Wealth & Risk Management Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘United States Congress’

political rhetorical reflections while preparing for a lecture…

Posted by William Byrnes on July 30, 2013


Searching for some good examples of American populist rhetoric to amuse a Law and Economics class, I re-stumbled upon William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech.  For my non-U.S. students, the “Cross of Gold” speech is heralded as one of the best rhetorical speeches delivered in the U.S. Congress.  My memory of grade school, reading Bryan’s folksy style, quickly refreshed with his opening …

“I would be presumptuous, indeed, to present myself against the distinguished gentlemen to whom you have listened if this were but a measuring of ability; but this is not a contest among persons. The humblest citizen in all the land when clad in the armor of a righteous cause is stronger than all the whole hosts of error that they can bring. “ …

And of course his crescendo against the gold standard:

“Having behind us the commercial interests and the laboring interests and all the toiling masses, we shall answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to them, you shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”[1]

Many years later, William Jennings Bryan made a recording of this famous speech: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/williamjenningsbryan1896dnc.htm

A week past, chatting with Professor Denis Kleinfeld as he was preparing for his course on International (Offshore) Financial Centers), he referred me author Jay Starkman’s book that includes numerous entertaining anecdotes about tax and U.S. history: The Sex of a Hippopotamus: A Unique History of Taxes and Accountancy. http://www.starkman.com/hippo/index.html (I’ve ordered a copy)

What happenstance to be reminded of Bryan’s Congressional speech in favor of the income tax.  Besides having rhetorical merit near that of the Cross of Gold speech, Bryan provides a brief summary of income tax levied right ‘round the world (well, at least Europe).  This opening certainly beats that of Cross of Gold:

“Mr. Chairman, if this were a mere contest in oratory, no one would be presumptuous enough to dispute the prize with the distinguished gentlemen from New York; but clad in the armor of a righteous cause I dare oppose myself to the shafts of his genius, believing that “pebbles of truth” will be more effective than the “javelin of error,” even when hurled by the giant of the Philistines.”

His income tax speech crescendo in favor of a 2% (aghast!) maximum rate lay prelude to the expatriation regimes of today:

“Of all the mean men I have ever known, I have never known one so mean that I would be willing to say of him that his patriotism was less than 2 per cent deep.”[2]

Now, for my Law & Econ class, I’m quite partial to the rhetoric of Huey P. Long, being that we share that great, sovereign, State of Louisana.  Thus, I went with a couple of his quotes instead.  For those of you who don’t know the folksy speeches of Huey P. Long, a good one-minuter about the (lack of) difference between Republicans and Democrats – view him here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=avGl7k4OGJY

While most political economic students will know his “Every Man a King” radio address (http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/hueyplongking.htm), only students of political rhetoric will have been exposed to his 1928 “Evangeline” campaign speech:

“…It is here under this oak where Evangeline waited for her lover, Gabriel, who never came. This oak is an immortal spot, made so by Longfellow’s poem, but Evangeline is not the only one who has waited here in disappointment.

Where are the schools that you have waited for your children to have, that have never come?

Where are the roads and the highways that you send your money to build, that are no nearer now than ever before?

Where are the institutions to care for the sick and disabled?

Evangeline wept bitter tears in her disappointment, but it lasted only through one lifetime. Your tears in this country, around this oak, have lasted for generations. Give me the chance to dry the eyes of those who still weep here.”


[1] You may read the entire speech compliments of http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5354/

[2] You may read the entire speech compliments of http://www.starkman.com/hippo/history/bryan.shtml

 

Posted in Courses, Tax Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Fiscal Cliff Conclusion: Compromise Continues Tax Cuts for Many, But Not All

Posted by William Byrnes on January 2, 2013


In the first moments of 2013, Congress eased the fiscal cliff tax increases for taxpayers earning less than $450,000 by enacting the American Taxpayer Relief Act (Act), permanently extending the Bush-era income tax cuts for this group. … While the legislation extends the current income tax rates for taxpayers earning less than $450,000 ($400,000 for single filers) per year, it allowed the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for all higher-income taxpayers.  Similarly, taxes on capital gains, dividends, and estates were increased for the wealthiest taxpayers.

How Were Income Taxes Increased by the Fiscal Cliff Compromise?

How Does the Act Impact the Current System for Tax Deductions and Exemptions?

