Wealth Management

How Traveling by Cruise Ship Can Increase Your Business Deductions

Understanding the subtle intricacies of business travel deduction rules can help you save thousands of dollars. Tax the quiz.


Key Takeaways:

  • The money you spend on business travel is deductible as long as it’s used to carry out a business activity.

  • Money spent during business travel on personal activities, by contrast, is not deductible.

  • However, the normal allocation of business travel costs between business and personal expenses is not required for business travel on a cruise ship, that’s outside the 50 states for seven days or less.

  • Result: Turning a jet business trip into a cruise may not only be more relaxing, but may also make your entire trip deductible.

 

NOTE: All rules and deductions discussed in this article are accurate as spring 2019. However, always consult your tax advisor when planning to take deductions for business travel.

Situation

All the effort that your client, Ty Tannick, has spent chasing prospective billionaire client Lou Sitania is about to pay off. But before signing on the dotted line, Lou wants Ty to pay him a visit at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s a long way from home. But doggone it, if landing a big client means leaving chilly Boston to travel to the Caribbean in mid-February, it’s a price Ty is willing to pay. So Ty books a five-day cruise to St. Thomas and brings his wife. Upon arriving in St. Thomas, Ty stays in a hotel for two days while holding meetings with Lou.

In preparing his tax return, Ty allocates the time he spent on the trip as 30 percent business, 70 percent personal.

Question

What, if anything, can Ty deduct for business travel costs?

  1. 100 percent of his total costs.

  2. 30 percent of his transportation costs and 30 percent of his costs for food and lodging.

  3. 100 percent of his transportation costs and 30 percent of his costs for food and lodging.

  4. Zero percent since the trip isn’t deductible business travel.

Answer

  1. Ty can claim deductions for 100 percent of his total costs (subject to the daily deduction limits for cruises).

Explanation

There are two kinds of deductible costs you incur when you travel on business:

  1. Business-day costs: the costs of sustaining life during a business day, including meals, snacks, drinks, cab rides and lodging; and

  2. Transportation costs: the costs of traveling to and from a business destination.

You normally have to allocate expenses between business and personal activity and can deduct only the former. But this scenario illustrates an important exception: Deductions for business travel expenses are not subject to the normal allocation between business and personal activity when you:

  • Travel to a destination outside the 50 states and the District of Columbia;

  • Travel for seven days or less (not counting the day of departure); and

  • Goes via a cruise ship.

Ty’s trip meets all three of these conditions. He could (and should) have deducted 100 percent of his total travel costs; therefore, A is the right answer.

Why the Wrong Answers (above) Are Wrong

If you answered B above—30 percent of his transportation costs and 30 percent of his costs for food and lodging—then you are wrong. That’s because deductibility of business transportation costs varies depending on two factors:

Factor 1. U.S. vs. Foreign Travel. IRS regulations distinguish between two kinds of business travel for purposes of deductible transportation costs:

  • Travel inside the 50 United States; and

  • Travel outside the 50 United States.

Ty’s trip to St. Thomas clearly qualifies as travel outside the U.S.

Factor 2. Length of Trip. For business travel outside the U.S., you must look at how long the trip lasted to determine deductibility. The key question: Did you work at least one day and travel for seven days or less, not counting the day of departure?

  • Seven days or less foreign travel: If the answer is YES, you can deduct 100 percent of the cost of your direct route transportation costs of getting to and from the business destination.

  • Seven days or more foreign travel: If the answer is NO, then you only qualify for a 100 percent deduction if you pass the 76/24 test; that is, if you spent more than 75 percent of the days on business, not excluding the day of departure.

Ty did, in fact, work at least one day and travel for seven days or less. So his direct route transportation costs are 100 percent deductible.

If you answered C to the question at the beginning of this article—100 percent of his transportation costs and 30 percent for food and lodging—then you are wrong as well. That’s because Ty’s food and lodging costs are also 100 percent deductible. As we explained earlier, Ty’s transportation costs (i.e., the costs of the cruise) are 100 percent deductible. But we also said earlier that food, lodging and the other costs of sustaining life during a business day must be allocated between personal and business purposes. So what gives?

If Ty had traveled to St. Thomas by airplane, he’d have to allocate his food, lodging and other life-sustaining expenses 70/30 and deduct only 30 percent. The reason he can deduct these costs at 100 percent is because he traveled by cruise ship.

Think about it. When you pay for a cruise, your costs include not only the transport, but meals, lodging and other costs of sustaining life (assuming, of course, these items aren’t broken out as part of the cruise’s cost). In essence, these costs become part of the costs of transportation. So if transportation is 100 percent deductible, then so are the meals, lodging and other life-sustaining costs associated with it!

The moral: In addition to being more pleasurable than flying—at least for many people—traveling to a business destination by cruise ship can significantly increase your business travel deductions.

If you answered D to the question at the beginning of this articleZero percent since the trip isn’t deductible business travelthen you are wrong again. That’s because the mode of transportation doesn’t determine deductibility. In other words, you can claim business travel deductions regardless of whether you travel to and from your business destination by car, plane, train or boat.

However, deductions for business travel by cruise ship are subject to luxury water-travel daily deductions limits.

Conclusion

The costs of business travel are deductible. But the rules are complicated and significant limitations apply—like the requirement that you allocate certain costs between business and personal use. So it’s essential that you and your financial advisors know the rules about business travel deductions.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

The Power of Giving the “Right” Assets to Charity, Part 2

Don’t overlook real estate and privately owned business interests              

Key Takeaways:

  • Cash is always appreciated, but there are better assets to give charitably.

  • Charitable gifts of appreciated marketable securities can provide dramatically enhanced tax benefits.

  • Real estate and privately owned businesses may offer the greatest overall charitable tax benefits.

In Part 1 of this article, we explored how gifts of assets other than cash—primarily appreciated marketable securities--can provide a tax advantaged way to support the causes and organizations you believe in.

While many of you are aware that you can gift appreciated marketable securities in lieu of cash, the opportunities to secure these enhanced tax benefits are too often missed. Even more frequently missed are opportunities to give real estate and privately owned business interests prior to a sale. These assets often provide even greater tax-leveraged opportunities because the income tax basis for these assets is often lower than the basis of your marketable securities. Thus, there’s a greater built-in gain that is subject to tax upon sale.

For example, real estate that has appreciated in value and that has been depreciated over time will often have a very low income tax basis. A successful business that was started from the ground up may have little to no basis. So, while publicly traded stock worth $500,000 with a basis of $250,000 would generally be considered a good asset to give to charity, a gift of real estate worth the same amount ($500,000) but with a basis of $100,000 would provide even greater tax savings and leverage.

Of course, gifts of marketable securities are significantly easier to facilitate than gifts of real estate and privately owned businesses. And the timing of a sale of marketable securities is generally much easier to control and dictate than a sale of real estate or an interest in a business. However, in the right situations, the additional tax savings and leverage are well worth the extra effort and complexity. For many families, the bulk of their wealth may be tied up in their businesses or real estate investments, and they may not have a significant marketable securities portfolio from which to gift appreciated assets. In those situations, a gift of real estate or an interest in a privately owned business may be your only leveraged opportunity for giving from non-cash assets.

