Individual Tax

Thoughts on 2019 Year-End Planning for Individuals

As we move into the fourth quarter, now is an excellent time to review your current tax planning strategies to ensure they’re still meeting your needs and develop plans for 2020. It’s also a good time to take advantage of last-minute planning opportunities that could save you money now and in the coming year.

With all that in mind, please contact us at your earliest convenience to discuss your tax situation so we can develop a customized plan. In the meantime, here’s a look at some of the issues we’re recommending clients consider as they begin their end-of-year review.

National Taxpayer Advocate's Annual Report to Congress

The National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) submits two reports to Congress each year: an Annual Report, delivered in January, and an Objectives Report, delivered in June.

The National Taxpayer Advocate delivers these reports to the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means with no prior review or comment from the Commissioner, the IRS Oversight Board, the Secretary of the Treasury, any other Treasury officer or employee, or the Office of Management and Budget.

Latest Objectives Report:
https://taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/reports/fy-2019-objectives-report-to-congress/full-report

Lastest Annual Report:
https://taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/reports/2017-annual-report-to-congress/full-report

 

Defendants Sentenced in India-Based Call Center Scam

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that 21 members of a massive India-based fraud and money laundering conspiracy that defrauded thousands of U.S. residents of hundreds of millions of dollars were sentenced this week to terms of imprisonment up to 20 years. Three other conspirators were sentenced earlier this year for laundering proceeds for the conspiracy, which was operated out of India-based call centers that targeted U.S. residents in various telephone fraud schemes.

"The stiff sentences imposed this week represent the culmination of the first-ever large scale, multi-jurisdiction prosecution targeting the India call center scam industry," said Attorney General Sessions. "This case represents one of the most significant victories to date in our continuing efforts to combat elder fraud and the victimization of the most vulnerable members of the U.S. public. The transnational criminal ring of fraudsters and money launderers who conspired to bilk older Americans, legal immigrants and many others out of their life savings through their lies, threats and financial schemes must recognize that all resources at the Department's disposal will be deployed to shut down these telefraud schemes, put those responsible in jail, and bring a measure of justice to the victims."

Taxpayers must remain wary of unsolicited telephone calls from individuals claiming to be IRS employees. If any taxpayer believes they or someone they know is a victim of an IRS impersonation scam, they should report it to TIGTA at www.tigta.gov or by calling 1-800-366-4484.

Miteshkumar Patel, 42, of Illinois, was sentenced to serve 240 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on the charge of money laundering conspiracy. According to the factual basis of his plea agreement, Patel served as the manager of a Chicago-based crew of "runners" that liquidated and laundered fraud proceeds generated by callers at India-based call centers. Those callers used call scripts and lead lists to target victims throughout the United States with telefraud schemes in which the callers impersonated U.S. government employees from the IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The callers duped victims into believing that they owed money to the U.S. government and would be arrested or deported if they did not pay immediately. After the victims transferred money to the callers, a network of U.S.-based runners moved expeditiously to liquidate and launder fraud proceeds through the use of anonymous stored value cards. In addition to recruiting, training, and tasking runners in his crew, Patel also coordinated directly with the Indian side of the conspiracy about the operation of the scheme. Patel was held accountable for laundering between $9.5 and $25 million for the scheme.

 References- www.justice.gov (July 20, 2018)

 

Tax Treatment of Fringe Benefits

Tax Treatment of Fringe Benefits

The term “fringe benefit” refers to any benefit provided to an employee that is in addition to money. All benefits provided to an employee are taxable unless the law specifically excludes or defers tax on the benefit. Thus, a fringe benefit can either be taxable, tax-deferred, or excluded from taxation.

The personal use of an employer-provided vehicle is an example of a taxable fringe benefit. An employer contribution to a qualified retirement plan on behalf of the employee is an example of a tax-deferred fringe benefit. Employer-provided health insurance for an employee is an example of a tax-free fringe benefit.

Taxation of Investments

Taxation of Investments

It's nice to own stocks, bonds, and other investments. Nice, that is, until it's time to fill out your federal income tax return. At that point, you may be left scratching your head. Just how do you report your investments and how are they taxed?

Is it ordinary income or a capital gain?

To determine how an investment vehicle is taxed in a given year, first ask yourself what went on with the investment that year. Did it generate interest income? If so, the income is probably considered ordinary. Did you sell the investment? If so, a capital gain or loss is probably involved. (Certain investments can generate both ordinary income and capital gain income, but we won't get into that here.)

If you receive dividend income, it may be taxed either at ordinary income tax rates or at the rates that apply to long-term capital gain income. Dividends paid to an individual shareholder from a domestic corporation or qualified foreign corporation are generally taxed at the same rates that apply to long-term capital gains. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividends are generally taxed at special capital gains tax rates of 0 percent, 15 percent, and 20 percent depending on your taxable income. (Some types of capital gains may be taxed as high as 25 percent or 28 percent.) The actual process of calculating tax on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends is extremely complicated and depends on the amount of your net capital gains and qualified dividends and your taxable income. But special rules and exclusions apply, and some dividends (such as those from money market mutual funds) continue to be treated as ordinary income.

The distinction between ordinary income and capital gain income is important because different tax rates may apply and different reporting procedures may be involved. Here are some of the things you need to know.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: 529 Plans Expanded

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: 529 Plans Expanded


In December 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax-cut package, became law. College students and their parents dodged a major bullet with the legislation, as initial drafts of the bill included the elimination of Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the student loan interest deduction. Also on the table in early drafts of the bill was the taxation of tuition waivers, which are used primarily by graduate students and employees of higher-education institutions. In the end, none of these provisions made it into the final legislation. What did make the final cut was the expanded use of 529 plans.

Which states offer a 529 plan state tax benefit?

A total of 34 states and the District of Columbia offer a full or partial state income tax deduction for contributions to a 529 plan (however, most restrict the deduction to contributions made to the in-state plan only). California, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Tennessee do not offer a state income tax deduction; and Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming do not have a state income tax.

Source: The Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid, www.finaid.org, January 14, 2018

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Impact on Individuals

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Impact on Individuals

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax-cut package that fundamentally changes the individual and business tax landscape. While many of the provisions in the new legislation are permanent, others (including most of the tax cuts that apply to individuals) will expire in eight years. Some of the major changes included in the legislation that affect individuals are summarized below; unless otherwise noted, the provisions are effective for tax years 2018 through 2025.