Were Capital Gains and Dividend Rates Impacted by the Act?

How Are Estate and Gift Tax Rates Affected?

What Other Changes Were Made?

Beyond the Act: What is the “Investment Income Tax”?

Planning Under the Act: How Should Clients Plan for Higher Taxes in 2013?

Read the analysis at National Underwriters’ Advanced Markets – http://nationalunderwriteradvancedmarkets.com/articles/fc010113-a.aspx?action=16

Posted in Estate Tax, Retirement Planning, Tax Policy, Taxation, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Debt Deal Talks Down to the Wire

Posted by William Byrnes on March 23, 2012


Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner insists that the administration needs to reach a debt limit deal by the end of this week to give Congress enough time to enact the deal into law. Without a deal, the federal government will be unable to pay its debts as of August 2 of this year.

“Default is not an option,” he said on Tuesday, July 12, at the Treasury’s Women in Finance Symposium. “Failure is not an option, and they understand that—Speaker [John] Boehner and Minority Leader [Mitch] McConnell—absolutely understand we need to move in advance of the deadline on Aug. 2nd.”

Despite Geithner’s confidence that they will reach a deal, President Obama and Congressional leaders are also working on options for keeping the government’s bills paid if a deal can’t be reached by the Treasury’s August 2 debt limit deadline. “If we are unable to come together, we think it’s extremely important that the country reassure the markets that default is not an option and reassure Social Security recipients and families of military veterans that default is not an option,” said Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.), who took part in the talks.

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).

For previous coverage in  Advisor’s Journal, see Democrats Call Debt Limit Unconstitutional (CC 11-134), Debt Limit Standoff Boils Over (CC 11-115) and Storm Clouds over U.S. Debt (CC 11-85).

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

More States Moving to Estate Tax Repeal

Posted by William Byrnes on November 18, 2011


In recent times, federal estate tax is receiving most of the attention. Nevertheless, most of the death tax activity affecting Americans occurs at the state level.

The reality is, fewer states (twenty-two plus D.C) currently have a “death tax”—referring collectively to estate and inheritance taxes. Recently,  a number of those states  increased their exemption amount to exclude a large majority of their residents from the tax. One state—Ohio—is on the verge of repealing its estate tax altogether.

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

For previous coverage of Obama’s tax agreement, including its estate tax provisions, in Advisor’s Journal, see Obama Tax Agreement Faces Stiff Resistance in Congress (CC 10-112) and Obama Tax Agreement Passed by House (CC 10-117).

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

Corporate Tax Reform: Easier Said than Done

Posted by William Byrnes on October 5, 2011


Both sides of the political spectrum agree that corporate tax reform is a priority.For reform to happen, tough choices are needed from Washington. Reform would develop a system that forces multinational corporations to pay their fair share without hurting US competitiveness in the world markets. Overtax multinational corporations,  and they’ll move their operations overseas; under-tax and you’ll reduce revenue that is sorely needed by the US government.

As part of the ongoing debate and investigation of the US corporate tax system, the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means is hearing testimony from tax experts on the US tax system and alternatives.

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).

For previous coverage of corporate tax reform issues in Advisor’s Journal, see Obama’s Blue Ribbon Debt Commission Proposes Complete Overhaul of the Tax Code (CC 10-95).

For in-depth analysis of US Corporate Tax, see Advisor’s Main Library: A – The Corporate Income Tax.

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

SEC Softening its Stance on Private Placements

Posted by William Byrnes on September 26, 2011


The Obama Administration’s 2012 federal budget proposal has revived two budget proposals that recent scandals have directed a slew of regulatory attention on private placement. Considering examinations of private placements recently being characterized by a FINRA executive as a “major, major initiative, it would seem strange for the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to consider relaxing rules for marketing private placements.

Nevertheless, that’s exactly what SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro told members of Congress the agency is planning.

Speaking before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Shapiro said that the SEC is going to “take a fresh look” at rules relating to private placements and other securities offerings, both public and private. Specifically, she said that the agency will reconsider the private placement public marketing ban and the 500-investor threshold that categorizes a company as “public.”

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).

For previous coverage of private placements in Advisor’s Journal, see Private Placements Becoming Much Riskier for Firms (CC 11-78) and Private Placements Becoming Much Riskier for Firms (CC 11-78).

