Amy's Feed
Jun 1, 2012

A harsh lesson on charitable contributions

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A California entrepreneur got a harsh lesson on the rules of charitable contributions this week when the U.S. Tax Court denied his $18.5 million deduction for real estate donations —not because he inflated their values, but because he didn’t follow the rules.

You may be feeling a little schadenfreude that a member of the 1 percent got some tax comeuppance, but pay attention: It could happen to you.

Jun 1, 2012

COLUMN: A harsh lesson on charitable contributions

NEW YORK, May 31 (Reuters) – A California entrepreneur got a
harsh lesson on the rules of charitable contributions this week
when the U.S. Tax Court denied his $18.5 million deduction for
real estate donations -not because he inflated their values, but
because he didn’t follow the rules.

You may be feeling a little schadenfreude that a member of
the 1 percent got some tax comeuppance, but pay attention: It
could happen to you.

May 22, 2012

How to make old tax debts disappear

NEW YORK (Reuters) – People trying to reduce their old tax debts should not expect the “pennies on the dollar” deals promised in television advertisements of now-bankrupt tax-debt negotiation firms, but U.S. state and federal tax agencies are willing to talk.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is facing a growing backlog of requests for the “offer in compromise” tax-relief procedure for delinquent taxpayers, according to a Treasury Department report released last month.

May 4, 2012

Tax Planning for the divorcing and newly divorced

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Divorce and taxes: Two topics you’d probably rather not think about. But if you’re going through a divorce, or recently finalized one, there are going to be tax issues that crop up. After all, your financial lives have been entwined for years, and especially if you have young kids, they’re going to continue to be that way for some time.

“When I was in private practice in San Francisco, I had several divorce lawyers who would call with tax questions, and it was always, ‘I have a divorce that’s getting contentious and ugly….,’” says CBIZ MHM’s Bill Smith, managing director of the CBIZ national tax office. Beyond the ugliness, he says, “there are fundamental questions about how to write the agreement so that alimony is tax deductible, and there are a lot of issues with sales of assets that occur during a divorce.”

Apr 24, 2012

Families race to adopt before U.S. tax credit ends

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Julie and Brett Redden are in a hurry for the paperwork to go through for the 6-year-old girl they are planning to adopt from China.

It’s not just that they are impatient to start their lives with her as she joins an 11-year-old sister adopted from China two months ago. The Reddens are also playing a game of “beat the clock” so they can take advantage of a generous federal adoption tax credit.

Apr 24, 2012

COLUMN: Families race to adopt before U.S. tax credit ends

NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) – Julie and Brett Redden are in
a hurry for the paperwork to go through for the 6-year-old girl
they are planning to adopt from China.

It’s not just that they are impatient to start their lives
with her as she joins an 11-year-old sister adopted from China
two months ago. The Reddens are also playing a game of “beat the
clock” so they can take advantage of a generous federal adoption
tax credit.

Apr 16, 2012

At tax time, gold ETFs punish investors

NEW YORK, April 16 (Reuters) – Were you one of the many who
were wooed by a gold exchange-traded fund (ETF) in 2011? Did
another commodity ETF catch your eye (and your money)? Now that
it’s the season to calculate your capital gains and losses for
tax purposes, you could be in for a major headache. And if
you’re thinking of loading up on these shares now, be aware that
you could be buying yourself that tax headache for a future tax
season.

ETFs, for the most part, offer tax advantages over
traditional mutual funds because they tend not to distribute
taxable capital gains as frequently. When investors sell stock
or bond ETF shares, the resulting gains and losses are typically
straightforward to calculate. Long-term gains from a stock ETF
are taxed at a maximum rate of 15 percent, just as they would be
if they came from a mutual fund or from selling shares of
individual companies.

Apr 10, 2012

What if you can’t pay your taxes?

NEW YORK (Reuters) – It’s one of the worst tax time scenarios: You discover while doing your taxes — or you just know without even doing them —that you owe taxes, and you don’t have the cash. What should you do?

You may be tempted to ignore the problem. Don’t do it. The worst thing you can do is put off filing your return because you’re afraid of the bill. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) penalties for not filing are more punitive than the ones for not paying.

Apr 10, 2012

YOUR MONEY: What if you can’t pay your taxes?

NEW YORK, April 10 (Reuters) – It’s one of the worst tax
time scenarios: You discover while doing your taxes – or you
just know without even doing them -that you owe taxes, and you
don’t have the cash. What should you do?

You may be tempted to ignore the problem. Don’t do it. The
worst thing you can do is put off filing your return because
you’re afraid of the bill. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
penalties for not filing are more punitive than the ones for not
paying.

Apr 2, 2012

Tax breaks for underwater homeowners

NEW YORK (Reuters) – About 11 million homeowners owe more than their homes are worth, according to real estate data firm CoreLogic, and while taxes may not be the first thing they think about in deciding what to do, all the various options have tax consequences.

Until the end of this year, at least, there is a tax break for homeowners who negotiate debt reduction with their lenders.

    • About Amy

      "Amy Feldman is an award-winning journalist and writer, specializing in business and finance. She writes a twice-monthly column on taxes for Reuters. The opinions expressed are her own."
    • Follow Amy