William Byrnes' Tax, Wealth, and Risk Intelligence

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

Posts Tagged ‘Fiscal year’

IRS High Net Worth Initiative: Fearsome Beast or Paper Tiger?

Posted by William Byrnes on August 16, 2011

The IRS commenced the Large Business and International Division’s high-wealth industry group (“HNW Initiative”) in October 2009 with the aim of examining high-net worth individuals for income tax compliance. But the Service may be “using more rhetoric than resources,” according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). TRAC’s April 14 report, based on information compiled from public records, accuses the IRS of having “very skimpy” audit goals for the HNW initiative.

TRAC’s orginal goal was to audit a mere 122 returns for the 2011 fiscal year. However, according to reports, TRAC will fall far short of this modest benchmark, and instead only audit 19% of the projected returns for the first six months of the year.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber)

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Did You File Your Taxes?

Posted by William Byrnes on May 2, 2011

A recent report by the Internal Revenue Service shows that total return filings are down this year as compared to the same time last year.  The report shows that over 51.927 million individual taxpayers have filed through the end of February 2011.  During this same period for the 2009 taxable year/2010 filing year the total number of returns by the end of February was around 53.556 million.  The difference between the two years amounts to approximately a decrease of three percent.

What’s more, the average refund for the 2010 tax year/2011 filing season is also down from calculations from the same time last year. This year’s average individual refund is currently $3,129, down $20 from $3,149 in 2010.  Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI

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2012 IRS Budget Revealed !!

Posted by William Byrnes on March 26, 2011

Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers?  Increasing the IRS staffing budget in certain departments may be indicative of increasing scrutiny of client’s information and tax returns.  Increasing government scrutiny may lead to increased compliance costs in time and fees.  Consequently, a wealth manager may want to address with client the need for increasing diligence in preparation of their affairs.  Thus, Advanced Market Intelligence presents a discussion on the Internal Revenue Services’ allocations for fiscal year 2012, and contrasts 2010 data and figures.

The fiscal year 2012 proposed budget allocates $14 billion to the Department of the Treasury; a 4 percent increase above the 2010 enacted level. [1] The increase over 2010 levels is attributed to costs associated with implementation of legislation and new investments in IRS tax compliance activities that are aimed to help reduce the deficit.  Of the $14 billion appropriated to the Treasury operations, over $13.28 billion is encumbered for the Internal Revenue Service.[2]

The Internal Revenue Service has allocated its appropriations to the tune of $2.345 billion for “Taxpayer Services”; $5. 96 billion for “Enforcement” of which over $5 billion is apportioned to “Exam and Collections”; “Operations and Support” represent $4.62 billion; and “Business Systems Modernization” together with “Health Insurance Tax Credit Administration” represent approximately $351 million. [3]

The main function of the Internal Revenue Service is to collect he revenue that funds the government and administer the nation’s tax laws. [4] The IRS collected $2.345 trillion in taxes (gross receipts before tax refunds) in 2010, or 93 percent of all federal government receipts.

Total resources to support the IRS activities for fiscal year 2012 are estimated to be around $13.626 billion, including $13.283 billion from direct appropriations, an estimated $138 million from reimbursable programs, and an estimated $204 million user fees.  The direct federal budget appropriation is $1,137,784,000, 9.37 percent, more than the fiscal year 2010 enacted level of $12,146,123,000. [5]

The 2012 budget provides funding to implement enacted legislation; handle new information reporting requirements; increase compliance by addressing offshore tax evasion; expand enforcement efforts on noncompliance among corporate and high-wealth taxpayers; and enforce return preparer compliance.

The IRS estimates new enforcement personnel will generate more than $1.3 billion in additional annual enforcement revenue once the new hires reach full potential in fiscal year 2014.

Even the Department of the Treasury notes, the tax law is complex and that even sophisticated taxpayers can make honest mistakes on their tax returns.  To this end, the IRS states that it remains committed to a balanced program of assisting taxpayers to both understand the tax law and remit the proper amount of tax.

