banks, and designed complete AML/BSA units for domestic as well as international banks with over ten million accounts. He is an Adjunct Faculty Member of Thomas Jefferson School of Law for Compliance, AML and Fraud, where he holds a Master of Laws in International Taxation with a concentration specialized in Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorist Financing and Compliance. Through various online venues, he creates and teaches specialized webinars in both English and Spanish focused compliance. Contribution includes chapter 3: FATCA Compliance and Integration of Information Technology; and chapter 4: Financial Institution Account Remediation.

Dr. Alberto Gil Soriano, Esq. Alberto Gil Soriano is a Spanish attorney who holds a Ph.D. in Tax Law at University of Bologna (Italy), LL.M. in International Taxation and Financial Services at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego (California) and is Law degree from the University of Valencia (Spain). He has worked at the University of Valencia, at the European Commission’s Anti-Fraud Office in Brussels, and most recently at the Legal Department of the International Monetary Fund’s Financial Integrity Group in Washington, D.C. He currently works at the Fiscal Department of Uría Menéndez Abogados, S.L.P in Barcelona (Spain). Contributions include chapter 1: Introduction and chapter 15: Framework of Intergovernmental Agreements.

Krisztina Szombathy, Esq.  Krisztina Szombathy joined the Commercial & Litigation Department of Loyens & Loeff Luxembourg in October 2013.  She specializes in dispute resolution, and advises on commercial and civil law. Her areas of expertise also include European law, energy law and intellectual property. Before joining Loyens & Loeff, Krisztina acquired experience in legal drafting, notably in European and energy law matters during an internship at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.  Krisztina has been a member of the Luxembourg Bar since spring 2013.  Contributions include chapter 31: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for Luxembourg.

Debora de Souza Correa Talutto  Debora de Souza Correa Talutto is the International Transfer Pricing Manager at Temenos Banking Software Co., and a professor of international transfer pricing at Thomas Jefferson School of Law International Tax graduate program.  She is a sought after Brazilian tax authority, having authored the Brazilian chapter of LexisNexis’ Foreign Tax and Trade Briefs, the Brazilian chapter of Lexis’ Anti Money Laundering, Asset Forfeiture, & Recovery Guide, and most recently the Cost Sharing Arrangement chapter of Lexis’ Practical Guide to U.S. Transfer Pricing.    Ms. Talutto previously served as a tax consultant at Deloitte (Brazil) before earning her LL.M. in International Tax from University of Florida.  She holds an MBA, an LL.B. (Brazil), as well as a post-graduate degree in Brazilian taxation.  Contributions include chapter 25: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for Brazil.

Andrey Tereschenko, Esq.  Andrey Tereschenko is a tax partner in the Moscow office of Pepeliaev Group LLC. He focuses on tax law and has a high level of expertise in providing advice to major Russian and foreign companies on a wide range of tax issues but especially the implementation of compensation tax arrangements. Andrey has participated in projects to set up businesses in Russia, including assessment of the tax environment in the chosen business region, investment agreements with regional authorities and tax support for due diligence. Andrey has been directly involved in tax structuring of investment projects, particularly in the sphere of construction, land and real estate acquisition. Contributions include chapter 32: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for Russia.

Lily L. Tse, CPA.  Ms. Tse, a partner of Rinaldi & Associates (Washington, D.C.), represents US and foreign real estate private equity funds and property owners with regard to financial reporting and international tax matters. Her area of practice includes real estate development and leasing, joint ventures, consolidations and mezzanine financing. She has significant experience in U.S. withholding issues effecting foreign partnerships and trusts. Ms. Tse also heads the firm’s audit practice specializing in the development and operation of multi-family housing. Ms. Tse has been qualified as an expert witness in Federal Court, providing testimony in the area of real estate financing. Ms. Tse is licensed as a certified public accountant in the District of Columbia and holds graduate degrees in business and taxation. Contributions include chapter 7: Foreign Financial Institutions.

Dr. Oliver Untersander, Esq.  Oliver Untersander obtained his law degree and his PhD from the University of Zurich. Her holds a LL.M. from the New York University (international tax) and is admitted to the bar in Zurich (Switzerland). He is partner at Tappolet & Partner in Zurich. He is experienced in Swiss and international corporate taxation, corporate reorganizations and tax litigation. Contribution includes chapter 23: Switzerland-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and Its Implementation.

Mauricio Cano del Valle, Esq.  Mauricio Cano del Valle is a Mexican attorney who has previously worked for the Mexican Ministry of Finance (Secretaría de Hacienda),  Deloitte Mexico and the Amicorp Group. He is the founding partner of Brook & Cano SC, a Mexican boutique Law Firm, specializing on private clients, HNWI, UHNWI, their families and their businesses. Mauricio has been a professor at both the undergraduate and the graduate level at ITAM, the author of the book “Game Theory and Tax Evasion” published in Mexico in 2006, and the most recently published paper on “Game Theory and Minimum Taxes” included as part of a book on “Game Theory and Contemporary Law” published in Mexico in 2009. He holds a Law Degree, a Masters Degree in Law and Economics, and an MBA. Contribution includes chapter 22: Mexico-U.S. Intergovernmental Agreement and Its Implementation.

Janneke Versantvoort  Janneke Versantvoort is an international tax specialist and a member of the general tax practice at Loyens & Loeff Luxembourg. She is specialized in international tax law, focusing on advising multinational clients on cross-border transactions, group restructurings, project financing and transfer pricing. She worked for three years at the Loyens & Loeff Rotterdam office and is seconded to the Luxembourg office for two years.  Janneke is a member of the Dutch Association of Tax Advisers (NOB) and a member of the Young IFA in Luxembourg.  Contributions include chapter 31: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for Luxembourg.

John Walker, Esq.  John M. Walker, Esq., LL.M., is an international tax attorney who earned his LL.M. in International Taxation and Financial Services. He focuses on international tax compliance for high-net worth individuals as well as foreign trust compliance and structuring under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). He is Of Counsel to Duke Law Firm, P.C., and Michael Rinaldi & Co, LLP . Contributions include chapter 6: Determining U.S. Ownership Under FATCA, chapter 12: FATCA Withholding Compliance, chapter 13: “Withholdable” Payments Under FATCA, and chapter 14: Determining and Documenting the Payee.

Prof. Bruce Zagaris, Esq.  Bruce Zagaris is a partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe, LLP, where he practices tax controversy and international criminal law, including representing individuals on voluntary disclosures, audits, and litigation as well as consulting and serving as an expert witness. He represents foreign governments, including helping negotiate treaties. He is an adjunct law professor of the LL.M. in International Taxation and Financial Services at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. Mr. Zagaris is founder and editor of the International Enforcement Law Reporter (www.ielr.com). He is the author of International White Collar Crime (Cambridge U. Press 2010). Contribution includes chapter 15: Analysis of Current Intergovernmental Agreements.

Qiguang (Hardy) Zhou, LL.M., CPA  Qiguang (Hardy) Zhou works in the Tax group at Baker & McKenzie and is based in the Shanghai office. He obtained an LL.M. in International Tax Law. Contribution includes chapter 29: Exchange of Tax Information and Impact of FATCA for China.

 

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Six Tax Tips When Deciding to Itemize or Take the Standard Deduction

Posted by William Byrnes on April 1, 2014


2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1The IRS published Tax Tip 2014-29 with 6 helpful tips for deciding whether to itemize deductions or to rely upon the standard deduction.  The IRS stated that a taxpayer should calculate the available deduction using both methods and then choose the deduction method that produces the greater deduction (thus lower amount of tax).

1. Figure the itemized deductions.  Add up deductible expenses paid during the year. These may include expenses such as:

  • Home mortgage interest
  • State and local income taxes or sales taxes (but not both)
  • Real estate and personal property taxes
  • Gifts to charities
  • Casualty or theft losses
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses
  • Unreimbursed employee business expenses

2. Know the standard deduction.  If a taxpayer does not itemize, the basic standard deduction for 2013 depends on your filing status:

  • Single $6,100
  • Married Filing Jointly $12,200
  • Head of Household $8,950
  • Married Filing Separately $6,100
  • Qualifying Widow(er) $12,200

The standard deduction is higher for persons when 65 or older or blind.

3. Check the exceptions.  Some taxpayers do not qualify for the standard deduction and therefore should itemize.  This includes married couples who file separate returns and one spouse itemizes.

4. Use the IRS’s ITA tool: Interactive Tax Assistant tool to help determine your standard deduction.

5. File the right forms.  To itemize deductions, use Form 1040 and Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. Standard deduction is on Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ.

6. File Electronically.  Some taxpayers are eligible for free, brand-name software to prepare and e-file the tax return. IRS Free File will do the work for you.

tax-facts-online_medium

For more than half a century, Tax Facts has been an essential resource designed to meet the real-world tax-guidance needs of professionals in both the insurance and investment industries.  For over 110 years, National Underwriter has been the first in line with the targeted tax, insurance, and financial planning information you need to make critical business decisions.

Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

 

Posted in Taxation, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

IRS Grants Reprieve for Late Estate Tax Portability Elections

Posted by William Byrnes on March 31, 2014


Today’s generous estate tax exemption has created an unexpected problem among clients: failure to take advantage of the portability of a first-to-die spouse’s unused estate tax exemption. Unknown to many, portability is available only if you ask for it, and failure to elect portability can leave a surviving spouse’s estate facing an unexpectedly heavy tax burden, even if no estate tax was due upon the first spouse’s death.