Posted in Tax Policy, Taxation, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Could 2011 & 2012 Gifts Come Back to Bite the Grantor

Posted by William Byrnes on August 8, 2011


Whether or not to give substantial lifetime gifts in 2011 and 2012 is going to be a hot topic between now and the end of 2012. But deciding whether to take advantage of the record high ($5 million) gift, estate and GST tax exclusion amount and low (35%) transfer tax rate isn’t a trivial matter.

Even your most tax savvy clients are going to need help deciding whether to take advantage of the new law.

The problem is that the new law—which was put into place by the Tax Reform Act of 2010—is scheduled to lapse on January 1, 2013. So is it worth taking the risk that Congress will radically change transfer tax laws for years post-2012? And what will happen to your clients’ transfer tax liability if Congress does change the law?

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).

Posted in Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pound Wise and Penny Foolish: The IRS Rebuts Unsound Tax Positions

Posted by William Byrnes on April 28, 2011


In the midst of the tax filing season, the Internal Revenue Service released the 2011 version of its discussion of many of the more common “frivolous” tax arguments made by individuals and groups that oppose compliance with federal tax laws.

The Service suggested that “anyone who contemplates arguing on legal grounds against paying their fair share of taxes should first read their 84-page document, The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments.”  At AdvisorFYI, we are not contemplating any particular legal grounds for not paying a “fair share of taxes”, whatever that may be, but rather are interested in presenting some of the frivolous positions argued and how the Government generally responds. We’ve presented a few select ones below.

The 2011 IRS document explains many of the common “frivolous” arguments made in recent years and it presents a legal position that attempts to refute these claims.  The IRS claims, the document “will help taxpayers avoid wasting their time and money with frivolous arguments and incurring penalties.”

Congress in 2006 increased the amount of the penalty for frivolous tax returns from $500 to $5,000.  The increased penalty amount applies when a person submits a tax return or other specified submission, and any portion of the submission is based on a position the IRS identifies as frivolous.

Here are some of positions we found to be commonly marketed to the public, and how the IRS responds to the positions:  Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI

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

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report

Posted by William Byrnes on April 5, 2011


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? This topic discusses the evaluation report of the financial crisis issued by a Congressionally appointed body. The report presents discussion of events and causes leading up to the ordeal, as well as indications and factors which presented its forthcoming. The discussion is aimed to allow wealth managers to intelligently discuss some causes of the financial crisis with clients and colleagues.

There was a new report issued earlier this year by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which was created to “examine the causes of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States.” [1] In this report, the Commission presents to the President, the Congress, and the general public the results of its examination and its conclusions as to the causes of the crisis.

The Commission was established as part of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act passed by Congress and signed by the President in May 2009. [2] The independent panel was selected by Congress and composed of private citizens with experience in areas such as housing, economics, insurance, market regulation, banking, and consumer protection.

The report is intended to provide a historical accounting of what brought our financial system and economy to a precipice and to help policy makers and the public better understand how this calamity came to be.

Below are some of the findings issued in the report:  Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI

 

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

1099 B2B Reporting To Be Repealed

Posted by William Byrnes on March 29, 2011


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? This discussion is focused on a hot topic in Washington and around the country.  The new 1099 reporting requirements that are expected to come into effect next year may be amended or removed all together. Wealth managers would be well served to be knowledgeable on the subject that not only affects clients and their businesses, but it also directly affects many wealth managers themselves who pay for goods and services as a trade or business. Thus, here at Advanced Markets we bring wealth managers in particular the most relevant and up-to-date information on the web.

Repeal of the health reform law’s business-to-business 1099 reporting requirement is a step closer, with the U.S. Senate passing an amendment on February 2 that would repeal the provision.  Praising passage of the Senate amendment, Senator Stabenow said, “Today we provided a common-sense solution for business owners so they can focus on creating jobs, not filling out paperwork for the IRS…. If left unchecked, 40 million small businesses would see their IRS 1099 paperwork increase 2000 percent.”

President Obama even praised the repeal efforts in his state of the union address, receiving a resounding round of applause.  Acknowledging that his health care reform law has its share of flaws, and offering to work with the Congress to correct those flaws, he said that “We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.”  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).

