How Does Tax Reform Affect Your Estate Plan?


In December 2017, a sweeping tax reform bill, commonly known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. The TCJA reduces individual and corporate tax rates, eliminates a host of deductions, enhances other breaks, and makes numerous other changes. But how does the TCJA affect your estate plan?  

One thing the TCJA did not do is repeal the federal gift and estate tax, as initially planned by the House of Representative’s version of the bill. Instead, the TCJA temporarily doubles the combined gift and estate tax exemption and the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption from $5 million to $10 million (adjusted for inflation after 2011). For 2018, the exemption is now $11.2 million per person ($22.4 million for a married couple). This doubled exemption will adjust for inflation each year and will remain in effect until December 31, 2025. If Congress doesn’t act before 2026, the law will sunset and the exemptions will revert to the $5 million level (indexed for inflation).


New Estate Planning Opportunities

These changes open considerable opportunities for people to remove assets from their taxable estates and permanently exempt future appreciation of those assets from estate, gift, and GST tax. For example, by using the increased exemption amount to make tax-free lifetime gifts, you can protect that wealth (and any future appreciation in value) from taxation in your estate, even if smaller exemptions are reinstated before death. Be aware though, that unlike assets transferred at death, lifetime gifts will not receive a stepped-up tax basis. This could cause an increase in income taxes on any gain realized by the recipient when they sell the gifted asset. It is therefore critical to weigh the potential estate tax savings against the potential income tax costs when considering this strategy.


Lifetime Gifting Strategy with 529 College Savings Plan

If you can benefit from a lifetime gifting strategy, then you may want to consider combining that strategy with a 529 college savings plan. The TCJA permanently expands the benefits of these plans, which now permit tax-free withdrawals for qualified elementary and secondary school expenses and not just higher-education expenses. Contributions to 529 plans are removed from your taxable estate even though you can change the beneficiaries at any time and even get your money back (Note: a penalty will be assessed for any non-qualified distributions).  And, you can combine 5 years’ worth of annual gift tax exclusions (currently $15,000 per year) into one year, so an individual could gift $75,000 to a 529 plan this year (or $150,000 for married couples) without triggering gift or GST tax or using any of your exemptions.


Dynasty Trust

It may also be an ideal time to establish a “Dynasty trust.” Significant amounts of wealth can grow and compound free of federal estate, gift, and GST tax with this type of irrevocable trust, providing tax-free benefits for your grandchildren and future generations. In Maryland and a few other states, a dynasty trust can last forever, but some states restrict the length of time these trusts can exist. Avoiding the GST tax is imperative as it imposes an additional 40% tax on transfers to grandchildren and others that skip a generation. Clearly, this tax will quickly erode large amounts of wealth. The key to avoiding the GST tax is to leverage your new, doubled GST tax exemption.

For example, let’s assume that you have not yet used any of your estate and gift tax exemptions and you transfer $10 million to a properly-crafted dynasty trust. There would be no gift tax because you are within your exemption amount. Now, the funds in the dynasty trust, and all future appreciation of those funds, are out of your taxable estate. Then, by allocating your GST tax exemption to your $10 million trust contribution, you can ensure that any distributions from the dynasty trust to your grandchildren (or subsequent generations) avoid GST tax. This is true even if the trust’s funds grow well beyond the exemption amount and even if the exemption amount is reduced in the future.


Other Estate Planning Considerations

Keep this in mind though: estate, gift, and GST tax planning is only one aspect of estate planning. Given that some pundits are predicting that the TCJA has reduced the number of U.S. estates subject to estate tax from approximately 5,000 to 2,000, most families should likely focus more on non-estate tax issues, like incapacity planning, asset and nursing home protection, guardianship of minor children, blended family issues, special needs children planning, business succession planning, and minimizing income taxes.

In fact, it may be preferable to engage in strategies to reduce income tax now and then transfer those savings to your beneficiaries at death with as little transfer tax as possible. This can be done in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to:

  •  Shifting income to someone else: make a lifetime gift of an asset that produces a lot of income to a trust that distributes the taxable income to a beneficiary that is in a lower tax bracket;

  • Charitable giving: contribute more to charity. The TCJA increases the adjusted gross income limitation for deductions of cash donations to public charities from 50% to 60%; and

  • Delaying capital gains taxation: make a gift of an asset that has already appreciated and that you want to sell to a charitable remainder trust (CRT). A sale by the CRT avoids immediate capital gains taxation. 100% of the proceeds of the sale are then reinvested. Distributions from the CRT each year will be taxed to the beneficiary, but may avoid income taxation at top rates.

