Most of us lead hectic lives, but as part of an estate plan, it is important to take time to designate or update beneficiaries for all your assets. Notably, you should be aware that designations for retirement plans and life insurance policies supersede beneficiary dispositions in your will. Keeping that in mind, here are several practical suggestions.
Employers may provide ways to make it easier for employees to commute back and forth from work. Now the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) has equalized the three main tax-free benefits for transportation, beginning in 2016. This relates to mass transit passes, commuter highway vehicle expenses and qualified parking fees.
It is often difficult to put a price tag on a company that is not publicly traded. For instance, the value of a family-owned business will typically exceed the total value of the hard assets such as equipment and inventory. In addition, assigning a value to intangible assets such as goodwill is a difficult proposition at best.
Do you own investment real estate—say, an apartment building—that you rent out to tenants? Real estate can be a valuable and reliable source of income. Of course, the rental income is subject to tax, but the resulting tax liability may be offset by deductible expenses. In some cases, you might even qualify for a loss.
However, there is another wrinkle in the tax law. The loss may be disallowed under the passive activity loss (PAL) rules.
Paying income tax is bad enough, but insult is added to injury if you are assessed any tax penalties. There are numerous no-nos for individuals and small-business owners to avoid, but here are five of the major offenses in the tax code.