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4, the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act of 2011 by majority vote (314-112, with 76 Democrats joining a unanimous House GOP).[1] The legislation, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama, would repeal an expansion currently scheduled to take effect in 2012 of information that businesses must report to the Internal Revenue Service on Form 1099.

Specifically, the new legislation would amend the Internal Revenue Code to repeal the expanded 1099 information reporting requirements on payments made to corporations, rental property expense payments, and payments for property and other gross proceeds.  The legislation would thus strike portions of section 6041 of the Internal Revenue Code which were added by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPA).

The PPA expanded tax information reporting requirements to require businesses to issue a Form 1099 for any payments to corporations (rather than just to individuals) and for any payments for property (rather than just for services or investment income) that exceed $600 per year per payee.  H.R. 4 would strike language requiring “amounts in consideration for property” and “gross proceeds” to be subject to 1099 reporting requirements under section 6041 of IRS Code in order to eliminate the expanded reporting requirements.  The bill would also repeal expanded information reporting requirements on rental property expense payments that are currently in effect.

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, repealing these expanded 1099 information reporting requirements for rental property expense payments as well as certain payments of more than $600 will reduce taxes by approximately $24.7 billion over ten years. [2]

Section 6041 of the Internal Revenue Code outlines reporting requirements and generally requires information returns to be made by every person (payor) engaged in a trade or business that makes payments aggregating $600 or more in any taxable year to another person (payee) in the course of the payor’s trade or business.  The information returns must be filed with the Internal Revenue Service and corresponding statements must be sent to each payee.

Beginning in 2012, certain payments not previously subject to 1099 reporting requirements, including those made to corporations and those made for property, will become subject to the reporting requirements under the PPA.  The PPA and subsequent legislation expanded information reporting requirements of businesses for payments of $600 or more to any vendor and on rental property expense payments.  Some argue, these new requirements would likely impose a huge tax compliance burden on small businesses, forcing them to devote resources to tax filing instead of to business expansion and job creation.

 

For previous coverage of the Health Care Reform Act’s enhanced 1099 reporting requirement in Advisor’s Journal, see Health Care Reform Causes an Avalanche of 1099s (CC 10-84).

Please check back with Advisorfyi and Advisorfx for more timely information on 1099 reporting.

 

Posted in Tax Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

2012 Federal Budget Proposed – High Debt Continues

Posted by William Byrnes on March 22, 2011


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Clients will often ask for your “take” on the annual federal budget.   It is important to show the client a command of the the facts and figures before addressing the political perspective of spending and revenue.  Any producer can “mime” someone else’s perspective.  Distinguish yourself with a command of the underlying numbers.  Thus, this week Advanced Market Intelligence presents the facts and figures of the proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2012.

The new 2012 Federal Budget was released by the President.  Below is a summary of the inflows and outflows concerning next year’s proposed budget (in billions of dollars).

Outlays:

Appropriated (“discretionary”) programs:   Security $ 884/Non-security 456; Subtotal—appropriated programs: 1,340

Mandatory programs: Social Security $ 761, Medicare 485, Medicaid 269, Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) 13, Other mandatory programs 612; Subtotal, mandatory programs 2,140, Net interest 242, Disaster costs 8

Total outlays 3,819

Receipts:

Individual income taxes $ 1,141, Corporation income taxes 329

Social insurance and retirement receipts: Social Security payroll taxes 659,Medicare payroll taxes 201, Unemployment insurance 57, Other retirement 8, Excise taxes 103, Estate and gift taxes 14, Customs duties 30, Deposits of earnings, Federal Reserve System 66, Other miscellaneous receipts 20

Total receipts 2,627

2012 Deficit $ 1,101

Here are some noted observations of the current budget:   Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI

 

Posted in Tax Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

SEC Waffles in Study on Improving RIA Oversight

Posted by William Byrnes on March 11, 2011


The SEC has finally released its Dodd-Frank mandated study on enhancing registered investment adviser (RIA) examinations, but the study is more a tale of SEC budgetary distress than a concrete plan to improve examinations. Although the study hints at the regulatory framework that is likely to emerge for RIAs in the coming months, it doesn’t conclude with a definitive solution to the problem. Although the study does not conclude with a specific plan for improving adviser examinations, the scope of the RIA examination problem and the funding problems revealed make it clear that change is coming for RIAs—change likely to be paid for by increased user fees.

