Category Archives: News
It appears that Congress has reached an agreement on the tax-side, but not the spending side, of the Fiscal Cliff situation. Although the legislation has not been signed by the President yet, he has indicated that he will sign it. In the agreement, Congress postponed their decision on automatic spending cuts for a short time. Therefore, another Fiscal Cliff, albeit smaller, is on the horizon.
For our clients, the tax implications of the agreement are mostly good news. Long-term capital gain and dividend rates will remain at 15% except for those earning more than $400-$450,000 (depending on marital status). This is great news for anyone holding stocks, bonds or rental properties as the tax rate on the gain when you sell those investments will remain at 15%, assuming you have held them for at least a year before sale.
Perhaps the most important outcome from this agreement is its effect on estate and gift taxes. In 2012, a person could pass up to $5.12 million by gift or inheritance, tax-free. Any amounts over that exemption were taxed at 35%. Absent an agreement from Congress, the exemption was set to fall to only $1 million with a 55% tax rate. In this agreement, Congress has decided to set the exemption for both the estate tax and gift tax at $5 million with a 40% tax rate. Additionally, this unused portion of the exemption is portable between spouses, which means the exemption is essentially doubled for a married couple to $10 million. Best of all, the legislation makes all of the estate and gift tax laws permanent, so there is finally a little bit of certainty in this area. The vast majority of Americans will no longer need to worry about the “death tax.”
If you would like to discuss how these new laws affect you and your family, call us. We can review your current plan or create a new plan that takes full advantage of all probate avoidance and tax minimization strategies available.
Here we are on New Year’s Eve and still no deal in Washington to avoid falling off the “Fiscal Cliff.” You can read our post from last week to find out how the Fiscal Cliff might affect you, your estate and your family.
Unless Congress takes action today, the new year will begin with automatic spending cuts and significant tax increases. Call our office to schedule an appointment to discuss the best way to minimize taxes and burdens on your beneficiaries. We can help you protect your assets.
In July we posted about the major changes coming to the estate tax if Congress takes no action before the end of the year. With only two weeks left in 2012, Congress has still not done anything to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
The fiscal cliff refers to a multitude of tax breaks all expiring at the beginning of 2013. It also refers to automatic spending cuts that may be triggered. Capital gain and income tax rates are set to increase. However, one tax, which is set to change dramatically, is not getting much attention, but is critical for estate planning: the estate tax (sometimes called the death tax or known as an inheritance tax).
Currently, the estate tax credit is $5.12 million per person. There’s also a “portability” provision that effectively allows a married couple to double this exemption to $10.24 million. At these levels, the vast majority of our clients can avoid estate tax issues and estate tax problems.
However, unless Congress passes a law stating otherwise, in 2013 estates worth $1 million and up will be subject to the estate tax. In the event that no action is taken, and no new law is enacted, the exemption will drop to $1 million per individual, and the portability provisions of the estate tax will not exist. At the new level of $1 million and without portability, there are a great number of people who need to review their current documents and planning to ensure the most tax advantageous plan.
Additionally, the top estate tax rate will go up to 55%! This is not an error or typo – the top rate really is 55%.
While $1 million may sound like a lot of money, your estate for estate tax purposes, called the “gross estate,” includes your home, rental property, farming property and equipment, retirement accounts, life insurance, bank accounts, and everything else you own. If you own your own business, it’s also included in your gross estate. It does not matter if this property passes to your heirs by Will, Trust, beneficiary designation, through probate or avoiding probate. By dropping the exemption from $5.12 million to $1 million, many people will be affected by the estate tax and will need a tax advantaged plan.
If you would like to discuss the estate tax in further detail and how you can limit the taxes on your own estate, contact our office. We can help you protect your assets.
The Missouri Court of Appeals bars a former State employee from benefits due to improper personal use of the State computers. The “everyone does it” defense was completely rejected by the court, as was the “I didn’t know it was wrong” defense. You can read the opinion here: http://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=56432.