Legacy Giving News and Information
 
March, 2019
The following is intended as general information and does not represent legal or tax advice. The information presented is the view of the author. Individual circumstances vary - please consult your legal and tax advisors about your specific situation. To return to the general planned giving pages, please close this browser window. This News and Information section has been compiled by Future Focus.

As the purse is emptied the heart is filled.

Victor Hugo

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Identity theft remains on IRS’ "Dirty Dozen" list despite progress
Despite a steep drop in tax-related identity theft in recent years, the Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers that the scam remains serious enough to earn a spot on the agency’s 2019 “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams.
“Taxpayers should continue to protect their sensitive tax and financial data to help protect against identity thieves,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. “The IRS and the Security Summit partners in the states and the private sector have joined forces to improve our defenses against tax-related identity theft, sharply reducing the number of victims. But we encourage taxpayers to continue to be on the lookout for identity theft schemes, including email phishing attempts and other tax scams.”
The IRS’ "Dirty Dozen" is compiled annually and outlines a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year.

Eight Tips for Independent Advisors to Minimize Taxes
Ed Note – while written for investment advisors, the article correctly identifies advisors as small business owners and the tips may apply broadly.

Quite often, small business owners overlook some great tax reduction opportunities. We all have to pay taxes, but there's no reason to overpay. Employ legal tax reduction strategies, send less to Uncle Sam, and you'll automatically keep more revenue for yourself. Here are eight things you can do this year—some fairly obvious, others not so much—to potentially improve your tax situation.

What are some tips for creating a home inventory?
Imagine having to remember and describe every item in your home, especially after you've been the victim of a fire, theft, or natural disaster. Rather than relying on your memory, you may want to prepare a home inventory — a detailed record of all your personal property. This record can help substantiate an insurance claim, support a police report when items are stolen, or prove a loss to the IRS. Here are some tips to get started.

IRS Publishes Final Guidance On The 20% Pass-Through Deduction: Putting It All Together
I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and I'll be damned if the IRS doesn't deserve some serious credit. It was less than 13 months ago that Congress dumped 500 pages of sloppy statutory language on the Service in the form of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and somehow, in that span the IRS has managed to provide final regulations on the most controversial, convoluted and complicated provision of the new law: Section 199A, better known as the "20% pass-through deduction."
Now that we've got our hands on the final guidance, we can, at long last, take a comprehensive look at the new 20% pass-through deduction. Let's see what those final regulations have to say, highlighting the key changes from the proposed regulations for those who've been following along throughout the process. But first,

Documents you need to file your 2018 tax return, including a look at the new Schedule A for itemizers
Even if you've been filling out Form 1040 and any other associated forms and schedules for years, things will be different this filing season. This is the first year we taxpayers (and tax pros) will be filing under the extensive new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes. In addition to new tax rates and deduction amounts, there are a variety of other tax law tweaks that could affect what goes on — or now doesn't — your Form 1040, which itself is new. So before you start working with your tax preparer or open up your tax software, either the package you bought or downloaded or are using via Free File (yes, it's already open), here are some things to think about and documents that you might need to do the job.

Have You Made Any of These Financial Mistakes?
As people move through different stages of life, there are new financial opportunities — and potential pitfalls — around every corner. Have you made any of these mistakes?

Congress and Taxes in 2019, Two big priorities are dominating the agenda
As lawmakers continue negotiating a deal to reopen parts of the government where funding expired in December, tax wonks in Washington are looking ahead to what we might expect on Democrats’ tax agenda early this year. From our perspective, there are two big priorities dominating the agenda.

This is what a Social Security scam sounds like
Earlier this month, we told you about a growing scam: people pretend to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and try to get your Social Security number or your money. That scam is now growing exponentially. To compare: in 2017, we heard from 3,200 people about SSA imposter scams, and those people reported losing nearly $210,000. So far THIS year (2018): more than 35,000 people have reported the scam, and they tell us they’ve lost $10 million. Here’s what one of those scam calls sound like.

