SMALL CARROTS & BIG STICKS: THE IRS’ OFFER TO IRC 831(b) CAPTIVE INSURANCE COMPANIES

15-Dec-2019

Understanding the IRS’s settlement to IRC 831(b) Captive Insurance Companies

Beckett G. Cantley

Geoffrey C. Dietrich

Cantley Dietrich, PC

This article is another in our ongoing series on Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) treatment of rogue Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 831(b) captive insurance promoters and schemes. In this article, we discuss the IRS settlement initiative released on September 16, 2019.  The IRS decided on a carrot and stick approach to resolving taxpayer issues, with a sweeter deal for the least offenders, followed by a harsh hit for those who decide not to accept the IRS offer. Understanding the IRS’s settlement to IRC 831(b) Captive Insurance Companies

The Unheeded Warnings Ring True

Consistently named an IRS “Dirty Dozen” tax rogue, certain 831(b) captive insurance company (“CIC”) transactions are repeated targets of IRS ire.  The IRS commitment to curbing abusive CIC arrangements has manifested itself through audits, investigations, and litigation. In the IRS’ view, unscrupulous promoters schemed to misuse captive insurance as a vehicle for meritless tax deductions, and typically involve money loans from the Captive, estate planning schemes, and circular flows of funds through fake reinsurance programs. Beyond those sins, these bad actors often seek to address nonsensical risks in their now-judicially decreed “non-insurance” reinsurance schemes. As we have consistently warned, Promoters sent taxpayers on a merry chase while pocketing thousands (or millions) of dollars in fees.  We are aware of over 500 cases currently docketed against 831(b) CIC transactions. It is impossible for any budgeted bureaucracy to sustain a long-standing litigation attack for such a high case load. IRS resources are not best utilized in going to trial 500-plus times on what will largely be the same issues. The IRS follows a near lockstep approach to abusive transaction litigation.  After determining forensically the extent of a problem, the IRS will determine the players and then begin to audit. Through the audit process, the IRS builds its case and cherry picks the best fact scenarios for litigation. All that remains is for the IRS to garner enough early wins to put an industry on its heels.

Early Courtroom Successes: the Szygy and Reserve Mechanical Cases

There are enough articles (written by us and others) on the Avrahami case that we do not need to re-address Avrahami.  Following their success there, the IRS sought a ruling in Reserve Mechanical Corp. v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo* 2018-86 (June 18, 2018).  There, the Tax Court held that captives must resemble real-world insurance. Reserve Mechanical followed the same promoter failures as Avrahami, especially because each policy listed PoolRe Insurance Corp. for risk-pooling stop loss insurance, administered by Capstone Associated Services, Ltd.—a well-known Captive promoter. In another blow to Captives, the Tax Court ruled Reserve was not an insurance company for lack of true risk distribution and circular cash flows. Like other cases, premiums were larger than necessary, instead of being actuarially determined. The Reserve Mechanical case laid the groundwork to establish law that risk pools had gone nuclear and the industry standard practice should be avoided as toxic. The Tax Court beat the horse dead in Syzygy Ins. Co. v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2019–34.   The Tax Court ruled that since Syzygy was not an insurance company and had no right to elect under IRC § 831(b). Therefore, premiums remitted to Syzygy were neither deductible as such or as other “ordinary and necessary expenses” under IRC § 162.  Judge Rowe beat down the “no claims filed because we were too busy” with the note that the insured entity “had claims processes for commercial policies that they did not implement for the captive program policies.” Further strikes came as the Court found the CIC asset allocations did not align with those of a regular insurance company but instead were invested in life insurance for the CIC’s ownership. Szygy rounded out with the IRS’ consistent arguments of: circular flows; not meeting the definition of insurance, and reinsurance that did not properly distribute risk.  In three consecutive cases, the IRS had wielded the ugly stick of reality and the façade of substance, purpose, and insurance failed. As we would expect, with a couple of wins under its belt—and recognizing similar fact patterns in the remaining hundreds of docketed cases—the IRS apparently felt confident enough to roll out a global settlement initiative.