Luckily, the IRS has provided a limited reprieve for certain clients whose inadvertent failure to make the election could leave them on the hook for an unnecessary estate tax bill.  The relief provided by the IRS, however, is limited in both time and scope, so the time to learn the rules of portability is now.

Read the analysis of William Byrnes and Robert Bloink at > ThinkAdvisor <

ThinkAdvisor.com supports the professional growth and vitality of the Investment Advisory community, from RIAs and wealth managers of all kinds, to independent broker-dealer and wirehouse representatives. We provide unparalleled access to the knowledge, information and critical resources they need to succeed at every stage in their career, including professional development, education and certification, industry news and analysis, reference tools and services, and community networking opportunities.

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Tomorrow’s Deadline (April 1) for Many Retirees To Take Required Retirement Plan Distributions

Posted by William Byrnes on March 31, 2014


The Internal Revenue Service in Tax Tip 2014-38 reminded taxpayers who turned 70½ during 2013 that in most cases they must start receiving required minimum distributions (RMDs) from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans by Tuesday, April 1, 2014.

The April 1 deadline applies to owners of traditional IRAs but not Roth IRAs. Normally, it also applies to participants in various workplace retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plans.

The April 1 deadline only applies to the required distribution for the first year. For all subsequent years, the RMD must be made by Dec. 31. So, for example, a taxpayer who turned 70½ in 2013 and receives the first required payment on April 1, 2014 must still receive the second RMD by Dec. 31, 2014.

Affected taxpayers who turned 70½ during 2013 must figure the RMD for the first year using their life expectancy on Dec. 31, 2013 and their account balance on Dec. 31, 2012. The trustee reports the year-end account value to the IRA owner on Form 5498 in Box 5. Worksheets and life expectancy tables for making this computation can be found in the Appendices to Publication 590.

Most taxpayers use Table III (Uniform Lifetime) to figure their RMD. For a taxpayer who turned 71 in 2013, for example, the first required distribution would be based on a life expectancy of 26.5 years. A separate table, Table II, applies to a taxpayer married to a spouse who is more than 10 years younger and is the taxpayer’s only beneficiary.

Though the April 1 deadline is mandatory for all owners of traditional IRAs and most participants in workplace retirement plans, some people with workplace plans can wait longer to receive their RMD. Usually, employees who are still working can, if their plan allows, wait until April 1 of the year after they retire to start receiving these distributions. See Tax on Excess Accumulations in Publication 575. Employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations with 403(b) plan accruals before 1987 should check with their employer, plan administrator or provider to see how to treat these accruals.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to begin planning now for any distributions required during 2014. An IRA trustee must either report the amount of the RMD to the IRA owner or offer to calculate it for the owner. Often, the trustee shows the RMD amount in Box 12b on Form 5498. For a 2014 RMD, this amount would be on the 2013 Form 5498 that is normally issued in January 2014.

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Today is the deadline to sign up for health care (or face penalties)

Posted by William Byrnes on March 31, 2014


In Health Care Tax Tip 2014-11 the IRS reminds taxpayers that today, March 31, is the deadline to sign up for health care for 2014 – or face penalties.

Below are five tips about the Obama Care (ACA) health care law that the IRS wants taxpayers to consider.

• Currently Insured – No Change: If a taxpayer is already insured, do not need to do anything more than continue that insurance.

• Uninsured – Enroll by Today – March 31: The open enrollment period to purchase health care coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace for 2014 runs through March 31, 2014. When a taxpayer chooses health insurance through the marketplace, the taxpayer may be able to receive advance payments of the premium tax credit that will immediately help lower the monthly premium.

• Premium Tax Credit To Lower the Monthly Premium: If a taxpayer chooses insurance through the Marketplace, the taxpayer may be eligible to claim the premium tax credit. The taxpayer may elect to have advance payments of the tax credit sent directly to the insurance company during 2014 so that the monthly premium the taxpayer must pay is lower, or the taxpayer can wait to claim the credit when filing the tax return in 2015.  If a taxpayer chooses to have advance payments sent to the insurance company, then the taxpayer must reconcile the payments on the 2014 tax return, which will be filed in 2015.

• Change in Circumstances: If a taxpayer receives advance payments of the premium tax credit to help pay for the insurance coverage, then the taxpayer must report “life changes”, such as income, marital status or family size changes, to the Marketplace. Reporting changes will help to make sure the taxpayer has the right coverage and is getting the proper amount of advance payments of the premium tax credit.

• Individual Shared Responsibility Payment: Starting January 2014, taxpayers and the family must have health care coverage or have an exemption from coverage.  Most people already have qualifying health care coverage.  These individuals will not need to do anything more than maintain that coverage throughout 2014.  If a taxpayer can afford coverage but decides not to buy it and remain uninsured throughout the year, that taxpayer may have to make an “individual shared responsibility payment” (a.k.a. the ACA penalty) when filing a 2014 tax return in 2015.

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Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

Posted by William Byrnes on March 30, 2014


2013_tf_insurance_emp_benefits_combo_covers-m_2In the IRS’ Health Care Tax Tip (HCTT-2014-08), it revealed that the “Small Business Health Care Tax Credit” helps small businesses and tax-exempt organizations pay for health care coverage they offer their employees.

A small employer is eligible for the credit if it has fewer than 25 employees who work full-time, or a combination of full-time and part-time. For example, two half-time employees equal one employee for purposes of the credit.

For 2013, the average annual wages of employees must be less than $50,000, and the employer must pay a uniform percentage for all employees that is equal to at least 50% of the premium cost of the insurance coverage.

The maximum credit is 35 percent of premiums paid for small business employers and 25 percent of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers such as charities.

If no tax is owed during the year, then the tax credit may be carried back or forward to other tax years.

For small tax-exempt employers, the credit is refundable, so even if no taxable income is due, the credit may be refunded so long as it does not exceed the income tax withholding and Medicare tax liability.

Authoritative and easy-to-use, 2014 Tax Facts on Insurance & Employee Benefits shows you how the tax law and regulations are relevant to your insurance, employee benefits, and financial planning practices.  Often complex tax law and regulations are explained in clear, understandable language.  Pertinent planning points are provided throughout.

Organized in a convenient Q&A format to speed you to the information you need, 2014 Tax Facts on Insurance & Employee Benefits delivers the latest guidance on:

  • Estate & Gift Tax Planning
  • Roth IRAs
  • HSAs
  • Capital Gains, Qualifying Dividends
  • Non-qualified Deferred Compensation Under IRC Section 409A
  • And much more!

Key updates for 2014:

  • Important federal income and estate tax developments impacting insurance and employee benefits including changes from the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
  • Concise updated explanation and highlights of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)
  • Expanded coverage of Annuities
  • New section on Structured Settlements
  • New section on International Tax
  • More than thirty new Planning Points, written by practitioners for practitioners, in the following areas:
    • Life Insurance
    • Health Insurance
    • Estate and Gift Tax
    • Deferred Compensation
    • Individual Retirement Plans

Plus, you’re kept up-to-date with online supplements for critical developments.  Written and reviewed by practicing professionals who are subject matter experts in their respective topics, Tax Facts is the practical resource you can rely on.

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Simplified Option for Claiming Home Office Deduction Now Available – May Deduct up to $1,500!

Posted by William Byrnes on March 29, 2014


2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1The IRS reported in Newswire (IR-2014-24) that people with home-based businesses that this year for the first time they can choose a new simplified option for claiming the deduction for business use of a home.

In tax year 2011, the most recent year for which figures are available, some 3.3 million taxpayers claimed deductions for business use of a home (commonly referred to as the home office deduction) totaling nearly $10 billion.  The new optional deduction, capped at $1,500 per year based on $5 a square foot for up to 300 square feet, will reduce the paperwork and record keeping burden on small businesses by an estimated 1.6 million hours annually.

The new option is available starting with the 2013 return taxpayers are filing now.  Normally, home-based businesses are required to fill out a 43-line form (Form 8829) often with complex calculations of allocated expenses, depreciation and carryovers of unused deductions.  Instead, taxpayers claiming the optional deduction need only complete a short worksheet in the tax instructions and enter the result on their return.  Self-employed individuals claim the home office deduction on Schedule C Line 30, farmers claim it on Schedule F  Line 32 and eligible employees claim it on Schedule A Line 21.

Though homeowners using the new option cannot depreciate the portion of their home used in a trade or business, they can claim allowable mortgage interest, real estate taxes and casualty losses on the home as itemized deductions on Schedule A. These deductions need not be allocated between personal and business use, as is required under the regular method.

Business expenses unrelated to the home, such as advertising, supplies and wages paid to employees, are still fully deductible.  Long-standing restrictions on the home office deduction, such as the requirement that a home office be used regularly and exclusively for business and the limit tied to the income derived from the particular business, still apply under the new option.

IRS YouTube Video:
Simplified Home Office Deduction: English / Spanish / ASL

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Preventing Tax Preparer Fraud: IRS Initiatives and the Loving case

Posted by William Byrnes on March 28, 2014


by Dawna E. Snipes

Why the Increase in Tax Preparer Fraud?

Tax preparer fraud has become more paramount with taxpayers choosing to have their federal tax returns prepared by paid return providers.  When unadvised and vulnerable taxpayers choose unqualified and unscrupulous preparers, they potentially face IRS penalties for filing false returns.