Conclusion 

Charitable giving in general--and giving non-cash assets in particular--can help you mitigate your tax burden significantly while doing more to support the causes you believe in. as always, check with your advisors and the intended recipients of your philanthropy before making your generous gifts.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Will I Get a Step-Up in Basis for this Inherited Property?

Receiving inherited property often comes with a tax advantage: receiving a step-up in basis.  Whether you are receiving property from a spouse or family friend, you may be eligible to minimize future taxes by taking a step-up in basis. Read on to see if your inherited property qualifies:

Did you inherit property from your spouse?

If the inherited property is from your spouse and you live in a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin), then both halves of the property receive a step-up in basis as long as at least half is included in the decedent’s gross estate (full step-up in basis to FMV).  If you don’t live in a community property, skip to “Is the property an IRA, 401(k), pension, annuity, or irrevocable trust?” question.

Did you or your spouse gift the property to the decedent within one year before their death?

If you answered “yes,” then your original basis is carried over, and you will not receive a step-up.  If not, move on to the next question.

Is the property an IRA, 401(k), pension, annuity, or irrevocable trust?

If you answered “yes,” then you will not receive a step-up in basis.  If not, you will likely be eligible for either a half or full step-up in basis. 

Receiving a step-up in basis can potentially save you thousands of dollars in taxes. Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk about the best tax strategies for your inherited property, please give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Elite Wealth Planning

What it is and why it matters

Elite wealth planning often plays a key role in the lives of today’s highly successful individuals and families—as well as those who are on the path toward great financial success.

 With that in mind, here’s a closer look at just what elite wealth planning is—how it works and how it can potentially have a powerful impact on your life as you seek to build, preserve and protect your wealth.

The key elements of elite wealth planning

Before we can see what makes elite wealth planning so special, it’s important to understand the various planning strategies that make up the core of most elite wealth planning efforts.

Click here to read more:

Elite Wealth Planning

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

6 Keys to Comprehensive Personal Wealth Planning, Part 1

Key Takeaways:

  1. Accumulating wealth for retirement needs.

  2. Doing appropriate income tax planning.

  3. Planning for the distribution of the estate.

  4. Avoiding guardianships.

  5. Preparing for long-term health care costs.

  6. Protecting assets.

 

This article is the first in a series designed to help you and your advisor implement appropriate financial, estate and asset protection planning, regardless of your age, assets or income.

Personal and Wealth Planning Needs: 6 Keys

Everyone, regardless of their age, health, marital status, assets and income, should understand the six key planning needs for protecting themselves against personal, legal, tax and financial issues.

1. Accumulating Wealth for Retirement Needs

We all retire at some point in time. Retirement is when wealth accumulation normally tapers off and we begin to consume our accumulated assets in order to fund our retirement needs. Never overlook the importance of retirement income planning because, if ignored, retirement, aging and income cash-flow needs can significantly erode your wealth. Life insurance statistics show that a 50-year-old now has at least an even chance of living to 110!

Assuming an average retirement age between age 60 and 65, many of you realistically face the prospect of living 30 to 40 years AFTER your working life (i.e. wealth accumulation phase) has ended. In estate planning, we often talk about preserving wealth and passing it on to the next generation. But given the demographics of aging, inflation, health care needs, etc., it is easy to have your wealth run out before you do.

2. Appropriate Tax Planning Should Always Be Considered

You face a multitude of state and federal taxes (along with income tax issues and wealth transfer tax issues), which must be addressed at each stage of life as well as at each stage of the planning process.

3. At Some Point We All Die

It is critical that you have appropriate estate planning documents in place, including wills, trusts, appropriate beneficiary designations, guardian designations and more.

4. Avoiding Guardianships

Unfortunately, because of age, accident or illness, we all face the prospect of being unable to take care of our own finances or to make our own health care decisions. Therefore, proper documents need to be put in place NOW to allow someone else to make appropriate decisions on our behalf.

5. Long-Term Health Care Costs

Because of health and aging, everyone faces the prospect of financing long-term health care needs, including the possibility of assisted living and full skilled-care living. These costs can be financially devastating if they are not planned for.

6. Asset Protection Planning

Everyone should be concerned about protecting their wealth from divorcing spouses, lawsuits, family problems, business problems, taxes, creditors and predators that can ruin your long-term financial health. Failure to address any of these needs can result in significant financial loss and the accompanying emotional, psychological and family issues that all too often accompany the onslaught of life’s problems.

We can’t fight the aging process. We can’t prevent the unexpected events that impact our quality of life. However, proper planning and documentation can go a long way toward creating peace of mind when we have put in place the appropriate planning for financial, legal, tax and healthcare issues that are bound to occur during your lifetime.

Getting started

Regardless of your age, health, assets and income, everyone needs a well-drafted “financial durable power of attorney” and an appropriate advanced medical directive. Advanced medical directives normally include healthcare powers of attorney, living wills and more. If you are unable to attend to your financial, personal care or health care matters because of age, accident or illness, no one can make these decisions for you unless the decision making has been specifically designated in writing. 

Financial durable powers of attorney cover assets, income and dealings with other financial matters and government agencies. Advanced medical directives deal with personal care and medical issues, including surgery, placement, medication, assisted living, full skilled-care decisions and end-of-life decisions.

If you do not have these documents in place, unfortunately these decisions will have to be made under a court-supervised process known as a “guardian of the person” (for personal care and medical issue decisions) or a “guardian of the estate” (for financial matters). Guardianships are expensive, personally intrusive and perhaps the worst way to manage any of the decision-making processes.

The proceedings can be very traumatic and expensive. Guardianships of an estate or the person are easy to avoid if the appropriate documents are put in place.

Conclusion

A final word of caution: Be careful about using simple, generic estate planning forms. Simple forms often ignore many of the issues that will have to be made throughout the course of your lifetime. Many of the decisions that may be critically important to your family need to be specifically designated in the documents. Take the time to get your affairs in order while you are still in your prime health and income producing years. You’ll be glad you did.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Exit Planning for Business Owners

You’ve poured your blood, sweat, tears (and personal savings) into building a successful business. Congrats! You are considered a leader in your community, and you enjoy a sense of personal achievement that no corporate, government or non-profit employee could ever have. But there comes a time when taking some chips off the table—if not all of them—starts to sound appealing.

Most folks imagine you are quite wealthy by now but are you? Sure, you skimped on salary in the early years and didn’t put as much into your retirement account as you could have. But that shortfall will come back to you in spades after you sell, right?

With a median sale price of $225,000 for business, one can infer that only a small fraction of small business owners can cash out with enough money, so they never have to work again.

In fact, more than one-third of business owners (34%) have no retirement savings plan according to Manta, an online resource for small businesses owners. According to Manta data, many owners don’t feel they make enough money from their business to save for retirement. Others feel the need to tap all their savings to keep funding the business and don’t have enough left over to put toward retirement. More concerning, almost one in five owners told Manta they plan on using the expected proceeds from selling their business to retire on.

Supercharge your retirement savings especially if you’re in your 40s, 50s or 60s.

At a minimum, you should set up a 401(k) plan. If the plan is a “safe harbor” plan, then you should be able to contribute the maximum $19,000 a year to your 401(k)--$25,000 per year if you’re over age 50.  (A Safe Harbor 401k plan allows employers to provide a plan to its employees and avoid the annual testing to make sure the plan passes nondiscrimination rules. In this type of plan, employers contribute a minimum required amount to the employees to avoid testing. A non-safe harbor plan involves expensive annual compliance testing.)