Details of the Global Settlement

Why is the IRS Making the Offer? There are as many as 500 docketed 831(b) cases that the IRS must battle absent some form of settlement – an impossible number to fight.  As such, IRS offered a settlement to a significant number of taxpayers that is likely to extend in some form to nearly all 831(b) CIC abusing taxpayers. The IRS does not want to repeat the former experience when deals on offshore tax shelters were dangled and the response overwhelmed them. Who’s Invited to Accept the Offer? Beginning September 2019, some 200 audited CIC users were mailed IRS offers for deals, with response due in 30 days. The offer requires payment of 90% of CIC-derived tax deductions plus interest. They also lose deductions for captive setup and management fees. If accepted, the audited are eligible to waive the 10% penalty for first-time offenders who acted sincerely upon advice they thought was correct. It’s a safe but not wholly painless resolution. The number of cases being reviewed includes 2,000 under audit and another 10,000 in peril of IRS action. And after three wins in court, the IRS believes it now has leverage and a road map to offer a legally defensible settlement. Paring off some cases for expedited adjudication makes perfect sense given the large scope of the problem. The ultimate purpose of this initial offer is for the IRS to test the waters and tweak details to perfect their approach before launching it, en masse. Declining the Offer So what happens to those brave souls who receive an IRS offer letter who don’t accept? The outcome could be ruinous. Those choosing to fight could be taxed on the premiums multiple times, by disallowed deductions and again as income in the captive. Also, penalties of perhaps 40% on the unpaid tax. Jay Adkisson, lawyer and former chair of the American Bar Association’s committee on captive insurance companies says, “In the worst-case scenario, you could get hit with a 240% tax. I frankly don’t think anyone who gets this offer is going to reject it, and if they do, they need to find better professionals to advise them.” Finally, those who are offered this private resolution and decline will not be eligible for any potential future settlement initiative. Summing up their position, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig states, “The IRS is taking this step in the interests of sound tax administration. We encourage taxpayers under examination and their advisers to take a realistic look at their matter and carefully review the settlement offer, which we believe is the best option for them given recent court cases. We will continue to vigorously pursue these and other similar abusive transactions going forward.” Peering into the Foreseeable Future As we stated above—and have many times previously—the IRS traces a very specific path from transaction they do not like to classification of a Reportable or Listed Transaction. We are consistently astounded by the professionals who seem surprised by this revelation. The IRS does not act in secret.  Their actions are regular. As such, it is reasonable to peer into the future and describe the landscape. The IRS has three landmark 831(b) CIC wins. The facts are largely the same in those cases. Unless the marketing materials were significantly different, the facts in the remaining 500 docketed cases are likely very similar.  We have, in fact, seen many IRS audit reports, upcoming class litigation, and existing case law which bears out that assumption. The IRS has no reason to assume that they will have anything but success with the facts as laid out. Settlement is their way of lightening their load while offering the barest of concessions to the taxpayer. What is the future then? This is the point in our narrative where the guppies turn on the sharks that have fed on them.  The roll out of a settlement offer by the IRS leads to documentable losses by the individual business owners who were misled by unscrupulous promoters and some trusted advisors into a Captive.  The best case the taxpayer can expect from the IRS is to lose the tax benefit on 90% of their premiums paid.  That is the best case—and that is before penalties, interest, and more penalties. For those taxpayers, they should immediately contact the attorneys who will require reparation at the hands of the unscrupulous promoters and their cohorts. As a reminder to tax litigators, CPAs, and other concerned professionals.  Immediate care should be taken to toll the statute of limitations with advice to clients to engage competent counsel to litigate for reparations.

Overwhelmed with Small Business Tax Compliance? A Tax Specialist Can Help

31-Dec-2019

Tax advisers can help you minimize your tax liability as a small-business owner.

Any small-business owner knows that tax time can be stressful. Further, you may not fully understand the tax laws. This can leave you worrying about the legal implications if you aren’t in compliance, and make it difficult to focus on running your business. The good news is, for most small businesses, a tax attorney can advise you on compliance issues and best practices so you can think more about keeping your clients and customers happy and less about Uncle Sam. Tax advisers can help you minimize your tax liability as a small-business owner.

Employment Taxes

One of the biggest challenges for many small employers is keeping up with all the changes related to employment taxes — the money you take out of each employee’s paycheck for taxes, Social Security and more. Even if you have no major new tax laws to contend with, the government often tweaks and updates current laws, and you could quickly find that you’re out of compliance. In extreme cases, you may even be on the hook for hefty fines if you make a mistake.

Tax Deductions

Another area where a tax adviser can help is with deductions. Maximizing your deductions and other tax benefits can help you avoid paying more in taxes than you should each year, which means more profit in your pocket. Recent changes to small-business taxes from the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced corporate tax rates for many businesses, including larger corporations and smaller entities, and is something that every business owner needs to be aware of. If reading through the text of that new law doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, that’s where your tax adviser comes in. Tax advisors can make sure you’re not missing out on deductions and other benefits.

