Estate tax Feed

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic created a plethora of economic problems, student debt was a national concern. Student loans are among the largest contributors to household debt, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau analysis. It cites Department of Education estimates that in 2017 the total amount owed in federal student loans was $1.37 trillion. That figure no doubt has grown dramatically in the last four years, exacerbated by the recent job losses caused by the coronavirus. Federal student debt relief moves: As the higher education debt dollars pile up, Washington, D.C., is working on ways to deal the costs... 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, 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 →

Joe Paterno's estate tax mistake

There's a lot of talk about hiring a tax professional during filing season. But you also should get expert help any time of the year when your tax circumstances are a bit tricky. Joe Paterno, the former Penn State head football coach of 46 years, died on January 22, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. He was 85. His legacy as the winningest coach in college football was tarnished by his inaction in a sex abuse scandal leading to his dismissal in November, 2011. Shown is a statue of him on the Penn State campus on November 10, 2011. UPI/George Powers... Read more →

As film fans know, the Golden Globes often offer a preview of the soon-to-follow Academy Awards. There's some doubt about just what we might glean from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's 2012 nominees, but it's still fun each year to see what movies (and television series) this group finds worthy of recognition. Everyone loves George: George Clooney, who does a lot of global philanthropy and has a home on Lake Como, Italy, is a favorite of the Golden Globes crowd. That's apparent once again in the 2012 nominations. Clooney's "The Ides of March" scored a Best Picture (Drama) nomination, as... Read more →

Al Davis, one of the great thorns in the side of the National Football League, died Saturday. He helped change not only how the game was played on the field, but also how teams approach the business side of football. Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis died at the age of 82 on October 8, 2011 it was announced by the team. The football legend won three Super Bowls with his team that he owned for more than 40 years. He is shown in file photo in 2004 in Oakland, California. UPI/Terry Schmitt Davis' death also raises the issue of NFL... Read more →

Estate tax answers from the IRS, questions for the president

Ever since Congress punted the estate tax ball -- I'm sorry, members actually dropped the ball and kicked it around the field for almost a full year -- back in 2009, people who've had to deal with death and taxes have had a heck of a time. Here's a quick reminder of the estate tax situation for folks who've forgotten or were able to erase the legislative incompetence from their minds: The Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) began phasing out the estate tax. The amount of an estate that is exempted from the federal tax was... Read more →

IRS Tax Forum random observations III

I admit it. The IRS Nationwide Tax Forum in Dallas this week kicked my booty. And I mean that in a good way. The Forum's three days were packed with great sessions on timely and interesting tax topics. Although the event is designed for tax professionals, a mere tax geek journalist also gets a great deal from the Forums. This is the fourth one I've attended and I promise it won't be the last. I was very impressed with the number of tax pros still hanging in there at the day's last session, or at least at the closing seminar... Read more →

Another full day of IRS Nationwide Tax Forum seminars and talking with tax folks from across the country. I even hooked up with some members of the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, of which I was a member a few years ago. First, the business. Today's sessions covered Schedule C issues; inherited assets and step-up basis; Small business health care tax credit; foreign tax credit; IRS efforts to combat online fraud and identity theft; and amended returns. The amended returns program was the fullest. Perhaps it was the use of "X-rated" in the seminar's title. I'll make the same promise (threat?) regarding... Read more →

Trouble, the Maltese bequeathed $12 million when her rich owner Leona Helmsley died in 2007, has also passed away. The pooch was 12 years old or, as the New York Daily News notes, 84 in dog years. As you might recall, some of the wealthy hotelier's human relatives weren't happy about Trouble getting so much money. After some court hearings, the pooch's $12 million gift was cut to $2 million. That still was more than enough to provide, reports the News, for Trouble's annual expenses of $8,000 for grooming, $1,200 for food and for payments to the dog's caretaker and... Read more →