Typically, if you make an additional profit-sharing contribution to employees, you should be able to max out at $56,000 a year, or $62,000 if over age 50. If this is still not enough to put you on track for your retirement goals, you can start a cash balance plan and contribute up to $200,000 a year or more to your retirement savings, but this requires an even larger employee contribution. See my article about Cash Balance Plans.

The exit planning process starts 3-5 years out

Rare is the owner who receives a buyout offer out of the blue that’s simply too generous to pass up.
You don’t just wake up one day and decide to sell. You don’t just pace a “for sale” sign on the door outside your offices and expect buyers to line up. It’s going to take some planning and spit and polishing beforehand….just like selling a house or a car. Research shows most owners don’t come close to getting an offer that’s commensurate with what they think the value of their business is. In fact, surveys indicate that one of the biggest deal breakers for prospective buyers of a business is the sloppy record keeping of the owner. It is critical to keep great financial records, so the buyer knows what they are purchasing. In addition, you should have audited financial records.

An AES Nation survey of 107 corporate attorneys three fourth (77%) of them said failing to prepare companies financially was a common or very common problem for business owners. AES Nation says that the three most important ways owners can prepare for a sale are:

1. Improving the balance sheet. This means being more effective with cash management and receivables and getting rid of non-performing assets.

2. Addressing the cost of funds. This means getting the right loan covenants and maximizing working capital.

3. Getting audited financial statements. This reduces the likelihood that you, the entrepreneur, will have liabilities after the sales closes.

I recently gave a presentation to a group of CPAs, and they told me one horror story after another about business owner clients who try to sell their businesses without telling their CPA beforehand. Even worse, the CPA doesn’t hear about the planned sale until the frantic owner calls with a last-minute question on the way to the closing. That is NOT the time to ask your CPA questions or to seek advice. You really need a professional team to strategize with before the sale. I’ll talk more about the kinds of specialists you need in a minute.


Preparing your business for sale—don’t wait until the last minute

In addition to getting your cash flow and financial statements in order, it’s very important to manage your human capital, too. Nearly three fourths (72%) of lawyers surveyed by AES Nation said it was very common for owners to forget to prepare their key personnel for the transition to new ownership. Your key employees are among the most valuable assets you can offer to new ownership. Make sure you have employment contracts in place that incentivize key personnel to stay with the company. You also need non-compete and non-solicitation agreements.

According, to Sheryl Brake, CPA/CGMA, CVA, CEPA of Encompass Transition Solutions, LLC, “The biggest mistake that business owners make when planning to sell their business is not beginning the process early enough.  The ideal time to start the process is 3 to 5 years before they actually want to transition out of their business. Beginning the process early gives the owner ample time to educate themselves, identify their options, and prepare the business for sale so that they maximize the value of the business and exit the business on their terms and their timeline.”

 

Avoid seller’s remorse

According to AES Nation, approximately half of business owners are unhappy after the sale of the company. To maximize the value of your business, you must improve the balance sheet, address the cost of funds, enhance the profits and make yourself “operationally irrelevant.”

One of the best books on business operations is called The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber. This book walks you through the steps from starting a business, growing a business and running a mature business. Until you can take a three-week vacation from the business and still have the enterprise run smoothly without you, all you really have is a demanding job. You don’t have a great business.


Don’t give your windfall to Uncle Sam


Selling a business is not all about getting the best price. It’s about maximizing the amount of money you and your family pocket after the sale is completed and what you do with that wealth—including planning the next chapter in your life.

According to an AES Nation, about 85 percent of business owners have not taken steps to mitigate taxes before the sale of a company. One way to lower your tax hit after selling is to utilize a “freezing trust.” This is a trust that passes on the value of your business to your children or grandchildren free of estate tax. I can tell you more about this technique when we meet.

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The general idea of a freezing trust is to gift some of your company stock to a trust and to sell more of the stock to the trust for a promissory note. When you gift the company stock to the trust and sell the company stock to the trust for a promissory note, you are getting the assets and future appreciation out of your taxable estate. When you sell the company, the value of the shares in the trust escapes estate taxes.

Your life v2.0

One of the hardest parts of retirement is deciding how to spend your time in your post-working retire. It’s even harder for successful business owners whose personal identify, values and reason for getting up in the morning is so intertwined with the business. Again, this process must start three to five years (not months) before you plan to sell. Some owners retire completely. Others stay on with the business in an advisory capacity. Others go back to work in another position—some even start a brand-new venture.

Don’t be a DIY when it comes to your exit

While it’s hard for many entrepreneurs to think they can’t sell their own business—who else knows it better? —countless studies show this is not a good idea. Selling a business successfully requires special skill sets that even your CPA and attorney often won’t have, let alone you.

You need a strong team including a CPA with experience in business transactions and possibly an investment banker. According to an AES Nation survey of corporate attorneys, nearly 92 percent strongly recommend using an investment banker if your business is valued between $1 and $10 million and almost all surveyed attorneys recommend using an investment bank if your business was valued at over $10 million. In fact, nearly half of surveyed attorneys (41.1%) recommended using an investment banker even if your business is valued at less than $1 million.

Conclusion

If you or someone close to you is considering selling their business, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d be happy to help.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

The Power of Giving the “Right” Assets to Charity, Part 1

You can donate appreciated marketable securities to your favorite causes in lieu of cash —don’t miss out on the tax benefits you deserve.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cash may be the worst asset you can give charitably.

  • Charitable gifts of appreciated marketable securities can provide dramatically enhanced tax benefits.

  • Real estate and privately owned businesses may offer the greatest overall charitable tax benefits.

 

Charitable gifting of non-cash assets can be especially advantageous in high-income-tax states such as New York, Vermont, New Jersey, Oregon and California.

What is the single biggest mistake that generous and affluent people make when it comes to planning their charitable giving? Giving exclusively in the form of cash.

When it comes to charitable giving, most people think about writing a check or dropping some cash in the Salvation Army’s red kettle at Christmas. This mindset can be unfortunate—and costly. Non-cash assets can be a much better way to give.

First, there are generally enhanced tax benefits to giving certain non-cash assets such as marketable securities, real estate and privately owned business interests, thus enabling you to pay less in taxes and/or give more to your favorite charities and causes.

Second, non-cash assets are where the majority of your wealth probably resides. According to IRS statistics, of all the giving that is done in the United States each year—about $380 billion—80 percent of all giving in the U.S. is simply made in the form of cash. That means only 20 percent of gifts are made in the form of non-cash assets, much of which include tangible personal property such as clothing, appliances, books, etc. that are gifted to organizations such as the local Goodwill.

That’s a huge lost opportunity.

However, if we look at the cumulative composition of wealth owned by families, cash represents less than 10 percent. Therefore, much of the wealth comprising the other 90 percent provides excellent opportunities for charitable giving, but too often is never considered.

Why cash is not king

As mentioned earlier, cash is often the least advantageous asset to give charitably. True, you generally receive a charitable income tax deduction, which may significantly reduce your tax liability. But, certain types of appreciated non-cash assets—such as marketable securities, real estate and privately owned business interests—may provide double tax benefits by securing the same or similar charitable income tax deductions, and helping you avoid capital gains tax that would otherwise be triggered upon the sale of such assets.