The TCJA is perhaps the most significant tax legislation in over 30 years. Continued review and experience with the Act will unquestionably reveal numerous new planning opportunities in the coming months and years. Don’t fall into the trap that you don’t need a well-crafted estate plan because of the increased federal estate, gift, and GST tax exemption. Current estate plans may not have the intended consequences under the new rules, and no one should wait for a death to find out if they have a good estate plan.

David A. Lucas is an Attorney in Miller, Miller & Canby’s Estates & Trusts and Business and Tax Practice Groups. David is committed to providing his clients with a well-crafted estate plan so they may avoid probate, protect their assets and legacies, and provide for the security of their loved ones. He takes a special interest in ensuring that the dreams parents have for their children and grandchildren are not lost to taxes, poor planning, or procrastination. He speaks frequently on a variety of estate planning topics to both the general public and private groups.

David has focused his practice on helping families preserve their financial wealth and legacies for future generations through the use of Trusts, Wills, Powers of Attorney, Advance Medical Directives, Living Wills, and other estate planning strategies.

Contact David
to discuss your estate plan to take advantage of the laws available today and ensure flexibility for future changes. For more information on Miller, Miller & Canby’s Estates & Trusts Practice, click here.





MM&C Welcomes New Estate Planning Attorney David Lucas


Miller, Miller & Canby is pleased to welcome David A. Lucas to the Estates & Trusts and Business & Tax Practices, where he will focus his practice on Estate Planning, Trust and Administration, Elder Law and Business Law.

“Miller, Miller & Canby’s Estates & Trusts and Business & Tax, Elder Law and Business Law practices have served families and businesses throughout Maryland and Washington, DC for decades,” said Robert E. Gough, Managing Shareholder for the firm. “We are very pleased to welcome David. His extensive private practice experience in estate and legacy planning, asset protection planning, retirement and business planning services will strengthen and expand our capabilities in these important disciplines.”

Mr. Lucas
is committed to providing his clients with a well-crafted estate plan so they may avoid probate, protect their assets and legacies, and provide for the security of their loved ones. He takes a special interest in ensuring that the dreams parents have for their children and grandchildren are not lost to taxes, poor planning, or procrastination. He speaks frequently on a variety of estate planning topics to both the general public and private groups.

Prior to joining Miller, Miller & Canby, Mr. Lucas was in private practice for 14 years. He began his legal career by serving as a Law Clerk to The Honorable Dennis M. McHugh of the Montgomery County Circuit Court in Rockville, Maryland. After his clerkship, he worked for a general practice firm, where he gained practical experience in a variety of disciplines, including civil litigation, employment law, workers’ compensation, administrative law, family law, estate planning, and business formation. Since 2006, Mr. Lucas has focused his practice on helping families preserve their financial wealth and legacies for future generations through the use of Trusts, Wills, Powers of Attorney, Advance Medical Directives, Living Wills, and other estate planning strategies.

Mr. Lucas is licensed to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia and is admitted to practice before the respective local and federal courts. He is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association, the District of Columbia Bar Association, and the Montgomery County Bar Association. He earned a B.A. in Sociology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and earned his Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law.

Click the download button below to view the firm's formal press release. For more information about Miller, Miller & Canby’s Estates & Trusts and Business & Tax Practices, click here or contact David at 301-762-5212.
 





MM&C Estate Planning Attorneys to Give Seminar on Wills & Trusts for National Business Institute


Glenn Anderson and Helen Whelan of Miller, Miller & Canby’s Trusts & Estates Practice Group will be speaking at the National Business Institute’s CLE Program on Tuesday, October 18.  Titled “Wills & Trusts: Mistakes to Avoid”, their talk will focus on how to prevent and correct estate planning mistakes. It’s designed for attorneys, accountants, estate and financial planners, trust officers and paralegals. Among other topics, the program will include information on correcting errors in will drafting, trust administration and trust structure documents. It will highlight the differences between wills and revocable living trusts, and will also delve into legal ethics. Practical tips for understanding and anticipating client needs, as well as finding the right balance between broad and restrictive trust language will also be explored. For more information or to register for the program, which will be held in Frederick, MD, click here.