26 U.S.C. §7701(a)(3) defines a tax return preparer as “any person who prepares tax returns for others for compensation.”[1]  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has estimated that approximately 60 percent of taxpayers use paid tax preparers to file their taxes.  However, between 2012 and 2013, the IRS successfully obtained permanent injunctions against over 30 preparers operating throughout the country.  Some reasons for the increase in tax preparer fraud are (1) lack of federal regulations, (2) an arduous tax code, and (3) overly-burdened enforcement agencies.

Read the full article at http://www.advisorfyi.com/2014/01/preventing-tax-preparer-fraud-irs-initiatives-and-the-loving-case/

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IRS Reminds Individuals of Health Care Choices for 2014

Posted by William Byrnes on March 28, 2014


In Issue Number HC-TT- 2014-01, the IRS released reminders for Individuals about the 2014 Health Care Choices.  In 3 days, on March 31, the Heath Care Market Exchange enrollment period will close.

Starting in 2014, each person must choose to either have basic health insurance coverage (known as minimum essential coverage) for everyone in the family for each month or go without health care coverage for some or all of the year.

If a person don’t maintain health insurance coverage, then that person will need to either seek an exemption or pay a penalty (called an “individual shared responsibility payment”) with the 2014 income tax return filed in 2015. 

What Qualifies as Health Insurance to Avoid the Penalty?

Qualifying coverage includes:

  • health insurance coverage provided by your employer (including COBRA and retiree coverage),
  • health insurance coverage purchase through a health care exchange Marketplace,
  • Medicare, Medicaid or other government-sponsored health coverage including programs for veterans, or
  • coverage you buy directly from an insurance company.

Qualifying coverage does not include certain coverage that may provide limited benefits, such as coverage only for vision care or dental care, workers’ compensation, or coverage only for a specific disease or condition. 

Premium Tax Credit May Help Pay for Health Insurance

If purchasing health insurance coverage through the Marketplace, the person may be eligible for financial assistance including the premium tax credit, which will help lower the out-of-pocket cost of your monthly insurance premiums (see yesterday’s blog article).

Exemptions

If a person chooses to go without coverage or experiences a gap in coverage, the person may still qualify for an exemption based upon (1) not having access to affordable coverage, (2) the gap is less than three consecutive months without coverage, or (3) qualifying for one of several other exemptions.  A special hardship exemption applies to individuals who purchase their insurance through the Marketplace during the initial enrollment period but due to the enrollment process have a coverage gap at the beginning of 2014.

Penalty for Not Having Health Insurance

If a person (or any of dependents) do not maintain coverage and do not qualify for an exemption, then the person will owe a penalty, called a “individual shared responsibility payment”, paid when filing the tax return in 2015.  In general, the payment amount is either a percentage of household income or a flat dollar amount, whichever is greater.

The person will owe 1/12th of the annual payment for each month you (or your dependents) do not have coverage and are not exempt. The annual payment amount for 2014 is the greater of:

  • 1 percent of household income that is above the tax return filing threshold for the filing status, such as Married Filing Jointly or single, or
  • A family’s flat dollar amount, which is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, limited to a maximum of $285.

The penalty is capped at the cost of the national average premium for the bronze level health plan available through the Marketplace in 2014.

For more than half a century, Tax Facts has been an essential resource designed to meet the real-world tax-guidance needs of professionals in both the insurance and investment industries.

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

tax-facts-online_mediumThe company also points out that the expert authors—Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.

The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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Videos of Prof. William Byrnes’ Presentations on Distance Education

Posted by William Byrnes on March 27, 2014


1st vimeo video: Associate Dean William Byrnes’ 15 minute presentation about distance learning to the 500 policy makers of India’s National Board of Accreditation http://vimeo.com/39260008#t=3549  (starts from 1:00:00 until 1:15.00)

2nd vimeo video: William Byrnes’ second 6 minute response presentation delivered in the afternoon to India’s National Board of Accreditation policy congress in response of questions of the plenary about his approach to distance learning http://vimeo.com/39264336#t=4959  (starts from 1:22.30 until 1.28.30)

TJSL’s Associate Dean for Graduate & Distance Education Programs William Byrnes was honored with the 2012 Education Leadership Award by the World Education Congress of India’s National Board of Accreditation that brought together 500 policy makers from many countries on all the continents to examine and develop best practice policies for higher (university and graduate) education.

Professor William Byrnes’ leadership and contribution to the field of education is well known,” said Chairman of Awards & Academic Committee Edward Smith. “The position that you occupy in the fraternity is strategic and iconic. As a thinker and doer you are a role model and a believer in change. I am pleased that the Jury and Council of Board members would like to confer the Education Leadership Award to you.”

Professor Byrnes pioneered online legal education in 1994, thereafter creating the first online LL.M. program offered by an ABA accredited law school. He is a key founding member of the Work Group for Distance Education in Legal Education that in 2013 published Distance Learning in Legal Education: A Summary of Delivery Models, Regulatory Issues and Recommended Practices (http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/plp/pdf/Distance_Learning_in_Legal_Ed.pdf). The second edition of this Best Practices Report will be released shortly (see Working Group for Distance Learning in Legal Education on Harvard’s Program on the Legal Profession website: http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/plp/pages/distance_learning_working_group.php)

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The Obama Care “Premium Tax Credit” – 4 days left to take advantage

Posted by William Byrnes on March 27, 2014


On February 25, the IRS released Health Care Tax Tip 2014-03 reminding taxpayers that time is running out – only 4 days left – to enroll for health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

However, the premium tax credit can help make purchasing health insurance coverage more affordable for people with moderate incomes. To be eligible for the premium tax credit, a tax filer must satisfy three rules:  

1.  Sign up for health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.  The open enrollment period to purchase health insurance coverage for 2014 through the Health Insurance Marketplace ENDS in 4 days on March 31, 2014!

2. Household income between one and four times the federal poverty line.  For a family of four for tax year 2014, that means income from $23,550 to $94,200.

3. Not eligible for other medical coverage, such as Medicare, Medicaid, or sufficiently generous employer-sponsored coverage.

If a  Marketplace determines the taxpayer is likely to qualify for the tax credit at the time of signup on the Health Insurance Marketplace, then the taxpayer has two choices:

1. Choose to have some or all of the estimated credit paid in advance directly to the medical insurance company to lower the pay out-of-pocket for the monthly premiums during 2014, or

2. Wait to receive the premium tax credit when the 2014 tax return is filed in 2015.  Waiting to receive the premium tax credit will either increase the tax refund or lower the balance due to the IRS.

For taxpayers choosing to receive the premium tax credit in advance, changes to income or family size will affect the credit eligible to receive.  If the credit on the 2014 tax return (filed in 2015) does not match the amount received in advance, the taxpayer will have to repay any excess advance payment, or you may get a larger refund if you are entitled to more. It is important to tell your Marketplace about changes in your income or family size as they happen during 2014 because these changes will affect the amount of your credit.

For more than half a century, Tax Facts has been an essential resource designed to meet the real-world tax-guidance needs of professionals in both the insurance and investment industries.

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

tax-facts-online_mediumThe company also points out that the expert authors—Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.

The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cloning your Client webinar on Wednesday, April 2 at 8am PDT (sponsorship eliminates enrollment fee!)

Posted by William Byrnes on March 26, 2014


TJSL Banner Webinar

Advisys is sponsoring a webinar on Client Prospecting with Thomas Jefferson’s Associate Dean William Byrnes, the author of the newly released book National Underwriter Sales Essentials: Managing Your Agency.   The sponsored webinar is Wednesday April 2 at 8am Pacific, thus you may enroll without cost!

“While America is experiencing its greatest transfer of wealth, the senior level ‘baby boomer’ financial advisors are retiring out of the market,” explained Associate Dean William Byrnes.  “The next five years presents substantial opportunities for this generation of financial advisors who exercise best networking and face-to-face practices.”

“Many young professionals unproductively spin their wheels when it comes to growing their client base,” interjected co-author Robert Bloink. “The online Thomas Jefferson graduate program is competitive because most faculty members like myself brings decades of business experience into the classroom and keep our students eye on the ball – developing their client books.

“The National Underwriter Sales Essentials Series combines all of the most practical, proven sales techniques advisors need to convert prospects into customers, win new business, and to grow sales,” added Rick Kravitz Managing Director of the National Underwriter Professional Publishing Division. “The Life & Health Sales Essentials focuses on the selling skills and techniques essential to achieving success—prospecting for new business and the demands of running an agency.”  

William Byrnes continued, “I invite you to attend the upcoming webinar wherein we will discuss topics such as How to Clone Your Clients, What`s Your Point of Difference?, The ‘Ben Franklin Method’ For Winning People Over, How to Cultivate a Network of Endless Referrals, and Marketing to the Millennials.  We will focus on client cloning, including: asking intriguing questionsC2C qualified introductions, and client crowd sourcing.” 

Advisys is the creator of the Back Room Technician financial planning platform,” related its President Ken Kerr. “With over 40,000 users and more than three decades of experience, Advisys has insight into the most popular and effective client presentations used today. Advisys helps its partners to be their best when face-to-face with clients and prospects.” 

TJSL Banner Webinar <— fill in for more information about Professor William Byrnes’ financial professionals program!

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Four Tax Facts about the Health Care Law for Individuals

Posted by William Byrnes on March 26, 2014


In Health Care Tax Tip 2014-06, the IRS alerted taxpayers to four basic tax tips about the new health care law.  The IRS stated that health insurance choices made now may affect the income tax return filed next year (2015).