A charitable gift of cash is eligible for a charitable income tax deduction against ordinary income tax rates up to 60 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). This can be a very significant benefit and incentive for you to give charitably. For example, you can save up to 37 percent on cash contributions to charities for federal tax purposes and may save additional taxes at the state level. In high-income-tax states, with rates as high as 13.3 percent (California), the highest-income taxpayers may be paying almost 50 percent of their income in combined federal and state taxes. In such situations, you may essentially be receiving a matching dollar-for-dollar contribution from the federal and state governments for your charitable contributions. For every dollar you give, you save as much as 50 cents in taxes.

Clearly, our federal and many state tax codes provide generous incentives and benefits to taxpayers who are generous.

However, even greater tax benefits can be secured by giving certain appreciated assets instead of cash. Consider a taxpayer in the highest federal income tax bracket (37 percent) in a state with a 5 percent income tax rate—a 42 percent total tax rate. He’s considering making a $250,000 charitable gift in support of a charity that is building a hospital in Africa. If he simply writes a check for $250,000, he’ll save $105,000 in taxes.

The power of giving marketable securities to charity

Now, instead of writing a check, suppose he selected some of his most highly appreciated stocks from a marketable securities portfolio, gave the stock to charity, and then took the cash he otherwise would have given to charity and repurchased the same stocks (or different investments if desired). If the stocks selected were originally purchased for $100,000, upon sale he would recognize $150,000 in capital gains. Taxes owed upon sale would include a federal capital gains tax of 20 percent, a state income tax of 5 percent and the Obamacare tax on net investment income of 3.8 percent for a total tax rate of 28.8 percent. On $150,000 of gain, this amounts to a tax liability of $43,200.

However, by giving the stock to charity and allowing the charity to sell the stock, the $43,200 of taxes otherwise due upon the sale would be completely avoided. He would receive the same charitable income tax deduction of $105,000 as he would have by giving cash.

So, a $250,000 cash gift would have cost him $145,000 due to the tax savings from the charitable income tax deduction, while a $250,000 gift of appreciated marketable securities would cost him only $101,800. He would save $43,200 more in taxes by simply giving stock instead of cash. The charity ends up with the exact same amount of funding, though some of you may decide to give some (or all) of this additional tax savings to charity as well—for which you will receive an additional charitable deduction. It’s important to keep in mind that gifts of non-cash assets to public charities are deductible up to 30 percent of the giver’s AGI, compared to cash, which is deductible up to 60 percent of AGI (50 percent if a giver makes a combination of both cash and non-cash assets). Of course, gifts exceeding these thresholds may be carried forward to future tax years for up to five additional years.


Conclusion

Charitable giving in general, and gifts of non-cash assets in particular, can help you mitigate your tax burden significantly while doing more to support the causes you believe in. In Part 2, we’ll explore the value of giving real estate and privately owned businesses.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Well-Traveled? Don’t Get Tripped Up by Taxes, Part 2

More cross-border issues for you and your advisor to remember for next tax season or extension time

Key Takeaways:

  • While total global income must be reported on the relevant lines of the 1040, some forms are specific to global tax reporting.

  • Form 8938 relating to foreign asset reporting is now in its second year.

  • PFIC reporting—Form 8621 for all foreign mutual funds and private equities held by U.S. residents and citizens—is slowly becoming important.

  • You must also declare your financial interest in foreign entities via Form 5471.

 

As we discussed in Part 1 of this article series, if you are a U.S. resident or U.S. citizen (whether NRI, PIO or OCI), you must pay taxes in the U.S. on all of your global income. Here we’ll look closer at the important forms that apply to you.

Foreign assets reporting—Form 8938


Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, must be filed along with the income tax return.

Experts agree that Form 8938, which has been around for half a dozen years, will become a significant tool for the IRS to identify the scope of international tax noncompliance of a given U.S. taxpayer. This form requires a taxpayer to disclose more information that connects various parts of a taxpayer’s international tax compliance, including the information that escaped disclosure on other forms earlier.

Schedule B is a typical example where you may have failed to report foreign financial accounts. Moreover, Form 8938 is far more detailed and asks the opening date of a certain financial account. This can become a tricky situation if you have held a foreign account for a significantly long period of time–and haven’t disclosed it in earlier returns.

What must be reported in 8938?

Foreign financial assets that must be declared in Form 8938 include shareholdings, mutual fund holdings, insurance policy holdings, pension plans and bank balances abroad.

Specified foreign financial assets do not include physical assets such as gold and real estate. However, if you own gold is held in the form of ETFs, it should be included as a specified foreign financial asset.

Tip: Form 8938 is exhaustive and requires you and your tax advisor to enter detailed values of financial assets. Make sure you get in touch with your overseas bankers or financial companies to gather this information ASAP.

PFIC reporting—Form 8621

 

The U.S. has a peculiar reporting requirement for all foreign mutual funds and private equities held by its residents and citizens. In the U.S., these funds are considered “passive foreign investment companies” (PFICs). According to PFIC rules, any notional gains from a mutual fund or private equity fund holding must be declared every year, and tax must be paid on such notional gains.

If you fail to comply, your gains on sales will be treated under the “excessive distribution” option, which is also the default method. Suppose you did not make any election on PFICs and, throughout the holding period, did not complete Form 8621 for PFIC holdings.

Let’s say you held the PFIC units for, say, 10 years and did not receive any distributions during those 10 years. In the year of sale, let’s say you made a gain of $100. In the year of sale, gains will be distributed over the past 10 years, that is, $10 per year. It will be treated as though you did not pay tax on $10 per year, and hence in Year 10, must pay tax for each of these years plus interest on the delay. Essentially, this default method kicks in at the year of sale.

Tip: If you own foreign mutual funds, collect information such as opening and closing values. If dividends were paid, gather that information as well. It can be a long, drawn-out exercise. The sooner you begin the better.

Declaration of financial interest in Indian entities


Forms 5471 and 8865 are triggered when a U.S. resident, citizen or green card holder has financial interest in foreign corporations or foreign partnerships. So if you have a stake in an overseas company, or are a director or officer of foreign company, you may need to file Form 5471 (for companies) or 8865 (for partnerships) and declare the interest. There are certain conditions that apply to both forms. What is important is that the penalties are very high. There is a penalty of $10,000 for each year for failing to file the form.

Another form, the 926, was also introduced a few years ago. Form 926 captures information on any transfers of property or funds by a U.S. taxpayer to a foreign corporation.

Conclusion
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article series, foreign income compliance is becoming increasingly important to the IRS. As the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) gathers steam, opportunities to come into compliance without facing harsh penalties will start to diminish. So the sooner you and your tax advisors act, the better.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Am I Eligible for Medicare Part A & Part B?

The Medicare program can provide healthcare for elderly or disabled individuals at a greatly reduced cost.  Medicare Part A covers hospital insurance, and Part B covers medical insurance.  Read below to see if you are eligible for Medicare.

Are you a US citizen and age 65 or older?

If you are under 65 and are not disabled, then you are not eligible for Medicare Part A or Part B.  If you are under 65 and disabled you may be eligible for Medicare benefits.  If you are over 65 and not disabled, move on to the next question.

