JK lassers new rules for estate, retirement, and tax planning
Table of Contents Cover Acknowledgments J. Winston Busby, Esq., LLM Stewart Welch III, Accredited Estate Planner, Certified Financial Planner® Introduction CHAPTER 1: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 Ordinary Income Tax Rates Capital Gains Tax Rates and Qualified Dividends Educational Provisions Business and Corporate Tax Relief Estate, Gift, and Generation Skipping Transfers Dangers of Relying on Portability Limitations on Deductions CHAPTER 2: Estate Planning What Is Estate Planning? The Benefits of Estate Planning The Nightmares of Poor Planning The Myths of Estate Planning Guidelines for Successful Estate Planning
CHAPTER 3: The Estate Tax System Determining Your Estate Net Worth Your Estate Tax Picture Your Future Estate Overview of Estate Planning Strategies CHAPTER 4: Investment Strategies for Maximizing Estate Growth Growth Strategy with a Safety Net® Prioritizing Your Investment Dollars Retirement Planning: Choosing the Best Investment Environments Roth Conversions Some Final Thoughts on Investing CHAPTER 5: Retirement Planning: Living Your Dream Your Retirement Requirements Best Retirement Strategies
Reverse Mortgages Social Security Strategies Customizing Your Health Care Plan CHAPTER 6: You Don't Have a Will? Big Trouble! Property Transfers at Death Transfers via Probate Direct Transfers by Title Other Methods of Property Ownership Choosing the Best Methods of Ownership Setting Estate Planning Goals CHAPTER 7: Where There's a Will, There's Your Way! What Is a Will? Types of Wills Advantages and Disadvantages of Wills Intelligent Decisions Concerning Your Will's Basic Provisions Executing Your Will Where to Store Your Will Other Important Documents Working with Your Attorney When to Review Your Estate Plan CHAPTER 8: Using Trusts in Your Estate Plan The Credit Shelter Trust Will Disclaimers Marital Trusts
Spendthrift Trust Standby Trust Other Trusts CHAPTER 9: Understanding the Living Trust Advantages of Living Trusts Disadvantages of Living Trusts How a Living Trust Operates Transferring Property into Your Living Trust Types of Property Likely to Be Transferred Living Trust Myths Transacting Business with Your Trust
CHAPTER 10: Using Insurance in Your Estate Plan Life Insurance Using Life Insurance to Replace Income How Much Life Insurance Do You Need? What Type of Life Insurance Is Best for You? Insurance on a Homemaker Insurance on Adult Children How to Get the Best Deal on Term Life Insurance What Type of Life Insurance Is Best for Estate Liquidity? The Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust Getting Your Life Insurance into Your Trust Using Life Insurance to Leverage Your Estate About Your Cash Values CHAPTER 11: Smart Strategies for Gifting Assets to Family Members The Annual Gift Tax Exclusion Unintended Gifts Filing a Gift Tax Return The Lifetime Applicable Exclusion Amount Outright Gifts When the Donee Is a Minor Other Tax Free Gifts Family Gifts Utilizing Trusts Grantor Retained Annuity Trust Grantor Retained Unitrust Qualified Personal Residence Trust Taking Advantage of Generation Skipping Transfers Sales to Family Members Loans to Family Members Sales to Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts The Legacy Trust CHAPTER 12: Strategic Planning with Charities Outright Gifts to Charities Testamentary Gifts to Charities Gifts Using Charitable Trusts Using Your Charitable Trust for Retirement Planning
The Private Foundation CHAPTER 13: Family Limited Partnerships General Structure of the Family Limited Partnership Family Limited Partnership Rules CHAPTER 14: Succession Planning for the Family Business or Farm Special Estate Tax Benefits for Farmers and Closely Held Business Owners Valuing Your Business or Farm Succession or Sale? Succession Planning: Keeping the Family Business in the Family Maximizing Your Business's Value through a Sale Structuring Your Buy Sell Agreement Types of Buy Sell Agreements Funding the Buy Sell Agreement One Final Strategy—The Employee Stock Ownership Plan CHAPTER 15: Asset Protection Strategies The Concept of Fraudulent Transfers A Word about Jointly Held Property Retirement Plans Life Insurance Using Trusts to Protect Assets Using Limited Liability Entities to Protect Assets Use of Multiple Limited Liability Entities Foreign Asset Protection Trusts Domestic Asset Protection Trusts CHAPTER 16: Personal Business Planning Issues Choosing the Right Entity for Your Business Closing Thoughts Importance of a Business Plan EPILOGUE: Dealing with Parents and Their Money APPENDIX A: Professional Advisers APPENDIX B: Estate Planning Terms APPENDIX C: IRS Life Expectancy Table About the Authors Stewart H. Welch, III, AEP®, CFP® J. Winston Busby