1. Most people already have qualified health insurance coverage and will not need to do anything more than maintain qualified coverage throughout 2014.

2. If a taxpayer does not have health insurance through a job or a government plan, the taxpayer may be able to buy it through the Health Insurance Marketplace.  The open enrollment period to purchase health insurance coverage for 2014 through the Health Insurance Marketplace ENDS in 5 days on March 31, 2014!

3. If a taxpayer buy health insurance through the Marketplace, the taxpayer may be eligible for an advance premium tax credit to lower your out-of-pocket monthly premiums. (Tomorrow’s blog article will provide information about this advance premium tax credit.)

4. The 2014 tax return to be filed in 2015 will have a new tax question:  did you have insurance coverage or did you qualify for an exemption?  If not, the taxpayer may owe a shared responsibility payment.

What should you do now?

If a taxpayer or the family does not have health insurance, then talk to the employer about the employer’s health coverage offered, or visit the Marketplace online.

Find out more about the health care law and the Marketplace at www.HealthCare.gov.

Find out more about the premium tax credit and the shared responsibility payment at www.IRS.gov/aca.

For more than half a century, Tax Facts has been an essential resource designed to meet the real-world tax-guidance needs of professionals in both the insurance and investment industries.

tax-facts-online_medium

Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

The company also points out that the expert authors—Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.

The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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EU to Adopt New Expanded Savings Directive

Posted by William Byrnes on March 25, 2014


EU Council Announces March 2014 Adoption of Expanded EU Savings Directive

On Saturday, March 22, 2014 the EU Council’s General Secretariat announced that it will adopt major amendments to the EU Directive on taxation of savings income at its next March 2014 meeting.  The amendments will address the current loopholes, such as application to trusts, to foundations, and to investment income that is comparable to interest income.

Brief Background on EU Savings Directive

The liberalization of capital markets and the free movement of capital within the EU borders revealed how important it was to establish cooperation with a view to preventing, in the direct taxation area, fraud and evasion linked to cross-border financial investments. The problem with taxpayers moving their investments to Member States which did not impose taxation at source while the taxpayers simultaneously under-reported to their respective State of residence (or not reporting at all) the income earned. The EU Savings Directive was adopted to address this situation, coming into effect in 2005.

The mechanism of the Directive works by imposing an obligation to any paying agent in an EU Member State which makes a payment to an individual resident in the other Member State which is the beneficial owner of the income, to report that payment of interest to the competent tax authorities of the Member State in which the paying agent is established. The competent tax authorities of that (source) State in turn transfer the information collected to the competent tax authority of the residence of the beneficial owner. Based on the information received it is possible for the State of residence of the beneficial owner to verify if the amount is declared for tax purposes and to tax the corresponding income.

Loopholes Reported in 2008

In his 2004 Report on the Regulatory, Competitive, Economic and Socio-Economic Impact of the European Union Code of Conduct on Business Taxation and Tax Savings Directive to the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Overseas Territories of The Virgin Islands (British), Turks & Caicos Islands, Anguilla and Montserrat, Professor William Byrnes undertook an in-depth analysis of the EU Savings Directive identifying several loopholes that would require later amendments for it to achieve its objectives.

The Savings Directive loopholes include:

• Territorial scope: It is limited to intra-community situations in which a paying agent from one Member State pays to an individual resident in another Member State. It does not apply to payments from outside the EU, i.e. when the paying agent is located in a third (non-EU) State or to payments to beneficial owners who reside in third States.

• Personal scope: it does not apply to persons other than individuals, in particular payments made to legal entities. This limitation provides individuals with opportunities to circumvent the Savings Directive by using an interposed legal person or arrangement.

• Material scope: it does not cover other forms of savings like insurance products, pensions, some tailored investment funds, return on derivative contracts, structured products, etc.

These and other loopholes have been formally reported by the European Commission since 2008. The main findings of a report produced by the Commission identified as a major problem lack of “consistent treatment of other comparable situations”.[1] Pursuing this aim of consistency requires that interest payments obtained by an individual through intermediate vehicles are consistently put on an equal footing with interest payments directly received by the individual. This consistency of coverage is required not only to ensure the effectiveness of the Directive, but also compliance with the rules of the internal market and fair competition between comparable financial products and structures.

A proposal was submitted to the Council which aimed at extending the scope of the Directive.[2] 

European Council Announces Amended Savings Directive Adoption in March 2014

On March 22, 2014 the European Council reported in a press release[3] that (emphasis added):

The European Council welcomes the Commission’s report on the state of play of negotiations on savings taxation with European third countries (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and San Marino) and calls on those countries to commit fully to implementing the new single global standard for automatic exchange of information, developed by the OECD and endorsed by the G20, and to the early adopters initiative.

The European Council calls on the Commission to carry forth the negotiations with those countries swiftly with a view to concluding them by the end of the year, and invites the Commission to report on the state of play at its December meeting. If sufficient progress is not made, the Commission’s report should explore possible options to ensure compliance with the new global standard.

In the light of this, the Council will adopt the Directive on taxation of savings income at its next March 2014 meeting.

The European Council invites the Council to ensure that, with the adoption of the Directive on Administrative Cooperation by the end of 2014, EU law is fully aligned with the new global standard.

What About the Withholding Exception for Austria and Luxembourg?

While most Member States adopted the exchange of information regime provided in the 2005 Savings Directive, three Member States with a tradition of bank secrecy—Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria—preferred to adopt, during a transitional period, a withholding tax regime. They were authorized to adopt a withholding tax (now 35%) on interest income that is paid to individual savers resident in other EU Member States. In the meantime Belgium decided to discontinue applying the transitional withholding tax as of 1 January 2010 and exchange information instead.

Therefore, only Luxembourg and Austria are currently entitled to levy a withholding tax. Luxembourg has notified the EU Commission that from next year, January 1, 2015 it will discontinue applying the transitional withholding tax and thus begin automatically exchanging information for applicable accounts from that date.

Thus, only Austria has expressed that it will maintain the withholding tax option. Austria’s finance minister is quoted in April 2013 stating: “All this data exchange will not put one red cent in my tax coffers, …. I want to have the money, not a data cemetery.”[4]  However, in light of the Council’s press release on Saturday, this position has probably changed.

The Austria’s Chancellor had also indicated that Austria may begin automatic exchange regarding the interest from savings accounts beginning 2014.[5] Although this statement is different from the Luxembourg commitment towards automatic exchange of information, it would not be surprising that Austria will soon also endorse this automatic exchange standard within the scope of applying the Savings Directive, in light of FATCA, GATCA, and the Council’s press release.

book coverPractical Compliance Aspects of Exchange of Information, FATCA and GATCA

For in-depth analysis of the practical compliance aspects of financial service business providing for exchange of information of information about foreign residents with their national competent authority or with the IRS (FATCA), see Lexis Guide to FATCA Compliance, 2nd Edition just published!

William H. Byrnes, author of six Lexis international tax titles, has achieved authoritative prominence with more than 20 books, 100 book chapters and supplements, and 1,000 media articles.  In 2008 he was appointed Associate Dean at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, previously obtaining Professor of Law with Tenure at St. Thomas University.   William Byrnes was a Senior Manager, then Associate Director of international tax for Coopers and Lybrand, and consulted for clients involved with Africa, Europe, Asia, the Indian sub-continent, and the Caribbean.   He has been commissioned by a number of governments on tax policy.

[1] See Commission Staff Working Document, “Refining the present coverage of Council Directive 2003/48/EC on taxation of income from savings”, SEC (2008), p. 559.

[2] See “Proposal for a Council Directive amending Council Directive 2003/48/EC on taxation of savings income in the form of interest payments”, COM (2008) 727 final, of November 13, 2008.

[3] Conclusions, European Council, Brussels, Euco 7/1/14, 21 March 2014.

[4]“All this data exchange will not put one red cent in my tax coffers,” finance minister Maria Fekter said on 13 April. “I want to have the money, not a data cemetery.”  Stamatoukou, Eleni, “EU Savings Directive to be modified”, New Europe Online, (April 15, 2013) Available at http://www.neurope.eu/article/eu-savings-directive-be-modified.

[5] Austria’s position regarding the extension of the EU Savings Directive requires that such extension be also imposed through international agreements with San Marino, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Andorra, and Monaco.  However, it is unclear if Austria has since backtracked and made these five agreements a pre-condition for its own automatic information exchange on savings income for depository accounts.  See Bodoni, Stephanie, EU Push For Savings-Tax Deal Fought By Luxembourg, Austria, Bloomberg (Nov 14, 2013).  Available at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-14/eu-set-to-fail-to-meet-savings-tax-goal-on-luxembourg-opposition.html.

 

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OECD releases BEPS draft for Tax Challenges of the Digital Economy

Posted by William Byrnes on March 25, 2014


The OECD released Monday, March 24, a discussion draft on the Tax Challenges of the Digital Economy.