Glenn Anderson leads the firm’s Business & Tax and Estates & Trusts Practice Groups.  As both a CPA and apracticing attorney, he has developed a recognized expertise in estate planning with an emphasis on tax law and business succession planning. 

Helen Whelan is a Principal in the firm’s Estates & Trusts Practice Group, and is also a CPA and practicing attorney. She has earned a recognized expertise in estate planning with an emphasis in Elder Law (special needs for the elderly and disabled) and is also certified by the Department of Veterans Affairs to counsel clients with respect to veterans’ benefits.

Miller, Miller & Canby has assisted clients with estate planning for 70 years.  Please feel free to contact Glenn or Helen at 301-762-5212 for estates & trusts and elder law planning needs.  View more information about Miller, Miller & Canby's Elder Law and Estates & Trusts practice by clicking here.
 





Valuation Discount for Gift & Estate Tax Planning May Be Ending;Take Advantage of Current Tax Law


A popular technique used by some business owners to reduce estate taxes and facilitate business succession planning may soon be closing.  On August 2, 2016, the IRS issued proposed regulations which, if adopted, would substantially reduce the ability of business owners to achieve certain valuation discounts on the transfers of minority interests in family owned businesses for gift and estate tax purposes.  As the proposed regulations must go through a 90-day public comment period, and will not go into effect until 30 days after being finalized, these changes will not likely take effect until early 2017.  That creates an excellent planning opportunity now until the end of the year to take advantage of the existing law before potential changes take effect.

Current Business Valuation Law Benefit for Estate & Gift Tax Planning

Under current law, the value of a fractional share in a business is not as a mere fraction of the value of the whole business, but factors in certain discounts that a neutral third-party buyer would normally require.  For example, a buyer would generally expect a discount to compensate that buyer for lack of control of the business if receiving less than a controlling interest.  In addition, that buyer would also want a discount for the lack of marketability of a fractional interest if there were restrictions on his or her ability to sell that interest.  Depending on the facts and circumstances, these discounts could be as much as fifty (50%) percent of the proportionate part of the business.  For purposes of simplicity, I will use a 50% discount in my example below.

Assume I own a one hundred (100%) percent ownership interest in a business which as a whole is worth $10 million. That interest is worth $10 million.  However, if a majority vote in interest (more than fifty percent (50%)) is needed to approve any action in the business, and that no interest in the business can be transferred without the consent of a majority vote in interest a neutral third-party buyer would expect discounts for anything less than a controlling interest.

 If I gift a twenty-four (24%) percent in the business to each of my three children and retain the remaining twenty-eight percent (28%), none of us will have control of the business and none of us will be able to make any further transfers of interest without consent (one of my three children will need to vote with me on any issue to reach a majority interest). Based on the lack of control and substantial restrictions on transfer, the interest owned by each of my three children is not worth $2.4 million, but rather is worth $1.2 million. Further, the interest that I have retained is not worth $2.8 million, but rather is worth $1.4 million.

I have therefore gifted seventy-two (72%) of the business to my children utilizing only $3.6 million dollars of my gift tax exclusion and the value of the interest retained by me is now worth only $1.4 million dollars.  Instead of having a $10 million taxable estate on my death with a marginal federal tax rate as high as forty (40%) percent and a marginal Maryland estate tax rate as high as sixteen (16%) percent, I would now have a federal estate below the $5 million dollar exemption and may have a Maryland estate below the applicable exemption amount (which is currently $2 million and will be gradually increased to $5 million dollars (indexed for inflation) by 2019).  I have therefore avoided the federal and Maryland estate taxes involved in passing my business down to my children.

Take Advantage of Current Tax Planning Opportunity Before 2017

The IRS proposal, if adopted in its current form, would make it more difficult for owners of family businesses to utilize these types of valuation discounts as part of their business planning/estate planning strategies.  

There is also uncertainty with an upcoming November election.  Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, has indicated that if elected she would work towards changing the gift and estate tax laws back to the way they existed in 2009.  At that time, the estate tax exclusion was only $3.5 million per person, the gift tax exclusion was only $1 million per person, and the marginal federal gift/estate tax rate was 45%.  Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has indicated that he does not support these proposals.