Annual Tax Changes

A small-business tax adviser can also help you with the sometimes-annual changes to tax laws that impact your business. For example, the 2017 changes to the tax law removed deductions for business entertaining expenses. If that was a big part of your tax strategy, an adviser can make recommendations on other ways to minimize your tax liability without this deduction. Or, if you offer benefits to your employees such as health insurance, retirement contributions, and paid leave, these can reduce your liability. Working with a tax adviser rather than just paying someone to prepare your taxes every year helps ensure you’re using the best strategies to run your small business, from payroll to personal estimated taxes, and you won’t be stuck with a huge bill come tax time. Call the advisers at Cantley Dietrich today to find out how we can help.

End-of-Year Tax Strategies for People with High Net Worth

06-Dec-2019

Tax planning is essential to avoid paying too much in taxes if you have a high net worth.

It’s that time of year again — no, not for holiday shopping — time for your end-of-year income tax planning. It might not be the first thing you want to do during the season, but for those with high net worth, it’s a critical time to take steps that will protect you from paying excessive taxes or missing critical deadlines to protect your wealth from Uncle Sam on tax day. Tax planning is essential to avoid paying too much in taxes if you have a high net worth.

Updates to Investment Income Taxes

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made some changes to the laws surrounding capital gains tax, so if you have a significant investment portfolio, these changes could impact you. The rates for long-term capital gains (investments held for a year or more) taxes have not changed, but there are some changes to taxable income levels. Thus, it’s a good idea to check with your investment and tax advisor if you have capital gains income from the year or if you’re considering selling short-term investments before the end of the year.

Charitable Donations

If you prefer to donate some of your wealth to help offset your tax liability (and do some good in the world), you may be aware that the amount you can donate increased with the tax cuts bill passed in 2017 that went into effect in 2018. Those increases are still in effect in 2019, which means that donations to eligible charities remain a great strategy for reducing your taxable income. There are a number of excellent means through which you can contribute charitably and receive deductions based on your personal circumstances, so your tax advisor can recommend options for individual giving, transferring wealth into charitable lead annuity trusts, or donating from your IRA (an option only available to high-net-worth individuals over the age of 70½). Some of these options will revert back to pre-change levels in the next six years, so if you are planning to donate and take advantage of tax benefits, don’t wait too long and risk missing the opportunity.

Estate Planning

Perhaps one of your strategies includes gifting part of your wealth to your heirs, and now is a great time to do that, since the gift, estate, and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions doubled last year to $11.2 million per person, and will go up with inflation. Taking advantage of the increase can generate substantial tax savings, but it’s important to discuss your plans with a knowledgeable tax advisor with experience working with high-net-worth individuals. You don’t want to end up gifting more or less of your wealth to heirs than is prudent based on your tax needs.

Other Tax Considerations

Many state taxes changed when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed, and they may have changed again in 2019, so make sure you speak to someone who can provide you with information about current rates and how they might change some of your tax-planning activities. Depending on the circumstances, business owners who receive income from a pass-through entity may be able to take advantage of the opportunity to deduct up to 20% of business income through these entities. If you own a business and haven’t formed an LLC that can help you take advantage of these additional deductions, now is the time to do so. It doesn’t apply to all businesses, so talk to your advisor if you think it might apply to you or find out if it should. Talk to the experts at Cantley Dietrich about your options for tax-planning strategies. They can help you avoid paying too much in taxes. Don’t miss critical deadlines; call today.

Many High-Net-Worth People Haven’t Taken Critical Estate-Planning Steps

01-Nov-2019

Protect your wealth by consulting an advisor who knows estate planning.

More than one-third of individuals (38%) with a net worth over $1 million haven’t taken the basic steps necessary to secure their wealth in the event something happens to them, according to a 2015 CNBC Millionaire Survey. It’s important to understand the potential negative consequences if you don’t take some basic steps to protect what you’ve earned through proper estate planning. It can be confusing and frustrating, and the laws have changed significantly over the years. For that reason, it’s important to have a trusted estate-planning advisor who can protect your wealth now from excessive taxation, but also to ensure that it’s protected after your death. Protect your wealth by consulting an advisor who knows estate planning.

