Real Estate, Investments 2018_1

TAX REFORM. Rental properties continue to have tax advantages after Tax Reform. For example, State and local taxes for businesses and rental properties remain deductible after tax reform. Likewise, properties held for more than twelve months qualify for lower capital gain rates.

iNSTALLMENT SALES. If you sold real estate in 2017 in return for a note under which you receive payment in 2018 or after, you generally are to report the sale on the installment method (using Form 6252). This method taxes you on gain in proportion to the principal you are paid each year so it reduces gain in the year of sale and moves gain to 2018 or after. It offers many tax advantages.

By reducing gain in the year of sale and moving gain to 2018 or after, you enhance many tax benefits that phase out as your Adjusted Gross Income rises, such as itemized deductions, personal exemptions, and education credits. By moving gain to 2018 or after you take advantage of better tax rates and other rules under Tax Reform.

A taxpayer can elect out of the installment sale rules by reporting all gain from the sale on Form 4797, Sales of Business Property, and/or Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets, for its tax return for the year of the sale. by the due date (including extensions) for the filing of the return for the year of the sale.

The installment method generally cannot be used for dealer dispositions or dispositions of inventory. These must be treated as received in the year sold.

My Advice: Consult me on how to structure real estate transactions.

Posted in Real estate, investing, What's New?

Real Estate, Investments May 2018


Individual landlords and partners owning real estate should qualify for the new 20% deduction from Qualified Business Income. See the business article above. In the future I hope to have some examples for readers. Meanwhile Installment Sales and Qualified Contributions from IRA’s to charities are two of the best ways to save taxes on appreciated assets.

IRA donation to charity is a Trick with a new Treat: If you’re age 70½ or older, each year you can transfer up to $100,000 directly from your traditional IRA to a charity. It counts as a minimum distribution, but is not added to your taxable income or your adjusted gross income. Treat: you get this benefit even if you take your standard deduction in 2018 and so cannot deduct charitable contributions. If your investment adviser doesn’t know how, call me.

Installment Sales. If you sell real estate in return for a note under which you receive payment in later years, you generally report the sale on the installment method (using Form 6252). This method taxes you on gain in proportion to the principal you are paid each year so it reduces gain in the year of sale and moves gain to later years. You can elect out of it. It offers many tax advantages. This technique is also a great way to sell your business.

Are you paying excessive fees? Investors, have you ever noticed that your preparer filed over 4 pages of Form 1116 to get you a $25 tax credit? That’s not effective!

My advice: If you have appreciated you are planning to sell ask me about your tax choices.

Posted in Real estate, investing, What's New?

Mind Your Business WW2018_5

Full service: reminder. As a former in-house counsel, I can advise you on business transactions! In fact I am working on two business sales even as we speak.

Much of what I said about withholding above applies as well to quarterly estimated taxes, which the IRS requires from self-employed business owners. If you are a sole business owner or a partner or LLC or S corporation owner, suggest that you get a forecast of your tax liability. Some of the biggest questions regarding Tax Reform concern the taxation of businesses, particularly pass-through entities. For example, many small businesses are “pass-throughs” and will be enjoying a 20% deduction from their business income. Read more.

Tax traps for the unwary business.

DON’T make your spouse an officer!
TRUST FUND PENALTY. Before you make a spouse or friend an officer of your company, beware of the “100% penalty.” Even though your business is a corporation or LLC’s and offers some liability protection, if an employee pays to pay payroll taxes but pays other creditors that employee can become personally responsible for a portion of those taxes under tax code Section 6672(a). Whether he is responsible is a question of fact but the IRS will assume that an officer is responsible. Ireland v. United States, No. 2:17-cv-02014-CAS-ARGx (C.D. Cal. Apr. 3, 2018)]

No W-2’s for LLC owners. The IRS has announced that if you own 100% of an LLC that is reported as a sole proprietor on Schedule C, then you may not treat yourself as an employee of the LLC and issue yourself a W-2. The LLC and you are considered one.

The IRS audit rate continues to drop, to 0.6 last year but the Service examined between 1% and 2.1% of business reporting over $25,000 of gross receipts. See What You Don’t Know About IRS Audits

Posted in Business Law, Taxes, What's New?


Tax Reform – Trick or Treat
Tax Reform is going to help most of my clients, but it is also going to have unexpected consequences for most everybody. To make taxes “easy and effective” for my clients I included a forecast of 2018 taxes with each 2017 tax return that I prepared. What did I find out? Taxes are generally lower but unexpected. There’s a big withholding problem! Most taxpayers are having too much withheld. If you want to find out more and how to get the most out of your taxes.