In this time of uncertainty, the one thing we can be certain of is that a planning opportunity exists now to take advantage of the existing law before potential changes could take effect in 2017.  Contact Glenn Anderson at 301-762-5212  to take advantage of this tax planning opportunity.

Miller, Miller & Canby has assisted clients with business law, tax planning and estates & trusts for 70 years. Glenn Anderson leads the Business & Tax and Estates & Trusts practice groups at Miller, Miller & Canby.  As both a CPA and a practicing attorney, he has developed a recognized expertise in taxation law.

Please feel free to contact Glenn or any of the business & tax planning attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby to take advantage of current business succession planning tax law and other tax planning needs.  View more information about Miller, Miller & Canby's Business & Tax practice by clicking here.  View more information about Miller, Miller & Canby's Elder Law and Estates & Trusts practice by clicking here.
 





Changes Coming in Veterans' Benefits for 2016


2016 will be bringing numerous changes to both process and eligibility with respect to levels of benefits for which veterans may apply.

Miller, Miller & Canby attorney, Helen M. Whelan is accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs to advise veterans and their families on financial benefits for which they may qualify.

Applying for benefits is often a long and difficult process. Because many VA laws are complex, it is helpful to have guidance in navigating through the regulations and the steps involved. Helen will advise you on the levels of financial benefits for which you may qualify and we strive to make the claims process easier so you can focus on providing for your family and successfully navigating your future.

Not only does Helen outline the steps necessary to qualify for benefits and assist in the process, she also helps with putting together a subsequent strategy. There are specific instances where counsel is helpful in implementing long-term planning.  For example, it may be advantageous to move assets into a trust as part of a detailed financial plan. 

For more information about our Veterans' Benefits practice, please click here.  If you or a family member needs guidance regarding benefits, please contact Helen Whelan.  

Helen M. Whelan
is a principal with Miller, Miller & Canby and concentrates her practice in Veterans Benefits, Elder Law, Estate and Tax Planning and Trust & Estate Administration. She is licensed to practice law in Maryland, the District of Columbia and West Virginia and is also a CPA with a Masters’ Degree in Taxation.





Take Advantage of Gun Trusts Before Regulatory Changes Take Place in July 2016


What is a Gun Trust?

A Gun Trust is a trust created specifically to own firearms in compliance with the National Firearms Act (NFA) and specific state and local laws.  The purposes of a Gun Trust are several fold:  it reduces the red tape necessary to acquire certain firearms, it allows the beneficiaries to use and enjoy the firearms, and it avoids the difficulties of transferring firearms on the death of a primary beneficiary.

If an individual wishes to acquire certain firearms, federal law requires that he or she must be fingerprinted, have background checks performed, and have the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) in the individual’s jurisdiction sign off on the necessary paperwork and send to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).  This red tape is not only burdensome, but in many jurisdictions, CLEO’s simply refuse to sign off on the necessary paperwork.  These requirements currently only apply to individuals and not to entities.

Why Create a Gun Trust?

By creating a proper Gun Trust, the trust itself (an entity) can own the firearms thus avoiding much of the red tape that an individual would go through.  If drafted properly, a Gun Trust can avoid a transfer upon the death of a primary beneficiary (as the trust itself continues to own the firearms).

Gun Trusts have been gaining in popularity.  According to the ATF, the Bureau received over 235,000 NFA applications in 2014.  The rise in the use of Gun Trusts has caused the ATF to adopt a new regulation (27 CFR Part 479 Docket No. ATF 41F; AG Order No. 3608-2016) which will require Gun Trusts to comply with the same requirements as individuals on the transfer of certain firearms occurring after July 13, 2016.  This means that transfers into Gun Trusts after July 13, 2016 will require fingerprints, background checks, and CLEO approval.

Concerned about the upcoming regulatory change, many gun owners are now creating Gun Trusts and are transferring their firearms into one or more Gun Trusts prior to July of 2016.  While the next several months present an excellent planning opportunity to establish a Gun Trust and transfer firearms into that trust before the regulatory change takes effect, care must be taken in establishing a proper Gun Trust.  

Many people have tried to use garden variety revocable trusts (also known as living trusts) or have obtained forms over the internet.  Keep in mind that a copy of the executed Gun Trust must be submitted to the ATF along with the transfer application and the Gun Trust needs to comply with federal law as well as applicable state and local law.  Many generic revocable trusts and internet forms do not meet these requirements.    

