Category: Guidance

Trump Tax Bill Passes – Act Now: Top 10 Year-End Tax Planning Strategies

With President Trump having signed the GOP tax bill today, new tax planning opportunities are now available – but you must take advantage of many of them within the next nine days, before 2018. John O. McManus, founder of top-rated estate planning law firm McManus & Associates, makes the following time-sensitive recommendations in light of tax reform and the reduction of income tax rates:

  1. Accelerate your income tax deductions. Certain itemized deductions, i.e. income tax and real estate tax deductions, will be capped at $10,000. Pay your January estimated taxes in December; make your January mortgage payment in December; deduct any unreimbursed medical expenses; make your 2018 charitable donations in 2017. Some commentators suggest prepaying property taxes that have been assessed, such as the 2/1/18 and 5/1/18 installments – but it depends on the state. Also, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has opined that CPAs should advise clients that payments in 2017 of state tax liabilities projected for 2018 are not deductible on their 2017 federal income tax returns. You should be mindful of the fact that these additional payments could cause you to be subject to the alternative minimum tax, which results in you losing the benefits of these state and local taxes.
  2. Prepay in 2017 any business entertainment expenses, such as sports tickets or green fees, and membership dues for clubs organized for business. The final tax reform bill disallows these expenses; it will continue to allow the deduction of 50% for food and beverages associated with a trade or business.
  3. Postpone/defer receipt of income until 2018 to take advantage of the lower tax rates.
  4. Review your potential capital expenditures. Under the final tax reform bill, until January 1, 2023, a business will be able to expense 100% of the cost of the non-real estate property as first-year additional depreciation (bonus depreciation). (There is the possibility that 100% expensing may be available for property placed into service after September 27, 2017). Starting in 2023, the allowance of 100% is phased out by 20% each year.
  5. While rates are higher in 2017, make gifts to charities and family foundations with appreciated assets. Because of the lower limitation of 20% of AGI for appreciated stock to a foundation, you should split your gift between this year and next.
  6. Consider gifting low-basis stock instead of selling to raise cash for gifting that could lead to gains.
  7. Fund a charitable remainder trust with concentrated positions in appreciated securities in order to diversify without adverse tax consequences associated with selling appreciated securities.
  8. Harvest your losses to offset capital gains.
  9. Establish and fund qualified plans. Consider making a gift of up to $5,500 to either a traditional or Roth IRA for your children or grandchildren who are not funding their own IRAs, but have enough earned income to report.
  10. Contribute up to $28,000 gift-tax free per married couple ($30,000 for gifts made in 2018) to a 529 Plan, which grows free of income tax. The final tax reform bill will allow withdrawals for private, elementary and secondary school expenses up to $10,000 per year.
  11. Make annual exclusion gifts to chosen loved ones of $28,000 per married couple ($30,000 for gifts made in 2018).
  12. Make gifts into trusts for children/grandchildren.
  13. Make unlimited gifts directly to educational institutions and medical facilities.
  14. Make distributions of income from trust accounts and estate accounts to lower the income tax liability. Estates and trusts are taxed at the highest income tax rate (and a lower threshold at which the 3.8% Medicare surtax applies). Therefore, it may make sense to distribute income to the beneficiaries to be taxed at the beneficiaries’ lower income tax rates.

“Trump’s new tax bill creates tax planning opportunities before year-end,” commented McManus. “Find time for last-minute tax planning as soon as you finish your last-minute holiday shopping.”

For trusted advice on tax and estate planning, call McManus & Associates at 908-898-0100. Learn more about the award-winning firm at www.mcmanuslegal.com.

Conference Call: 10 Precautions for Protecting the Benefits of Your Private Foundation

Interested in protecting your estate and maximizing the impact of your charitable giving? Then establishing a Private Foundation is worth your consideration.

A Private Foundation provides the ability to retain control over the administration and investment of assets that have been recognized as important for future grant-making. By making gifts from your Foundation to charities in increments over time, you can extend your influence over the ongoing use of your gifts.

While there are many advantages of Private Foundations, there are also often-overlooked pitfalls (see below), which McManus & Associates Founding Principal John O. McManus recently discussed with clients, as part of the firm’s educational focus series. To listen, click here:

 

1. Using care when compensating family members through the foundation
2. Beware the penalties for self dealing
3. How to address office sharing with family offices
4. Promptly addressing misuse of foundation funds or income
5. Why you should avoid legally binding pledges
6. How to protect the founder’s mission
7. When to seek legal advice
8. How to exercise expenditure responsibly
9. Identifying any benefits from joint investments or co-ownership
10. Using caution with ticketing and fundraising events.

For guidance on the creation or management of a Private Foundation, contact McManus & Associates at 908-898-0100.

7 Immediate Steps to Protect Your Information from Being Misused due to the Equifax Data Breach

If you are one of the 143 million American consumers whose names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers and other personal identifying information was exposed in the data breach at Equifax, which stretched from mid-May through July of this year, here are seven immediate steps to stop the hackers from further victimizing you:

1.    Determine whether your information may have been exposed. Using a secure computer and an encrypted network connection, go to https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/ and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Doing so will reveal whether you are among those affected by the breach.

2.    Sign up for a year of free credit monitoring from TrustedID Premier, which will be offered by the above site after completing step one. All U.S. consumers – whether their information was obtained or not – can enroll. The deadline is November 21, 2017.

3.    Systematically review your existing bank, credit card and insurance accounts for fraudulent transactions. If any unrecognized charges appear, contact your bank, credit card company or insurance provider immediately to report the issue.