In July 2013, the OECD published its Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. The Action Plan identifies 15 actions to address BEPS in a comprehensive manner and sets deadlines to implement these actions. Excerpting from the Report, Action 1 reads as follows:

Action 1 Address the tax challenges of the digital economy

Identify the main difficulties that the digital economy poses for the application of existing international tax rules and develop detailed options to address these difficulties, taking a holistic approach and considering both direct and indirect taxation. Issues to be examined include, but are not limited to, the ability of a company to have a significant digital presence in the economy of another country without being liable to taxation due to the lack of nexus under current international rules, the attribution of value created from the generation of marketable location-relevant data through the use of digital products and services, the characterisation of income derived from new business models, the application of related source rules, and how to ensure the effective collection of VAT/GST with respect to the cross-border supply of digital goods and services. Such work will require a thorough analysis of the various business models in this sector.

The OECD’s March 24 discussion draft on the Tax Challenges of the Digital Economy, after surveying the elements of the new global digital economy, outlines the tax minimization techniques and then provides broad proposals to reduce the BEPS resulting therefrom. Below, I have excerpted and paraphrased the relevant aspects to provide an overview.

Section IV “Identifying Opportunities for BEPS in the Digital Economy” undertakes a general discussion of the common features of tax planning structures that raise BEPS concerns. Section IV then describes the core elements of BEPS strategies with respect to both direct and indirect taxation.  The common features of digital economy tax planning features include:

Eliminating or reducing tax in the market country

  • Avoiding a Taxable Presence
  • Minimizing Functions, Assets and Risks in Market Jurisdictions
  • Maximizing Deductions in Market Jurisdictions

Eliminating or reducing tax in the intermediate country

Eliminating or reducing tax in the country of residence of the ultimate parent

Avoiding withholding tax

Opportunities for BEPS with respect to VAT

  • Remote digital supplies to exempt businesses
  • Remote digital supplies to a multi-location enterprise (MLE)

Section V “Tackling BEPS in the Digital Economy” of the discussion draft examines how work on the actions of the BEPS Action Plan and in the area of indirect taxation will address BEPS issues arising in the digital economy. This section also highlights the particular characteristics of the digital economy that must be taken into account to ensure that the measures developed effectively address BEPS in the digital economy.

Restoring Taxation on Stateless Income

Measures that will restore taxation in the market jurisdiction

  • Prevent Treaty Abuse (Action 6)
  • Prevent the Artificial Avoidance of PE Status (Action 7)

Measures that will restore taxation in both market and ultimate parent jurisdictions

  • Neutralize the Effects of Hybrid Mismatch Arrangements (Action 2)
  • Limit Base Erosion via Interest Deductions and Other Financial Payments (Action 4 and Action 9)
  • Counter Harmful Tax Practices More Effectively (Action 5)

Assure that transfer pricing outcomes are in line with value creation (Actions 8-10)

  • Intangibles, including hard-to-value intangibles, and cost contribution arrangements
  • Business risks
  • Characterization of transactions
  • Base eroding payments
  • Global value chains and profit methods

Addressing BEPS Issues in the Area of Consumption Taxes

Section VI “Broader Tax Challenges Raised by the Digital Economy” discusses the challenges that the digital economy raises for direct taxation, with respect to nexus, the tax treatment of data, and characterization of payments made under new business models. Section VI also discusses the indirect tax challenges raised by the digital economy with respect to exemptions for imports of low-valued goods, and remote digital supplies to consumers. Thereafter, Section VI lists administrative challenges faced by tax administrations in applying the current rules.

An overview of the tax challenges raised by the digital economy includes:

  • Nexus and the Ability to have a Significant Presence without Being Liable to Tax
  • Data and the Attribution of Value Created from the Generation of Marketable Location-Relevant Data through the Use of Digital Products and Services
  • Characterization of Income Derived from New Business Models
  • Collection of VAT in the Digital Economy

Section VII “Potential Options to Address The Broader Tax Challenges Raised by the Digital Economy” provides a brief framework for evaluating options to address the broader tax challenges raised by the digital economy. This section then provides an overview of potential options that have been received by the Task Force, along with a description of some of the issues that will need to be addressed in developing and evaluating those options.

Modifications to the Exemptions from Permanent Establishment Status

A New Nexus based on Significant Digital Presence

Virtual Permanent Establishment

Creation of a Withholding Tax on Digital Transactions

Consumption Tax Options

  • Exemptions for Imports of Low Valued Good
  • Remote digital supplies to consumers

Submitting Comments to OECD

Interested parties are invited to submit comments electronically in Word on this discussion draft, before 5.00pm on April 14, 2014 to CTP.BEPS@oecd.org.

Persons and organisations who intend to send comments on this discussion draft are invited to indicate by April 7 whether they wish to speak in support of their comments at a public consultation meeting on Action 1 (Address the tax challenges of the digital economy), which is scheduled to be held in Paris at the OECD Conference Centre on April 23, 2014. Persons wishing to attend this public consultation meeting should fill out their request for registration on line as soon as possible but by April 7, 2014.

This meeting will also be broadcast live on the internet and can be accessed on line. No advance registration is required for this internet access.

practical_guide_book

Lexis’ Practical Guide to U.S. Transfer Pricing (William Byrnes & the late Robert Cole (2013)) is designed to help multinationals cope with the U.S. transfer pricing rules and procedures, taking into account the international norms established by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is also designed for use by tax administrators, both those belonging to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and those belonging to the tax administrations of other countries, and tax professionals in and out of government, corporate executives, and their non-tax advisors, both American and foreign.  Fifty co-authors contribute subject matter expertise on technical issues faced by tax and risk management counsel.

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LexisNexis FATCA compliance book released

Posted by William Byrnes on March 24, 2014


Associate Dean William Byrnes’ 2nd Edition of LexisNexis Guide to FATCA Compliance” was published February 3, 2014.  The 600+ page book of legal analysis features TJSL JD students Sean Livermore as the managing editor and Jason Miller as the co-author of the Turkey chapter with PwC Partner Umurcan Gago with whom Jason worked as his summer intern in Istanbul.

Sean Livermore opened up about why he chose Thomas Jefferson School of Law.  “It was a great opportunity to engage with partners of Big Law and the Big 4, made possible by the publication opportunities of Associate Dean Byrnes. The chance to be featured on LexisNexis fits nicely with my interests in pursuing an international legal career with several years of experience in Asia having studied in Japan and developed curricula for the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.”

book cover

“It was neat having the resources of PwC to help me write these articles,” related Jason Miller, who has now published in three LexisNexis publications and one for WoltersKluwer. “PwC has someone who specializes in every area, and everyone was always accommodating and eager to help me.”

Sean Livermore continued, “Professor Byrnes introduced me to an opportunity to work with an economic and tax study for a foreign government that opened my eyes to various types of tax work, as well as twenty hour work days.”

Professor William Byrnes interjected. “Over fifty of my students are currently involved in various LexisNexis, Wolters Kluwer, National Underwriter and Mertens publications.  It’s like a law review experience on steroids.”

“I undertook over thirty in-house workshops and interviews with tier 1 banks, firms, and government departments.  Through these I developed several new contributing authors, including Peter Cotorceanu who is the Head of UBS’ Product Management for Trusts and Foundations; Devang Ambavi, Rajul Jain, and Shinjini Kumar (PricewaterhouseCoopers experts for India), and Jinghua Liu and Qiguang Zhou (Baker McKenzie experts for China).”

“I look forward to having my new cohort students engage with these experts for the 2015 Edition that I may teach the students how to build an international network, and of course about international tax opportunities.  At the Tax Society lunch this week – Tuesday, March 25th - we are hosting renown European Court of Justice expert and author Dr. Dennis Weber of University of Amsterdam who will discuss ECJ tax jurisprudence that he analyzes in his publications.”

The 600 page LexisNexis Guide to FATCA Compliance will provide the financial enterprise’s FATCA compliance officer the tools for developing and maintaining a best practices compliance strategy.  This Guide may be leveraged in combination with the tools for identification of U.S. indicia of LexisNexis Risk Solutions (http://www.lexisnexis.com/risk/).

LexisNexis® Guide to FATCA Compliance

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OECD releases two BEPS reports of recommendations to combat hybrid mismatch arrangements

Posted by William Byrnes on March 24, 2014


In July 2013, the OECD published its Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. The Action Plan identifies 15 actions to address BEPS in a comprehensive manner and sets deadlines to implement these actions.

The OECD states that a Hybrid Mismatch Arrangement “is a profit shifting arrangement that utilises a hybrid element in the tax treatment of an entity or instrument to produce a mismatch in tax outcomes in respect of a payment that is made under that arrangement.”  The hybrid mismatch arrangements targeted by the OECD rules are “those where the resulting mismatch results in a lower aggregate tax burden for the parties to the arrangement.”  (See Page 8 of OECD Discussion Draft Neutralise the effects of Hybrid Mismatch Arrangements – Recommendations for Domestic Laws).

Action 2 of the BEPS Action Plan calls for the development of model treaty provisions and recommendations for the design of domestic rules to neutralise the effect of hybrid mismatch arrangements:  

ACTION 2

Neutralise the effects of hybrid mismatch arrangements

Develop model treaty provisions and recommendations regarding the design of domestic rules to neutralise the effect (e.g. double non-taxation, double deduction, long-term deferral) of hybrid instruments and entities. This may include: (i) changes to the OECD Model Tax Convention to ensure that hybrid instruments and entities (as well as dual resident entities) are not used to obtain the benefits of treaties unduly; (ii) domestic law provisions that prevent exemption or non-recognition for payments that are deductible by the payor; (iii) domestic law provisions that deny a deduction for a payment that is not includible in income by the recipient (and is not subject to taxation under controlled foreign company (CFC) or similar rules); (iv) domestic law provisions that deny a deduction for a payment that is also deductible in another jurisdiction; and (v) where necessary, guidance on co-ordination or tie-breaker rules if more than one country seeks to apply such rules to a transaction or structure. Special attention should be given to the interaction between possible changes to domestic law and the provisions of the OECD Model Tax Convention. This work will be co-ordinated with the work on interest expense deduction limitations, the work on CFC rules, and the work on treaty shopping.

