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Articles Tagged with taxes

tax booksEach year, the Treasury Department examines the cost of living in the U.S. and adjusts limitations for retirement plans and many other similar items that affect taxpayers throughout the U.S. As has happened previously, the Treasury raised the limits for contributions to pensions and other retirement plans such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and most 457 plans.  All of this helps today’s workers save for retirement with pre-tax dollars, which is a tremendous benefit.

Our tax code requires the Secretary of the Treasury to make this adjustment.

The biggest news is that the contribution limit to employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as the above-mentioned 401(k)s, etc., has gone from $18,000 for calendar 2017 to $18,500 for calendar 2018. If you were bumping up against this limit in 2017, you can now adjust and put in just a little bit more, which is always good news.

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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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Prince performing in concert in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Bob Young.

It’s been more than a year since music legend Prince died unexpectedly at his home in Minnesota. He was actively touring and working at the time of his death on April 21, 2016, at the young age of 57.

You’re forgiven if you assumed his estate was long settled, since he died more than a year ago. But it’s not done yet – and may not be for quite a while – due to the fact that he died without a will.

It’s astounding to think that someone who is as famous, prosperous and with as many assets as Prince would die without this basic legal document. But as it turns out, he’s no different than anyone else – he probably didn’t want to think about death.

Whether you die a famous millionaire or with few assets, if you don’t have a Will you can leave a large mess. Heirs you would have never wanted to have your property could get it. Your estate will spend more probating your assets as well, and those who you wished to receive items from your estate may never see them.

Prince was a very charitable man, yet none of his millions he had nor future royalties will benefit those he likely would have preferred to benefit. Plus, the estate will shell out much more than anyone would want to pay in estate taxes.

Your children and family will be far happier if you take care of this before you die – and there’s no doubt it will bring you piece of mind, too.

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

This is that time of year when we all start thinking about taxes – and how to pay less. We’ve often gotten the news from our accountants that perhaps our refunds won’t be as large as we’d like or that we owe. Ugh to both.

This is a good time to consider if your business can be more charitably minded, and perhaps help you pare back the tax burden next year.

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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

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

business womanOwning a business is the American dream for many. It’s building something from your own hands that you’ve shaped and created. It’s long hours, and a labor of love – but in the end – it’s yours. And that’s a fantastic feeling if you’ve got an entrepreneurial streak.

But that feeling of ownership is what keeps a lot of business owners from planning for the future. It’s hard to envision a time when your business will go on without you. Your failure to plan for that inevitability is your biggest vulnerability as an entrepreneur, and can rob you of the equity you’ve built over the years of business ownership.

The best succession plan is one that you make before you need it. It’s on the shelf, ready to go, should something happen to you or other key business owners or managers. It is also a living plan, though, that you should review at least annually and update as needed, just as you would with any other estate documents such as a will or trust.

Even if you don’t see yourself ever leaving your business, creating a plan is a good exercise in thinking about the strategy and purpose of your business, your role in it and the importance of having key people to help you execute your vision. You may find this article from the Small Business Administration on how to exit your business helpful.

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By Nathan Vinson

IRA, taxesThe IRS recently enacted a new IRA rollover rule that’s actually good for consumers, and something that can really help you – but it is a lot more complicated than it appears on the surface. Essentially, the IRS is now giving you a year to roll your old retirement account into a new account or IRA, but only if you’ve faced difficult circumstances that delayed you from making the transaction.

In the past, once you leave a job, you may have received a check for the balance of the funds in your 401(k) (or 403(b) or 457 plan, which are used by non-profits and government agencies, respectively). Once the check is in the mail, you’ve traditionally had 60 days to roll that money into an IRA or other qualifying retirement account.

The administrator of the retirement plan is required to withhold taxes plus a penalty from your check, and will report that to the IRS. You won’t see the withheld money again, unless you roll over the funds within that 60-day time period.

The basic concept is that Uncle Sam wants you saving for retirement, and penalizes you if you don’t keep up with it. Plus, 401(k) money goes into the account pre-tax, so it’s their chance to tax the money – and as we all know, the government never misses a chance to grab some dollars.

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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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