In fiscal year 2010, revenue from all enforcement sources at the IRS reached $57.6 billion, 18 percent more than in 2009.  The significant increase was attributable in part to:  Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI


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2012 Budget Talk: Capital Gains, Dividends, and 1099 Information Reporting

Posted by William Byrnes on March 23, 2011

Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers?  A producer should be able to present a perspective of the potential impact of current budget proposals upon investments that will be realized in the future.  Thus, Advanced Market Intelligence discusses certain features to the proposed federal budget that impact fiscal year 2012.

The President’s new budget proposal included many revenue raising measures.  However, below are two areas affecting the tax code that will actually increase the deficit, and also have a strong likelihood to have an impact on clients’ decisions made today.

Currently, the maximum rate of tax on the qualified dividends and net long-term capital gains of an individual is 15 percent. [1] In addition, any qualified dividends and capital gains that would otherwise be taxed at a 10- or 15-percent ordinary income tax rate are taxed at a zero percent rate.

The zero- and 15-percent rates for qualified dividends and capital gains are scheduled to expire for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2012. [2] In 2013, the maximum income tax rate on capital gains would increase to 20 percent (18 percent for assets purchased after December 31, 2000 and held longer than five years), while all dividends would be taxed at ordinary tax rates of up to 39.6 percent.

Taxing qualified dividends at the same low rate as capital gains for all taxpayers is said to reduce the tax bias against equity investment and promote a more efficient allocation of capital.  Eliminating the special 18-percent rate on gains from assets held for more than five years is thought to further simplify the tax code.  Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI


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Highlights of the GAO Financial Audit: Bureau of the Public Debt’s Fiscal Year 2010

Posted by William Byrnes on March 20, 2011

Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Presents discussion on the national debt and national future financial outlook. A client wants to know what YOU think about Treasury Notes versus other types of government debt, even foreign government debt.  An understanding of the annual federal national deficit, and its impact on the federal national debt, will provide you a helpful starting point to educate your client, without providing investment advice.

We thought an introduction to the current economic condition would therefore be appropriate.  As of September 30, 2010, the federal debt managed by Bureau of the Public Debt totaled about $13,551 billion primarily for borrowings to fund the federal government’s operations.  A Government Accountability Office (GAO) Study recently showed the Federal Debt balances consisted of approximately (1) $9,023 billion as of September 30, 2010, of debt held by the public and (2) $4,528 billion as of September 30, 2010 of intragovernmental debt holdings. [1]

Debt held by the public primarily represents the amount the federal government has borrowed to finance cumulative cash deficits.  To finance a cash deficit, the federal government borrows from the public.  When a cash surplus occurs, the annual excess funds can then be used to reduce debt held by the public.  In other words, annual cash deficits or surpluses generally approximate the annual net change in the amount of federal government borrowing from the public.

Intragovernmental debt holdings represent balances of Treasury securities held by federal government accounts, primarily federal trust funds, that typically have an obligation to invest their excess annual receipts (including interest earnings) over disbursements in federal securities.

The federal debt has been audited since fiscal year 1997. Over this period, total federal debt has increased by 151 percent.  During the last 4 fiscal years, managing the federal debt has been a challenge, as evidenced by the growth of total federal debt by $5,058 billion, or 60 percent, from $8,493 billion as of September 30, 2006, to $13,551 billion as of September 30, 2010.

The increase to the federal debt became particularly acute with the onset of the recession in December 2007. Reduced federal revenues and federal government actions in response to both the financial market crisis and the economic downturn added significantly to the federal government’s borrowing needs.  And, due to the persistent effects of the recession, experts believe federal financing needs remain high.  As a result, the increases to total federal debt over the past three fiscal years represent the largest dollar increases over a three year period in history.  The largest annual dollar increase occurred in fiscal year 2009 when total federal debt increased by $1,887 billion.

During fiscal year 2010, total federal debt increased by $1,653 billion.  Of the fiscal year 2010 increase, about $1,471 billion was from the increase in debt held by the public and about $182 billion was from the increase in intragovernmental debt holdings.

During fiscal years 2008, 2009, and 2010, legislation was enacted to raise the statutory debt limit on five different occasions.  During this period, the statutory debt limit went from $9,815 billion to its current level of $14,294 billion, an increase of about 46 percent.  Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI


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Deductibility of Welfare Benefit Plan Contributions (Section 419)

Posted by William Byrnes on March 18, 2011

Company is an accrual basis fiscal year taxpayer.  Company pays severance benefits in its discretion on an ad hoc basis, and vacation benefits pursuant to its established policy.

