AICPA ISSUES NEW TRUST SERVICES PRINCIPLES

The AICPA recently issued new Trust Services Principles (TSP Section 100) in April 2016 which supersedes the previous version issued in 2014. The most significant changes to the TSP include the following:

Restructures and creates a new set of privacy criteria that is incorporated as part of the common criteria method of assessment and reporting. As such, privacy principles is now consolidated into a more concise set of additional criteria for privacy that is to be reported as part of the common criteria report instead of a separate report for Generally Accepted Private Principles.

Revised Appendix B, “Illustration of Risks and Controls for Sample Entity” to include additional privacy criteria and examples of risks that may prevent the privacy criteria from being met as well as controls designed to address those risks.

Modified criteria CC3.1 and CC3.2 to specifically require the need to address potential threats including those arising from the use of vendors and other third parties providing goods and services.… Read more

TAKING CONTROL OF THE FINAL FORM 1040

Because they don’t encounter them often, many tax practitioners are hesitant to prepare a decedent’s final Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Often, the most that tax practitioners do differently from a return for a living client is to determine who can sign the return on the decedent’s behalf.

But it is better to take control of the situation and make the final Form 1040 a powerful and effective part of the post-mortem planning process. Practitioners should aim to stride confidently into the final Form 1040 preparation and come out of it with tax savings for the decedent’s family.

Here are some things I have learned about tax planning and preparation during a quarter century of helping clients after the loss of a loved one.

Stop making estimated tax payments

Once a taxpayer dies, he or she is no longer required to make estimated tax payments. Many well-meaning family members continue to submit the decedent’s quarterly estimated tax vouchers, which is not necessary and may require taking funds out of an investment portfolio, where they could otherwise be growing and earning income for as long as a year.… Read more

NEWLY-PERMANENT TAX PROVISIONS

path-act For the past several years, taxpayers have had to wait until the last minute to know if certain tax provisions were going to be extended.  On December 18, 2015, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act) was enacted. This new law made permanent a number of provisions that had previously been on a year-to-year basis.  Included in the tax breaks that are now permanently in the law are:

  • American Opportunity Credit for certain education expenses ($2,500 per year for four years)
  • Educator’s deduction of $250 per year
  • The deduction of state and local income taxes
  • Tax-free distributions to charities from IRA accounts (limited to those age 70½ or older)

Taxpayers who stand to benefit from these and other provisions of the new law will now be able to plan ahead. Jerry Dreier Manager – Packer Thomas Feel free to contact Jerry with your questions:  jdreier@packerthomas.com (800) 943-4278 (330) 533-9777Read more

IDENTITY THEFT & FRAUDULENT RETURNS

Tax Return FraudIf you have been a victim of identity theft and have discovered that a fraudulent return was filed and accepted by the IRS using your name and Social Security Number, it is now possible to request a redacted copy of the fraudulent return from the IRS.  This will help victims determine what information was stolen.  Instructions for requesting a copy of a fraudulent return can be found at https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Instructions-for-Requesting-Copy-of-Fraudulent-Returns.

Jerry Dreier
Manager – Packer Thomas
Feel free to contact Jerry with your questions:  jdreier@packerthomas.com
(800) 943-4278
(330) 533-9777… Read more

OHIO INCOME TAX CHANGES

OhioThe Ohio income tax form will have a new look for the 2015 year (i.e. the return filed in 2016 covering the 2015 year).  There will just be one form, the IT 1040, that will cover what was previously handled by three separate forms (the IT 1040, IT 1040EZ, and IT 1040X).  In addition, there will just be one Schedule of Credits that will encompass credits previously claimed on Schedules B, C, D, and E of the previous year IT 1040.  There are a number of other changes in the Ohio return, including changes in the calculation of the Business Income Deduction.  Be alert!

Jerry Dreier
Manager – Packer Thomas
Feel free to contact Jerry with your questions:  jdreier@packerthomas.com
(800) 943-4278
(330) 533-9777… Read more

IRA TAX TRAP

Tax TrapWhen individuals invest IRA funds in partnerships, they will owe tax on certain partnership income exceeding $1,000.  When this tax applies, it almost always catches the IRA owner by surprise.  This tax is known as Unrelated Business Income Tax.  A recent article in The Wall Street Journal highlighted this potential tax trap.

The IRA trustee is responsible for preparing Form 990-T to calculate the tax but the IRA owner is generally responsible for ensuring that the tax is paid.  To avoid this complexity and cost, IRA owners should consult with their investment advisor about any publicly traded partnerships already owned by their IRA and consider making these types of investments in non-IRA accounts in the future.

Jerry Dreier
Manager – Packer Thomas
Feel free to contact Jerry with your questions:  jdreier@packerthomas.com
(800) 943-4278
(330) 533-9777… Read more

Risk Management in a Mobile World

SmartphoneIntroduction

Mobile devices are rapidly becoming the primary end-user computing platform at area companies. The broad user-experience, computing capabilities, and always-on connectivity combined make mobile devices very compelling PC replacements.  However, this shift to mobile computing represents a challenge to existing secure IT environments.  IT management must consider new approaches to securing corporate data and minimizing risk when so many new variables are introduced.  “How do these mobile devices expose our company?” is a common question.  Because organizations want to take a mobile first approach, many employees and managers are enjoying resulting benefits which include efficiency, competitive differentiation and heightened innovation.  Finally, every new approach needs to be evaluated for new risks and benefits, so let’s take a minute to survey this new landscape of risk/benefit.

Going Mobile

Consider the two key reasons why IT needs to adopt new strategies for securing corporate data on mobile, as compared to PCs, when pursuing a strategy to heighten user productivity.… Read more

My 2%’s Worth

two percentAny time I review an estate or trust income tax return, Form 1041, I pause on Line 15.  That’s the spot where a decision must be made to subject “Other deductions” to the 2% of income floor or to take full advantage of those deductions.

When I arrive at Line 15 I have already fully deducted, legitimately, several items that individuals would not be able to fully deduct on their personal returns.  For example, fiduciary fees, attorney fees, accounting fees, and return preparation fees are all fully deductible on Form 1041, but not on Form 1040.  On Form 1040, they would be subject to a 2% of adjusted gross income floor.

It is not surprising that I pause on Line 15.  This has been an unsettled area of the tax law for the past 28 years.  A lot of court cases have looked at the expenses being deducted there and compared them to the expenses incurred by individuals for the same services. … Read more

Post-Gift Asset Exchange

Money BowJay D. Waxenberg and Nathan R. Brown briefly discuss the idea of post-gift asset exchanges in the July 2014 issue of Trusts & Estates, in an article entitled, The Narrowing “Tax Efficiency Gap”.  The concept surprised me.  It reflects the need for yet another shift in the focus of estate planning.  With the current large exemption from gift and estate tax ($5.34 million in 2014), it is no longer enough to get assets out of an estate in order to keep them from being estate-taxed at the older generation’s death.  We also have to attempt to do it in a way that minimizes the income tax consequences for the younger generation.

Traditionally, we would advise our clients to keep assets that are already highly appreciated in value, in order to take advantage of the step up in basis to date of death value when they pass away.  We would select assets for giving that have a high expectation of future appreciation. … Read more