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IBA: Tax time is closer than you think — are you prepared?

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December 31st is right around the corner, and with it comes important considerations for year-end tax planning. Special breaks are still available for 2012, and taking action before December 31 could reduce taxes for 2013 and beyond. Plus, planning now for tomorrow’s tax changes could have a significant impact on your —a nd your clients’ — bottom line.

Get important tips and information on action to take before the end of the year and discover what new tax regulations may be on the horizon, including changes in tax rates, accelerated depreciation, and estate valuation, when the IndyBar hosts Bill Owen, Director of Tax Services at BGBC, on Thursday, November 29 for “Year End Tax Planning Tips for Solo/Small Firm Businesses for 2012 and Beyond.” This program, which includes 2.0 general CLE credits, will be held at the IndyBar Education Center from 3 to 5 p.m. Registration and additional information is available online at www.indybar.org.

In advance of the program, Owen shared with the IndyBar two items that every legal practice and small business should consider between now and the end of the year:

“First, if they are planning on making a significant investment in new equipment in the near future, consider doing so before December 31, 2012. The reason is that currently we have ‘50% Bonus Depreciation’ for any new equipment purchased and placed into service during 2012. That means that 50% of the cost of that equipment can be written off in 2012, and the balance can either be expensed under IRC Sec. 179, or depreciated over its normal depreciable life.

For example, if there is $250,000 of new equipment purchased that has a five year depreciable life, the first $125,000 would be expensed as Bonus Depreciation. The $125,000 balance could either be expensed under Section 179 or depreciated with 20% being depreciation expense for the first year. That means the $250,000 purchase could result in a 2012 depreciation deduction of between $150,000 including regular depreciation and $250,000 if Section 179 is elected.

In 2013, under current law, bonus depreciation goes away and Section 179 drops to $25,000. So acting in 2012 can result in a significant acceleration of deductions for new equipment purchases. However, the equipment must not only be purchased, but also placed in service to be eligible for the current deductions.

Second, everyone should do some income tax planning that looks at both 2012 and 2013. In 2013, the top ordinary income tax rate will climb from 35% in 2012 to 39.6% in 2013. In addition, there will be a .9% Health Insurance Surtax on earned income in 2013 and a 3.8% Medicare Surtax on investment income for those with Adjusted Gross Income above $250,000. That means in 2013, those in the upper income tax brackets could be paying as much as 43.4% on investment income and as much as 40.5% for earned income…and that is just for federal income taxes! This may be a time to consider accelerating income into 2012 to reduce the overall income tax exposure for the combined tax years of 2012 and 2013.”

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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