As we have discussed in previous blog posts, this summer's Supreme Court ruling that allows same-sex marriages to be recognized by the federal government has had a big impact on couples in California. Since same-sex marriage is legal here, couples who choose to marry are eligible for state and federal benefits, including the many tax benefits afforded to married couples.
Making an estate plan is a complex process that can sometimes take quite a while, from the time that you lay out all your assets to the final process of executing a will properly in front of witnesses, months can pass. For people who are experiencing a serious illness or even those in relatively good health, this span of time could make a big difference. In one recent case a man suddenly passed away while in the process of updating his estate plan, leaving his sons to pursue legal action to see that his final wishes were respected.
For most California readers, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) works in mysterious ways. That is to say that sometimes even the most careful taxpayers can be surprised by an audit or a request for documentation from the IRS in a tax evasion or fraud matter if the IRS has received information indicating a discrepancy between taxes paid and taxes owed.
After this summer's landmark Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, many same-sex married couples in California celebrated the ability to be recognized as married under federal law. One of the big impacts of this change is in the area of tax law, where same-sex couples can now file joint federal returns, qualify for certain tax breaks, and qualify for the estate tax benefits such as the marital exemption.
As the government shutdown continues, many Californians who have pending business with the government have been left with a lot of questions. For those currently involved in a tax dispute or an audit, figuring out what to do next in light of the shutdown can be confusing and stressful.
A lot of California readers probably don't realize that there was a time in the United States when there was no federal income tax. The first instance of an income tax was during the Civil War when the government needed more revenue to continue fighting. That was a temporary tax that eventually expired, leaving the government to raise funds solely from tariffs from trade and excise taxes, as was the case before the war.