Get Documents in Order

More than just tax planning, estate planning means putting important instructions and decisions in writing. Without these legally binding documents, the battle over your estate and your assets could be messy and expensive for your heirs. A last will and testament is perhaps the most important document to have, and while it can be uncomfortable to think about dying, taking steps to put your wishes in writing is essential for any high-net-worth individual. This document can also indicate a guardian and set up trusts for any minor children you have, which is essential for young families. Two additional legal documents that everyone (but especially those with high net worth) should have are medical and financial powers of attorney (POA). A medical POA gives someone the power to make decisions about your care in the event you cannot. Most people designate a spouse, but you should also name someone else in the event your spouse cannot make those decisions. A financial POA designates a person you choose to manage your finances and act on your behalf in the event you cannot.

Shielding Heirs From Taxes

Estate planning also means creating financial vehicles that can protect wealth from hefty estate taxes, such as trusts. While the current tax structure is such that a large amount of wealth can pass tax-free, it was not always so and—barring Congress making the 2017 Tax Cuts changes permanent—will not be again after 2026.  In the last ten years, the estate tax limit has been $1 million per person, to unlimited, to $5.5 million per person, to its current stop at $11.4 million per person. While these can be valuable tools, it’s important to revisit your estate plan regularly with a trusted advisor, because changes in tax laws can impact the purpose behind your trust. In some cases, you may want to reverse decisions that made financial sense when you made them, but, due to changes in the laws, they would now have higher tax implications.

The Risks of Not Planning

Proper estate planning and regular review and updating takes time and might not seem like a high priority, but failing to do so can have significant consequences for your wealth after you are gone. Without proper protections in place, your heirs’ inheritance could be at risk from an angry ex-spouse, family members left out of the will, financial predators or even from the court system. Estate planning for high-net-worth individuals is more than just hiring a financial advisor or filling out a power of attorney form you found online. For airtight legal protection, it involves a team that can include financial service professionals, accountants, attorneys and others as needed for your individual situation. Talk to the team at Cantley Dietrich today if your net worth is over $1 million and you are in the 38% of people who haven’t taken important steps to protect your wealth.

Looking Forward at Asset Protection Strategies

29-Oct-2019

Asset protection and tax planning lawyer

If you have an asset protection plan in place, a periodic review of your strategy is critical. Tax laws and economic conditions change, as do your personal circumstances, and your asset and estate plan should reflect the most current conditions. Technology and globalization have brought us to a time and place where economic conditions have begun to change more rapidly than ever before. And, as a result, reviewing and updating your asset protection strategies regularly has become even more important. Protecting your assets and preserving your wealth is typically accomplished through a combination of investment strategies, estate- and tax planning, under the advisement of an experienced tax attorney. This is the most effective way to ensure that your planning strategies keep up with the changing economic landscape. Asset protection and tax planning lawyer

The Rapidly Changing Asset Protection Landscape

One of the most intriguing changes that have emerged over the past decade is the increasing focus on social responsibility in asset management and protection, as well as in investments. Data-driven decision-making is another growing trend in investing, estate and tax planning strategies. High-level data analytics provide a more accurate snapshot into the future than we have ever had. However, as we move into 2020 and beyond, analytical insight will become as ubiquitous and reliable as technology has become. However, as no proverbial crystal ball yet exists, we must still err on the side of caution and incorporate an appropriate mix of high-, medium- and low-risk strategies into any asset, estate or tax plan.

How Will Future Economic Conditions Affect Your Assets?

Although nothing new, speculation about rising interest rates and the potential for a capital market correction should keep us on our toes as we cruise toward a new decade. Globally, political issues will directly affect economic factors worldwide. Although few prognosticators envision any catastrophic economic events, ensuring you have effective protocols in place to protect your assets has never been more important. Ensuring you have made provisions for retirement, protecting your family and preserving wealth for future generations deserves your full attention today.

Strategies for Keeping Your Asset Protection Plan Current

If you have not established an asset protection and estate plan, it’s time to get started. But, even if you do already have a comprehensive plan in place, don’t rest on your laurels for too long. Consulting with an experienced tax and estate planning lawyer can provide a solid basis from which to begin. The tax attorneys of Cantley Dietrich assist business owners and highly compensated individuals with complex estate plans, tax planning and wealth preservation. With a strong focus on compliance, we work closely with our clients to ensure that asset protection strategies adhere to governing laws and regulations. Contact us today to discuss your asset protection and estate planning with one of our industry-leading tax attorneys.