The law firm of Miller, Miller and Canby has been assisting clients with their estate planning needs for 70 years.  Our estate planning attorneys continuously take continuing legal education courses to stay on top of new developments in this area of law, including the regulatory changes concerning Gun Trusts.  Glenn Anderson heads the Trusts and Estates Practice Group at Miller, Miller & Canby and has recently completed several continuing legal education courses on Gun Trusts.  Contact Glenn Anderson here.





The “What, Why and How” of Advance Medical Directives


Advance Medical Directives are familiar to most of us. As written statements that detail a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment, they are prepared to ensure those wishes will be carried out if he or she becomes incapacitated and incapable of communicating them.

Most of us understand that it will be important to prepare these documents at some point in our lives. By thinking ahead, we can spare our loved ones the unnecessary stress of having to make difficult decisions on our behalf.

In Miller, Miller & Canby's estate planning law practice (planning for the management and transfer of a person’s assets with an emphasis on minimizing applicable taxes) and our elder law practice (planning for a person’s disability with an emphasis Medicaid, VA benefits, and long-term care issues) we typically see clients come in to plan these documents because one of two things has happened. The client's parents may have had no instructions in place and, as a result, the client experienced firsthand the anxiety of having to make difficult decisions, and would want to spare loved ones the same fate.  On the other hand, the client may have experienced peace of mind in a situation where instructions were prepared and, therefore, wants to ensure the same positive experience for loved ones.

Equally as important as creating the Advanced Medical Directive is planning for what to do after the paperwork is prepared. Where should the directive be stored? If the directive is prepared, but cannot be accessed or found at the appropriate time, it might as well not exist. Unfortunately, this happens more often than it should.

You’ve Prepared the Directive…What’s Next?
Clients will want to provide copies of their Advance Medical Directive to their doctors and to the person designated to make the medical decisions for them (or let their agent know where the original is located).  If your preference is for your children or other loved ones not to see the Advance Medical Directive ahead of time, as it might cause unnecessary stress, they should at least know that you have one and where to find it or the attorney who prepared it in the event it does become necessary to access the documents.   Your attorney may also retain a duplicate of the original for you.  There are also programs that allow for storing the Advance Medical Directive in the cloud so it may be accessed by any medical personnel universally.  

Advance Medical Directives can be drafted to give clients a choice: (i) do they want to give the agent flexibility, e.g. the ability to do something different than stated in the document, in the event something "unforeseeable" occurs and the agent believes it is in the principal's best interests, or (ii) do they want to stipulate that the agent simply follow the instructions as set forth.  Most of the time, clients will know whether or not their agent is likely to follow their instructions and choose accordingly. The document can be revoked orally or in writing, which allows you to make changes if desired.

Thinking Beyond the Advance Medical Directive
The Advance Medical Directive is only one of the documents that should be in place when planning for disability or incapacity.  There are additional documents that are equally important, such as a Financial Power of Attorney.  But the Advance Medical Directive and Financial Power of Attorney both terminate in the event of death...which is why it is also necessary to plan for how your estate will be distributed when you pass away.

The bottom line is…it is always better to plan than to allow fate (or someone who ultimately may not make the decisions you would want) to make decisions for you and spare your loved ones any additional anxiety during what is already an extremely difficult time.

For more information about the preparation and planning of Advance Medical Directives, please contact Helen Whelan.  To learn more about Miller, Miller & Canby’s Estates & Trusts and Elder Law practice click here.

Helen Whelan is a principal with Miller, Miller & Canby and concentrates her practice in Elder Law, Estate and Tax Planning and Trust & Estate Administration. She is licensed to practice law in Maryland, the District of Columbia and West Virginia and is also a CPA with a Masters’ Degree in Taxation.

May is National Elder Law Month.  Learn more about this fast-growing area of the law here.

 





MM&C Welcomes New Business & Tax Attorney Michael S. Spencer


Miller, Miller & Canby welcomes Michael S. Spencer as an attorney in the Business and Tax Practice Group. Mr. Spencer brings experience in tax law and corporate transactional law to the firm.