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).

 

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

Taxpayer Advocate Speaks Out on Tax Reform

Posted by William Byrnes on March 9, 2011


Last month the National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson released her annual report to Congress, identifying the need for tax reform as the number one priority in tax administration.  The report also examines challenges the IRS is facing in implementing the new health care law.  Below is a highlight of some points made in the report: [1]

Tax Reform

“There has been near universal agreement for years that the tax code is broken and needs to be fixed,” Olson said in releasing the report.  “Yet no broad-based attempt to reform the tax code has been made.  This report documents the burdens the tax code imposes on taxpayers and explores why many taxpayers may nevertheless feel wedded to key aspects of the current system, undermining efforts at reform.”

Analysis of IRS data shows that taxpayers and businesses spend 6.1 billion hours a year complying with tax-filing requirements.  “If tax compliance were an industry, it would be one of the largest in the United States,” the report says.  “To consume 6.1 billion hours, the ‘tax industry’ requires the equivalent of more than three million full-time workers.”

Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI

Posted in Tax Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

New Dodd-Frank Study Calls for Stringent Standards

Posted by William Byrnes on February 21, 2011


The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) submitted to Congress a staff study recommending a uniform fiduciary standard of conduct for broker-dealers and investment advisers — no less stringent than currently applied to investment advisers under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940– when those financial professionals provide personalized investment advice about securities to retail investors.

Section 913 of Title IX of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 required SEC to conduct a study to evaluate:

  • The effectiveness of existing legal or regulatory standards of care (imposed by current authorities) for providing personalized investment advice and recommendations about securities to retail customers; and
  • Whether there are legal or regulatory gaps, shortcomings, or overlaps in legal or regulatory standards in the protection of retail customers relating to the standards of care for providing personalized investment advice about securities to such customers that should be addressed by rule or statute.

In the study, the SEC notes that investment advisers and broker-dealers are regulated extensively under different regulatory regimes.  But, the study claims, many retail investors do not understand and are confused by the roles played by investment advisers and broker-dealers.  The study finds that “many investors are also confused by the standards of care that apply to investment advisers and broker-dealers” when providing personalized investment advice about securities.  Read the analysis at http://www.advisorfyi.com/2011/01/new-dodd-frank-study-calls-for-stringent-standards/

 

Posted in Uncategorized, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tax Season Starting Late for Some Taxpayers

Posted by William Byrnes on February 5, 2011


Some taxpayers are going to have to wait until mid-to-late February to file their 2010 income tax returns, delaying much needed refunds and potentially clogging up the system for other taxpayers. The IRS is blaming the filing delay on Congress waiting until the end of December to pass the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010, H.R. 4853 (Tax Relief Act), which includes a bevy of tax provision extensions, a new two-year estate tax, and a one-year, 2 percent Social Security tax holiday.  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).

For previous coverage of the Tax Relief Act of 2010 in Advisor’s Journal, see Obama Tax Compromise Provides 100 Percent Bonus Depreciation of Business Assets Through 2011 (CC 11-01), Obama’s Social Security Tax Holiday: Penny Wise and Pound Foolish? (CC 10-119), Does the New Estate Tax Make the Bypass Trust Obsolete? (CC-10-122), and 2010 Estates: To Elect or Not to Elect (CC 10-124).

 

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

2010 Estates: To Elect or Not to Elect

Posted by William Byrnes on January 24, 2011


Did Congress finally settle the estate tax confusion when it passed the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (Tax Relief Act) on December 16? Although the estate tax treatment of estates of decedents dying in 2011 and 2012 is crystal clear, most of our clients will outlive the current estate tax regime, and we will be stuck in the same spot we were for the last half of 2010, wondering what the next year holds.

And what about the estates of decedents dying in 2010? Under the Tax Relief Act, estates of decedents dying in 2010 have a choice. They can elect to have the estate subjected to an estate tax regime with an exclusion amount of $5,000,000 (unified credit of $1,730,000) and an estate tax rate of 35 percent. Beneficiaries of these estates will receive the benefit of the stepped-up basis rules applicable prior to 2010.  Read this complete article 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).

For previous coverage of Obama’s tax agreement, including its estate tax provisions, in Advisor’s Journal, see Obama Tax Agreement Faces Stiff Resistance in Congress (CC 10-112) and Obama Tax Agreement Passed by House (CC 10-117).

