It would be great if an estate plan were something you could just set and forget, but life rarely works that way. Many people take responsible action and develop an estate plan that will provide tax savings and protect their assets for their spouses and children. If they don't update those plans to reflect changes in life and the law, however, those careful plans may turn out to be ineffective.
We are circling back to our discussion of the Internal Revenue Service's recent memorandum clarifying (or attempting to clarify) how penalties are decided for foreign bank account reporting violations. In our June 17 post, we also warned that the June 30 deadline for filing FBAR reports was near. It is now even closer, and taxpayers with an interest or signature authority on any account held by a foreign financial institution may want to take a minute to contact a tax attorney about their filing status and potential penalties.
It the thing nobody wants to get in the mail: a letter from the IRS informing the recipient that there is a problem with a previous income tax return. Whether the letter is announcing an audit, or asking for more information to explain an apparent discrepancy, it is something likely to get the heart pounding and the hands sweating.
When it comes to disclosing your offshore bank accounts to the IRS, waiting is a bad idea. In June 2014, changes to the IRS's Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program raised the penalty for having offshore assets that the IRS discovers without your voluntary disclosure.
As a trust beneficiary, you have rights, which may depend largely on the language of the trust document. The complexity and length of the document are, in many case, intimidating for the trust beneficiary. If you suspect that your rights as a beneficiary have been violated or ignored, then you may need a legal professional to read and interpret the document to determine exactly what your rights are and how they have been violated.
The IRS takes its filing deadlines seriously, but the agency does not make it easy to remember the finer points of each due date. April 15, for example, is the deadline for filing income tax returns. By deadline, the IRS means that the return must be mailed by 11:59 p.m. on that date. Of course, you can always request an extension, but April 15 is the date everyone associates with filing income tax returns.
Most people know that once a year, they are required to submit documentation to the federal government as well as the state for their tax return. They also know that if they fail to report things properly, they could be audited by the IRS and suffer penalties as a result.
We are still talking about -- or, as a 12-year-old niece would say, still talking about -- sales tax and its impact on estate planning. We admit that 12-year-olds may not be the only ones that were hoping for more drama here -- trust us, if we could think of a way to incorporate a superhero, we would do it.
Are there more taxes in retirement that are dreamt of in your estate plan? When we talk about planning for our golden years, we talk about sources of income and how to plan for emergencies. Many of us have sat through difficult dinner table conversations about additional care needs and how we want our final illness handled.
You've probably already heard about the benefits of a trust -- how it's much like a will except for the fact that your loved ones don't have to navigate the probate process when you pass away. You probably also know that a trust may potentially save your heirs a considerable amount of money in taxes.