4.    Visit annualcreditreport.com to check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion for free. If you see any accounts or activity that you don’t recognize, identify theft could be the culprit, and you should go to IdentityTheft.gov to learn more about what to do.

5.    Consider placing a security freeze or a credit freeze on your report, which locks down your credit. According to the Federal Trade Commission, this “lets you restrict access to your credit report, which in turn makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.” Note: Scammers can still make changes to your existing accounts, despite a security freeze.

6.    Alternatively, consider creating a fraud alert to flag creditors that you may be a victim of identity theft, and they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name is really you. Creditors will still be able to get a copy of your credit report as long as they take steps to verify your identity. This may prevent a scammer from opening new accounts in your name, but this alert is not likely to stop abuse of your existing accounts.

7.    File your taxes as soon as possible to avoid tax identity theft, which is when someone uses your Social Security number to steal your tax refund or to get a job. Being proactive and filing first (before a fraudster) eliminates this vulnerability.

For additional guidance related to management of your wealth, visit www.mcmanuslegal.com or call 908-898-0100.

McManus Interviewed for Wall Street Journal’s “Watching Your Wealth” Podcast

In the Wall Street Journal’s newest “Watching Your Wealth” podcast, Veronica Dagher interviews McManus & Associates Founding Principal John O. McManus on red flags that warn you your adult kids are using you for your money and/or are trying to get a bigger share of your estate. In the episode, Veronica does a “fun estate planning quiz” with John, as well, and asks him to share the best and worst estate planning advice he’s ever heard, what an estate can and can’t buy, and what he would do with $1M after tax if he inherited it.

Click here to listen to the quick, 11-minute episode: http://bit.ly/2pckWFo

To set up a time to discuss the family dynamics impacting your estate plan with the McManus & Associates team, give us a call at 908-898-0100.

Are Your Adult Children Using You For Your Money?

McManus & Associates’ John McManus discusses the red flags your children may be taking advantage of you financially and how to better communicate with them about money.

11 min: LISTEN

 

Conference Call: Top 10 Ways to Solidify an Estate Plan Post-Execution

Execute and shelve is not an effective approach to estate planning. McManus & Associates, a top-rated estate planning law firm celebrating 25 years of success, today revealed the “Top 10 Ways to Solidify an Estate Plan Post-Execution,” a recent installment in its Educational Focus Series. During a conference call with clients, the firm’s Founding Principal and AV-rated Attorney John O. McManus shared tips on how to build a solid and complete Estate Plan to protect and nurture your family today and for generations to come.

“To make your estate plan solid, there are numerous issues to consider and actions to be taken that extend far beyond drafting documents,” commented McManus. “Building a foundation through strategic planning and establishing the framework for one’s legacy are important steps, but until all the core elements of the structure are in place, there’s more work to do.

“Today, in the Trump Era, with all the uncertainty about where the estate tax and income tax regimes converge and diverge, it is critical to ensure that core protection work is completed as we batten down the hatches, protecting for the storm of changes most certainly on the horizon. To ignore fully completing this core work as we await changes to more complex tax issues is not the most conservative approach. In fact, some have said that to neglect core planning is tantamount to being reckless with one’s loved ones.

McManus added, “As family dynamics and the legal environment evolve, it’s particularly important after the core work is completed to revisit and revise that portion of one’s estate plan, as needed.”

LISTEN HERE for details: “Top 10 Ways to Solidify an Estate Plan Post-Execution”

Conference Call: 9 Year-End Charitable Tips for 2016 and Philanthropic Strategies for 2017 and Beyond

Year-end giving allows you to positively impact the greater good by helping charities in need, while reducing your 2016 tax liability. During a new conference call with clients, John O. McManus shares important advice on how to give now to capture the greatest income tax deductions, and he identifies tax-efficient estate planning vehicles to consider for your ongoing philanthropic mission.

LISTEN HERE: “9 Year-End Charitable Tips for 2016 and Philanthropic Strategies for 2017 and Beyond”

“The result of this year’s election makes taking advantage of deductions in 2016 even more urgent and more important,” explained McManus. “Income tax rates will likely go down in 2017, reducing the value of deductions. Because tax deductions are more impactful when tax rates are higher, consider making your charitable gifts for 2017 before the end of 2016.”

Conference Call: Proposed Treasury Regulations and Discounting

Proposed IRS regulations were recently issued that would eliminate discounting of transfers of family business interests. Valuation discounting is now time-sensitive, as this opportunity is scheduled to be eliminated, possibly by the end of the year.

Partnerships are sophisticated vehicles for unifying family investments, providing for the orderly transfer of assets, delivering asset protection, and maintaining centralizing control. These partnerships are legitimate entities that facilitate the distribution of wealth to family members and the growth of family assets. Partnerships also afford the opportunity for discounts on asset transfer to family members; while discounting is not the number one reason for creating partnerships, the strategy is worth noting.

The Treasury Department has finally issued its dreaded proposed regulations limiting discounted transfers among family members. This means the clock is ticking until the public hearing on December 1, 2016, which will help determine the strategy’s fate. Final regulations can be issued at any time after that date and will become effective 30 days after their issuance.

Bankrate and WealthManagement Highlight McManus’ Guidance on Tax and Estate Planning for Gay and Lesbian Couples

bankrate logoBankrate, which has more than 2.75 million readers, recently published a story based on McManus & Associates’ “Same-sex marriage tax and estate planning tips.” As the story points out, thousands of gay and lesbian couples are celebrating wedding anniversaries this year and, this month, another momentous date. June 26 was the day last year that the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal throughout the United States.