What did Tax Reform do to you? All tax rates dropped 2-3 points under Tax Reform, helping most everybody. Tax Reform doubled most taxpayers’ standard deductions so many taxpayers will not have to deduct mortgage interest or taxes. However, Tax Reform took away the $4,050 dependent deduction, but added a $2,000 per child tax credit. This works against childless couples. State and local taxes are limited to $10,000 per year. Mortgage loans on which you can deduct mortgage interest are limited to $750,000. No longer deductible are employee’s job expenses and investment related expenses like investment management fees. All of these changes affect your withholding or estimated taxes.

In changes after Tax Reform, Congress renewed the law that allows the write-off for private mortgage insurance, which is treated as home mortgage interest deduction. Taxpayers who can use this deduction will need to adjust their withholding.

The W-4 form tells employers how much federal taxes to withhold from each employee, and it is based on the deduction for dependents, which no longer exists. In January the IRS let employers use old W-4’s, and the IRS knew it was inaccurate. The IRS have been trying to correct the errors ever since. Recently the IRS issued a 2018 update to Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax and offered the IRS Withholding Calculator on their website so taxpayers could correct earlier mistakes. The IRS admits that there are problems.


Unless you want an unpredictable refund or tax due, I advise you to get a 2018 forecast so you can compare actual tax liability with withholding. If I prepare your tax return, I will provide you that forecast. For an hour or so fee, I will provide you a 2018 Forecast. Otherwise you are going to have to spend a lot of time with the IRS Withholding Calculator.

MY TAX MASTERY© PROGRAM is an added benefit of my forecast. It will suggest tax strategies to lower your taxes and then tells you your savings. You can then decrease your withholding to increase your paycheck. THAT’s easy and effective!

Posted in Individual Tax, What's New?



Tax Reform increased the estate and gift tax exemption for individuals to $5.6 million (up from $5.49 million). So a married couple can shelter $11.2 million between them. This means 99% of my clients need not focus on death taxes and so can focus on their true desires, like their families. How can you help your family with sensitive estate planning?

First, consider what estate planning documents you already have. If you have no will or trust you can probably save thousands of dollars just by executing a will. You may save tens of thousands of dollars with a revocable living trust so that is generally what I recommend. In less than a week I can prepare an RLT that is customized for your family. To get started, check out my Estate Planning Organizer.

Not convinced? Do you want to know why a majority of estate planning professionals recommend revocable living trusts? Why I wrote RLT’s for my own father and mother even though my father was a Probate Court Judge at one time? Read on.

Maybe you have a will or  trust. If it is more than a couple of years old you need to have it reviewed and I will review it for nothing. If your documents were drafted to avoid taxes by an excellent estate planning lawyer a few years ago, get it reviewed. The vast majority of older trusts and wills are obsolete and will complicate your family’s lives and cost unnecessary money. If you want to relieve your family of a lot of cost and aggravation, you need to replace older documents with something simpler. You will enjoy getting professional advice that focuses on your true family goals.

Posted in Estate Planning & Probate, What's New?

How does Tax Reform affect you in 2018?

Select TAX SUMMARY_2018 to download an excellent summary of the effects ofTax Reform on you as an individual in 2018. See:

  • the new 12%-37% tax brackets.

  • maximum contributions you can make to IRA’s and 401(k)s.

  • the new $12,000 to $24,000 Standard Deductions.

  • for taxpayers who can deduct more than the Standard Deduction you can see your limits for medical, state and local taxes and mortgage interest.

  • the new child tax credits that replace personal exemptions.

  • OTHER TAXES: The various taxes on capital gains and qualified dividends, the 3.8% tax on investment income, the alternative minimum tax,  self-employment tax and 0.9% Medicare Tax on wages and self-employment .

  • Finally, the new 20% deduction for pass through businesses.

Posted in Individual Tax, What's New? | Tagged ,

Tax Reform Business: January 2017

Tax Reform lowers the corporate tax rate to a flat 21% and repeals the corporate AMT. Most small to medium corporations are permitted to use the cash method of accounting.
Taxpayers with domestic income from pass-throughs, partnerships, S corporations, or sole proprietorships can deduct up to 20% of profits. Not eligible are certain service businesses like doctors, lawyers, accountants and brokers, with the exception of those with lower incomes.
Businesses can immediately write off the full cost of new equipment. Businesses can no longer deduct entertainment, amusement, or recreation directly related to the business Taxpayers can continue to deduct 50% of food and beverage expenses associated with operating their trade or business.

