Estate tax Feed

James Gandolfini's unexpected death last month in Italy is back in the news, this time because a large portion of the actor's $70 million estate reportedly will be subject to the federal estate tax. The will left by Gandolfini, best known as the complex mob boss Tony Soprano in the HBO television series "The Sopranos," is "a disaster," says a New York estate tax attorney. William Zabel, who was asked by the Daily News to review Gandolfini's will, says the document is "a nightmare from a tax standpoint." The 51-year-old actor made a "big mistake" by leaving 80 percent of... Read more →


The Supreme Court on June 26 declared the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, dead. That same day, Attorney General Eric Holder said that President Obama had directed the Justice Department to work with other agencies to expeditiously implement the decision making federal benefits available to same-sex married couples. And expedite they did. On Friday, two days after the DOMA decision and the same day that same-sex marriages resumed in California thanks to the high court's removal of the Proposition 8 roadblock, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that same-sex spouses are eligible for a wide range of federal... Read more →


Can you hear the cheering? It's still going on and it's coming from gay and lesbian couples, their families and friends and same-sex marriage supporters across the country who are thrilled that the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. This federal law, enacted in 1996, defined for federal purposes a marriage as between one man and one woman. Yeah, right. DOMA was enacted because the ship on expanding marriage had already set sail. Gay and lesbian couples currently can get married in Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington and the... Read more →


Sometime this month, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide two gay marriage cases, California's Proposition 8 legalizing same-sex marriages in that state and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which defines marriage for federal purposes as being the exchange of vows between one man and one woman. One of the 138 same-sex newlywed couples who were greeted by a cheering crowd after their weddings at City Hall in Seattle on Dec. 9, 2012, the first day that same-sex couples could marry in the state of Washington. Photo by Michael Holden via photopin cc The justices' opinions will affect... Read more →


The future of marriage is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. OK, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. Marriage has been around for ages and, despite what some folks say, the definition of this legal contract between two people has changed many, many times. But what the justices decide with regard to same-sex marriage could have dramatic effects on the lives of same-sex couples, both when it comes to their day-to-day lives and a variety of rights and benefits, including in the tax area. The country's highest court today heard arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, which... Read more →


On two successive days at the end of this month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear two cases dealing with gay marriage. Hollingsworth v. Perry, schedule for argument on March 26, involves California's constitutional amendment that forbids same-sex marriage. Then on March 27, the justices will hear arguments in United States v. Windsor. This case concerns federal law that denies gay couples who legally marry the right to obtain federal benefits available to heterosexual married couples. Specifically, in the Windsor case, Edith Windsor filed suit against the federal government in 2010 following the death of her spouse, Thea Spyer, in... Read more →


Early reports of what's in the Senate-approved fiscal cliff deal were pretty darn spot on. The Senate took H.R. 8, the Republican sponsored and House-passed (by a 256-171 party-line vote on Aug. 1, 2012) measure to continue all the Bush tax cuts, thereby conforming to the constitutional requirement that tax legislation originate in the House, and amended -- or, more accurately, overwrote -- the bill. Now we wait for the House to act. Vice President Joe Biden met with Democrats there this afternoon and judging by the press conference that followed, most of them are on board. The Republican House... Read more →


Don't get too excited, but there appears to be some optimism that a fiscal cliff deal might be near in advance of a mid-afternoon White House meeting with Senate and House leaders. I'm not going to get into blow-by-blow reporting of the negotiations, but it seems that as is too often the case in Washington, D.C., lawmakers might be coming to terms -- and their senses -- on a last-minute deal to stave off the implications of the Jan. 1, 2013, fiscal cliff deadline. OK, picky calendar watchers, the real effective date is Jan. 2, since that's the first business... Read more →


December is definitely the season for giving. And tax-related gift are the focus of the fourth installment of Reindeer Year-end Tax Tip Games 2012. Vixen, the reindeer who definitely personifies Merriam-Webster's third definition, has received her share of presents over the years. So it's fitting that she's suggesting that folks concerned about possible estate tax implications take advantage of that law's gift tax exemption this year. Right now, the estate tax exclusion (that's the value of an estate that escapes taxation) and unified lifetime gift exemption (that's the amount of your estate you can give away to others while you're... Read more →


A look, literally, at expiring tax laws

And the march toward the fiscal cliff goes on. Over at my second tax home Bankrate, my story on some key tax laws that are set to expire in a few weeks has been turned into an infographic. These all were created or expanded as part of the Bush tax laws enacted in 2001 and 2003. The estate tax, which expired as planned in 2010 per Dubya's policy, was resurrected in 2011 and is set to revert to pre-Bush levels on Jan. 1, 2013. Ain't we got tax fun? You also might find these items of interest: What tax rates... Read more →