Are you entitled to Social Security benefits (you have 40 work credits; about 10 years of work history)?

If you answered “yes,” you will be eligible for Medicare Part A & Part B.  If not, then you may still be eligible, depending on your spouse’s eligibility for Medicare and several other factors.

If you’ve made it this far, there is a good chance you are eligible for Medicare Part A & Part B.  Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk about planning strategies that incorporate Medicare, please give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Get a Home Equity Line of Credit Before You Really Need It

Get a Home Equity Line of Credit Before You Really Need It

It’s especially important to establish your line before you retire

By Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA, AEP®

Key Takeaways

  • When used intelligently, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) can be excellent cash flow management tools.

  • Contrary to what you might have heard, the interest on HELOCs remains tax deductible when used to pay for home improvements.

  • Don’t wait until you’ve left the workforce to establish a HELOC. Even high net worth individuals can have trouble qualifying when they no longer show employment income.

We’ve been trained most of our lives to treat debt as evil and interest rates as the devil’s work. But, sometimes well-managed debt can provide substantial flexibility and leverage as you pursue your financial and life goals. Demonstrating that you can handle debt responsibly can also boost your credit rating.

If you are a homeowner in good standing, a HELOC can be a very powerful tool for consolidating credit card debt, paying for home renovations, a wedding, a new car purchase, unexpected medical expenses, auto or home repair, even college tuition. Despite the Fed’s recent hikes in interest rates, the rate you are likely to pay on a HELOC will be far lower than what you’ll pay on credit cards, auto loans, student loans, etc.


The key is to finance your big-ticket expenses without depleting your rainy day funds or cashing out stocks or other assets and incurring capital gains taxes—and possibly pushing yourself into a higher tax bracket, especially if you’re retired. HELOCs check all the boxes.

Many folks hope to have all their debt paid off before retirement. But a HELOC can be a very effective tool for managing your cash flow and account withdrawals in retirement.


Just make sure you obtain a HELOC before retiring

Many retirees are shocked to learn they don’t have enough monthly income to meet their bank’s debt ratio (debt/income requirements) when applying for a HELOC or home equity loan. Also, underwriting criteria for these so-called second mortgages has tightened up considerably since the last recession. Most lenders don't look at your assets; they only look at income and credit scores. In addition to retirement benefits (e.g., social security), you may have to provide proof of other income -- enough to make the loan payments. 

 
Don’t believe me? We once had a self-employed client with a $4 million net worth and he and his wife still couldn’t qualify for a HELOC or other type of second mortgage.

Why shouldn’t I just get a home equity loan?

As mentioned earlier, HELOCs and home equity loans are types of “second mortgages” secured by the equity you have built up in your primary residence. Generally, the choice between the two types of credit depends on your intended use for the money and your time frame for repayment. For instance, if you have a set amount in mind for a specific expense such as a wedding, a new septic system or new roof--and you have no further foreseeable expenses--then a fixed rate home equity loan makes sense. However, if your needs are more open-ended—say, a major home renovation that will span a year or two, or to supplement a child's college tuition each year for the next four years--then the more flexible HELOC could be the better option.

Put in article.png

Unlike a convention loan with a fixed payment schedule, a HELOC allows you to pay down as much of the outstanding principal as you want when your cash flow is good, but only requires you to pay the minimum amount of interest when and no principal when cash is tight. Further, you can pay down the entire outstanding balance (draw) at any time during the duration of the loan term (typically 5-10 years)—and later tap into your line again as life circumstances change.

I’m sure those of you who are business owners understand this concept well.

Why should I pay “all that interest”?


That’s a refrain I often hear from clients and prospects. For example, say you have $300,000 in a taxable account, and you are debating whether to use $60,000 of this money for a major house remodel or get a HELOC. If you use the money from the taxable account, you could potentially have capital gains. If you get a HELOC, you could pay off that expense gradually and keep a lot more of your money fully invested—while deducting the HELOC interest from their taxable income if you can itemize. The typical answer for not choosing a HELOC is because most people don’t want to be paying “all that interest.”

We take a different approach when looking at interest. First, we look to see if you can write the interest off. Then we look at the average rate of return on your portfolio. If your portfolio has been averaging the same or more than the after-tax cost of the loan, then we recommend you go with the loan.

EXAMPLE: Let’s take a $60,000 loan at a 5 percent interest rate. If you can earn a 7-percent return on your portfolio, that 2-percent spread in your favor translates into $1,200 more in your pocket every year that you have the loan.

 

I know what you’re thinking: “I thought the interest on HELOCs isn’t deductible anymore (post Tax Reform).” Actually, it is as long as the funds are being used for home improvements.
(See Example 1 below).

put in article 4.JPG

Conclusion

If you or someone close to you has concerns about their cash flow and expense management needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d be happy to help.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail
info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

How Private Client Lawyers Can Create Exceptional High-Net-Worth Practices in Today’s Challenging Environment.

If you are a private client lawyer in the Front Range of Boulder and Denver, CO and you want to make a lot more money, you should continue reading this article.

Have you ever wondered why some attorneys are so much more successful than the rest? Do you ever consider what these private client lawyers are doing that you are not doing? This article reviews the strategies that successful private client lawyers who make more than $1 million per year are using to excel in turbulent times.

I’d love to share some of my proven tips and best practices with you when we meet.

When I first start to work with private client lawyers, I find that they are usually highly intelligent and extremely hard working—but not enjoying the level of success they feel they are capable of at the moment. They sense there are significant opportunities to build extremely lucrative practices by serving HNW (High Net-Worth) clients well, but they are uncertain about how to start on the right path.

To that end, there’s a great book called EXCELLING IN TURBULENT TIMES: How Private Client Lawyers Can Create Exceptional High-Net-Worth Practices in Today’s Challenging Environment. Our research partners at AES Nation wrote the book. We have them on retainer. I would love to give you a copy of this book when we meet. The book is chocked full of HNW client opportunities and best practices that can enable you to achieve tremendous professional and financial success. You will learn how to become exceptionally wealthy while doing a remarkable job of serving your clients well—yes, it’s possible to do both! If you would like to schedule a call right now, please click here. I will share with you empirical and ethnographic research about top private client lawyers and combine it with our deep knowledge of HNW clients. As part of this journey, I will share hard-learned lessons from other types of elite professional such as wealth managers, multi-family offices, CPAs, risk professionals and more.

Click here to Read more:

How Private Client Lawyers Can Create Exceptional High-Net-Worth Practices in Today’s Challenging Environment

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Will I Avoid the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision?

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) applies to Social Security recipients who have their own retirement savings as well as a pension from an employer who did not pay into Social Security.  The purpose of WEP is to disallow for the collection of full Social Security benefits when a retiree has retirement savings and a pension from employers who opted out of Social Security (commonly local government).  Read on to see if you could have your Social Security benefits reduced by the Windfall Elimination Provision.

Have you worked for an employer that did not withhold for Social Security (such as a govt. agency)?

If you have not, then the WEP does not apply to you and will be eligible for full Social Security benefits.  If “yes,” then move on to the next question.

Do you qualify for Social Security benefits from work you did in previous jobs?

If not, then you will not be subject to the WEP.  If you have, move on.

Are you a federal worker in the FERS retirement system and first hired after 12/31/1983?