In connection with this work the Committee on Fiscal Affairs (CFA) has now released two consultation documents on Action Item 2 as a single proposal for public consultation.  

The first discussion draft (Neutralise the effects of Hybrid Mismatch Arrangements – Recommendations for Domestic Laws) sets out recommendations for domestic rules to neutralise the effect of hybrid mismatch arrangements and the second discussion draft (Neutralise the effects of Hybrid Mismatch Arrangements – Treaty Aspects of the Work on Action 2 of the BEPS Action Plan) discusses the impact of the OECD Model Convention on those rules and sets out recommendations for further changes to the Convention to clarify the treatment of hybrid entities.  

The OECD recommendations of the first discussion draft Neutralise the effects of Hybrid Mismatch Arrangements – Recommendations for Domestic Laws target three categories of hybrid mismatch arrangement:

(a) Hybrid financial instruments (including transfers); where a deductible payment made under a financial instrument is not treated as taxable income under the laws of the payee’s jurisdiction;

(b) Hybrid entity payments, where differences in the characterisation of the hybrid payer result in a deductible payment being disregarded or triggering a second deduction in the other jurisdiction;

(c) Reverse hybrid and imported mismatches, which cover payments made to an intermediary payee that are not taxable on receipt. There are two kinds of arrangement targeted by these rules:

(i) arrangements where differences in the characterisation of the intermediary result in the payment being disregarded in both the intermediary jurisdiction and the investor’s jurisdiction (reverse hybrids);
(ii) arrangements where the intermediary is party to a separate hybrid mismatch arrangement and the payment is set-off against a deduction arising under that arrangement (imported mismatches).

The second discussion draft Neutralise the effects of Hybrid Mismatch Arrangements – Treaty Aspects of the Work on Action 2 of the BEPS Action Plan focuses on ensuring that (1) dual resident entities and (2) transparent entities are not used to obtain the benefits of treaties unduly.

The OECD stated that the recommendations set out in these discussion drafts do not represent the consensus views of the CFA or its subsidiary bodies but rather are intended to provide stakeholders with substantive proposals for analysis and comment.  The CFA requested that such comments on these documents should be submitted electronically (in word format) before 5.00 pm on May 2, 2014 and should be addressed as follows:

Hybrid Mismatch Arrangements: Please send comments addressed to Achim Pross, Head, International Co-operation and Tax Administration Division, OECD/CTPA to aggressivetaxplanning@oecd.org.

OECD Model Convention: Please send comment addressed to Marlies de Ruiter, Head, Tax Treaties, Transfer Pricing and Financial Transactions Division, OECD/CTPA to taxtreaties@oecd.org.

Public Consultation:

The OECD invited Persons and organisations who intend to submit comments on these two Consultation Documents to indicate by May 2 whether they wish to speak in support of their comments at a public consultation meeting on Action 2 (Neutralise the effects of hybrid mismatch arrangements), which is scheduled to be held in Paris at the OECD Conference Centre on 15 May 2014.  Persons wishing to attend this public consultation meeting should fill out their request for registration on line by May 2, 2014.  This meeting will also be broadcast live on the internet and can be accessed on line.

Book Binder

Handle your critical international business ventures with confidence using the indispensable content you can only find in LexisNexis® Foreign Tax & Trade Briefs, the one information service that provides the latest tax and trade information for 128 foreign countries and territories on a regular quarterly basis.  Looseleaf, updated with revisions four times each year.  Professor William Byrnes is the author of six Lexis treatises, including Tax Havens of the WorldLexisNexis® Guide to FATCA ComplianceMoney Laundering, Asset Forfeiture and Recovery and Compliance — A Global GuidePractical Guide to US Transfer Pricing and International Withholding Tax Treaty Guide.

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What do I need to know about the Health Care Law for my 2013 Tax Return?

Posted by William Byrnes on March 23, 2014


The IRS stated in Health Care Tax Tip 2014-10 that for most taxpayers, the Affordable Care Act has no effect on the 2013 federal income tax return. For example, for the 2013 tax return a taxpayer does not yet report health care coverage under the individual shared responsibility provision or claim the premium tax credit.  Reporting of these items start with the filing of the 2014 tax return (which will only happen between late January and April 15, 2015).

However, the IRS alerted that some taxpayers people will be affected by a few provisions, including two new medical taxes and a reduction in the ability to take a deduction for medical expenses incurred during 2013.  See (1) increases in the itemized medical deduction threshold, (2) additional Medicare tax and (3) net investment income tax.

The IRS reminded taxpayers that the employer’s reporting of a taxpayer’s value of health care coverage is not taxable (the new box 12 employer health care reporting requirement, identified by Code DD on an employee’s Form W-2) . 

Information available about other tax provisions in the health care law: More information is available regarding the following tax provisions: Premium Rebate for Medical Loss RatioHealth Flexible Spending Arrangements, and Health Saving Accounts.

tax-facts-online_medium

Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

 

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FINCEN Director speaks out on BITCOIN and other virtual currencies

Posted by William Byrnes on March 22, 2014


The director of FINCEN, Jennifer Shasky Calvery, spoke about virtual currencies, specifically naming BITCOIN, in her remarks on March 18, 2014 to a conference on anti money laundering.  I excerpt pertinent remarks related to virtual currency.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) published earlier this year two administrative rulings, providing additional information on whether a person’s conduct related to convertible virtual currency brings them within the Bank Secrecy Act’s (BSA) definition of a money transmitter. The first ruling stated that, to the extent a user creates or “mines” a convertible virtual currency solely for a user’s own purposes, the user is not a money transmitter under the BSA. The second ruling stated that a company purchasing and selling convertible virtual currency as an investment exclusively for the company’s benefit is not a money transmitter.

The rulings further interpret FinCEN’s March 18, 2013 Guidance Application of FinCEN’s Regulations to Persons Administering, Exchanging, or Using Virtual Currencies to address these business models. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued the March 18, 2013 interpretive guidance to clarify the applicability of the regulations implementing the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) to persons creating, obtaining, distributing, exchanging, accepting, or transmitting virtual currencies.

Definition of Currency and Virtual Currency

FinCEN’s regulations define currency (also referred to as “real” currency) as “the coin and paper money of the United States or of any other country that [i] is designated as legal tender and that [ii] circulates and [iii] is customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the country of issuance.” In contrast to real currency, “virtual” currency is a medium of exchange that operates like a currency in some environments, but does not have all the attributes of real currency. In particular, virtual currency does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction. This guidance addresses “convertible” virtual currency. This type of virtual currency either has an equivalent value in real currency, or acts as a substitute for real currency.

Excerpts of Remarks

“In the case of Bitcoin, it has been publicly reported that its users processed transactions worth approximately $8 billion over the twelve-month period preceding October 2013; however, this measure may be artificially high due to the extensive use of automated layering in many Bitcoin transactions.”

“By way of comparison, according to information reported publicly, in 2012 Western Union made remittances totaling approximately $81 billion; PayPal processed approximately $145 billion in online payments; the Automated Clearing House Network processed $36.9 trillion in transactions; and Bank of America processed $244.4 trillion in wire transfers.”

“This relative volume of transactions becomes important when you consider that, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the best estimate for the amount of all global criminal proceeds available for laundering through the financial system in 2009 was $1.6 trillion.”

“Exactly one year ago today, FinCEN issued interpretive guidance to bring clarity and regulatory certainty for businesses and individuals engaged in money transmitting services and offering virtual currencies.”

“In the simplest of terms, FinCEN’s guidance explains that administrators or exchangers of virtual currencies must register with FinCEN, and institute certain recordkeeping, reporting, and AML program control measures, unless an exception to these requirements applies. The guidance also explains that those who use virtual currencies exclusively for common personal transactions – like buying goods or services online – are users, and not subject to regulatory requirements under the BSA.”

“In all cases, FinCEN employs an activity-based test to determine when someone dealing with virtual currency qualifies as a money transmitter. The guidance clarifies definitions and expectations to ensure that businesses engaged in such activities are aware of their regulatory responsibilities, including registering appropriately.”

“Furthermore, FinCEN closely coordinates with its state regulatory counterparts to encourage appropriate application of FinCEN guidance as part of the states’ separate AML compliance oversight of financial institutions.”

“Earlier this year, FinCEN expanded upon this guidance, issuing two administrative rulings. The rulings provide additional information on our regulatory coverage of certain activities related to convertible virtual currency. In both rulings, the convertible virtual currency at issue was the crypto-currency, Bitcoin, and we were clarifying how users who obtain virtual currency only for their own use or investment are not money transmitters.”

“I am also pleased to report that since FinCEN issued its guidance, dozens of virtual currency exchangers have registered with FinCEN, and some virtual currency exchangers are beginning to comply with reporting requirements and are filing SARs. They appear to be appreciative of the need to develop controls to make themselves resilient to abuse by bad actors.”

And they are also coming to terms with the fact that as administrators and exchangers they must obtain, verify, and store key information about the senders and recipients of virtual currency and, under certain circumstances, pass that information on to other administrators or exchangers involved in the transaction.

