Two (out of Three) Gift and Estate Tax Exclusion Amounts Will Inch Up in 2017

Inchworm walking on a branchAround this time every year, the IRS looks at whether there has been a year-over-year increase in the Consumer Price Index and announces inflation adjustments to the federal gift and estate tax exclusion amounts for the following calendar year. In general, these exclusion amounts tell a U.S. citizen or resident how much he or she can give away without incurring gift and/or estate tax on the transfer. Individuals and couples make use of these amounts, both during lifetime and at death, to transfer wealth to family and friends on a tax-free basis. When the amounts go up, it presents an opportunity to increase the tax-free giving. Given that inflation has been relatively sluggish, will any of these exclusion amounts be higher in 2017 than they are currently? According to the announcement just released by the IRS, the answer is “yes” for some but not all.

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Three Actions to Take If You Are a Victim Of Identity Theft

Identity Theft Abstract

You may be a victim of identity theft and not even realize it. Have you received a letter from a bank you do not recognize confirming that your new line of credit has been approved? Or maybe a phone call from a credit card company informing you that your new credit card has been issued? Or a letter from the U.S. Post Office confirming an address change that you did not initiate? Each of these may seem trivial at the time, but they are just a few of the telltale signs of identity theft, which should be addressed immediately.

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Gifting Interests in the Family Company Could Become More Expensive in 2017

Family Business

Individuals who are considering gifting their interest in a closely-held business entity may want to consider making such gift sooner rather than later in light of the proposed regulations issued by the IRS on August 2 regarding valuation for estate and gift tax purposes of certain transferred assets.

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Remembering Four Years Ago, Will Tax Reform Come Out of This Lame Duck Session of Congress?

US Capitol Building- Washington D.C.

No matter who wins the White House in November, the new president’s agenda will include tax reform. But changes to our tax laws need not wait until after inauguration day, as we learned four years ago when the “fiscal cliff” was averted by a lame duck session of Congress passing the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. For those interested in philanthropy, there are a few pieces of tax legislation aimed at our charitable sector that had bipartisan support before the political conventions and – with some urging – may receive congressional attention in the closing weeks of 2016. Continue reading

Will Your Estate Plan Preserve the Family Vacation Home?

Now that sunshine and blue skies are upon us, people are opening their summer homes for the season. Happy memories of family vacations and gatherings often motivate parents to seek out ways to preserve their second home for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Whether you’ve got a compound on the Cape or a cabin on Winnipesaukee, it’s an appropriate time to think about how these properties currently fit into your estate plan. It’s also crucial to consider how such decisions will affect those who love and use these properties now and might want to continue doing so after you’ve passed away. Continue reading

When Estate Planning Meets #BlindNewWorld

During the Perkins School for the Blind annual fundraising gala, Perkins Possibilities 2016, we witnessed the launch of the powerful social change campaign called BlindNewWorld. The campaign aims to help the sighted population break down barriers to blind inclusion like discomfort and fear and create a more blind-friendly world. This got us thinking: how can we do a better job of taking the needs of clients who are blind or visually impaired into account when designing our estate planning services? We came up with three ideas we want to share. Continue reading

4 Takeaways from Council on Foundations 2016 Annual Conference

From left to right: Maria Teresa Kumar, Shiza Shahid and Robert Ross (President and CEO, The California Endowment) at the Council on Foundations 2016 Annual Conference.

From left to right: Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO, Voto Latino, Shiza Shahid, Co-Founder, the Malala Fund, Robert Ross, President and CEO, The California Endowment, at the Council on Foundations 2016 Annual Conference.

From April 9 to April 12, I had the good fortune to be part of the Council on Foundations 2016 Annual Conference. The Council welcomed nearly 1,400 leaders in the philanthropic sector to Washington, D.C., for plenary programs and concurrent sessions focused on “the Future of Community through the lenses of identity, purpose, and place.” Here are four of my biggest takeaways from the Conference:

1. When you want to fill a room to capacity, talk about the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. One concurrent session was so popular that attendees filled the seats, stood along the walls and sat on the floor. The topic that drew this crowd was “Philanthropy Outside the Tax-Exempt Model.” The discussion covered the alternative vehicles for individual and corporate giving, such as public benefit corporations, L3Cs and B-Corp certified companies, which have been embraced by a new generation of philanthropists, most notably Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan.

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Be Organized to Preserve Your Charitable Deductions for Property Donations

Close up of finger touching calculator3 Things to Remember About Documenting Charitable Gifts of Property, Securities and Art.

Last month in this blog, we described five ways to be diligent about documenting charitable gifts of cash or out-of-pocket expenses to preserve your tax deduction. But what about gifts of property – does giving something other than cash change the taxpayer’s responsibilities? According to the tax regulations, the answer is no and yes. Continue reading

Act Now to Preserve Your 2015 Charitable Deductions

Tax Form- Charitable Deductions

5 Ways to Be Diligent with Charitable Gifts of Cash

Remember that formal benefit dinner you attended last fall? The contentious battle for that golf package at the charity auction in the spring? Your donation to the bike-a-thon over the summer? For many, expenditures like these can add up to hundreds, even thousands, of dollars throughout the year. But – surprise! – income tax deductions are not always available or can easily be lost if you are not diligent about your recordkeeping. With the April 15th deadline to file (or extend) income tax returns fast approaching, many of us need a reminder of what is required to claim income tax deductions for the charitable contributions of cash we made last year.

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The Lesson of In Re: Nealon – Homestead Is a Protection Worth Maximizing

Every Massachusetts homeowner should be aware of the opportunities that are available for protecting the equity in the family home. A recent bankruptcy case, In re: Nealon, reminds us of one such opportunity – the Massachusetts homestead exemption — and its power to stave off creditors, especially when the homeowner takes the simple steps necessary to maximize the amount entitled to protection.

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