If you are a federal worker who meets the conditions outlined above, you will not be subject to WEP.  If you are not a federal worker or are a federal worker and do not meet the above conditions, you may be subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision.

The Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision is complicated and has a large influence on your retirement situation should it affect you.  Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision to see if it affects you, please give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here here to schedule a time to speak with us.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Can I Delay the RMD from the Traditional IRA I Inherited?

Traditional IRAs allow the owner several tax advantages: it allows for an upfront tax deduction as well as tax-deferred growth.  Upon withdrawal of funds, the account owner is taxed at ordinary income rates. Inherited IRAs require the new account owner to begin taking withdrawals over their lifetime regardless whether or not they need the funds.  Why?  Because Uncle Sam wants to collect his share.  Here are some potential strategies for delaying RMDs from Traditional IRAs as long as possible.

Are you the beneficiary of a Traditional IRA from someone other than your spouse?

If you inherited a Traditional IRA from a spouse, you are likely able to delay taking RMDs until you reach 70.5 years of age.  Check out our “Should I Inherit my Deceased Spouse’s IRA?” flowchartIf you inherited the IRA from a non-spouse, move on to the next question.

Did the person pass away before their Required Beginning Date (April 1st, the year after turning 70.5)?

They have reached their Required Beginning Date

This allows you two options: electing the “5 Year Distribution Rule” or taking RMDs based on your life expectancy using the IRS Single Life Expectancy Table.  The “5 Year Distribution Rule” means all assets must be out of the account at the end of 5 years.  You could withdraw all funds immediately, spread them out over the 5 years, or take them all out just before the end of 5 years.  Keep in mind you will need to pay ordinary income tax on the whole amount distributed. 

If you take RMDs based on your life expectancy it will spread out the tax burden.

They have not reached their Required Beginning Date

You will be required to open an Inherited IRA and take RMDs based on your life expectancy according to the IRS Single Life Expectancy Table.  Depending if the deceased had satisfied their RMD for the year of their death, you may be required to take one this year.

If you’ve made it this far, you may be able to delay the RMD from your inherited IRA.  Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk about the best strategy for delaying RMDs from Inherited IRAs, give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

 

 

 Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

 

Time Is One of Your Most Valued Assets

Like any other asset you possess, you must be diligent about protecting it, managing it and sharing it

Key Takeaways:

  • Time management is a critical skill set required to achieve success whether you’re retired, in your peak earning years or aught in the Sandwich Generation.

  • Identify where you are spending your time each day that create the most success and happiness.

  • Identify and remove the time bandits that steal precious hours and minutes from the activities that create the most success and happiness.

  • Always heed the 4 D’s.

 

Overview


As many of you have just completed the annual rite of spring known as last-minute tax planning, procrastination and portfolio rebalancing, now might be a great time to hit the “pause” button for just a second.

Equity markets are at or near their all-time highs, interest rates are near their historical lows, inflation is in check and millions of Americans are expecting tax refunds. So why isn’t everyone racing out to purchase new yachts, cars and horses? Because they’re not all that secure, thanks to newfound uncertainty about trade wars, North Korea nukes the revolving door in the White House and interest rates poised to keep rising.

You probably don’t have time to go luxury good shopping anyway.

One of the most significant challenges we face in today’s fast-paced society is controlling our limited time. If you can develop better time management skills, you will have a leg up on your career, family relationships and/or retirement lifestyle. In addition to life coaches and time management experts, many wealth advisors can help you with time management as well—but it all starts with you.

Getting started on the right time management path

Good time management is a two-step process. First, you must clearly identify activities that only you can do and that add significant value to your day. Second, you must identify the time bandits that steal your limited time from the activities that really matter.

Top 8 time bandits


Here are some of the most common time bandits and remedies we see in our work among successful individuals and retirees.

1. Losing time due to lack of organization (specifically, prospect lists, meetings and personal calendars)
Plan and prepare for meetings, medical appointments media, even consultations with your tax and financial advisors with agendas, on-topic communication and hard stops for every meeting to respect everyone’s time.

2. Discussing market forecasts when all crystal balls are cloudy

As the old saying goes: “Everyone’s crystal ball is cloudy.” Why spend your limited time reading, viewing and participating in conversations related to forecasting?

3. Sending multiple emails instead of engaging in verbal communication
Ever notice a long chain of emails attached to one email? This is a great example of where a scheduled call could save time over a group of people typing email responses. Schedule the call and keep the time short. Avoid sending emails for every communication.

4. Losing time (and important information) to desk clutter
It is difficult to guess how much time is wasted by moving piles of paper around a cluttered office. Searching through piles of desk clutter for the critical information needed for a call or meeting requires time. The time-saver is to move toward an efficient paperless office with a system that still allows you to take files with wherever you go.

5. Browsing the Internet, including social media
Digital media usually starts out with a search for specific information, but it can quickly lead to a deep dark hole of distraction and procrastination. Instead, limit Internet browsing to a certain amount of time per day, much like a scheduled call or meeting. The way things are going, Facebook may be taking up less and less of your time.

6. Implementing technology tools before they are efficient
Attempting to use technology before it is fully installed or before your training is complete is a big time-waster. If it does not work properly, it is a time-waster. Using technology in this way could cause loss of data or excess data retrieval searching. This applies to everyone from busy professionals, to busy homemakers to retirees.

7. Completing administrative tasks
It is easy to drift away from your goals of the day by getting bogged down in administrative tasks that could be accomplished by someone else. I recommend avoiding these tasks by using the following four Ds:

  • Don’t do it if it is not worth anyone’s time.

  • Delegate it to someone else if it is worth doing, but not by you.

  • Defer if it can be done only by you, the wealth manager, but is also a task that can wait.

  • Do it now if it can be done only by you, but it must be done now.

The problem with administrative tasks occurs when we default to “do it now” without considering the other three options above.

8. Reading and replying to email on demand
Email has become one of our greatest tools—when it is properly used. If it is not properly managed, email becomes one of our greatest time-wasters. Successful people are not at their desks waiting to send the next email. I recommend setting aside scheduled time in the morning and afternoon to manage email. The same applies to text messaging. It doesn’t have to be instant! Also, I recommend the following approaches to managing incoming emails:

  • Delete the email without reading it if it is from an unwanted sender.

  • Scan the email if you are unsure of its content, then take the appropriate action.

  • Read the email and determine whether a reply is necessary.

  • Reply to the email only if required.

  • File the email only if it needs to be saved.

  • Save the email if it contains sensitive information.

Conclusion

There is a great deal of competition for your time and attention no matter what stage of life you are in. We have found that the happiest and most successful people determine the most valuable use of their time and avoid the time bandits that prevent their success.

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

 

This Powerful New Tax Strategy Is a TRIP

Key Takeaways

  • Total Return Pooled Income Funds (TRPIFs) can be powerful tools for gifting, estate planning and minimizing taxes.

  • TRPIFs allow you to make gifts of cash, publicly traded stock, closely held C Corps, unleveraged real estate, tangible personal property like art, cars, antiques and even LLC interests.

  • TRPIFs have many similarities to charitable remainder trusts, but it’s important to understand the differences. Always consult with your financial advisors before signing on the dotted line.

