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William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Archive for December, 2013

Assoc. Dean Byrnes’ Book “Tax Facts on Individuals and Small Business” Published | Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Posted by William Byrnes on December 30, 2013


Read about > Assoc. Dean Byrnes’ Book “Tax Facts on Individuals and Small Business” Published | Thomas Jefferson School of Law <

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LTC’s Future Lies in New Crop of Hybrid Products

Posted by William Byrnes on December 30, 2013


When it comes to long-term care coverage, advising risk-adverse clients has historically required a balancing act that many traditional long-term care insurance (LTCI) policies simply are not cut out for. In weighing the need for coverage against the risk of a lost investment, clients frequently decide against obtaining coverage.

Fortunately, changes in the long-term care marketplace have recently inspired a new crop of products that can alleviate some concerns of clients who are already feeling the pinch of a persistently low interest rate economy. While longer lifespans and the ever-increasing cost of care have led to dramatically higher LTCI costs, new asset-based products can allow your clients to obtain affordable coverage on an almost risk-free basis, with features and tax-preferences that will likely tip the scales in favor of coverage for even the most cautious of clients.

Read the analysis of Prof. William Byrnes and Robert Bloink at ThinkAdvisor !

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Court Eases Use of Annuities to Avoid Medicaid Spend-Down

Posted by William Byrnes on December 24, 2013


The winds are finally changing for Medicaid recipients, as evidenced by a recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that eases state-imposed restrictions on the use of annuities, reducing the need for your clients to spend down assets in order to become eligible for Medicaid assistance. The 6th Circuit ruling shut down the state’s attack on Medicaid-compliant annuities in this case, ruling in favor of clients who rely upon these annuities to provide sufficient income even if one spouse requires Medicaid assistance to pay for long-term care in a nursing home.

Based on this precedent, your clients may begin to experience a much more favorable Medicaid planning environment as they gain greater flexibility in the purchase timing and beneficiary designation requirements for annuity contracts that escape the Medicaid resource calculation formula, without jeopardizing an unhealthy spouse’s Medicaid eligibility.

Read the full analysis of Professor William Byrnes and Robert Bloink at Think Advisor !

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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IRS Offers Tips for Year-End Giving

Posted by William Byrnes on December 19, 2013


In its December 16th Newswire (IR-2013-98), the IRS reminded individuals and businesses making contributions to charity of several important tax law provisions that have taken effect in recent years. The IRS highlighted the following changes in the end of year Newswire.

Special Tax-Free Charitable Distributions for Certain IRA Owners

This provision, currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2013, offers older owners of individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) a different way to give to charity.  An IRA owner, age 70½ or over, can directly transfer tax-free up to $100,000 per year to an eligible charity. This option, first available in 2006, can be used for distributions from IRAs, regardless of whether the owners itemize their deductions. Distributions from employer-sponsored retirement plans, including SIMPLE IRAs and simplified employee pension (SEP) plans, are not eligible.

To qualify, the funds must be transferred directly by the IRA trustee to the eligible charity. Distributed amounts may be excluded from the IRA owner’s income – resulting in lower taxable income for the IRA owner. However, if the IRA owner excludes the distribution from income, no deduction, such as a charitable contribution deduction on Schedule A, may be taken for the distributed amount.

Not all charities are eligible. For example, donor-advised funds and supporting organizations are not eligible recipients.

Amounts transferred to a charity from an IRA are counted in determining whether the owner has met the IRA’s required minimum distribution. Where individuals have made nondeductible contributions to their traditional IRAs, a special rule treats amounts distributed to charities as coming first from taxable funds, instead of proportionately from taxable and nontaxable funds, as would be the case with regular distributions. See Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), for more information on qualified charitable distributions.

Rules for Charitable Contributions of Clothing and Household Items

To be tax-deductible, clothing and household items donated to charity generally must be in good used condition or better. A clothing or household item for which a taxpayer claims a deduction of over $500 does not have to meet this standard if the taxpayer includes a qualified appraisal of the item with the return.

Donors must get a written acknowledgement from the charity for all gifts worth $250 or more that includes, among other things, a description of the items contributed. Household items include furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances and linens.

Guidelines for Monetary Donations

To deduct any charitable donation of money, regardless of amount, a taxpayer must have a bank record or a written communication from the charity showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, bank or credit union statements, and credit card statements. Bank or credit union statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the amount paid. Credit card statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the transaction posting date.

Donations of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. For payroll deductions, the taxpayer should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document furnished by the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.

These requirements for the deduction of monetary donations do not change the long-standing requirement that a taxpayer obtain an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. However, one statement containing all of the required information may meet both requirements.

Reminders

To help taxpayers plan their holiday-season and year-end giving, the IRS offers the following additional reminders:

  • Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2013 count for 2013. This is true even if the credit card bill isn’t paid until 2014. Also, checks count for 2013 as long as they are mailed in 2013.
  • Check that the organization is eligible. Only donations to eligible organizations are tax-deductible. Exempt Organization Select Check, a searchable online database available on IRS.gov, lists most organizations that are eligible to receive deductible contributions. In addition, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies are eligible to receive deductible donations, even if they are not listed in the database.
  • For individuals, only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A can claim deductions for charitable contributions. This deduction is not available to individuals who choose the standard deduction, including anyone who files a short form (Form 1040A or 1040EZ). A taxpayer will have a tax savings only if the total itemized deductions (mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, etc.) exceed the standard deduction. Use the 2013 Form 1040 Schedule A to determine whether itemizing is better than claiming the standard deduction.
  • For all donations of property, including clothing and household items, get from the charity, if possible, a receipt that includes the name of the charity, date of the contribution, and a reasonably-detailed description of the donated property. If a donation is left at a charity’s unattended drop site, keep a written record of the donation that includes this information, as well as the fair market value of the property at the time of the donation and the method used to determine that value. Additional rules apply for a contribution of $250 or more.
  • The deduction for a car, boat or airplane donated to charity is usually limited to the gross proceeds from its sale. This rule applies if the claimed value is more than $500. Form 1098-C or a similar statement, must be provided to the donor by the organization and attached to the donor’s tax return.
  • If the amount of a taxpayer’s deduction for all noncash contributions is over $500, a properly-completed Form 8283 must be submitted with the tax return.
  • And, as always it’s important to keep good records and receipts.

