How to Get the IRS to Pre-Approve Your Taxes

It might seem odd, but it is possible to get the IRS to give you a straight-forward and binding answer to ambiguous tax positions in advance. How does this happen, you ask? The answer is through an IRS private letter ruling.IRS private letter rulings provide many benefits, but they are not easy to obtain. There are costs, potential delays, and even then, you run the risk of not being granted a ruling. This dynamic might seem odd as the entire point of applying for a private letter ruling is to [...]

2019-10-01T12:00:01-08:00October 1st, 2019|

The Five Key IRS Rules of Taxation for Lawsuit Settlements

Coming out on the winning side of a lawsuit as a plaintiff can be a gratifying feeling, especially if there is a financial settlement involved. There is likely a sense of both relief and vindication. Unfortunately, far too often people are in for a shock when they realize that they must pay taxes on the award. You can even be taxed on your attorney fees! However, a little tax planning can go a long way, especially if you do it before the settlement is finalized and the award is substantial. [...]

2019-09-01T12:00:05-08:00September 1st, 2019|

3 Big Tax Issues to Look Out for in Your Estate Plan

There are three big tax issues that can derail an otherwise well-executed estate plan. These include Family Limited Partnerships, Revocable Trust Swap Powers and Trust Situs. Below we explore the pitfalls with each issue.Fixing FLPsFamily Limited Partnerships (FLP) are often created to hold investments or business assets in order to leverage a valuation discount, exert control and provide asset protection.First, to understand the valuation discount, take the example in which an FLP owned a family business valued at $10 million. A straight 25 percent interest in this business would therefore [...]

2019-08-01T12:00:05-08:00August 1st, 2019|

Why Some People Are Afraid of the Hobby Loss Rules

Many tax advisors are very cautious when it comes to claiming hobby losses – and some would argue overly so. This conservative view stems from the impression that the taxpayer usually loses when challenged by the IRS. While technically true that the odds aren’t in your favor of winning a challenge, the overall risk often works out in the taxpayer’s favor over the long run. Below we’ll look at why tax advisors should start from the assumption of taking the losses.Always a LoserTaxpayers usually lose hobby loss cases. Typically, the [...]

2019-07-01T12:00:04-08:00July 1st, 2019|

When Saving for Retirement in Taxable Account Is a Good Idea

Most people associate saving for retirement with tax deferred or non-taxable accounts: 401(k)s, 403(b)s, Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, etc. The tax benefits of these types of retirement accounts give individuals advantages over simply investing in a regular taxable brokerage account.  Savings for retirement in a standard taxable account can also have its place – and the option shouldn’t be ignored. In this article, we’ll look at a handful of reasons why doing so might just be the best option.Your employer doesn’t offer 401(k), 403(b) or similar type planSome employers, especially [...]

2019-06-01T12:00:05-08:00June 1st, 2019|

HSA Accounts and Their Incredible Long-term Benefits

Pretty much everyone has heard about 401(k) plans, but beyond these – Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) also can be great retirement vehicles. HSAs are tax-advantaged savings accounts for those with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). The idea is that since those with HDHPs generally have lower premiums but higher out-of-pocket expenses, they need a way to save for such expenses.Few eligible taxpayers take full advantage of HSAs. The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimated a few years ago that out of the approximately 17 million people eligible, only about 13.8 million opened [...]

2019-05-01T12:00:05-08:00May 1st, 2019|

Trump Tax Law Makes Now the Perfect Time for the Roth Conversion Retirement Trick

Converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA takes some fortitude and faith in the future numbers because this change can accelerate your tax bill. The current market and tax rate cuts from President Trump’s plan, however, are creating an environment ripe for conversions and making the move much more palatable. Together, these two factors are essentially creating new groups of taxpayers for whom a conversion makes good sense.IRA Basics RevisitedContributing to a traditional IRA gets you a tax deduction now, at the time of your contribution and allows your [...]

2019-04-01T12:00:05-08:00April 1st, 2019|

Winners and Losers of the Tax Bill

In 2018 when President Trump and the Republican Congress rewrote the tax code, everyone knew there would be winners and losers. Exactly how this will play out is just starting to be seen – it closes loopholes while opening others and takes away some perks while creating new ones. Let’s see who the winners and losers really are by looking at the results of the tax law now and over time.Winners and Losers Will Change Over TimeAlmost all taxpayers get some type of tax cut; for example, the Tax Policy [...]

2019-03-01T12:00:05-08:00March 1st, 2019|

When Is A Loan Not A Loan?

With the sweeping new tax legislation in 2018 capturing everyone’s attention, other changes have taken a back seat. There were several Tax Court cases in 2018 that rendered important decisions impacting how things work – one of which was Povolny Group, Inc. v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2018-37.The Povolny Group decision centers on a common issue where an individual uses his corporation like a personal pocketbook, transferring money in and out without any formality.Facts of the Case James Povolny joined his spouses' company (LLC) as a minority owner. Later in 2002, he [...]

2019-02-01T12:00:05-08:00February 1st, 2019|

Divorce Can Be Taxing

Divorce is expensive. Aside from the emotional toll divorce takes on a family, both the process and aftermath of a divorce can be costly. Below we look at some of the steps people can take to help remove the tax sting out of an already challenging time and arrive at the best financial position.Changes to AlimonyWe ring in the new year with changes to alimony tax law. Prior to Jan. 1, 2019, alimony payments were deductible by the spouse who paid them and taxable to the spouse receiving them. Typically, [...]

2019-01-01T12:00:05-08:00January 1st, 2019|