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Charitable Income Tax Deductions: The Rockefeller Edition

March 29, 2017

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Billionaire David Rockefeller passed away this week at the age of 101.  According to Forbes magazine, during his lifetime, the well-known philanthropist gave away nearly $2 billion.

In light of this newsworthy charitable donation, we thought now would be a good time to remind everyone of some of the basic income tax deductions available for gifts to charities.

Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) governs income tax deductions for charitable contributions. In the case of an individual making a cash gift to a Section 501(c)(3) organization classified as a “public charity” (such as churches, schools, hospitals, and governmental units), the gift is deductible for federal income tax purposes so long as the aggregate gifts do not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (“AGI”) for the taxable year.

In the case of a contribution of capital gain property to a public charity, a taxpayer can only deduct

Important Information on W-2/SSN Data Theft Scam

March 28, 2017

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A dangerous email scam currently is circulating nationwide and targeting employers, including tax exempt entities, universities and schools, government and private-sector businesses. The scammer poses as an internal executive requesting employee Forms W-2 and Social Security Number information from company payroll or human resources departments. They may even send an initial “Hi, are you in today” message before the request.

The IRS has established a process that will allow employers and payroll service providers to quickly report any data losses related to the W-2 scam. See details at Form W-2/SSN Data Theft: Information for Businesses and Payroll Service Providers. If notified in time, the IRS can take steps to prevent employees from being victimized by identity thieves filing fraudulent returns in their names. There also is information about how to report receiving the scam email even if you did not fall victim.

As a reminder, tax professionals who experience

Benefactors Beware: Fake Charities Included in IRS List of Top Tax Scams for 2017

March 28, 2017

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Every year, the IRS issues its “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams list, a compilation of tactics and devices used by scam artists against taxpayers.  While the threat exists year-round, the IRS promulgates the list ahead of filing season. As susceptible taxpayers prepare their returns, they face a higher risk of being targeted.

Included in the 2017 “Dirty Dozen” list are fake charities; however, this is hardly a new occurrence. Fraudulent charities and organizations have a long-standing history of soliciting donations from unsuspecting individuals. In its 2017 report, the IRS notes three steps taxpayers should take in making charitable contributions.

One: Keep your information private. Individuals are advised against sharing their personal information, such as a Social Security Number or passwords, as this is commonly used in identity theft. The IRS reminds individuals that a legitimate charity will never ask for such information in soliciting or

IRS Notice: Conservation Easements for Charitable Giving

March 21, 2017

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In Notice 2017-10, the Internal Revenue Service recently issued guidance on syndicated conservation easement transactions presumed to be used as tax shelters. This addition to the “listed transactions” under Section 1.6011-4(b)(2) requires both participants and material advisors involved in such transactions to report their activity to the IRS. Failure to report involvement in such a transaction, or to correct previously filed returns, will subject individuals to penalty under Section 6707.

Conservation easements provide a tax deduction aimed at furthering the public good. Most often, conservation easements involve historical, endangered, or otherwise valuable property. The property is contributed to a charitable organization, encumbered by a right or restriction in the form of an easement. The easement guarantees to maintain or change the current use of the land, so that it is properly conserved.  However, like many tax deductions, conservation easements are susceptible to abuse by individuals seeking to shelter large investments

What a Difference an “H” Makes

March 13, 2017

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Late on Monday, House Republicans revealed, in two parts (here and here, with summaries here and here) the American Health Care Act (“AHCA”) that is designed to meet the Republicans’ promise to “repeal and replace” the ACA.  In many respects, the AHCA is less “repeal and replace” and more “retool and repurpose,” but there are some significant changes that could affect employers, if this bill becomes law as-is.  Below is a brief summary of the most important points:

  • Employer Mandate, We Hardly Knew You. The ACA employer play or pay mandate is repealed retroactive to January 1, 2016, so if you didn’t offer coverage to your full-time employees, then this is the equivalent of the Monopoly “Get out of Jail Free” card.
  • OTC Reimbursements Allowed from HSAs and FSAs, Without a Prescription. This goes back to the old rules that allowed these reimbursements.
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