“This last issue is key. Simply put, these exchangers and administrators, like other money transmitters, are subject to the so-called Travel Rule. Thus, they have to incorporate into their business models the same transparency with respect to funds transfers as other money transmitters.”

“While we are encouraged by these industry efforts to increase transparency in this space, I do, however, remain concerned that there appear to be many domestic virtual currency exchangers that are not fulfilling their recordkeeping and reporting requirements.  Those who do not comply with these rules should understand that their actions will have  consequences. Not only are they subject to civil monetary penalties, but the knowing failure to register a money transmitting business with FinCEN – or with state authorities where there is a state licensing requirement – is a federal criminal offense.”

book cover

LexisNexis’ Money Laundering, Asset Forfeiture and Recovery and Compliance: A Global Guide - This eBook is designed to provide the compliance officer accurate analyses of the AML/CTF Financial and Legal Intelligence, law and practice in the nations of the world with the most current references and resources. The eBook is organized around five main themes: 1. Money Laundering Risk and Compliance; 2. The Law of Anti-Money Laundering and Compliance; 3. Criminal and Civil Forfeiture; 4. Compliance and 5. International Cooperation.

Each chapter is made up of five parts. Part I, “Introduction,” begins with the analysis of money laundering risks and compliance with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and then concludes with the country’s rating based on the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) of the U.S. State Department.  Part II, “Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Terrorist Financing (AML/CTF)” and Part III, “Criminal and Civil Forfeiture,” evaluate the judicial and legislative structures of the country. Given the increasing global dimension of AML/CTF activities, these sections give special attention to how a country has created statutes, decisions, policies and the judicial enforcement procedures needed to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. Part IV, “Compliance,” examines the most critical processes for the prevention and detection of money laundering and terrorist financing. This section reflects on the practical elements that should be in place so that financial institutions can comply with AML/CTF requirements; these are categorized into the development and implementation of internal controls, policies and procedures. Part V, “International Cooperation,” reviews the compilation of international laws and treaties between countries working together to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.  As these unlawful activities can occur in any given country, it is important to identify the international participants who are cooperating to develop methods to obstruct these criminal activities. 

Posted in Financial Crimes, Money Laundering | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Warning on IRA Rollovers: Regulators to Scrutinize Suitability

Posted by William Byrnes on March 22, 2014


Threats of heightened regulatory scrutiny have loomed large in the first weeks of 2014, and perhaps no area has received greater attention than the IRA rollover transaction.

Both the SEC and FINRA have issued warnings to advisors who provide guidance to clients looking to roll traditional workplace 401(k) accounts into private IRAs, and this focus on the importance of proper guidance should be keeping all advisors on their toes. For many advisors, this means a new course in IRA rollover compliance is called for, as even the most experienced professionals may find themselves in the dark over the new requirements being ushered in by the industry’s most prominent regulators.

Read the analysis of William Byrnes and Robert Bloink at > ThinkAdvisor <

ThinkAdvisor.com supports the professional growth and vitality of the Investment Advisory community, from RIAs and wealth managers of all kinds, to independent broker-dealer and wirehouse representatives. We provide unparalleled access to the knowledge, information and critical resources they need to succeed at every stage in their career, including professional development, education and certification, industry news and analysis, reference tools and services, and community networking opportunities.

Posted in Retirement Planning, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Almost half of tax returns still due in remaining 25 days to file!

Posted by William Byrnes on March 21, 2014


The IRS announced in Newswire 2014-32 that almost half of the tax returns expected to be filed for the year 2013 had yet to be filed by March 14, 2014. How many returns will be filed in this last 25 day period?  About 70 million tax returns of the total expected 149 million returns of 2013! If half of these outstanding tax returns are filed with the assistance of a tax preparer, that’s 35 million potential clients in the past 25 days of the tax season! Not a bad profession to be in!

Over the next 25 days this blog will contain many articles for small business owners on taking certain deductions and obtaining various tax credits that allow a small business owner or entrepreneur to minimize the tax imposed on the trade or business and thus maximize the business’ after-tax return.

The IRS reminds small business owners and entrepreneurs of three tax facts that may impact the outstanding 2013 return.

Tax Fact 1: Optional safe harbor method to determine the business use of a home deduction.  Also known as the simplified option for claiming the home office deduction, beginning in 2013, taxpayers can use the optional safe harbor method to determine the deduction for the business use of a home.

If a taxpayer works from home, then it may be possible for the taxpayer to claim the home office deduction.  However, in years past this home office deduction has been rather complicated to calculate.

1. Generally, in order to claim a deduction for a home office, a taxpayer must use a part of your home exclusively and regularly for business purposes. Also, the part of your home used for business must be:

  • the principal place of business, or
  • a place where the taxpayer meets clients or customers in the normal course of business, or
  • a separate structure not attached to the home. Examples might include a studio, garage or barn.

What clearly does NOT qualify for a home office deduction?  By example, a taxpayer sets up a computer in her bedroom on a dresser that she uses for personal emails and for keeping her business records.  In the dresser drawers are pens, paperclips, some receipts, as well as hair clips and some pieces of jewelry.  The IRS isn’t going to allow a home office deduction based on that computer on that dresser.

The taxpayer may be able to use the simplified option to claim the home office deduction instead of claiming actual expenses. Under this method, the taxpayer multiplies the allowable square footage of the office area by a prescribed rate of $5.  The maximum footage allowed by the IRS is 300 square feet. The deduction maximum limit using this method is thus $1,500 per year.

If the taxpayer is self-employed and chooses the actual expense method, then the taxpayer should use Form 8829Expenses for Business Use of Your Home, to calculate the amount of the home office deduction.  The taxpayer claims the deduction on Schedule CProfit or Loss From Business, whether using the simplified or actual expense method.

If the taxpayer is an employee, then additional rules apply to claim the deduction. For example, in addition to the above tests, the business use must also be for the employer’s convenience.  By example: a “work from home” arrangement.

Tax Fact 2: Standard mileage rate. Beginning in 2013, the standard mileage rate for the cost of operating a car, van, pickup, or panel truck for each mile of business use is 56.5 cents per mile.

Tax Fact 3: Additional Medicare Tax. Beginning in 2013, a 0.9% Additional Medicare Tax applies to Medicare wages, railroad retirement (RRTA) compensation, and self-employment income that are more than:

  • $125,000 if married filing separately,
  • $250,000 if married filing jointly, or
  • $200,000 if single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er) with dependent child.

Medicare wages and self-employment income are combined to determine if a taxpayer’s income exceeds the threshold. RRTA compensation should be separately compared to the threshold.

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Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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Master Limited Partnerships’ (MLPs)

Posted by William Byrnes on March 20, 2014


By Theron West and William Byrnes.

Why Are Wealth Managers Interested In MLPs?

According to the National Association of Publicly Traded Partnerships, Master Limited Partnerships (“MLPs”) have reached a market capital of $400 billion, with over 100 MLPs traded on major exchanges.  Generally established as LLCs with advantageous partnership flow through tax treatment, MLPs present attractive return vehicles to attract long term capital to the energy extraction, energy transportation (“midstream”), and most recent, energy distribution (“downstream”), markets.

MLPs have offered profitable vehicles for “midstream” businesses, that is, businesses that own assets which focus primarily on the transportation of natural resources like natural gas or crude oil.  One reason that midstream assets have been so profitable is that the pipelines and ships act as toll roads for the natural resources.  By owning these midstream assets many MLPs can avoid the volatility of the oil and gas markets directly by charging a fixed price for the units shipped.  However, in recent years many MLPs have entered into the “downstream” asset business, that is, the refining, processing or marketing of natural resources.

What is an MLP?

At the most basic level, the MLP is a type of publicly traded entity that is taxed as a partnership, but publicly traded on a national securities market in the same manner as corporate stock. M any investors are attracted to invest in MLPs because of this type of security’s high yield offer of return.  MLPs entice investors by contractually agreeing to distribute quarterly all available cash.

How is an MLP Taxed?

IRC Section 7704 provides that a publicly traded partnership will be taxed as a corporation unless the partnership meets certain gross income requirements.  A partnership satisfies the gross income requirements when at least 90 percent of the partnership’s gross income is “qualified income.”  Some forms of qualified income include interest, dividends, real property rents, income and gains derived from the exploration, development, mining or production, processing, refining, transportation (pipelines, ships, trucks), or the marketing of any mineral or natural resource.

Mutual Funds Investors?

IRC Section 851 was amended by the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, and now provides that a RIC may include “net income derived from an interest in a qualified publicly traded partnership” in calculating its 90 percent income requirement.  Essentially, this amendment provided mutual funds the ability to diversify their portfolios because any income derived from the MLP will not affect its status as a RIC.  Still, there are significant limitations imposed on the ability of a mutual fund to invest in MLPs.  A mutual fund is not permitted to invest more than twenty-five percent of its assets in a MLP.  Nor are mutual funds permitted to own more than 10 percent of the interests issued by a MLP.


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2014 Tax Facts on Investments provides clear, concise answers to often complex tax questions concerning investments.  Pertinent planning points are provided throughout.

Organized in a convenient Q&A format to speed you to the information you need, 2014 Tax Facts on Investments delivers the latest guidance on:

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  • Mutual Funds, Unit Trusts, REITs
  • Incentive Stock Options
  • Options & Futures
  • Real Estate
  • Stocks, Bonds
  • Oil & Gas
  • Precious Metals & Collectibles
  • And much more!

