Today’s Tax Topic
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Presented by Tax On Wheels, LLC
The Internal Revenue Service continues to make strong progress in combating international tax evasion, with new details announced today showing the recently completed offshore program pushed the total number of voluntary disclosures up to 30,000 since 2009. In all, 12,000 new applications came in from the 2011 offshore program that closed last week.
The IRS also announced today it has collected $2.2 billion so far from people who participated in the 2009 program, reflecting closures of about 80 percent of the cases from the initial offshore program. On top of that, the IRS has collected an additional $500 million in taxes and interest as down payments for the 2011 program — a figure that will increase because it doesn’t yet include penalties.
“By any measure, we are in the middle of an unprecedented period for our global international tax enforcement efforts,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We have pierced international bank secrecy laws, and we are making a serious dent in offshore tax evasion.”
Global tax enforcement is a top priority at the IRS, and Shulman noted progress on multiple fronts, including ground-breaking international tax agreements and increased cooperation with other governments. In addition, the IRS and Justice Department have increased efforts involving criminal investigation of international tax evasion.
The combination of efforts helped support the 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI), which ended on Sept. 9. The 2011 effort followed the strong response to the 2009 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) that ended on Oct. 15, 2009. The programs gave U.S.taxpayers with undisclosed assets or income offshore a second chance to get compliant with the U.S. tax system, pay their fair share and avoid potential criminal charges.
The 2009 program led to about 15,000 voluntary disclosures and another 3,000 applicants who came in after the deadline, but were allowed to participate in the 2011 initiative. Beyond that, the 2011 program has generated an additional 12,000 voluntary disclosures, with some additional applications still being counted. All together from these efforts, taxpayers came forward and made 30,000 voluntary disclosures.
“My goal all along was to get people back into the U.S. tax system,” Shulman said. “Not only are we bringing people back into the U.S. tax system, we are bringing revenue into the U.S. Treasury and turning the tide against offshore tax evasion.”
In new figures announced today from the 2009 offshore program, the IRS has $2.2 billion in hand from taxes, interest and penalties representing about 80 percent of the 2009 cases that have closed. These cases come from every corner of the world, with bank accounts covering 140 countries.
The IRS is starting to work through the 2011 applications. The $500 million in payments so far from the 2011 program brings the total collected through the offshore programs to $2.7 billion.
“This dollar figure will grow in the months ahead,” Shulman said. “But just as importantly, we have changed the risk calculus. Americans now understand that if they try to hide assets overseas, the chances of being caught continue to increase.”
The financial impact can be seen in a variety of other areas beyond the 2009 and 2011 programs.
The two disclosure programs provided the IRS with a wealth of information on various banks and advisors assisting people with offshore tax evasion, and the IRS will use this information to continue its international enforcement efforts.
How much attention do you pay to this factor?
Presented by Tax On Wheels, LLC
Could you end up paying higher taxes in retirement?Do you have a lot of money saved in a 401(k) or a traditional IRA? If so, you may be poised to receive significant retirement income.
Those income distributions will be taxed. As federal and state governments are hungry for revenue, you may see higher marginal tax rates in the near future.
Poor retirees with meager savings may rely on Social Security as their prime income source. They may end up paying less income tax in retirement, as up to half of their Social Security benefits won’t be counted as taxable income. On the other hand, those who have saved and invested well may retire to their current tax bracket or even a higher one.1
Given this possibility, affluent investors would do well to study the tax efficiency of their portfolios. (Some investments are not particularly tax-efficient – REITs and small-cap funds, for example.) Both pre-tax and after-tax investments have potential advantages.
What’s a pre-tax investment?Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s are classic examples of pre-tax investments. You can put off paying taxes on the contributions you make to these accounts and the earnings these accounts generate. When you take money out of these accounts come retirement, you will pay taxes on the withdrawal.2
Pre-tax investments are also called tax-deferred investments, as the invested assets can benefit from tax-deferred growth.
What’s an after-tax investment?A Roth IRA is a prime example. When you put money into a Roth IRA during the accumulation phase, contributions aren’t tax-deductible. As a trade-off, you don’t pay taxes on the withdrawals from that Roth IRA (providing you have followed the IRS rules for the arrangement). These tax-free withdrawals lower your total taxable retirement income.2
As everyone would like to pay less income tax in retirement, the tax-free withdrawals from Roth IRAs are very attractive. As federal tax rates look poised to climb for obvious reasons, after-tax investments are starting to look even more attractive.
As anyone can now convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, many affluent investors are considering making the move and paying taxes on the conversion today in order to get tax-free growth tomorrow.
Certain tax years can prove optimal for a Roth conversion. If a high-income taxpayer is laid off for most of a year, closes down a business or suffers net operating losses, sells rental property at a loss or claims major deductions and exemptions associated with charitable contributions, casualty losses or medical costs … he or she might end up in the lowest bracket, or even with a negative taxable income. In circumstances like these, a Roth conversion may be a good idea.