IRS YouTube Videos:

See Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

See Online mini-course, Can I Deduct My Charitable Contributions?

 

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Act Now on End of Year Expiring Tax Breaks: IRA Charitable Rollovers, Bonus Depreciation

Posted by William Byrnes on December 18, 2013


Individual clients may have one final chance to satisfy required minimum distribution (RMD) requirements without increasing taxable income.

Small business clients, on the other hand, should be advised that the time to expand is now, as special expensing and bonus depreciation rules are also set to expire at year’s end.

Regardless of your client’s situation, the list of expiring tax breaks is robust enough to grab everyone’s attention.

Read Professor William Byrnes and Robert Bloink’s end of year planning tips at > Think Advisor <

 

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NationalUnderwriter.com is celebrating throughout the month of December with two FREE Shipping offers! (No coupon necessary)

Posted by William Byrnes on December 12, 2013


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Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013

Posted by William Byrnes on December 12, 2013


2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1On December 10, 2013, Senate Budget Committee chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that they have reached a two-year budget agreement in advance of the budget conference’s December 13th deadline.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 would set overall discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion—about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. The agreement would provide $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. In fiscal year 2014, defense discretionary spending would be set at $520.5 billion, and non-defense discretionary spending would be set at $491.8 billion.

The sequester relief is fully offset by savings elsewhere in the budget. The agreement includes dozens of specific deficit-reduction provisions, with mandatory savings and non-tax revenue totaling $85 billion. The agreement would reduce the deficit by $23 billion.

The Summary of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 includes:

PREVENTION OF WASTE, FRAUD, AND ABUSE

  • Improving the collection of unemployment insurance overpayments
  • Strengthening Medicaid third-party liability (“dead beat dad” provision)
  • Restriction on access to the Death Master File (fee based access going forward to cover its costs)
  • Identification of inmates requesting or receiving improper payments

FEDERAL CIVILIAN AND MILITARY RETIREMENT

  • Federal Employees Retirement System for new employees
  • Annual adjustment of retired pay and retainer pay amounts for retired members of the Armed Forces under age 62

HIGHER EDUCATION

  • Default Reduction Program
  • Elimination of nonprofit servicing contract

TRANSPORTATION

  • Aviation security service fees
  • Transportation cost reimbursement

MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

  • Limitation on allowable government contractor compensation costs: limits how much a contractor could charge the federal government for an employee’s compensation to $487,000, adjusted annually to reflect changes in the Employment Cost Index. (Comment: does this mean that government contractors are receiving more than $487,000 annually for an employee? How do I sign up?).
  • Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation premium rate increases

See House Report at http://budget.house.gov/the-bipartisan-budget-act-of-2013/

See CBO Report at http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44964

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for research of ‘Home Mortgage Cramdown in Bankruptcy’ – Richard Gendler awarded title of “Doctor of Law”

Posted by William Byrnes on December 11, 2013


After a successful dissertation defense on October 22, 2013, Thomas Jefferson School of Law awarded the degree of Doctor of Science of Law, called a “J.S.D.” degree, to Dr. Richard S. Gendler. The J.S.D. is a research-based doctoral degree, the most advanced law degree in the United States. It requires three to five years of legal research and writing on a unique issue of law that makes a substantial and novel contribution to a field of study. The J.S.D. degree is equivalent to a Ph.D. in law, which first requires the completion of the Bachelor, J.D., and LL.M. degrees. …

Associate Dean William Byrnes added, “Dr. Richard Gendler has undertaken ground-breaking empirical research for his Ph.D. of all Chapter 13 cases that were filed in the Southern District of Florida from 2009. Dr. Gendler scrutinized the effectiveness of cure of mortgages on homeowners’ principal residences relative to the use of lien stripping in Chapter 13 plans, both for underwater and non-underwater mortgages. ….”  

The dissertation topic was “Home Mortgage Cramdown in Bankruptcy.”  The dissertation provided an extensive study into the interplay between the recent home mortgage crisis and U.S. Bankruptcy Law.  Read about Dr. Richard Gendler’s research and findings about cramdown and bankruptcy at http://www.tjsl.edu/news-media/2013/10956

 

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Overcoming Objections: What Part of “No” Don’t You Understand?

Posted by William Byrnes on December 9, 2013


… Objections are the sales profession’s version of death and taxes. They’re inevitable, nobody likes them, but nobody’s figured out a way to prevent them from cropping up. You’ve heard all of these and more besides. How do you respond to them?

Read Professor William Byrnes and Robert Bloink on 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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High Net Worth Clients: How to Find Them, How to Service Them

Posted by William Byrnes on December 2, 2013


…. But the very rich are different in other ways too. For one thing, they’re elusive. Thomas Stanley’s famous book was called “The Millionaire Next Door” because he found that by and large, millionaires are modest, hard-working people who don’t flaunt their wealth. Perhaps apart from the fact that many of them are business owners, that means there’s no special way to prospect for them. ….

Here, as always, knowledge is power. For prospecting HNWs, the first thing to know is where and how to find them, so that is where we begin. However, once you’ve found them the key thing is to know their psychology. …

Read William Byrnes and Robert Bloink on 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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