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BGBC: Understand how the new tax law affects you

January 30, 2013
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Indiana Lawyer Commentary

By Howard I Gross, Steven W. Reed, Erika M. Gowan and Casey L. Higgs

As an attorney, your life is probably hectic with the many federal and state law changes that come your way on a daily basis. On Jan. 2, 2013, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The Act extends certain tax rates, tax credits and other provisions previously enacted by other tax legislation which were generally scheduled to expire after 2012.

We’ve compiled some key takeaways from the Act so you have a better understanding of how it affects your clients and you.

The major individual tax provisions are as follows:

• The income tax rate increases to 39.6 percent (up from 35 percent) for individuals making more than $400,000 a year ($450,000 for joint filers; $425,000 for heads of household);

• The two-percentage-point reduction in payroll taxes for Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance tax, commonly known as the Social Security tax, will be allowed to expire;

• The higher exemption amounts for alternative minimum tax — the so-called “patch” — are made permanent, resulting in an estimated 30 million taxpayers escaping being subject to the AMT;

• Dividends and capital gains are taxed at 20 percent (up from 15 percent) for individuals making at least $400,000 ($450,000 for joint returns);

• The Personal Exemption Phase-Out, which had previously been suspended, is reinstated with a starting threshold of $300,000 for joint filers and a surviving spouse, $275,000 for heads of household, $250,000 for single filers and $150,000 for married taxpayers filing separately. Under the phase-out, the total amount of exemptions that can be claimed by a taxpayer subject to the limitation is reduced by 2 percent for each $2,500 (or portion thereof) by which the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income exceeds the applicable threshold;

• The limitation on itemized deductions, which had previously been suspended, is reinstated with a threshold of $300,000 for joint filers and a surviving spouse, $275,000 for heads of household, $250,000 for single filers, and $150,000 (one-half of the otherwise applicable amount for joint filers) for married taxpayers filing separately. Thus, for taxpayers subject to the “Pease” limitation, the total amount of their itemized deductions is reduced by 3 percent of the amount by which the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income exceeds the threshold amount, with the reduction not to exceed 80 percent of the otherwise allowable itemized deductions;

• For estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax purposes, for individuals dying and gifts made after 2012, there is a $5 million exemption (adjusted for inflation), and the top estate, gift and GST rate is permanently increased from 35 percent to 40 percent; and

• A number of individual tax provisions have been retroactively extended through 2013. In addition, there is a five-year extension of credits that were enhanced as part of the stimulus, including the college tuition credit, the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit.

The major business tax provisions are as follows:

• Tax credits for businesses, including the research credit and the domestic production activities deduction, are generally extended through the end of 2013;

• The increased expensing limitations and treatment of certain real property as Code Sec. 179 property is retroactively extended by the Act through Dec. 31, 2013. The 2012 and 2013 maximum deduction is $500,000 with a phase-out starting at $2 million total asset purchases;

• The 15-year straight-line cost recovery period for qualified leasehold improvements was retroactively extended for 2012 and 2013. This includes improvements for qualified leasehold improvements, restaurant and retail improvements, and new buildings established by Dec. 31, 2013;

• The Act also extends and modifies the bonus depreciation provisions with respect to property placed in service after Dec. 31, 2012. For 2012 and 2013, bonus depreciation will be 50 percent of qualified asset acquisition costs for new, not used, assets;

• The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is extended for 2012 and 2013. This allows businesses a credit equal to 40 percent of the first $6,000 in wages paid to qualified new hires; and

• The New Markets Tax Credit is extended for 2012 and 2013. This allows businesses a credit of up to 39 percent of investments in low-income communities. The credit is spread over seven years with a cap of $3.5 billion each year.

Considering the above tax changes, anticipated additional tax law changes in 2013, and the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, 2013 is shaping up to be a year that proper tax planning should be a priority and can have a significant impact on how much you pay to the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Not knowing the tax rules and not planning ahead can be very detrimental to you. The time to act is now.•

__________

Howard I Gross, CPA/ABV/CFF, CFP; Steven W. Reed, CPA/ABV; Erika M. Gowan, CPA/CFF, CFE; and Casey L. Higgs, CPA/CFF, CFE, CVA are with BGBC Partners, LLP – Litigation, Forensic and Business Valuation. Contact BGBC at 317-633-4700 or visit www.bgbc.com. The opinions expressed are those of the authors.

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  1. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

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  5. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

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