Should you have both a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA? It may seem redundant or superfluous, but it could actually help you manage your marginal tax rate. If you have both kinds of IRAs, you have the option to vary the amount and source of your IRA distributions in light of whether income tax rates have increased or decreased.
Your marginal tax rate might be higher than you think.Consider that about 25 different federal tax deductions and credits are phased out as your income increases. Quite a few of these have to do with education. If your children (or grandchildren) are out of school when you retire, good luck claiming those deductions.
Smart moves can help you lower your taxable income & taxable estate.An emphasis on long-term capital gains may help, as they aren’t taxed as severely as short-term gains or ordinary income. Tax loss harvesting – selling the “losers” in your portfolio to offset the “winners” – can bring immediate tax savings and possibly help to position you for better long-term after-tax returns.
If you’re making a charitable gift, giving appreciated stock or mutual funds you have held for at least a year may be better than giving cash. In addition to a potential tax deduction for the fair market value of the asset, the charity can sell the stock later without triggering capital gains. If you’re reluctant to donate shares of your portfolio’s biggest winner, consider this: you could give the shares away, then buy more shares of that stock and get a step-up in cost basis for free.3,4
The annual gift tax exemption gives you a way to remove assets from your taxable estate. In 2011, you can gift up to $13,000 to as many individuals as you wish without paying federal gift tax. If you have 11 grandkids, you could give them $13,000 each – that’s $143,000 out of your estate. All appreciation on that amount is also out of your estate.5
Are you striving for greater tax efficiency?In retirement, it is especially important – and worth a discussion. A few financial adjustments could help you lessen your tax liabilities.
Tax On Wheels, LLC may be reached at 803 732-4288or firstname.lastname@example.org www.taxonwheels.com
This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty.
1 – ssa.gov/planners/taxes.htm [2/9/11]
2 – retirement.ameriprise.com/planning-for-retirement/retirement-risks/pre-tax-investments.asp [7/25/11]
3 – boston.com/business/personalfinance/managingyourmoney/archives/2010/12/a_win-win_situa.html [12/14/10]
4 – marketwatch.com/story/donate-appreciated-securities-to-charity-for-maximum-tax-benefit [12/16/07]
5 – blogs.forbes.com/hanisarji/2011/07/13/how-to-cut-state-death-taxes-without-moving/ [7/13/11]
With the summer wedding season in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service advises the soon-to-be married and the just married to review their changing tax status. If you recently got married or are planning a wedding, the last thing on your mind is taxes. However, there are some important steps you need to take to avoid stress at tax time. Here are seven tips for newlyweds.
Every year the Internal Revenue Service sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers, but that doesn’t mean you need to worry. Here are eight things every taxpayer should know about IRS notices – just in case one shows up in your mailbox.
Contact Tax On Wheels, LLC for assistance with responding to IRS or State notices
Taxpayers sometimes need tax returns from previous years for loan applications, to estimate tax withholding, for legal reasons or because records were destroyed in a natural disaster or fire. If your original tax returns were lost or destroyed, you can obtain copies or transcripts from the IRS. Here are 10 things to know if you need federal tax return information from a previously filed tax return.
Whether you’re a recent graduate going to college for the first time or a returning student, it will soon be time to get to campus – and payment deadlines for tuition and other fees are not far behind. The Internal Revenue Service reminds students or parents paying such expenses to keep receipts and to be aware of some tax benefits that can help offset college costs.
Typically, these benefits apply to you, your spouse or a dependent for whom you claim an exemption on your tax return.
For each student, you can choose to claim only one of the credits in a single tax year. However, if you pay college expenses for two or more students in the same year, you can choose to take credits on a per-student, per-year basis. You can claim the American Opportunity Credit for your sophomore daughter and the Lifetime Learning Credit for your senior son.
You cannot claim the tuition and fees deduction for the same student in the same year that you claim the American Opportunity Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. You must choose to either take the credit or the deduction and should consider which is more beneficial for you.
The Internal Revenue Service has some important information to share with individuals who have sold or are about to sell their home. If you have a gain from the sale of your main home, you may qualify to exclude all or part of that gain from your income. Here are ten tips from the IRS to keep in mind when selling your home.
Ten Tips for Taxpayers Who Owe Money to the IRS
While the majority of Americans get a tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service each year, there are many taxpayers who owe and some who can’t pay the tax all at once. The IRS has a number of ways for people to pay their tax bill.
The IRS has announced an effort to help struggling taxpayers get a fresh start with their tax liabilities. The goal of this effort is to help individuals and small business meet their tax obligations, without adding unnecessary burden. Specifically, the IRS has announced new policies and programs to help taxpayers pay back taxes and avoid tax liens.
Here are ten tips for taxpayers who owe money to the IRS.
Do I have to file a tax return?
Filing tax returns is a major chore for most of us. But not everyone has to file a tax return each year.
Click here to learn more about IRS filing requirements.