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List of Tables Chapter 1 TABLE 1.1 Schedule of Individual Income Tax Rates TABLE 1.2 2018 Tax Relief Act Applicable Exclusion Amount Chapter 3 TABLE 3.1 Applicable Federal Gift and Estate Tax Exemption Amounts TABLE 3.2 Federal Gift and Estate Tax Rate Table (Tentative Tax) TABLE 3.3 Applicable Federal Gift and Estate Tax Credit and Exclusion Amounts ... TABLE 3.4 The Future Value of Your Estate Chapter 4 TABLE 4.1 Initial Safety Net TABLE 4.2 Growth Strategy with a Safety Net® TABLE 4.3 Retirement Portfolio Equity (Stock) Allocation Guidelines Based on ... TABLE 4.4 The Power of Retirement Plan Investing TABLE 4.5 Phase Out of Deductibility of Traditional IRA and Roth IRA Contribu... Chapter 5 TABLE 5.1 Social Security Benefits Estimate (2018 estimate) TABLE 5.2 Social Security Benefits Based on Claiming Age Chapter 10 TABLE 10.1 $1 Million Term Life Insurance for Male, Age 50 TABLE 10.2 $1 Million Life Insurance Premium Comparison for Male, Age 50 ... Chapter 11 TABLE 11.1 Applicable Exclusion Amount Increases (2005–2018) TABLE 11.2 Benefits Comparison of GRAT versus GRUT Chapter 12 TABLE 12.1 Survivorship Life Insurance
List of Illustrations Chapter 4 Figure 4.1 Growth Strategy with a Safety Net® Chapter 8 Figure 8.1 Simple Will Figure 8.2 Credit Shelter Trust Will Figure 8.3 Simple Will with Disclaimer Credit Shelter Trust Option Figure 8.4 Two Trust Will Utilizing a General Power of Appointment Trust and a ... Figure 8.5 Two Trust Will Utilizing a QTIP Trust and a Credit Shelter Trust... Chapter 10 Figure 10.1 Millhouse Estate Plan without Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust Figure 10.2 Millhouse Estate Plan with Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust
Look for these and other titles from J.K. LasserTM—Practical Guides for All Your Financial Needs J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes by Barbara Weltman J.K. Lasser's 1001 Deductions and Tax Breaks by Barbara Weltman J.K. Lasser's Your Income Tax J.K. Lasser's Your Income Tax (Professional Edition)
NEW RULES FOR ESTATE, RETIREMENT, AND TAX PLANNING Sixth Edition
Stewart H. Welch III, AEP®, CFP® J. Winston Busby, ESQ., LLM
Acknowledgments J. Winston Busby, Esq., LLM I would like to thank my wife, Casey Busby, and my daughter, Frances, who was born shortly after the release of the previous edition. Both were very understanding, especially Casey, who juggled her career, Frances, and my absence so I could work on this book. I thank you both. I am extremely grateful and humbled each day by the chance to learn from and work with all of the attorneys at Sirote and Permutt and especially the other members of the Private Clients, Trusts & Estates Group, including Harold Apolinsky, John Baggette, Katherine Barr, Clay Garrett, Wes Hill, Elizabeth Hutchins, Shirley Justice, Leigh Kaylor, Melinda Mathews, Howard Neiswender, Tanya Shunnara, Craig Stephens, and Peter Wright. I would also like to sincerely thank Stewart Welch III for the opportunity to once again serve as a coauthor with him. Additionally, I would like to thank Harold Apolinsky and Craig Stephens, each coauthors of previous editions of this book, for graciously allowing me the opportunity to join this project for the previous edition and to continue their earlier work with this edition. Completing this project would not have been possible without the tireless work of my assistant, Reva Kirk. I am extremely grateful to Alex Sidwell and Nathan Stotser for their assistance during the early stages of writing this edition. Finally, I could not have completed this project without the work and dedication of Alex Sidwell, who served as a research and editing assistant throughout the project.
