William Byrnes' Tax, Wealth, and Risk Intelligence

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

Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for Financial Advisors (December 5 edition)

Posted by William Byrnes on December 6, 2019

Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online graduate curriculum for tax professionals. Apply now for Jan 13 – April 19 transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for the inaugural cohort opportunity, contact Jeff Green, Graduate Programs Coordinator, T: +1 (817) 212-3866, E: jeffgreen@law.tamu.edu or contact David Dye, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, T (817) 212-3954, E: ddye@law.tamu.edu. Texas A&M Admissions website: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/international-tax

Final Regulations Confirm: No “Clawback” for Gifts Made Under Expanded Transfer Tax Exemption

The 2017 tax reform legislation significantly expanded the transfer tax exemption, which applies to exempt both lifetime and postmortem gifts from transfer taxes. However, the new provision is set to sunset after 2025, leading many taxpayers to question whether large gifts made while the provision is effective would be exempt once the exemption reverts to the much lower $5 million (as adjusted for inflation) limit. In general, the exemption applies first to gifts made during life and then to the individual’s remaining estate. Under the final regulations, estates are allowed to compute the available estate tax credit using the higher of the basic exclusion amount that applied to gifts made during life or the basic exclusion amount applicable on the date of death. Essentially, this rule provides certainty that taxpayers can make large gifts now (i.e., gifts that exceed the $5 million exemption) without generating transfer tax liability if the exemption amount is reduced in the future. For more information on the estate tax, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Court Finds Prudent Process Sufficient to Overcome DOL Fiduciary Liability

Many retirement plan sponsors and advisors have been left in uncertainty since the DOL fiduciary rule was vacated. A September 2019 case involving a DOL fiduciary enforcement action may shed light on resolution of fiduciary issues in the retirement plan context. In this case, the court found that retirement committee members were not liable under ERIA for a failure to monitor the committee’s investment manager more closely. The committee here had implemented processes and procedures, including regular meetings and reports, and acted in accordance with those procedures. After the DOL initiated action, the court agreed that the committee was entitled to rely upon those procedures. Once an error or problem arose and the committee became aware—or reasonably should have become aware—of the issue, the committee correctly increased its oversight until the issue was resolved. Here, that issue was that the committee’s instructions with respect to investments were not being followed. Once the committee noticed, they stepped up oversight. Importantly, this ruling shows that a prudent process is often sufficient to avoid fiduciary liability even if a decision results in investment losses. For more information on the fiduciary standard, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Cracking Down on Syndicated Conservation Easements

In recently released IR-2019-182, the IRS announced that it has substantially increased resources to crack down on syndicated conservation easements. Under the IRC, a special rule allows taxpayers to take a deduction for donations of qualified conservation easements (an exception to the general rule prohibiting deductions for donations of less than an entire interest in property). A qualified conservation easement is a contribution of real property including a restriction (granted in perpetuity) for the use of the property, which must be used for conservation purposes. Syndications are often set up to purchase real property for conservation easements. Most syndications involve tiers of pass-through entities so that investors in the entities can more fully use the charitable deduction (which is subject to an adjusted gross income cap like any other charitable deduction). Often, the actual deduction will far exceed the amounts invested—sometimes because inflated property values are used. These and substantially similar arrangements are now classified as listed transactions, which must be disclosed to the IRS. Clients should be made aware of this increased potential for enforcement across several IRS divisions. For more information on the requirements for claiming a conservation easement deduction, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More


2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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