Historically, Company has paid both severance and vacation pay from its general assets.  Due to a decline in the Market over the past few years, Company has paid significant severance and expects to continue to pay additional severance over the next few years.  Effective Jan 1, 2009 Company established Trust to pay this anticipated severance and vacation pay.  Trust intends to submit an application for recognition of exempt status in 2010.  On 1/1/2009 Company contributed over $1,000,000 to the Trust and deducted that amount on its tax return for 2009.  Company indicates that beginning in 2010, Company will make payments for vacation and severance and will seek reimbursement from the Trust.

Company computed the amount deducted based on the limitation set forth in the Code.

Company has not provided any information documenting any severance claims incurred in 2009 that it expects to pay in 2010.  Company indicates that because the Trust was established “to pay severance that they anticipate they will have to pay over the next few years …”, and because the amount deducted is within the limit set forth in the Code that the deduction is proper.  Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI


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Foreign Trust Disclosure

Posted by William Byrnes on February 9, 2011

Although trusts can be taxpayers, Sections 671 to 679 of the Internal Revenue Code contain the so-called ‘grantor trust rules’, which treat certain trust settlors (and sometimes persons other than the settlor) as the owner of a portion or all of a trust’s income, deductions and credits for US tax purposes. A trust where the settlor (or other person) is treated as the owner of the trust assets for US tax purposes is referred to as a ‘grantor trust’. The grantor trust rules apply to both foreign and domestic trusts, but in different ways.

Under the grantor trust rules, a US person who transfers property to a foreign trust is generally treated for income tax purposes as the owner of that portion of the trust attributable to the transferred property, even if the trust would not have been a grantor trust had it been domestic.

This is the result for any tax year in which any portion of the foreign trust has a US beneficiary.  A foreign trust is treated as having a US beneficiary for a tax year unless (i) under the terms of the trust, no part of the trust’s income or corpus may be paid or accumulated during the tax year to or for the benefit of a US person, and (ii) if the trust is terminated at any time during the tax year, no part of the income or corpus could be paid to or for the benefit of a US person.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations under Section 679 of the Internal Revenue Code generally treat a foreign trust as having a US beneficiary if any current, future or contingent beneficiary of the trust is a US person.  To read this article excerpted above, please access AdvisorFYI.


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How are business expenses reported for income tax purposes?

Posted by William Byrnes on December 27, 2010

Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? As the end of the calendar and personal tax year approaches, Advanced Market Intelligence will focus on end-of-the-tax-year issues that every wealth manager may relay as helpful information to his and her clients.

“How are business expenses reported for income tax purposes?” may initially seem like an easy question for many wealth managers.  But normally, the easiness of answering this question is a result of referring to an information pamphlet by a service provider or perhaps a newspaper article.  Unfortunately, these public sources of information are not always accurate.  Also, because they are trying to present very complex information in understandable terms, these types of sources gloss over finer, yet very important elements, that if known, would impact a decision.

Seldom does the wealth manager take the initiative to undertake his own initial research of the actual rules and how the rules may be applied.  Advanced Market Intelligence has been committed to empowering the wealth manager with the necessary information to efficiently find the important rules and provide examples of how the rules are applied to various example scenarios.  Thus, let us first turn to the legislative rule applying to business expenses.

The Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”), legislated by Congress, establishes rules regarding ‘if and when’ a taxpayer may choose to deduct certain expenses from income.  Congress grants the authority to the Treasury department to write corresponding “Regulations” to address the administration and enforcement surrounding the ability of taxpayers to take such deductions allowed by the Code.  Business expenses are one type of such expense Congress has established for a taxpayer to reduce his gross income.

The Code section establishing the ability of a taxpayer to deduct a business expense is Section 162.  The first part of the first paragraph of Section 162 reads:

(a) In general

There shall be allowed as a deduction all the ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on any trade or business, including— …

To read this article excerpted above, please access www.AdvisorFX.com

Read the key information you need to know and relate to your client at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber):

Tax Facts 7537. How are business expenses reported for income tax purposes?

Main Library – Section 19. Income Taxes B4—Business Income And Deductions

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