Now that your tax returns are hopefully completed I thought I’d share with you one of the best kept secrets in estate planning and tax mitigation. It’s been around since 1969, but most successful taxpayers and their advisors still don’t know about it.

How about a strategy that completely eliminates capital gains tax, provides a gigantic income tax deduction, distributes all its income (maybe for three generations) and is completely legal? Sounds too good to be true. Well it’s not. Here’s why:

The Pooled Income Fund (PIF), created in code section §642(c)(5) in 1969, and long the red headed step child of planned giving tools, has gone “beast mode.” Thanks to a perfect storm of low interest rates, technology and charities now understanding the need to be responsive to CPAs and other professional advisors (and donors) has ushered in a new type of PIF called the Total Return Pooled Income Fund (TRPIF). This vehicle is one of the most flexible, powerful and thought-provoking planning tools you can deploy.

Yet not many advisors and philanthropically-minded individuals know about them.

With a TRPIF, you may make gifts of cash, publicly traded stock, closely held C Corps, unleveraged real estate, tangible personal property like art, cars, antiques and even LLC interests. Income can be paid for one, two or three generations of income beneficiaries if they’re alive at the time of the gift. Competitive TRPIFs pay out all rents, royalties, dividends and interest as well as all short-term gains and up to 50 percent of post-gift realized long term gains.

Charitable beneficiaries are decided on by the donor, not by the TRPIF trustee. That means the donation goes to any charities the family feels are worthy.

If you know a little bit about CRTs you’ll find that TRPIFs are similar. However, you and your advisor should be aware of some important differences. For instance, a donor can’t be the trustee of his or TRPIF as they can with their CRT. That may be a drawback. However, young donors (couples in their 40s), for instance, can’t even qualify for a CRT as they won’t meet the 10 percent remainder test. With a TRPIF, there is no such test. That means an income beneficiary can be any age. The charitable income tax deductions of a TRPIF can be greater than a CRT’s by a magnitude of four or five times. The methodology by which a new TRPIF (less than three years old) calculates its income tax deduction is governed by a complicated formula based on the ages of the beneficiaries and the assigned discount rate (1.4% for 2018). This is what produces the large deductions.

Conclusion

From a planning standpoint, TRPIFs can allow you much more planning flexibility than many other trusts. When selling a low basis security, for instance, it may be possible to leave more shares in the seller’s hands and still pay no tax because of the larger income tax deduction. And, low-basis assets are only one of the many opportunities that you may applicable to the TRPIF strategy. There are only a small handful of charities offering this new, competitive, Pooled Income Fund. Therefore, it’s important that you ask a lot of pointed questions to the charity.

 

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article do not necessarily express the views of our firm and should not be construed as professional tax advice.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

 

 

Am I Eligible for Social Security if I’m Divorced?

Social Security has a spousal benefit which is intended to provide payment for the spouse in a household in which there is only one income earner.  This is essential for couples who have one stay-at-home spouse, as it allows them to still collect some amount of Social Security.  Often times, divorcees are surprised to hear that they still may be eligible for Social Security benefits based on their ex-spouse’s earnings.  Read on to see if you qualify for Social Security benefits from a previous spouse.

Is your ex-spouse alive?

If you answered “yes”, move on to the next question.  If your ex-spouse is deceased, you may still be eligible for survivor benefits.  See the “Am I Eligible for Social Security Benefits as a Surviving Spouse?” flowchart here.

Were you married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years?

If you answered “yes”, move on the next question.  If your marriage lasted less than 10 years, you will not be able to collect spousal benefits.

Did you have more than one marriage that lasted more than 10 years?

If you answered “yes”, you will be able to pick the ex-spouse that provides the greatest benefit.  If not, your benefits will be based off the ex-spouse you were married to for longer than 10 years.  Either way, move on to the next question.

Did the divorce occur at least two years ago?

If your divorce was less than two years ago and your ex-spouse has not filed for benefits, you will have to wait until they file for Social Security before you are eligible for benefits.  If the divorce was greater than two years ago and you do not have plans to remarry (remember you must not remarry to be eligible for ex-spouse benefits), then you can claim benefits if you are at least 62 years of age.

Collecting Social Security benefits from an ex-spouse is complicated, and there are a lot of different requirements.  Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk about the best strategies for Social Security, please give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

 

 Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

Future of Charitable Planning

Key Takeaways

  • Studies show that one in four affluent people (23%) consulted with at least one advisor about charitable donations last year.

  • A confused donor is an unhappy donor.

  • Always review your goals and check with your advisors before whipping out your checkbook

 

Generally planned giving CRTs (charitable remainder trusts) and CLTs (charitable lead trusts) immediately come to mind. We seldom think about charitable giving in the context of non-charitable trusts, but according to Al W. King III, co-founder and co-CEO of South Dakota Trust Company, the amount of wealth that high-net-worth individuals own in trusts is surprising.

  • “The top 1 percent currently have 38 percent of their assets in trusts, and

  • The next 9 percent have 43 percent of their assets in trust,” observed King.

Some families intentionally incorporate charitable planning and provisions into trusts they create. You can too by:

  • Setting a target value for the trust that will be available for family members with any growth and appreciation above that amount being directed to charity

  • Supplementing distributions to family members who work for a charitable organization

  • Matching beneficiaries’ personal charitable contributions

Families are also discovering strategies to incorporate charitable goals and objectives into trusts that were initially created with no charitable intentions. This is often achieved by changing the trust’s situs (legal jurisdiction), reforming or modifying the trust, or “decanting” in states with flexible decanting statutes that allow trustees to change the terms of an otherwise irrevocable trust, which may include adding discretionary charitable beneficiaries.

Common trusts and trust strategies that are increasingly incorporating charitable goals, objectives and planning include:

  • Dynasty trusts—Because of the long-term nature of these trusts, families often desire to make provisions and provide flexibility for both family and charitable goals and objectives.

  • Existing non-charitable trusts—Irrevocable trusts can sometimes be reformed or modified to allow for distributions to charitable organizations. Depending on the applicable state law governing the trusts, it may be necessary or helpful to change the situs of a trust to a state that has more flexible trust decanting laws.

  • Purpose trusts—Some trusts are created for a specific purpose, often to care for “something” rather than for “someone.” For example, a trust may be created to care for a pet; to maintain family property such as antiques, cars, jewelry or memorabilia; or to maintain a family residence or vacation home. Once the pet dies or the property is sold or otherwise disposed of, the remaining assets might pass to charity.

  • Health and education exclusion trusts—These trusts provide support to beneficiaries over multiple generations for certain education and health-related costs. As long as distributions to cover such costs are made directly to an educational or health care institution, then gift taxes and generation-skipping transfer taxes can be avoided indefinitely. However, in order for the vehicle to qualify as a health and education exclusion trust, one or more charitable beneficiaries must have a substantial present economic interest.

Laura Peebles, former tax director of the national office of Deloitte and a consultant to Charitable Solutions, shared these nuggets of wisdom gained from nearly four decades in the charitable planning arena:

  • The donor’s charitable intent determines whether a gift is made. However, the tax benefits can influence the fulfillment of the giver’s charitable intent in terms of the asset that is ultimately given, when the asset is given, and the manner and structure through which the asset is given.

  • A confused donor is not a happy donor.

  • Some tax aspects of charitable giving don’t have good answers, some don’t have inexpensive answers and some don’t have any answers at all.