Can You Fund a Gift Annuity with a Sandwich?
Almost every organization, both non-profit and for profit, has some tale that becomes part of the mythology of the organization, often shared at parties and other celebratory events. PG Calc is no exception. A PG Calc client support staff member announced to her colleagues one morning, “Last night I had a dream that a charity client asked if they could fund a gift annuity with a sandwich?” Laughter ensued followed by erudite discussion. Would it make a difference if it was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a sandwich rich with Beluga caviar? A sandwich from a neighborhood deli or a restaurant with a five-star rating? The broader question is just what assets can be used to fund a charitable gift annuity?

New York estate tax win opens floodgates for millions in refunds and future tax savings
An under-the-radar Surrogate’s court opinion is upending the staid world of trusts and estates in New York. In the matter of the will of Evelyn Seiden, the court overturned the state’s 2014 tax grab on the marital trust established on her husband’s death in 2010, ordering a refund of $530,000 to her estate. The result could be far reaching: Using the same arguments, many families could be in line for big estate tax refunds and future savings. For example, it could even impact the estate of billionaire George Steinbrenner. In their briefs, the state lawyers were apoplectic. They called the taxpayer’s move one of “gamesmanship” and warned of “a potential opening of the flood-gates” for similarly situated estates and “an untenable risk” to state revenue. The executor’s argument boiled down to this: New York cannot tax what the IRS cannot tax.

Small business pass though deduction
Eligible taxpayers may now deduct up to 20 percent of certain business income from domestic businesses operated as sole proprietorships or through partnerships, S corporations, trusts, and estates.  The deduction may also be claimed on certain dividends.  Eligible taxpayers can claim the deduction for the first time on the 2018 federal income tax return they file in 2019. This provision is the result of tax reform legislation passed in December 2017. Here are some things business owners should know about this deduction:

Plan now to use Health Flexible Spending Arrangements in 2019
Now is the time to begin planning to take advantage of employer health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) in 2019. FSAs provide employees a way to use tax-free dollars to pay medical expenses not covered by other health plans. Because eligible employees need to decide how much to contribute through payroll deductions before the plan year begins, many employers offer their employees the option to sign up for an FSA this fall for participation that begins in 2019.

Free trials can cost you
Free trial offers can grab your attention. They’re easy to sign up for. And they’re, well, free – right? Not exactly. Some free trials can be expensive. Scammers often use “free” trial offers, with undisclosed or buried terms, to enroll you – without your knowledge – in costly membership programs. At the Federal Trade Commission, we’re actively fighting to take down these scammers. Today, we announced a case against a group of them. But the best first line of defense is you. Please watch this video, know the signs of a free trial scam, and share them with your friends and family.

You can contribute more to your 401(k) and IRA in 2019
Workers will be able to contribute more to their retirement accounts in 2019. How much a person needs to save for retirement largely depends on what they intend to do in retirement, including where they want to live, if they’ll have paid off a mortgage or plan to rent, what they’ll want to do during that time off. But it also depends on some of the biggest unknowns, including health and wellness, or potential emergencies. Some good news: The Internal Revenue Service unveiled the cost-of-living adjustments for pension plans and other retirement items for the 2019 tax year, including the first increase to the contribution limit for the Individual Retirement Arrangement in six years.

5 retirement plan saving and tax options
A National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) report issued last month found that the retirement savings of U.S. workers are woefully inadequate. How woeful? NIRS points to analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from 2013 that reveals almost 60 percent of a working age individuals that year did not have any money in a retirement account. But another reason folks don't save for retirement often is because they are overwhelmed by the options. I get it. Too many choices frequently produce paralysis when it comes to picking one. You don't have the time or feel confident enough to evaluate all the possibilities. To help a little bit, here's a look at 5 popular retirement savings options and, of course, the tax benefits each offers.

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Please note, individual financial circumstances will vary. The information on this site is meant as general information and does not represent legal or tax advice. The information presented is the view of the author. As with all tax and estate planning, please consult your attorney or estate specialist. All material is copyrighted and is for viewing purposes only. This News and Information section has been compiled by Future Focus. Please report any problems to webmaster.