We're continuing our discussion from our last post. The subject is filing disclosures of foreign assets to the IRS. The agency recently modified the rules of the offshore voluntary compliance program and added a "streamlined" process for taxpayers opting out of the protections offered by the OVCP.
Some people have an ear for languages. They can visit a foreign country and be conversant in a matter of days. For others, foreign languages remain a mystery, if not a misery. Those French, as a friend of ours used to say, have a different word for everything.
Back in the day -- please excuse us if we overuse the expression, but a discussion of the movie "The Wolf of Wall Street" reminded us that there are adults out in the world that were born after the "greed is good" 1980s, and that made us strangely nostalgic. But, back in the day, if you bought something at Macy's that went on sale the next day, you could take the receipt back to the store for a refund of the difference between what you paid and the sale price of the item. It was a customer service thing -- remember customer service? -- a kind of perk for being a god customer with bad timing.
Sometimes it is important to closely consider whose interests are being promoted in an estate plan.
Symbolic but meaningful.
The Internal Revenue Service's position on digital currency such as Bitcoin continues to evolve. As we discussed previously, the IRS issued a decision in March to categorize Bitcoin as taxable property and not official currency. While Bitcoin essentially functions as money, no nation recognizes digital currency as legal tender, though the IRS decision means that federal income taxes and payroll taxes will apply to wages paid in Bitcoin.
Estate administration isn't only about distributing assets. The probate process can have major tax implications for heirs and beneficiaries. If a deceased loved one's estate wasn't effectively organized with the use of a will or a trust, then a probate judge's decisions could leave you with a heavy tax burden.
When we were talking about IRS audits a few weeks ago, we mentioned that audits are no longer random. The IRS has filters in place that flag tax returns that fall outside of the norm or include information that requires a closer look. One example was a return that reported $60,000 in income with $30,000 in charitable deductions. It just does not look right, so the return is flagged for review.
The average American family looks very different than it did in previous generations. Large families with a lot of kids used to be the norm, but many couples now choose to have between one and three children, and some couples decide to forego having kids altogether.
One of the disadvantages of being a celebrity is that you have no privacy. One of the disadvantages to being a celebrity living in California is that court records are much easier to come by. Divorces are not sealed, for example, except in rare situations. Reporters in California seem to have become adept at searching public records, because someone uncovered a copy of Mickey Rooney's will very soon after it was filed. Wills are always a matter of public record, but not everyone knows that -- or takes advantage of it.