Choosing a Tax Attorney for Business Owners

04-Oct-2019

Tax lawyers for business owners

Choosing a tax attorney requires careful consideration, to ensure you select an experienced professional who can provide the level of expertise and assistance you need. If you own a small or closely held business enterprise, however, choosing the right attorney becomes even more important. The issues business owners face are complex and unlike those that affect most individual and business taxpayers. Tax lawyers for business owners

Why Do Business Owners Need a Tax Attorney?

You have invested your time, your dedication and your hard-earned money into your business. You have dreams and goals for its future success and the many benefits that will provide for you. An attorney who understands not only the legal and financial aspects of your situation but who also understands your personal connection to your business is best equipped to support you in realizing your goals. Owning a business means you must consider how best to protect and grow your assets while looking at the tax code and regulations to mitigate your tax liability. You must consider your plans and how to begin working toward them. You must also consider the implications should you die or become incapacitated. All these complex issues are best addressed with the help of an experienced legal professional, alone or in conjunction with other trusted advisors.

What Should You Look for in a Tax Lawyer?

Individual income tax advisors aren’t hard to come by. Likewise, you can find business attorneys in every city and state. Unfortunately, neither of these areas of specialization truly fits the needs of the business owner. Look for an attorney and advisor who focus their practice in income tax planning and estate planning specifically for business owners and highly compensated individuals. When your financial assets and cash flow are inextricably tied to your business, you need an attorney who has experience with these unique challenges. Depending on whether your plans involve continuing the business for future generations or developing an exit strategy, look for a tax-planning attorney who can advise you on the potential risks and rewards.

What Business Owners Should Look for in Their Tax Attorney

Once you have established the experience and qualifications of each potential tax lawyer, you must identify the right fit for you. In addition to having relevant experience, your attorney should be committed to keeping you compliant with all governing laws and regulations. You will also benefit from working with a firm that specializes in estate planning for business owners as well. This helps ensure continuity and compliance among asset protection, estate planning, and tax planning. The professional attorneys of Cantley Dietrich work with business owners and highly compensated individuals, assisting them with all matters related to estate planning, asset protection, trusts, wills, and taxation. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits that our tax attorneys can provide to business owners.

Keeping a Focus on the Purpose of Captive Insurance Co. Formation

24-Sep-2019

Captive insurance company attorneys

Captive insurance companies (CICs) face increased scrutiny by the IRS, due to what the government views as a high risk of illegal tax avoidance or evasion. As a result, promoters, managers, and entities are shying away from forming captives, even when they have a good reason to do so. 

Not all captives are created equal. When formed for the right reasons, managed conservatively, and within the constraints of the ever-evolving law related to micro-captives, they can offer many benefits and advantages. When considering a captive insurance transaction, the only reason to consider a CIC is to provide for insurances that can be proven as prohibitively expensive or difficult to obtain. 

CICs formed for any purpose other than a demonstrable insurance need should be regarded with the utmost caution.

Captive insurance company attorneys

Understanding the Reasons for Captive Insurance Companies

The U.S. government implemented laws to encourage the development of small, closely-held, for-profit insurers as a way to stimulate economic growth. Forming a CIC allows businesses to obtain the insurance coverage they might not be able to find in the commercial marketplace and to keep insurance premium costs as low as possible. 

It is important to remember that the overarching purpose of any captive is to provide insurance. The CIC can eventually make a profit and provide tax advantages to investors, but ultimately, it should serve the insurance needs of a parent company that has uninsured, uninsurable, or underinsured risk.

The Still Existing Advantages of a Captive

By providing businesses with a way to control their insurance coverage, CICs are a highly effective means for transferring risk and protecting business assets from unexpected losses. Businesses may save money on premiums and can tailor policies to cover exactly the risks they face. Captive coverages can fill in the gaps and carveouts in commercial policies, or in some cases, replace them.  Throughout the entire formation process, the business owner should work with their commercial insurance agent to ensure coverages are maintained and that the insurance purpose is followed. 

While the law provides that CICs are allowed to pass profits along to investors when the company is profitable (i.e., paid premium revenue exceeds claims liability), CICs should never operate as a piggy bank or investment vehicle or “alternative financing” entity. It is critical that a CIC be managed just like you would expect a commercial insurance company would operate.  Meaning, coverages are tailored to need, premiums match up with reality, and there is a strictly adhered to claims process—among other important operational requirements. 