Stewart Welch III, Accredited Estate Planner, Certified Financial Planner® This book would have never happened without the help and moral support from many people. First and foremost, I want to thank my coauthor, Winston Busby. Winston is an extremely gifted lawyer and has been a pleasure to work with on this project. He has always made himself available when I had highly technical questions…questions to which he simply knew the answers because he's that smart! Winston's partner, and a senior partner at his firm, Harold Apolinsky, coauthored several previous versions of this book. Harold is a brilliant lawyer and true Southern gentleman. As most of you are aware, insurance can be a very confusing product to understand. Babs Hart, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, specializes in long term care insurance, and her input regarding that section of the text was invaluable. She also provided technical research regarding the life insurance products discussed in this book.
James (Jimbo) A. King III is co owner of McGowan & King in Birmingham, Alabama; Jimbo specializes in reverse mortgage lending. He is the man I turn to when I have questions about reverse mortgages. I also want to thank John West, CPA, a partner with the accounting firm of RSM US LLP, in Birmingham, Alabama. Whenever I get stuck on a complex tax question or calculation, John is the person I turn to for quick, accurate answers. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by a group of highly talented professional advisers who each helped me with research for this book project. Greg Weyandt, MPA, CPA, is a member (partner) of our firm and the chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and chief compliance officer. Greg runs the day to day operations with near flawless precision, which allowed me to concentrate on this project. Hugh Smith, CPA, CFP, CFA, is a member at The Welch Group and the chief investment officer and is one the brightest tax, market analyst, and financial planning experts I know. Michael Wagner, CPA, CFP, and Kimberly Reynolds, MS, CFP, are members at The Welch Group and are among the most all around talented advisers in the field of financial planning. They each provided technical assistance with this book. Senior Financial Advisers Foster Hyde, MS, CFP and Beth Moody, MS, CFP are rising stars at our firm and not only help prepare, but also help run our client meetings. They are assisted by a highly talented group of young advisers, including Maggie Elliott, MS, CFP, Adviser; Matt Savela, CPA, Adviser; and Brett Norris, CFP, Associate Adviser. Our Welch Investments Division of The Welch Group, LLC is run by two members, Woodard Peay, CFP, MBA, and Marshall Clay, Esq., CFP. Woodard is a seasoned professional in financial planning who also knows what it takes to run a successful business. Marshall graduated from West Point Academy, served our country as a commissioned officer for seven years, then graduated from Cumberland Law School before joining us. Rounding out their team is Callie Jowers, CFP, Adviser; and Reagan White, Associate Adviser. Callie graduated magna cum laude in Family Financial Planning & Counseling from the University of Alabama. Reagan also attended the University of Alabama, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance. Our adviser team is supported by an incredible administrative team that includes Roxie Jones, Ramona Boehm, Wendy Weber, Jeff Davenport, Kelly DeRoy, Andrea Messick, Lauren Wright, and Brent Gillis, CIC. Writing a book revision and meeting promised deadlines is as time consuming as it is intellectually stimulating, and the price charged is often paid by family members. I offer a special thanks to my wife, Kathie, for her patience related to this and my many other endeavors. I also have two wonderful sisters, Jean Watson and Babs Hart, who have always been cheerleaders for all my endeavors. Perhaps the single most influential person in my life has been my father, Stewart H. Welch Jr., who passed away one week before his 99th birthday. He served as a living testament of the true meaning of a life of service to others. He was truly a remarkable person!
There is no way to express how grateful I am for the wonderful clients I have the pleasure of serving. Each, in their own way, has contributed to my own learning and therefore to this book. Winston and I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the prestigious publishing house of John Wiley & Sons, Inc., a traditional “blueblood” firm whose roots can be traced back to 1807. We could not mention John Wiley & Sons, Inc., without thanking “our Wiley teammate”: Executive Editor Sheck Cho.
Introduction Much of the world we find ourselves in today is defined by chaos, complexity, and a constant state of change. The IRS tax code and accompanying regulations currently runs about 40,000 pages! And then there are our elected representatives in Congress who feel it's their mandate to constantly change laws and regulations. The financial markets today are complex and, in many ways, globally intertwined, making it impossible to predict how events in one part of the world may affect markets in other parts of the world. It's no wonder that so many people simply throw their hands up and focus on trying to pay their bills rather than planning for long term events like estate, retirement, and tax planning. I own a fee only investment management and financial advisory firm serving clients throughout the United States. Winston Busby is a highly intelligent and resourceful estate planning attorney with one of Alabama's largest and most prestigious law firms. Together, our combined experience helping families plan their financial futures exceeds 50 years. We have had the opportunity to work with many affluent individuals and families throughout the United States. The common characteristic that we find among them is that they take pride in both their financial success and in their ability to handle their finances. This book was not written just for the affluent but also for the many people who want to become affluent. What does it take? Although you may already have accumulated a sizable estate and feel comfortable handling your investments, chances are there's a lot more you could do in the area of estate, retirement, and tax planning. Tax laws change, creating new opportunities and challenges regarding wealth accumulation and estate planning. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is the most significant tax legislation since the Reagan Administration. This is the reason we wrote this book. The purpose of J.K. Lasser's New Rules for Estate, Retirement, and Tax Planning, Sixth Edition, is to make certain that you have taken steps to make sure your finances are in order and that you have a specific strategy in place. Whether you are a wealthy Baby Boomer (or not so wealthy) or a Millennial (or a generation in between) who just wants to know the basics of writing a will, how much you should be saving for retirement, or how best to cut your income taxes, this book offers valuable strategies you can use today and in the future. As you read this book, we encourage you to keep your parents' situation in mind because some of the more advanced strategies may be more appropriate for them than for yourself. You may want to share the ideas in this book with them or, better yet, buy them their own copy. After all, you should all share the goal of maximizing the amount of money that you can transfer to your heirs and charitable organizations. The book begins with an overview of the most important aspects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. You will be able to use this chapter as a reference tool for reviewing significant estate and income tax laws affecting you. Next, you will need to assess the adequacy of your current estate plan. What is the value of your total estate? You will learn how to determine your estate net worth. This is vital
because knowing its value will let you define the resources available to your family to provide for their income needs should you die pre maturely. You will also be able to determine approximately how much in estate taxes your heirs might owe. It is also important to assess whether you are on track toward retirement—are you accumulating enough investment assets to provide you with a worry free retirement? Studies indicate that the average working American is saving less than one third of what he or she needs to have enough assets to maintain the same lifestyle during retirement. In some cases, this shortfall will be made up from inheritances. If you find out that you're lagging behind, this book will help you figure out how much you need to be investing to get on track, and you'll learn how to devise an appropriate investment plan. Whether you are a pre retiree (planning to retire within 10 years), already retired, or retirement is decades away, we outline the very best strategies for you to use to create your best retirement possible. Another key aspect of estate planning is, of course, having a will. Research indicates that as many as 80 percent of adult Americans either don't have a will or their will is out of date. If you fall into this group, you should stop procrastinating. It really does matter if you die without a will! We'll outline the perils of dying without one. The resulting chaos will surprise you. You'll learn how to prepare yourself so that you can minimize the time and expense of working with an attorney. The use of trusts is a vital part of most estate plans. You can use them to protect your children from themselves, to protect you from possible future creditors, or to save on income and estate taxes. These are powerful weapons in the war to protect your assets for yourself as well as future heirs. It is our experience that many people carry large amounts of life insurance, including their employer's group life. Utilizing some type of trust is often an invaluable estate planning tool. You'll learn about the irrevocable life insurance trust, living trust, and other types of trusts. Be sure to read the section about the Legacy Trust: a concept you can use to create a financial safety net for future generations of family members (made famous by the Rockefellers and Kennedys). Many of you face the difficult task of funding your children's education. You'll learn how to effectively use qualified tuition plans and education individual retirement accounts as well as custodial accounts and minors' trusts. You'll also learn about how grandparents can be willing partners in assisting with your children's educational expenses. If you are interested in providing financial support to a religious organization, an educational institution, or a favorite charity, you'll gain insights on the best ways to maximize the effectiveness of your donations. Often, gifts to tax exempt organizations can solve a financial dilemma such as how to convert low basis non income producing property into income producing property while avoiding a large tax bill. Once you have accumulated enough assets for your retirement years, you may want to shift your focus to transfer strategies for your children and other heirs. We'll outline strategies that will allow you to transfer to heirs significant wealth at a fraction of its market value while maintaining control of your property.