For in-depth analysis of the estate tax, see Estate, Gift and GST Taxes.

Posted in Estate Tax | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Does the New Estate Tax Make the Bypass Trust Obsolete?

Posted by William Byrnes on January 17, 2011


President Obama’s tax compromise introduces a new estate tax concept for 2011 and 2012, the deceased spouse unused exclusion amount (DSUEA).  Essentially, the DSUEA allows a surviving spouse to utilize the unused exclusion amount of the first spouse to die.  The new law raises an important planning question: Is the bypass (credit shelter) trust obsolete as an estate planning device? Also: Do existing bypass trusts need to be amended in light of the new law?

In general, under the new estate tax, an estate’s exclusion amount, referred to as its applicable exclusion amount, is the sum of two components: the basic exclusion amount and the DSUEA. The basic exclusion amount for estates of decedents dying in 2011 and 2012 is $5 million. The second part of the equation, the DSUEA, is the amount of the first-to-die spouse’s exclusion amount that is not used by the that spouse’s estate. Note that a surviving spouse’s DSUEA is equal to the unused exclusion amount of the surviving spouse’s last deceased spouse.  Read this complete article 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).

For previous coverage of Obama’s tax agreement, including its estate tax provisions, in Advisor’s Journal, see Obama Tax Agreement Faces Stiff Resistance in Congress (CC 10-112) and Obama Tax Agreement Passed by House (CC 10-117).

For in-depth analysis of the estate tax, see Advisor’s Main Library: Estate, Gift and GST Taxes.

Posted in Estate Tax | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Finance Committee Promises AMT Patch

Posted by William Byrnes on December 9, 2010


Ways and Means Committee, US Legislative Branch

Image via Wikipedia

Record numbers of taxpayers will be subject to the 2010 alternative minimum tax (AMT) if Congress does not act by the end of the year. Congress has considered a number of possible AMT “patches” that would reduce the number of taxpayers subject to the AMT but has been unable to agree on the right approach.  Although Congress passes an AMT patch annually, this year’s patch is coming later than usual.

In a November 9, 2010, letter to the IRS’s Douglas Shulman, House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committee members said that the IRS should expect Congress to pass 2010 alternative minimum tax relief by the end of this year. The joint letter was signed by Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Finance Committee ranking minority member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), acting Ways and Means Committee Chair Sander M. Levin, (D-Mich.), and Ways and Means Committee ranking minority member Dave Camp (R-Mich.).   Read this complete article 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).

For in-depth analysis of the AMT, see Advisor’s Main Library: Section 19.D—Additional Taxes; Credits For Prepayments.

We invite your questions and comments by posting them below or by calling the Panel of Experts.

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

Section 1035 Exchanges Are Useful in a Down Economy: A Review

Posted by William Byrnes on November 19, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Section 1035 exchanges are known for deferral of a taxable gain through a step-up in basis into a new contract.  The tax benefits granted by Congress are certainly advantageous, however, in an uncertain economy Section1035 exchanges also offer wealth managers the opportunity for new business.  Because of the potential little to no out-of-pocket expense associated with these transactions, many wealth mangers are currently implementing this advantageous exchange during sluggish times. 

It is often the case that policy owners’ expectations change during the life of a contract.  It makes sense to re-evaluate objectives to ensure they’re still aligned with client goals.  Section 1035 exchanges are one area where this practice is commonplace.

Generally, Congress allows owners of life insurance and annuity contracts to exchange that contract for another, similar or related insurance or annuity contract without recognizing any unrealized gain which may have accrued within the policy, so long as the insured stays the same.

Read the entire article at AdvisorFYI.

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

The Internal Revenue Code: Decoded

Posted by William Byrnes on October 8, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Provides an introduction into the Internal Revenue Code so that tomorrow’s blogticle about specific sections of the Code may be better understood, in particular the taxation of life insurance companies.

How are the laws related to tax organized or in other words, what’s the general process in finding an answer to a tax question?

All federal laws of the United States arise out of the Constitution.  The Constitution has granted Congress certain enumerated powers, such as the power to regulate commerce among the several states.  Congress also has the power to create laws that are necessary and proper in governing based on its listed powers.  All powers not granted to the Federal government are reserved by the States through the 10th Amendment – meaning only the States may enact laws in those areas (al least this is how it is supposed to work).