The corporate tax rate is reduced to a flat 21%. Repeals the corporate AMT for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017. Taxpayers with average gross receipts of less than $25 million (indexed for inflation) for the prior three taxable years are permitted to use the cash method of accounting,


Under the new IRC §199A, Taxpayers with domestic income from pass-throughs — partnerships, S corporations, or sole proprietorships — can deduct up to 20% of profits. This 20% deduction equals the lesser of QBI or 20% of taxable income. QBI is defined as all domestic business income other than investment income. The 20% deduction reduces taxable income, not adjusted gross income, and eligible taxpayers may use the deduction whether or not they itemize.

Thresholds and limits. If your taxable income does not exceed a threshold of $315,000 (joint filers), or $157,500 (all other taxpayers), your deduction is not further limited. .

Further limits: When taxable income exceeds the above thresholds, two more limits start to phase in and these limits fully apply after the single taxpayer’s taxable income exceeds $227,500 or joint filer exceeds $415,000. Under the first limit, the 20% deduction is not available to specified services businesses. The second limit is the wage and basis limit below.

Wage and basis limit. Under this limit the deduction cannot exceed the greater of:
(a) 50% of the W-2 wages paid with respect to the qualified trade or business, or
(b) 25% of its W-2 wages plus 2.5% of the unadjusted basis of all qualified property when acquired. “Qualified Property” means tangible property used to produce QBI subject to depreciation under §167.

Specified Service Businesses. Taxpayers with pass-through income from specified service businesses in the fields of health, law, accounting, consulting, athletics, financial services, and brokerage services are not eligible for the deduction with the exception of architects and engineers.

If your net amount of QBI from all qualified trades or businesses during the tax year is a loss, it is carried forward as a loss from a qualified trade or business in the next tax year and reduces your deduction in a subsequent year (but not below zero) by 20% of any such carryover loss.

Calculation of the 20% deduction is quite complex. If you claim the deduction and you understate the amount the tax required to be shown on your return by 5% or more, you could be subject to the substantial understatement of tax penalty.

I would be happy to discuss these issues in more detail, as well as various planning ideas, at your convenience.

Entertainment expenses. The Act repeals the current rule that allows the deduction of entertainment, amusement, or recreation that are directly related to the active conduct of a trade or business. No deduction is allowed for (1) entertainment, amusement or recreation activities, (2) membership dues with respect to any club organized for business or social purposes, or (3) a facility used in connection with any of the above items. The Act allows taxpayers to continue to deduct 50% of food and beverage expenses associated with operating their trade or business.
Section 179 deduction. If you purchase depreciable equipment in 2017, you may elect to deduct it under “section 179,” including computer software and qualified real property. You may elect to expense up to $510,000 in 2017 (with a phase-out for purchases in excess of $2,030,000 in 2017;
Bonus Depreciation For property acquired and placed in service during 2017 you may deduct 50%.of its cost (less the §179 deduction as bonus depreciation.

My advice:
1. Talk with your tax adviser about what business entity will be best for you taxwise. This question is way beyond the scope of this article. There are already scholarly studies, one by more than ten law professors, on how to deal with these rules.
2. If you are an employee, you can qualify as a pass-through by quitting your job and become an independent contractor. LOL. The IRS will be gunning for this.
3. Maximize your itemized deductions, since taxable income is calculated after itemized deductions.
4. If you are a banned service provider like a lawyer, don’t make too much money. With income less than $315,000 you qualify.
5. Buy equipment in 2017. Choose the best alternative: bonus depreciation, section 1709 deductions, and MACRS depreciation:
6. Buy Vehicles Weighing Over 6,000 Pounds: If you buy and pace in service a vehicle with a gross vehicle rating over 6,000 pounds it qualifies for a §179 deduction of $25,000, plus bonus depreciation on the rest, plus regular depreciation on the rest.
7. Allocate appropriate amounts of State and local taxes remain as business expenses.
8. Reexamine entertainment expenditures that are no longer deductible.

Posted in Business Law, Taxes | Tagged ,

Tax Reform Individuals 2017_12

Tax Reform — the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the Act), is effective in 2018 with a few exceptions. In this article, Wis explains some key provisions and makes a few suggestions to save taxes this year and next year.

Look for “IMP” below, marking a number of last-minute important change’s that Congress made in Conference, that you and your tax adviser may not expect. If your tax “expert” is not up to date, consider finding a new one.

To summarize. IMP Individuals will be subject to seven new lower individual income tax brackets from 10% to 37% (see Tax Rates below). Alimony is no longer deductible by the payer or taxable to the recipient. The 0% and 15% capital gain tax rates will apply to higher incomes. Larger exemptions will apply to income subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT) so fewer taxpayers will be subject to the AMT. The standard deduction increases from $6,350 to $12,000 for singles and $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples. Taxpayers taking itemized deductions will find that all of these deductions are limited or eliminated except charitable contributions. There is no deduction for personal exemptions. The Child tax credit is doubled.

Tax rates are shown below.

Capital Gain rates:  For joint filers, the 0% capital gains rate will apply up to $77,200 taxable income; the 15% capital gains rate brackets will apply up to $479,000 and 20% will be the rate above that. These change points should be half of the above for single filers.

Alimony. The Act eliminates the deduction for alimony payments and does not require the payee receiving alimony payments to include alimony into income. This provision is effective for divorce decrees, separation agreements, and certain modifications entered into after 2018.

Personal exemptions. The Act eliminates the deduction for personal exemptions ($4,050 in 2017).


Itemized deductions will no longer phase out when Adjusted Gross Income exceeds certain amounts.


  • IMP Medical expenses for 2018 and 2019 for medical expenses exceeding 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income, rising to 10 percent beginning in 2020.
  • Interest on existing mortgages borrowed to buy a home. Home mortgage interest on new loans up to $750,000 on new mortgage loans to purchase a home.
  • IMP Up to $10,000 in combined state and local income or property taxes
  • Charitable deductions.

Not deductible

  • State and local income and property taxes in excess of that deductible,
  • Mortgage interest not used to purchase your home (HELOC’s),
  • Employee deductions (miscellaneous)
  • Expenses for the production of income or investments, like investment fees…

Standard Deduction.

The standard deduction increases to $24,000 for joint returns and $12,000 for single filers. You can deduct the standard deduction if it is larger than deductible Itemized Deductions.

Child Tax Credit is expanded from $1,000 to $2,000.

My advice:

I will be offering tax forecasts to my clients so that withholding and estimated taxes properly cover tax liability under the Act.

  1. Taxpayers and domestic relations lawyers must be aware of the after-tax effect of alimony.
  2. Prepay itemized deductions. In 2017 pay and deduct itemized deductions, particularly those that will not be deductible in 2018.
  3. If you expect the standard deduction will exceed your itemized deductions in 2018, prepay 2018 Itemized Deductions in 2017, such as charitable contributions.
  4. Pay expected 2018 Medical or Dental expenses in 2017: fees, complete checkups or any other procedure that will be needed in the next year. Remember that health insurance is deductible, including amounts paid out of social security benefits. Most drug stores will give you a total of prescriptions. All or a part of certain home improvements may be deductible if prescribed.
  5. Choose among sales, income and property taxes to pay as part of your $10,000 limit in 2018
  6. Prepay 2018 property taxes in 2017.
  7. Pay or prepay your state and local income taxes in 2017. Prepayment trap: State and local taxes other than property taxes that are prepaid in 2017 will be treated as paid in the year for which they are charged.
  8. Prepay deductible home mortgage interest. Miscellaneous Deductions (employee, tax preparation, and investment deductions) are deductible in 2017 to the extent they exceed 2% of AGI. Miscellaneous Deductions are no longer deductible in 2018-2025.
  9. In 2017, you may deduct miscellaneous Deductions to the extent they exceed two percent of your AGI. So, before year-end pay or prepay for job-related expenses, investment-related expenses and nonbusiness tax preparation and tax advice. For example, pay for your tax preparation right now. My advice: needed to do your job. Taxpayers with income other than wages will need to adjust estimated taxes and withholding as they go into 2018 so that they don’t end up with surprises at year end.
  10. Expect higher take-home pay in 2018 as employers change withholding in 2018. Adjust withholding to reflect different itemized deductions.
  11. Investors may need to adjust estimated taxes to reflect tax on capital gains, dividends, and interest.
  12. Taxpayers receiving retirement distributions will need to adjust estimated taxes.
‘‘If taxable income is: The tax is:
Up to $19,050 … 10% of taxable income.
$19,050- $77,400: $1,905, plus 12% of the excess over $19,050.
$77,400 – $165,000: $8,907, plus 22% of the excess over $77,400.
$165,000-$315,000: $28,179, plus 24% of the excess over $165,000.
$315,000-$400,000: $64,179, plus 32% of the excess over $315,000.
$400,000-$600,000: $91,379, plus 35% of the excess over $400,000.
$600,000 and more: $161,379: plus 37% of the excess over $600,000.
‘‘If taxable income is: The tax is:
Up to $9,525: … 10% of taxable income.
$9,525-$38,700: . $952.50, plus 12% of the excess over $9,525.
$38,700-$82,500: $4,453.50, plus 22% of the excess over $38,700.
$82,500-$157,500: $14,089.50, plus 24% of the excess over $82,500.
$157,500-$200,000: $32,089.50, plus 32% of the excess over $157,500.
$200,000-$500,000: $45,689.50, plus 35% of the excess over $200,000.
$500,000 and more: $150,689.50, plus 37% of the excess over $500,000.



Posted in Individual Tax, What's New? | Tagged ,


First Tax Reform and then we will get into some things you must do to help you this time of year. Tax Reform keeps the 3.8% tax on investment income for higher-income taxpayers. See my Tax Summary. Tax Reform likewise retains the lower rates on long-term capital gain and qualified dividends. This year you can use investments that have lost value to offset those that have gained. If you have margin interest, you can deduct it with certain limits and I can show you how to boost those limits with long-term capital gains and qualified dividends. Read more.

What’s Tax Reform going to do to capital gains and dividends? For most taxpayers, Tax Reform will keep the 15% maximum rate on “qualified dividends” (from domestic US companies) and on long-term capital gains (investments held 12 months or more. Tax Reform will likewise keep the 3.8% net investment income surtax on upper-incomers.

3.8% tax on net investment income. This year and under Tax Reform a 3.8% tax applies to the lesser of (a) net investment income or (b) the excess of modified adjusted gross income over “modified adjusted gross income” exceeds, $250,000 for joint filers, $125,000 for married separate filers, and $200,000 for other taxpayers. Investment income includes interest, dividends, capital gains, annuities, royalties and passive rental income.

Investment losses. Don’t cry about those losing investments. Sell them and sell investments that have increased in value to offset the capital gains. If you have more losses than gains, you can deduct up to $3,000 of the excess losses against income other than capital gains. You can carry-over unused capital losses. If you have losses in investments that you want to keep you can buy them back, but you must wait more than 30 days for the loss to be effective under tax rules.

Investment interest. If you have investment interest such as margin interest you can deduct it to the extent of net investment income. I can show you how to use long-term capital gain and qualified dividends to deduct the margin interest.

I could go on. Come in for a free 1/2 hour consultation to find out what will help you

Posted in What's New?

Estate Planning 2017_11

Let’s talk about Tax Reform and then talk about what you need to do the rest of this year. Tax Reform proposes to END the federal estate tax. Finally, estate planners can concentrate on family concerns instead of taxes. When I do estate planning I follow my motto, ease and effectiveness. That means it is quick and economical for you. How can I accomplish that? I am an Accredited Estate Planner. I have taught Microsoft Word and Excel professionally. As corporate counsel for a national software company, I earned certificates in Visual Basic, the software that runs Microsoft Word and Excel. So I program Word and Excel to produce documents to do what you want. I do not send you home with two inches of documents that you don’t understand.  My approach benefits and protects you. 
I create your documents quickly and accurately, using provisions some of which I developed with my father, a former Probate judge. Using VBA programming, I enter client information and with the mere push of a button, the program enters clients’ names and information almost magically into Trusts and other estate documents. With the programming, I search out keywords and replace them. I check documents for spelling and grammar.  I don’t use a paralegal. That means you don’t have to pay for a paralegal and you don’t have to put up with their mistakes. As a licensed lawyer and Accredited Estate Planner, I understand my documents and the law.
Some lawyers pay high prices for document assembly programs created by out of state “experts.” Their paralegals use these programs to create massive documents designed to work under every possible circumstance. This means that you end up with language covering a business whether or not you have a business. These documents come in large notebooks with large prices.
As large and expensive as these documents are, they are only as good as the person that makes them. If most of the work is done by a paralegal, it is tempting to rely on the paralegal and not review the document carefully. For example, I reviewed one of these impressive notebooks in which a child with mental disabilities was to receive half of his mother’s estate outright when she died. This was not communicated to her and she did not intend it. She intended that his share remains in trust where it could be protected by the trustee. I corrected it for her. Don’t let this happen to you!
If you are ready to design your estate so that it is easy and effective for you and your family, select RLT Organizer.
Posted in What's New?