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Estate Tax Planning

We went over the “fiscal cliff”—if only for a few hours—now what?

Technically speaking, we actually went "over the fiscal cliff," as many significant tax increases and spending cuts automatically took effect at the stroke of midnight on December 31, 2012.  Later that day, however, on January 1, 2013, retroactive legislation (going back at least several hours) passed the Senate, and then later the House.  Our new law, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA), permanently extends important tax provisions and temporarily extends others.  Following is a very brief overview of ATRA: Transfer (Estate, Gift & GST) Taxes:  Now for the big surprise—ATRA makes permanent the $5 million exemption amounts for the estate,...

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RE: An Open Letter to My Parents—2013 Annual Exclusion Goes Up to $14,000

Dear Mom and Dad, Good news, for the first time since 2009 the IRS has raised the gift amount allowable under the annual exclusion.  In 2013 a person will be able to give $14,000 to any and each donee, free of gift tax (see Rev. Proc. 2012-41). As an example, in 2013 I will be able to give each of my five children $14,000, or $70,000 total.  Because my wife will also be permitted to make use of her own annual exclusion amount, together we can give up to $140,000 to our children next year, free of gift tax, under our combined...

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Bill Gates, Sr., Billionaire Warren Buffett, and Others Call for $2 Million Exemption, 45% Estate Tax Rate

Several dozen wealthy people, including Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Sr., Jimmy Carter, and George Soros, have signed a statement calling for a "strong tax on the largest estates." The statement was released on Tuesday by a group called "United For a Fair Economy." Bill Gates, Sr. noted, “Those of us who have signed this statement to date – including my friend Warren Buffett – believe that a $4 million exemption per couple and a 45% rate, rising on the very largest fortunes, is perfectly reasonable, and should be put into law. Particularly in the face of the devastating cuts to social programs...

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Recommended Estate Tax Laws

Yesterday I blogged about the history of the estate tax and other transfer tax laws.  While the past is certainly instructive in understanding the future, to prognosticate future law, it’s also helpful to look at those proposals and suggestions which have been offered up to Congress and the White House.  In March we shared President Obama’s estate tax ideas as set forth in his budget proposal.  Today, we share options for tax reform as recommended to Congress on April 4, 2012 by the Joint ABA Sections of Taxation and Real Property, Trusts & Estates Law.  The full document can be...

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Brief History of Transfer (Estate, Gift, GST) Tax Laws

1797.  The first version of the estate tax was levied in the United States in 1797 for the specific and limited purpose of funding the formation of the U.S. Navy. 1862.  The Revenue Act of 1862 enacted an inheritance tax and introduced a gift tax for the first time in order to specifically fund the Civil War effort. 1898.  The War Revenue Act of 1898 implemented a graduated inheritance of between 0.74% and 15% of the amount inherited for the specific purpose of funding the Spanish-American War. 1916.  The Revenue Act of 1916 implemented an estate tax equal to 1% on amounts between...

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Go for the Gold – Taxation of Olympic Prizes

[caption id="attachment_1024" align="alignleft" width="272"] Olympic Medals[/caption] The Weekly Standard recently posted an article on the tax liability associated with earning Olympic medals. As reported in the article, "Americans who win bronze will pay a $2 tax on the medal itself. But the bronze comes with a modest prize—$10,000 as an honorarium for devoting your entire life to being the third best athlete on the planet in your chosen discipline. And the IRS will take $3,500 of that, thank you very much. There are also prizes that accompany each medal: $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze.  Silver medalists will owe $5,385.  You...

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Windsor v. U.S.: Married Same-Sex Couples Can Take Advantage of Marital Deduction for Estate Tax

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has ruled that legally married same-sex couples can take advantage of the estate tax marital deduction. Windsor v. U.S., 109 AFTR 2d 2012-870 (DC N.Y. 6/6/2012). In this case, the taxpayer’s claim was essentially that the definition of marriage under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. The court found the DOMA definition unconstitutional under the “rational basis” standard of review which requires that laws have a rational basis for any of their classifications. The court determined that the rationale of protecting...

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Facebook Founder Renounces U.S. Citizenship, Saves Taxes

By Attorney David M. Grant It was announced on Bloomberg.com earlier this week that one of Facebook's founders, Eduardo Saverin, renounced his US citizenship last September.  The article is very good at explaining Mr. Saverin's savings as related to the capital gains tax, but fails altogether to point out his huge potential transfer tax savings as related to the Gift Tax, Generations Skipping Transfer (GST) Tax, and Estate Tax. While he undoubtedly paid the "exit" tax or the expatriation tax (see the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008), all future growth and appreciation in Saverin's estate will no longer be subject to...

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Back Door Tax Hike–Bad for Nevada Business

On Thursday of last week the interim Legislative Subcommittee on Regulations approved a rule that now requires limited liability companies (LLCs) to pay an annual $200 business license tax, which is assessed and collected by the Nevada Secretary of State. This new regulation prevents LLCs from claiming an exemption to the tax for home-based businesses that earn less than $27,000 per year. Nevada Secretary of State, Ross Miller, sought the rule because he says hundreds of LLCs wrongly claim the exemption. The new regulation will cost businesses an estimated $10 million per year, and that does not touch upon the significant loss of new...

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Obama’s New Tax Proposals

By David M. Grant, Esq., Partner at Grant Morris Dodds Recently President Obama released his 2013 budget proposal.  Following is a summary of his budget points as it relates to income tax, estate tax, gift tax, and Generation Skipping Transfer (GST) tax reform: Limitation on Itemized Deductions and Personal Exemption Phase-out. The proposal would reinstate the limitation on itemized deductions and the personal exemption phase-out for upper-income taxpayers. The Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) thresholds would return to the 2009 levels, and would be indexed for inflation thereafter.  The thresholds would be $250,000 for married taxpayers filing joint returns, $225,000 for head-of household taxpayers,...

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