Once Congress passes a necessary and proper law to carry out its enumerated powers, that law becomes a United States Statute, or a Statute already existing is either amended or deleted.  The Statutes of the United States are called the United States “Code”.

The United States Code is divided into 50 different titles.  Title 26 is perhaps the most infamous, being the “Internal Revenue Code”.  The Internal Revenue Code, or Title 26 of the United States Code is further delineated, into Subtitles, Chapters, Subchapters, Parts, and finally Sections and Subsections.

Congress has delegated the power of enforcement of these laws, which lies with the executive branch, of Title 26 to the Secretary of Treasury to create Regulations or Administrative Interpretations of the Statutes.  The regulations are not in and of themselves laws but rather, direction from the Secretary of interpretation of the laws.  The regulations have legal authority, which means they may be presented in court.  In almost all tax cases, there is some Statute, that is called into question, therefore the Court’s exclusive job is to rule on interpretation of the Statute as it applies to the situation before the court, not to overrule any statute, unless it found the law unconstitutional.  Therefore, additional law is generated by courts’ interpreting Statutes.  This is known as “case law”.

Read on about the The Internal Revenue Code: Decoded

Posted in Tax Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Offshore Planning’s Impact on Calculation of U.S. Income Tax Liability

Posted by William Byrnes on October 5, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Discusses how international planning can impact clients’ tax position domestically.  Provides discussion on a number of common international tax concepts as they relate to U.S. taxpayers.

In previous blog this week, it has been briefly discussed that there may be a number of reasons a client may consider offshore planning, generally.  Today we will focus on one major component of offshore considerations, the impact of world-wide income on U.S. taxpayers. It is generally accepted that U.S. taxpayers are expected to pay income taxes on income earned from sources worldwide.  This concept is commonly referred to as “outbound” taxation.

It is the case that many sovereign nations will also have taxes on personal and/or corporate income that an individual or corporation could become subject to, creating in effect “double taxation.”  And some foreign nations choose to have very low or no tax rate on certain types of income, or on corporations in general, thus allowing foreign income to potentially escape foreign taxation (and current U.S. taxation in the year that it is earned).

What are some rules that that Congress has attempted to avoid double taxation or subject foreign income to U.S. taxation?

Check out the full blogticle at AdvisorFYI.

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

Wealth Managers Plan Under Uncertain Tax Conditions

Posted by William Byrnes on September 17, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Provides discussion on current situation of federal tax “stand-off” as it relates to clients’ planning objectives.  Gives insight into market participants current choices in dealing with the Tax Cut dilemma.

Congress’ inaction is causing concern for many high net worth taxpayers. Clint Stretch, managing principal of tax policy at Deloitte Tax LLP in Washington says, “uncertainty over taxes means some individuals are ‘vulnerable to hysteria’ ”. And that some financial advisers are urging clients into “unnecessary or unwise transactions.” [1] With “[a]n estimated 315,000 U.S. taxpayers earn more than $1 million, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation”, it leaves a lot of room for opportunity and error.

Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI

Posted in Tax Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Estate and Gift Taxes, Tax Cuts and More

Posted by William Byrnes on September 14, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers?  Author Ben Terner of the Panel of Experts offers detailed information that has a direct affect on clients’ planning objectives as it relates to estate and gift tax.   Provides a general discussion as well as detailed analysis of the current law and the affect of Congress’ current indecision.

Generally, “[g]ross income does not include the value of property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or inheritance.” [1] Which means gift income or inheritance income received by the beneficiary is not taxable income to the individual who receives property by such gift, bequest, devise, or inheritance. [2] “Although the donated or inherited property itself is not taxable, income derived from such property is includable in gross income.” [3]

Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI

Posted in Tax Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Bush Tax Cuts Set to Expire

Posted by William Byrnes on September 13, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Provides a basic overview of the tax cut provisions that are in effect but set to expire by the end of this year.  Helps financial professional understand implications regarding client’s estate and personal plans in consideration of the Bush Tax Cuts.

As busy as Congress has been over the last year, it’s “finally turning its attention to the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax cuts”, says Robert Rubin who is co-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  Read the entire analysis at AdvisorFYI

Posted in Tax Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: