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Articles Posted in Tax Law

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Improvements to tax law and reducing taxes are a very popular item on most politicians’ platforms. You won’t find anyone who openly says people should pay more. At least, not anyone currently serving in office.

They’re right, by the way – our tax code is far too cumbersome and it changes constantly. (And no, I’m not running for office.)

President Trump has indicated he wants to reform the tax code and change the way people pay taxes. Lawmakers are reportedly discussing how to do that while paying for expensive new initiatives. How can you do it all?

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

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Photograph 047 by Lauren Mancke found on minimography.com

Each year, the IRS sets dollar amounts for specific types of exemptions. Usually, these don’t change much – $100 here, $50 here, etc. You’ll need these numbers as you do your taxes this year.

The personal exemption amount for 2016 taxes is $6,300 for an individual or for a married couple filing separately (so that’s per person). As you’d expect, married filing jointly is twice that at $12,600. Head of households can claim $9,300, and surviving spouse $12,600. For anyone who takes the standard deduction and doesn’t itemize, that is the amount you’ll claim.

However, the exemption is subject to a phase-out that begins with adjusted gross incomes of $259,400 ($311,300 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $381,900 ($433,800 for married couples filing jointly.)

Forbes published an extensive piece that goes into more detail, including tax tables, which you can read here.

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adoptionIf you’ve adopted a child recently or plan to adopt a child soon, congratulations! We help families adopt as part of our family law practice. Expanding your family through adoption is joyful, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.

Adoptive parents may have some tax advantages that could help now that it is time to start preparing 2016 taxes. One big advantage is the federal adoption tax credit, which allows many adoptive parents to receive a credit to recover some of the costs of adoption. One note, though: the tax credits are not extended to step-parents adopting the child of their spouse. The tax credits are only available if you are adopting a child under the age of 18 or a child who is physically or mentally unable to care for himself or herself.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

You’d think giving money away would be easy, wouldn’t you? And for the most part, it is. But it’s important to pay attention to some of the details so you don’t end up getting socked with a tax bill or missing out on a tax deduction in return for your generosity.

In our last post, we discussed how to give money to your children, grandchildren or anyone else you’d like without much complication (such as having to file a gift tax return).  Now, let’s turn to gifting that can net you a tax deduction on your income tax return (in addition to just making you feel good).

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

giftsIt’s a generous time of year.

There are donations making their way to non-profits, and checks being written in lieu of gifts to family members. If you prefer to give money rather than gifts to children, grandchildren or others on your list, there are a few things you need to know before you write that check.

We’ll address just giving to your children in this blog post; we’ll address giving to charities in part two later this month.

The main point: your gift can trigger your obligation to file a gift tax return if you aren’t careful. We’ll walk you through who you can give to, how you can give and how much you can give. Here’s the official information from the IRS.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Everyone who owns a home gets a bill from their local municipality for property taxes. It’s not a surprise that it’s coming. Most of us sigh, write the check (or let your mortgage holder do it) and move on, wondering what that money really does, anyway. (Short answer: it funds governments and schools.)

But every now and then, you get a property tax bill that makes you do a double-take because it is larger than you expected. There are a few reasons this can happen.

  • Your local government entity increased its tax rate.
  • Your property was recently re-assessed, and the value has increased.
  • A new tax referendum passed, increasing your rate.
  • Someone made a mistake.

You don’t have to accept the tax bill you’re sent if you truly believe the tax rate or assessment is wrong. You can protest – and I’ll walk you through how to do that.

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By Nathan Vinson, attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

flag, Olympics, taxesAn interesting question popped up in social media during the 2016 Summer Olympics: will U.S. athletes taking home a medal be taxed on the value of it – particularly those who win the gold?

News accounts have confirmed that yes, U.S. medal-winning athletes will be taxed, but not on the value of the medal itself. It’s the cash prize that comes with each medal that is taxed.

Swimmer Michael Phelps, who has broken all kinds of records this year, may owe the government $55,000 in taxes for the cash prizes that go along with his five gold medals and one silver medal, reports USA Today. Each gold medal is accompanied by a check for $25,000, while each silver earns $15,000 and each bronze $10,000. If Phelps is taxed at the highest income tax rate of 39.6 percent, he would owe around $55,000, the newspaper reports. I checked the math, and yes, that’s about right.

Ouch.

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By Nathan Vinson, attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

This time of year is nice, isn’t it? It’s warm and pleasant out, and maybe a little bit more laid back at work. Tax time is behind you (yes!) and it’s not time to think about next year’s taxes.

OR IS IT?

Well, we hate to break it to you, but yeah, it is time to think about it NOW. It’s July. More than half of the year is gone. If you haven’t set up a good filing system for your receipts and other tax-related information, you need to – and soon. If you’ve got a giant pile of paperwork and receipts, hey, you’re not alone – but don’t let this linger.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

exchange gifted property

If you receive a vacation home as a gift, you can exchange it for another property to avoid a big tax hit.

Receiving a home or significant piece of property as a gift may sound wonderful. And it is, in nearly every case.

But sometimes when you get a piece of property as a gift, it’s not quite what you want, or perhaps it is too much of a burden to handle. You may decide to sell it, or, you may find it more advantageous to do an exchange. That’s a strategy we recommend to clients on occasion to help avoid tax on a second home. That tax is usually at the more advantageous capital gain rate, but nevertheless, it is still tax dollars out of your pocket.

I’ll explain how it works.

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