The Imperatives of Captive Compliance

Many captive promoters and managers have been targeted by IRS promoter audits recently for advocating CIC transactions primarily as a tool for minimizing the investor’s tax liability and protecting assets. As a result, the IRS has—as they have with every other tax-motivated transaction—begun to impose more scrutiny as well as substantial penalties on captive insurance company owners. As we have reported in our other articles, investors who unfortunately found themselves in hot water have begun to file class-action lawsuits against promotors.

Captives are currently in hot water with the IRS over the repeated refrain that the promoter knows best how to structure the transaction. Business owners are required to understand the complex transactions they enter into. Consider that—if you were to invest in any other company in any other industry—and you were told “don’t worry” and “set it up like this so you never make a claim” or “loan your own money back to you”—you would never agree to something that sounds like a sham. In a similar manner, do not agree to a CIC transaction that does not pass the smell test. 

Creating a captive that is — and remains — compliant is critical. However, as the rules and regulations governing CICs are in a constant state of flux, this requires input from a tax attorney who is highly knowledgeable in this complex field.  

Cantley Dietrich  is recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts in captive insurance compliance matters. If you have questions regarding the operations of your captive insurance company, are a concerned advisor, or have concerns about any other transaction you have entered into, we assist our clients in ensuring they’re operating well within the constraints of governing laws. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a consultation.

Using 1031 Exchanges in Estate Planning

06-Sep-2019

Complex estate planning and tax attorneys

For purposes of complex estate planning and wealth preservation, a 1031 tax-deferred exchange can provide an effective means of deferring the recognition of — and, hence, the tax liability for — capital gains on the sale of property held for income or investment. The structure of a tax-deferred exchange makes it uniquely useful in estate planning, particularly in light of the increased estate tax exemption created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. When a tax-deferred exchange is structured correctly, you may be able to successfully defer capital gains tax liability indefinitely and potentially eliminate it. Complex estate planning and tax attorneys

How Do 1031 Tax-Deferred Exchanges Work?

Section 1031 establishes the basis for a tax-deferred property exchange. Upon the sale of real property held for income or investment, you must immediately reinvest your gains into another property of like kind, which must be of equal or greater value than that of the relinquished property. The parameters of this program require that you never take possession of the gains — otherwise you become liable for taxes. To facilitate this aspect of the transaction, you must have the sale proceeds deposited directly into an IRS-approved safe harbor. This can be a qualified intermediary (QI), a qualified escrow account or some types of trusts.

How 1031 Exchanges Can Benefit Estate Planning

You can legally continue to defer the recognition of capital gains indefinitely this way, either by holding the exchanged property or making subsequent exchange transactions. Should you elect to pass a 1031 exchange property to an heir or designee upon your death, they receive the property at stepped-up basis value with no recognition of appreciation. In other words, they will not be subject to capital gains tax upon the sale of said property. Your tax attorney can advise you as to how any tax liability may affect your heirs, but with the increased estate tax exemption included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the exemption for a single person is $11 million, and for a married couple, $22 million.

When Should You Consider a 1031 Exchange?

If you have unused capital in an income or investment property, consult your tax attorney or investment advisor about the potential benefits of a selling the property in a 1031 exchange transaction. Although this strategy is not appropriate for everyone, your estate planning lawyer can help you explore the potential of how an exchange could benefit you. It is important to note that the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made several significant changes to Section 1031. Most notably, personal property is no longer eligible for deferral. In addition, licenses, franchise agreements, distribution rights, antiques, artwork and collectible items are now exempt also. However, the Act did implement a new, short-term deferred exchange program known as Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF) investing. QOF funds offer several substantial benefits in terms of reducing and potentially eliminating capital gains tax liability on certain types of investments. The program ends soon, so it may be worth having a conversation with a tax attorney ASAP. To determine whether a 1031 or another type of tax-deferred property exchange might be appropriate in the context of your estate plan, contact one of the tax attorneys of Cantley Dietrich today.