In October, a federal appeals court ruled that a New York widow was unconstitutionally discriminated against because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) forced her to pay more in estate taxes because she was legally married to another woman. If Edith Windsor had been allowed by the Internal Revenue Service to use the estate tax provisions afforded a surviving spouse in a heterosexual marriage, the estate of her late wife, Thea Spyer, would have passed tax-free to Windsor. The Wedding Couple, after Abbot Handerson Thayer and Richard E. Miller by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via Flickr Now, as expected, the U.S.... Read more →


Most of the time, an inheritance is welcomed. Except when it brings an unexpected tax bill. That's the situation some Pennsylvania residents find themselves in. And it could get worse as Baby Boomers help out their aging parents. AARP's October Bulletin told of what happened to Carol and Paul Kurland, both in their 80s, and their 56-year-old daughter Amy. The Levittown, Pa., couple added Amy to their bank accounts to allow her access to funds if they faced a sudden health crisis. That's a common practice in families. But when Amy died, the Kurlands were hit with a tax bill... Read more →


The modern art showpiece "Canyon" has a new permanent home at New York City's Museum of Modern Art thanks to a $41 million settlement with the Internal Revenue Service. Entrance of Museum of Modern Art via Wikimedia Commons The work by Robert Rauschenberg is a combine, a mixed-media collage featuring photographs, cardboard, wood, fabric and a stuffed bald eagle on canvas. The ornithological symbol of the United States is why Uncle Sam got involved. The 1940 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act make it a crime to possess, sell, purchase, barter, transport, import... Read more →


Lindsay Lohan got a special gift this Thanksgiving. Charlie Sheen gave Lohan $100,000 which she reportedly used to pay down her almost quarter million dollar federal tax bill. The two actors, who shared scenes in the upcoming Scary Movie 5 as well as separate troubles with substance abuse, bonded during the movie, according to TMZ. Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan scene from Scary Movie 5 Lindsay and Charlie talked about everything, including at one point Lindsay's ongoing tax problems, reports TMZ. Lindsay initially refused financial help to lessen her Internal Revenue Service troubles, says TMZ, but last week she received the... Read more →


Every fall the Internal Revenue Service announces the upcoming inflation-based adjustments to tax provisions millions of taxpayers use. Not this year. Oh, the IRS did issue its annual revenue procedure -- Rev. Proc. 2012-41 -- last week, setting forth inflation-adjusted items for 2013. But there's a big hole in this year's announcement. Section 2 usually notes some key changes for the coming tax year. This year, however, the IRS takes advantage of the section to tell us what isn't in Rev. Proc. 2012-41. This revenue procedure does not include the following items: the tax rate tables under §1 of the... Read more →


Here we go again. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that health care reform law, popularly known (even among Democrats) as Obamacare, was constitutional. That split decision hinged on the law's controversial tax component -- the money that the Internal Revenue Service eventually will collect from the uninsured. On Thursday, Oct. 18, a federal appeals court has ruled for a widow fighting the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) because its restrictions caused her to pay more in estate taxes after her wife died than a surviving spouse in a heterosexual marriage would have owed. Ellen and Shelly -- who... Read more →


When is fair market value not the appropriate valuation for tax purposes? When the Internal Revenue Service says it isn't. The value controversy is part of the tax fight now underway between heirs of New York art dealer Ileana Sonnabend and the IRS. Included in Sonnabend's estate is the Robert Rauschenberg work "Canyon." The piece, described as a sculptural combine, contains a stuffed bald eagle. That's right, the symbol of the United States. Sonnabend got an informal OK from Uncle Sam to hold onto "Canyon" even though the 1940 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the 1918 Migratory Bird... Read more →


Whoa! Slow up there 2012. How did you get halfway over? I know July kind of sneaked in last weekend. Then the July Fourth holiday popped up in the middle of the week, screwing up vacation plans and basically making today, a Thursday, feel like the week's second Monday. But regardless of how we got here, the fact is that the first six months of the year (plus a few days) are gone. Before the same thing happens to the rest of July through December, take a few minutes to note some tax moves that could help you cut what... Read more →


You can learn a lot about your neighbors just by walking around the area. Take the kids who live seven doors down from us. Their driveway chalk art prompted a speculative haiku: Hopscotch? Much too tame. These kids are C.S.I. fans or quite macabre. OK, maybe it's me who's the television crime show aficionado. I'm sure (hope!) the children had much less ominous reasons for drawing chalk outlines of themselves. But the line artistry also got me thinking about that inevitable meeting of death and taxes. Yeah, that kind of A to B to taxes thinking tends to happen in... Read more →


And the winner is "The Descendants." OK, so it was the only nomination in this obviously fake Academy Awards category. But still, film and tax geeks (and yes, there are some of us who fall into both categories) are jazzed. That the plot of this George Clooney movie involves estate planning got attention from the tax world a couple of months ago when the movie and its cast were Golden Globe award contenders. The film won the Foreign Press Association's award for best drama and Clooney was named best actor. Now with the Oscars being handed out on Sunday, all... Read more →