Prior to joining Miller, Miller & Canby, Mr. Spencer served as an Associate Tax Attorney for Frost & Associates, LLC, where he focused on tax controversy, serving clients on a wide range of matters related to IRS examinations. His experience includes representation on tax liens, tax levies, wage garnishments, collection due process hearings, collection appeals, offer in compromises, requests for penalty abatement, and tax court petitions. 

Mr. Spencer is a native of Montgomery County. He has a Master of Laws in Taxation from the New York University School of Law and earned his J.D. degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law, where he was Managing Editor of The Law Review. He is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association, the U.S. Tax Court Bar Association, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland Bar Association, the Montgomery County Bar Association, and is an associate member of the American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accounts. Mr. Spencer clerked for the Honorable John W. Debelius III, of the Montgomery County Circuit Court.

We are pleased to welcome Mike to our team.  To find out how his expertise may be of benefit to you, contact Michael Spencer.





Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 Provides Tax Advantages for the Disabled


On December 19, 2014, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (the Act) was signed into law. Within the Act there was another bill, the "Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) of 2014." ABLE establishes a new type of tax-advantaged account for persons with disabilities; which allows them to save money for future needs while remaining eligible for government benefit programs.  

ABLE Accounts
Beginning in 2015, the Act allows states to establish tax-exempt Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts to assist persons with disabilities in building an account to pay for qualified disability expenses. An ABLE account can be set up for an individual (1) who is entitled to benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program due to blindness or disability occurring before the age of 26 or (2) for whom a disability certificate has been filed with IRS for the tax year.  

Annual contributions are limited to the amount of the annual gift tax exclusion for that tax year ($14,000 for 2015). Distributions are tax-free to the extent they don't exceed the beneficiary's qualified disability expenses for the year. Distributions that exceed qualified disability expenses are included in taxable income and are generally subject to a 10% penalty tax. However, distributions can be rolled over tax-free within 60 days to another ABLE account for the benefit of the beneficiary or an eligible family member. Similarly, an ABLE account's beneficiary can be changed, as long as the new beneficiary is an eligible family member.  

Except for SSI, ABLE accounts are disregarded for federal means-tested programs. Additionally, some ABLE accounts are provided limited bankruptcy protection.

Miller, Miller & Canby has assisted clients with estate & tax planning for over 65 years. Helen Whelan, a Principal with Miller, Miller & Canby, is an estate and trusts and Elder Law attorney who works closely with clients to assist them in planning for their care.  She can recommend valuable resources to help individuals who may begin caring for a person who is elderly, disabled, or with special needs.  She is a member of The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), which was founded in 1987 as a professional association of attorneys who are dedicated to improving the quality of legal services to seniors and people with special needs.  Helen is a member of Elder Counsel, a network of professionals who center their attention on the needs of the elderly, disabled and those with special needs.  She also holds the accreditation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide counsel and representation to veterans and their families.  As both a CPA and a practicing attorney, Helen has developed a recognized expertise in elder law and taxation law.

View more information
on Miller, Miller & Canby’s Elder Law Practice.  Contact Helen Whelan at 301-762-5212 or send her an email to schedule a meeting or discuss the benefits of ABLE accounts.





The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014: Tax Tips for Businesses


On December 19, 2014, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (the Act) was signed into law. The Act retroactively extends many expiring tax provisions.

Extended Cost Recovery Provisions

50% Bonus Depreciation: The Act extends 50% first-year bonus depreciation for an additional year to cover qualifying new (not used) assets that are placed in service in calendar-year 2014. However, the placed-in-service deadline is extended to December 31, 2015, for certain assets that have longer production periods. Under the extended deadline privilege, only the portion of a qualifying asset's basis that is allocable to costs incurred before 2015 is eligible for 50% bonus depreciation. For a new passenger auto or light truck that is subject to the luxury auto depreciation limitations, the 50% bonus depreciation provision increases the maximum first-year depreciation deduction by $8,000.  

Generous Section 179 Rules: For qualifying assets placed in service in the tax year beginning in 2014, the Act restores the maximum Section 179 deduction to $500,000 (same as for tax years beginning in 2013). Without this change, the maximum deduction would have been only $25,000 for 2014. The Act also restores the Section 179 deduction phase-out threshold to $2 million for tax years beginning in 2014 (same as for tax years beginning in 2013). Without this change, the phase-out threshold would have been only $200,000 for 2014. The temporary rule that allowed up to $250,000 of Section 179 deductions for qualifying real property placed in service in tax years beginning in 2013 was also retroactively restored for tax years beginning in 2014.  