What Business Owners Need from Their Tax Attorney

27-Aug-2019

Tax attorney for business owners

As a business owner, you understand the importance of expert legal representation for your company, particularly as it concerns taxation and compliance. But do you take the same level of care with your personal financial matters? As complex as corporate taxation issues can be, business owners and highly compensated individuals face their own risks and liability issues. For that reason, you want a personal tax attorney who can capably deliver the diverse suite of services you need. Finding a lawyer with a solid grasp on laws and issues regarding taxation is imperative. However, you must ensure that your tax attorney is truly committed to getting and keeping you compliant with the IRS and applicable state taxation entities. Tax attorney for business owners

In-Depth Knowledge of Complex Subject Matter

With somewhere in the range of 7.7 million words of tax law and approximately 60,000 pages of case law related to tax matters, the complexity of the federal tax regulations alone is mind-boggling. Despite this overwhelming level of complexity, business owners look to their tax lawyer to know and understand the laws and regulations as they apply to their situation. In addition, lawyers must have an equally strong grasp on state-specific taxation matters.

An Up-to-Date Handle on Recent Tax Changes

The federal tax code changes every year in dozens (sometimes hundreds) of ways. Some of these changes are high-profile and substantive. However, others are more subtle and unheralded — but critical to understand, nevertheless. Business owners need their tax attorney to be aware of every change and update, no matter how inconsequential they may seem. Otherwise, you won’t be able to adequately plan for the future. You could miss out on tax savings to which you’re entitled, or worse, find yourself in trouble with the IRS, facing penalties, interest and even the potential for legal action.

Commitment to Compliance

In the process of tax planning, complex estate planning, asset protection and related matters, compliance is non-negotiable. Failing to remain in compliance with federal and state taxation laws and regulations inevitably leads to both financial and legal liability. Non-compliance triggers audits, fines, compounding interest and the potential for criminal prosecution, not to mention the time required to answer to the IRS. Business owners need a tax attorney who is committed to keeping them compliant. The highly experienced team at Cantley Dietrich assists business owners and highly compensated individuals with tax-related matters, including tax planning and estate planning. Our focus on asset protection assists our clients in minimizing their tax liability within the confines of applicable laws and regulations. If you are a business owner, particularly a small to medium-sized, closely held business, you need a tax lawyer who understands the unique challenges you face on a personal level. Contact one of our offices today to schedule your personal consultation with one of our knowledgeable, experienced tax attorneys.

Using Buy-Sell Agreements for Business Continuity

30-Jul-2019

Asset protection lawyers

If you have business partners, planning for business continuity is essential to ensure that operations continue uninterrupted, should something unexpected happen to one of the partners. A business buy-sell agreement is one way to accomplish this imperative, especially if the company is closely held. The reasons you should plan for such a contingency are logical and sound. However, if you have not implemented a continuity plan, negotiating the terms under which partners may exercise their rights to buy out one another can become a source of tension. Using the services of an asset- and tax-planning lawyer can ease those tensions and help business partners achieve a meeting of the minds. Asset protection lawyers

Why Businesses Need Buy-Sell Agreements in Place

Planning for unexpected events helps keep your business running smoothly, no matter what happens. Death or incapacitation of a partner is only one of the potential issues that could arise and derail your operations. A contentious divorce could cause problems, especially if the spouse attempts to legally obtain a partner’s assets. Legal action against a partner could also put that individual’s ownership share at risk of outside interference. Personal creditors and even the IRS could introduce complications that put you and other partners legally and financially at risk. With a buy-sell agreement in place, any such occurrences, known as triggering events, give the other partner(s) the right to buy out the beleaguered partner’s ownership interest. Consequently, the business is taken out of harm’s way, maintaining continuity.

Understanding Buy-Sell Agreements

Buy-sell agreements are essentially a type of legal contract that defines the terms under which one partner’s business interest can be — or must be — purchased by other partner(s). In many cases, business owners struggle to determine how a given partner’s ownership share will be valued at the time a buyout becomes reality. Other key details that should be included are specifics about triggering events, how much (if any) input from heirs and designees will be involved and whether the buyout will be perfected by the remaining partners or by the entity itself. Once the business owners have agreed on the terms of the contract, however, each partner must ensure that they have the financial capacity to fulfill their obligations, should a triggering event take place — often this can be accomplished with insurance or other financial products. Financial capacity of the partners is critical when more than two partners are involved.

Implementing Buy-Sell Agreements

If you do business with one or more partners who are actively involved in the daily operations and decision-making of the company, you need to have contingencies in place for unexpected events. If you have not implemented a succession or business continuity plan, talking to a tax attorney is imperative. At Cantley Dietrich, we specialize in helping closely held business owners protect what they have worked so hard to build. Our team provides assistance with income tax planning, complex estate planning and asset protection. Contact us today to learn more about buy-sell agreements, succession planning and business continuity.