Charitable giving with retirement benefits

According to author and attorney Natalie Choate, an estate planning and retirement benefits consultant, advisors and many charitably inclined people are well-aware of the substantial tax advantages of giving retirement benefits to charity, particularly in a testamentary capacity. In addition to avoiding any estate tax liability that might otherwise apply, the charity also avoids tax on “income in respect of a decedent” that would otherwise result in the imposition of income tax on retirement benefits received by the owner’s children or other heirs.

In some cases planning charitably with retirement benefits can be quite simple; for example, if a charity is named as the sole retirement plan beneficiary. However, other planning scenarios can involve complex issues and obstacles that must be carefully navigated. For instance:

  • When there are charitable and non-charitable beneficiaries of the same plan

  • When using formula bequests in beneficiary designations

  • When leaving retirement benefits to charity through a trust or estate

  • When using disclaimer-activated gifts to charity.

 

Conclusion


A recent study by U.S. Trust and the Philanthropic Initiative found that one in four wealthy individuals (23%) consulted with at least one advisor about charitable donations in the past year. In addition, nearly 70 percent of charitable remainder trust donors reported learning about the planning vehicle from their advisors.

These trends indicate a growing opportunity for investors and their advisors to have a regular dialogue about charitable methods that meet personal planning goals. Call us at 303-440-2906 if you or someone close to you would like to incorporate a strategic and regular giving strategy into your overall financial plan.



Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Should I Inherited My Deceased Spouse’s IRA?

When a spouse is the beneficiary of the IRA of their deceased spouse’s IRA, there are several options available. Each option has its own advantages, depending on the needs of the surviving spouse.  Read below to see which option benefits you best.

Are you the sole beneficiary to your spouse’s Traditional IRA?

If you are not the sole beneficiary, your situation is a bit more complicated.  Check out our “Can I Delay the RMD from the Traditional IRA I Inherited?” flowchart here If you are the sole beneficiary, move on to the next question.

What best describes your situation:

You plan to use all the assets in five years

Consider electing the 5 year rule if you expect significant expenses over the next five years that will deplete the account.  This allows you to take distributions at any time over the next five years of any amount, provided the account is depleted at the end of five years.  Keep in mind you will need to pay ordinary income tax on all distributions in the year they are taken.

You want income and are younger than 59.5 years old

Consider inheriting the IRA, which will allow you to take distributions from the IRA penalty-free.  You will be required to take RMDs based on the IRS Single Life Expectancy table.  Of course, you can take any amount of distributions that you need as long as the distribution is greater than or equal to the RMD.

You don’t want income and/or are younger than your deceased spouse

Consider rolling over the IRA into your own IRA.  This will allow you to avoid taking RMDs until the year after you turn 70.5.  If needed, you can take distributions as soon as you hit 59.5.

 

There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding which option is best for you.  Check out this flowchart to learn more.

If you would like to schedule a call to talk about the best strategy for an IRA you have inherited, give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

 

 Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

Well-Traveled? Don’t Get Tripped Up on Tax Day

Cross-border issues to remember while filing U.S. taxes (first in a series)


Key Takeaways:

  • The IRS takes the definition of “global” seriously. All global income, including employee stock option plans, must be reported.

  • There is an increased focus on offshore income tax compliance.

  • The IRS also expects to hear from all U.S. citizens and green card holders living overseas.

  • Taxpayers might be failing this compliance simply because they are not aware of the rules.

  • Make sure your advisors are staying up to date on offshore income rules. 

 

As you get ready to put the final touches on your tax return, here are some important things that you and your financial advisors should remember with respect to global income compliance.

All global income must be reported

If you are a U.S. resident or U.S. citizens (whether NRI, PIO or OCI), you must pay taxes in the U.S. on all global income. A U.S. resident is a green card holder and/or someone who has been physically present in the United States for at least 31 days during the current year and for at least 183 days during the three-year period that includes the current year and the two preceding years. To satisfy the 183-day requirement, count all the days that you were present in the current year, add one-third of the days you were present in the first year before the current year, and then add one-sixth of the days you were present in the second year before the current year.

Global income will include:

  • Any salary partly received in another country.

  • Any income received overseas for freelance or consulting work.

  • Interest on bank deposits and other securities held overseas.

  • Dividends from shares and mutual funds.

  • Capital gains from sale of assets.

  • Rent from property.

Remember, your global income will be taxed in the U.S. as per rules that apply to similar income in the U.S. For instance, while dividends may be tax-free in India, they are taxed in the U.S., and hence your dividends from India will be taxed in the U.S. The same goes for capital gains. According to U.S. law, the definition of “long term” is one year for all assets, but it may be different in other countries. When you file tax returns in the U.S., you must take into account this difference and treat overseas capital gains as per the time period specified in U.S. law.

If you have paid tax in the overseas country from which the income described above is derived, you must check the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement to see if you are eligible to claim a foreign tax credit.

Tip: When you fill in Schedule B of your tax return Form 1040, pay close attention to line 7. Line 7 asks if the taxpayer had, during the tax year, held any financial interest in or signature authority over a foreign financial account (such as a bank account, securities account or brokerage account). Make sure you confirm that you indeed had overseas investments.

ESOP taxation

Did you exercise an employee stock option plan (ESOP) in 2017? If so, that’s one more thing you must declare on your U.S. tax return. In the U.S., the value of ESOPs granted is taxed at the time when the employee exercises the option.

You must add the total value of their ESOP compensation to your total income in the U.S. Since you may have also paid tax in the country where the ESOP originated, you will be eligible to claim a tax credit in their U.S. tax returns. You must refer to the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement.

Tip: You can disclose this as other income in Form 1040. You can claim foreign tax credit using Form 1116.

U.S. citizens and green card holders living overseas

In this connected world, you may be constantly on the move. This is a red flag.

Regardless of where you live, all U.S. citizens and green card holders must file tax returns in the U.S. based on their total global income. You must pay taxes on such foreign income unless a treaty or statutory exclusion or foreign tax credit applies to reduce your U.S. tax liability to zero.

In such cases, if you are a U.S. citizen or a green card holder residing overseas, on the regular due date of your return, you are allowed an automatic two-month extension to file your return and to pay any amount due without requesting an extension. So this year, the automatic two-month extension goes to June 15. But remember, while no penalty is charged, interest is still charged on the balance due between April 15 and June 15.

If you are unable to file a return by the automatic two-month extension date, you can request an additional extension to October 15 by filing Form 4868 before the automatic two-month extension date. However, any tax due payments made after June 15 will be subject to both interest charges and failure-to-pay penalties.

Tip: Filing U.S. tax returns from overseas can be quite a challenge. Not all software is equipped to handle foreign tax issues such as earned income exclusions—Form 2555, foreign tax credit—Form 1116, Form 8938, Form 8833 and so on. In such cases, you and your advisors will need to file a paper return.

Conclusion

Foreign income compliance is becoming increasingly important to the IRS. As the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) gathers steam, opportunities to come into compliance without harsh penalties will diminish. The sooner you act the better.

In the next installment of this article series, we’ll look at the various additional forms that must be included with the 1040 to be compliant with global income reporting.



DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article do not necessarily express the views of our firm and should not be construed as professional tax advice.

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.