15-year Depreciation for Leasehold Improvements, Restaurant Property, and Retail Space Improvements: The Act retroactively restores the 15-year straight-line depreciation privilege for qualified leasehold improvements, qualified restaurant property, and qualified retail space improvements for property placed in service in 2014.  


Extended Tax Credit Provisions for Business

Research Credit: The Act retroactively restores the research credit to cover qualifying expenses paid or accrued before 2015.  

Work Opportunity Credit Hiring Deadline: The Act retroactively extends the deadline for employing eligible individuals for purposes of claiming the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to cover qualifying hires that begin work in 2014.  

Differential Pay Credit for Small Employers: The Act retroactively restores the credit for eligible small employers that provide differential pay to employees while they serve in the military to cover payments made in 2014. The credit equals 20% of differential pay of up to $20,000 paid to each qualifying employee.  

Credit for Building Energy-efficient Homes: The Act retroactively extends the $2,000 or $1,000 (depending on the projected level of fuel consumption) per-home contractor tax credit for building new energy-efficient homes in the U.S. to qualifying homes sold by December 31, 2014 for use as a residence.  

Credits for Renewable Energy Production Facilities: The Act retroactively restores the renewable energy production credit for one year to cover facilities that begin construction before 2015.  


Extended Provisions on Charitable Donations

Enhanced Deduction for Food Donations: The Act retroactively restores, for 2014, the enhanced charitable contribution deduction for non-C corporation businesses that donate food (it must be apparently wholesome when donated). This provision is intended for non-C corporation businesses that have food inventories, such as restaurants. For non-C corporation taxpayers, deductions for donated food are normally limited to the taxpayer's basis in the food or FMV, whichever is lower. In contrast, the enhanced deduction equals the lesser of: (1) basis plus half the value in excess of basis or (2) two times the basis. (The same enhanced deduction rule has been available to C corporations for years.)  

Favorable Rule for S Corporation Donations of Appreciated Assets: The Act retroactively restores for tax years beginning in 2014 the favorable shareholder basis rule for stock in S corporations that make charitable donations of appreciated assets. For such donations, each shareholder's tax basis in the S corporation's stock is only reduced by the shareholder's prorata percentage of the company's tax basis in the donated assets. Without the extended provision, a shareholder's basis reduction would equal the passed- through write-off for the donation (a larger amount). The extended provision is taxpayer-friendly because it leaves shareholders with higher tax basis in their S corporation shares.  


Other Extended Provisions

Parity for Employer-provided Parking and Transit Benefits: The Act extends for one year, through 2014, the parity provision that requires the tax exclusion for transit benefits to be the same as the exclusion for parking benefits. Thus, for 2014, employees can be given tax-free transit benefits of up to $250 a month-the same as for tax-free parking benefits.   

Break for S Corporation Built-in Gains: When a C Corporation converts to S corporation status, the corporate-level built-in gains tax generally applies when built-in gain assets (including receivables and inventories) are turned into cash or sold within the recognition period. The tax is only assessed on built-in gains (excess of FMV over basis) that exist on the conversion date. The recognition period is normally the 10-year period that begins on the conversion date. However, for S corporation tax years beginning in 2012 and 2013, the recognition period was five years. The Act retroactively restores the five-year recognition period for tax years beginning in 2014. In other words, for gains recognized in 2014, the built-in gains tax won't apply if the fifth year of the recognition period has gone by before the start of 2014.  

Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Deduction: The Act retroactively restores the deduction for the cost of an "energy efficient commercial building property" placed in service during the tax year for one year, for property placed in service before 2015. The maximum deduction for any building for any tax year is the excess (if any) of the product of $1.80, and the square footage of the building, over the total amount of the Section 179 deductions claimed for the building for all earlier tax years.  

Miller, Miller & Canby has assisted clients with business law, tax planning and estates & trusts for over 65 years. Glenn Anderson leads the Business & Tax and Estates & Trusts practice groups at Miller, Miller & Canby.  As both a CPA and a practicing attorney, he has developed a recognized expertise in taxation law. 

Please feel free to contact Glenn or any of the business & tax planning attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby with your tax planning needs.  View more information about Miller, Miller & Canby's Business & Tax practice by clicking here.
 





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