Key updates for 2014:

  • Important federal income and estate tax developments impacting investments, including changes from the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
  • Expanded coverage of Reverse Mortgages
  • Expanded coverage of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
  • More than 30 new Planning Points, written by practitioners for practitioners, in the following areas:
    • Limitations on Loss Deductions
    • Charitable Gifts
    • Reverse Mortgages
    • Deduction of Interest and Expenses
    • REITs

The company also points out that the expert authors—Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.

The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Kravitz.

 

 

Posted in Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

TJSL Tax Law Society Hosts Dr. Dennis Weber Tuesday, March 25

Posted by William Byrnes on March 19, 2014


Dennis picFor event details and rsvp information see > TJSL Tax Law Society Will Host International Tax Professor

Dr. Weber heads the European Direct Tax Law practice at Loyens & Loeff, the largest European continental law firm.  He specializes in advising clients in European tax law proceedings for the Dutch courts, the European Court of Justice and foreign courts. Dr. Weber is a professor of European Corporate Tax Law and the director of the University of Amsterdam’s Centre for Tax Law. He is a deputy judge in the regional Court of Appeal of ‘s-Hertogenbosch and an editor of many books, such as: Taking the Financial Sector (IBFD), EU Income Tax Law: Issues for the Years Ahead (IBFD) and Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB): Selected Issues (Kluwer). 

“I met Dr. Weber last year during a Thomas Jefferson Tax Law Society career service event when he revealed how Holland is often the center of the world of international finance, and how tax law students can take advantage of often overlooked employment opportunities in this area,” explained the Tax Law Society’s Vice President of Operations Mark Hackmann (3L). “I was excited to obtain a generous sponsorship from Professor William Byrnes for the Tax Society to bring Dr. Weber back to campus to re-engage with our students.”

See the event announcement and details at TJSL Tax Law Society Will Host International Tax Professor

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Trustee’s Investment Strategy: Prudent Investor Rule vs. Legal List

Posted by William Byrnes on March 19, 2014


by Roland Ortiz

The fiduciary duty of a trustee must respond to the overall financial goals established by a trust.  The grantor typically provides guidelines of purpose of the trust at the same time allowing the trustee the ability to respond to changing beneficiary needs.  According to the trust, assets are disbursed or can be facilitated as providing life time income, or both.  The trustee is obligated to fulfill the fiduciary duties by proper administration of the trust.

In order to achieve proper fiduciary duty, a trustee is required to provide the beneficiary with performing investments but with consideration of overall risk.  Diversification provides performance while also reducing unsystematic risk.  There are two types of investment strategies which are used to provide this diversification: the Prudent Investor Rule or Legal List.

Read the article at http://www.advisorfyi.com/2014/02/trustees-investment-strategy-prudent-investor-rule-vs-legal-list/

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OECD Publishes Proposals to Prevent Treaty Shopping

Posted by William Byrnes on March 18, 2014


On Friday (March 3) the OECD released its discussion draft of > proposals produced with respect to Action 6 < (Prevent Treaty Abuse) of the BEPS Action Plan.  The OECD stated that the draft proposals set out do not represent the consensus views of either the Committee on Fiscal Affairs or its subsidiary bodies but rather are intended to provide stakeholders with substantive proposals for analysis and comment.  The proposals follow upon the July 2013 OECD > Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting <. The Action Plan identifies 15 actions to address BEPS in a comprehensive manner and sets deadlines to implement these actions.

Prevent Treaty Abuse

The Action Plan identifies treaty abuse, and in particular treaty shopping, as one of the most important sources of BEPS concerns. Action 6 (Prevent Treaty Abuse) reads as follows:

Action 6 Prevent treaty abuse

Develop model treaty provisions and recommendations regarding the design of domestic rules to prevent the granting of treaty benefits in inappropriate circumstances. Work will also be done to clarify that tax treaties are not intended to be used to generate double non-taxation and to identify the tax policy considerations that, in general, countries should consider before deciding to enter into a tax treaty with another country. The work will be co-ordinated with the work on hybrids.

US Limitation of Benefits Approach 

The OECD’s primary recommendation is the inclusion of a Limitation of Benefits (LOB) provision in tax treaties.  The detailed OECD proposal refers to the US’ LOB articles and follows a US approach to combatting treaty shopping.

Public Consultation

As part of that consultation process, interested parties are invited to send comments on this discussion draft, which includes the preliminary results of the work carried out in the three different areas identified in Action 6:

A. Develop model treaty provisions and recommendations regarding the design of domestic rules to prevent the granting of treaty benefits in inappropriate circumstances.

B. Clarify that tax treaties are not intended to be used to generate double non-taxation.

C. Identify the tax policy considerations that, in general, countries should consider before deciding to enter into a tax treaty with another country.

The Action Plan also provided that “[t]he OECD’s work on the different items of the Action Plan will continue to include a transparent and inclusive consultation process” and that all stakeholders such as business (in particular BIAC), non-governmental organisations, think tanks, and academia would be consulted.  The comments must be received by April 9, 2014.  The comments received by that date will be examined by the Focus Group at a meeting that will be held on the following week.  Comments on this discussion draft should be sent electronically (in Word format) by email to taxtreaties@oecd.org and should be addressed to: “Tax Treaties, Transfer Pricing and Financial Transactions Division OECD/CTPA”.  It is the policy of the OECD to publish all responses (including the names of responders) on the OECD website.

Persons and organisations who intend to send comments on this discussion draft are invited to indicate as soon as possible, by April 3rd, whether they wish to speak in support of their comments at a public consultation meeting on Action 6 (Prevent Treaty Abuse), which is scheduled to be held in Paris at the OECD Conference Centre on April 14-15, 2014.

This consultation meeting will be open to the public and the press.  Persons wishing to attend this public consultation meeting should fill out their request for registration on line as soon as possible, with a deadline of April 3, 2014.  This meeting will also be broadcast live on the internet and can be accessed on line. No advance registration is required for this internet access.

OECD Proposal Topics

A. Treaty provisions and/or domestic rules to prevent the granting of treaty benefits in inappropriate circumstances

1. Cases where a person tries to circumvent limitations provided by the treaty itself 

a) Treaty shopping

i) Limitation-on-benefits provision
ii) Rules aimed at arrangements one of the main purposes of which is to obtain treaty benefits

b) Other situations where a person seeks to circumvent treaty limitations

i) Splitting-up of contracts
ii) Hiring-out of labour cases
iii) Transactions intended to avoid dividend characterisation
iv) Dividend transfer transactions
v) Transactions that circumvent the application of Art. 13(4)
vi) Tie-breaker rule for determining the treaty residence of dual-resident persons
vii) Anti-abuse rule for permanent establishments situated in third States

2. Cases where a person tries to abuse the provisions of domestic tax law using treaties

B. Clarification that tax treaties are not intended to be used to generate double non-taxation

C. Tax policy considerations that, in general, countries should consider before deciding to enter into a tax treaty with another country.

Book Binder

Handle your critical international business ventures with confidence using the indispensable content you can only find in LexisNexis® Foreign Tax & Trade Briefs, the one information service that provides the latest tax and trade information for 128 foreign countries and territories on a regular quarterly basis.  Looseleaf, updated with revisions four times each year.  Professor William Byrnes is the author of six Lexis treatises, including Tax Havens of the WorldLexisNexis® Guide to FATCA Compliance; Money Laundering, Asset Forfeiture and Recovery and Compliance — A Global Guide; Practical Guide to US Transfer Pricing and International Withholding Tax Treaty Guide.

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The IRS Will Pay You to Save Retirement Money !

Posted by William Byrnes on March 18, 2014


2013_tf_insurance_emp_benefits_combo_covers-m_2The IRS reported in Tax Tip 2014-28 that it will pay some taxpayers to save for retirement!

If a taxpayer contributes to a retirement plan, like a 401(k) or an IRA, then the taxpayer may be eligible for the “Saver’s Credit”. The Saver’s Credit can help save for retirement and reduce this year’s tax owed.  5 facts about this credit:

1. The Saver’s Credit is the short name for the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit. It can be worth up to $2,000 for married couples filing a joint return. The credit is worth up to $1,000 for single taxpayers.

2. Eligibility depends on a taxpayer’s filing status and the amount of yearly income.  2013 tax return eligibility for the credit depends on:

  • Married filing separately or a single taxpayer with income up to $29,500
  • Head of household with income up to $44,250
  • Married filing jointly with income up to $59,000

3. Other special rules that apply to the credit include:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Can’t be a full-time student in 2013.
  • Can’t be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return.

4. The taxpayer must have contributed to a 401(k) plan or similar workplace plan by the end of the year to claim this credit. However, a taxpayer can contribute to an IRA by the due date of a tax return (April 15, 2014) and still have that contribution count for 2013.

5. File Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to claim the credit. Tax software includes this form for e-file.

The Saver’s Credit is in addition to other tax savings for setting aside money for retirement.  For example, a taxpayer may be able to deduct contributions to a traditional IRA.

Authoritative and easy-to-use, 2014 Tax Facts on Insurance & Employee Benefits shows you how the tax law and regulations are relevant to your insurance, employee benefits, and financial planning practices.  Often complex tax law and regulations are explained in clear, understandable language.  Pertinent planning points are provided throughout.

Posted in Retirement Planning, Taxation | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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