People who own a family business or farm often face a perilous future; this is especially worrisome because many of these individuals desperately want to ensure that the business or farm remains in the family so that it can be continued by future generations of family members. Obstacles to this goal include estate taxes and lack of liquidity. The solution is a well developed transition plan, which is also fully explained in this book. In today's litigious society, many people fear the threat of a lawsuit that will result in financial ruin. Feeling helpless, we may cross our fingers and hope it does not happen to us. A preferable approach is to be proactive. If you consider yourself a likely target, you can do many things to protect your assets. Some solutions are as simple as transferring assets to a spouse who is less at risk. Other solutions include the use of trusts, family limited partnerships, and even more exotic options such as domestic or foreign asset protection trusts. For entrepreneurs, we extensively review the pros and cons of the various entity choices you have for operating your business. As you develop and implement your estate, retirement, and tax plan, you'll almost certainly need the assistance of a qualified professional. Finding the right person, someone who is truly qualified, can be a daunting task. It is one of the reasons many people fail to plan at all. To help support you with this process, your coauthors will gladly help you find an adviser to assist you with your needs (Appendix A). In Appendix A we also offer tips on how to get the most out of your advisers while minimizing their fees. Because the world around us is constantly changing and we want you to stay on top of these changes, we maintain a Web link with updates of important changes related to the content of this book as well as other topics we believe would be of concern to you. You can access this resource by visiting the Resource Center at www.welchgroup.com; click on “Links,” then “ESTATE BOOK UPDATES.” As Americans, our limitations are constrained only by our own imagination, our willingness to take time to develop appropriate strategies, and the self discipline to execute our game plan. Picking up this book is an essential first step. Carefully reading it and implementing the strategies most appropriate to your situation will enable you to take a giant leap toward taking charge of your financial destiny. May God smile on your journey. Stewart H. Welch III, CFP® Accredited Estate Planner
CHAPTER 1 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 President Trump signed new tax legislation on December 19, 2017, that will significantly impact many Americans. The title of the new law was intended to be the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. However, due to certain procedures involved in passing the new law, the short title was removed and the official title is “To provide for reconciliation pursuant to title II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018.” Despite the issues surrounding the name, the new tax law is commonly known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and will be referred to in this book as the TCJA. The TCJA sets forth the most extensive changes to the tax law in more than 30 years, although many of the provisions are set to expire after 2025. The TCJA significantly impacted both individual and corporate taxpayers. Individual tax rates were reduced, and individual deductions were modified. Taxpayers operating businesses through flow through entities, such as LLCs, S corporations, or sole proprietorships, received a favorable new deduction for certain types of income. The TCJA reduced corporate tax rates for corporations taxed as C corporations. In the estate and gift tax arena, the TCJA doubled the amount of wealth that may pass tax free to nonspouse, noncharitable beneficiaries. Although the TCJA made changes to many areas of the tax law, not all the provisions of the TCJA are permanent. Most provisions took effect on January 1, 2018. The TCJA included a sunset provision stating that many provisions will expire after 2025. For instance, the TCJA created provisions regarding individual tax reform that extend through 2025. However, the changes to business reform measures are generally permanent. Taxpayers should become familiar with an overview of the TCJA and its effect on income tax provisions, business tax provisions, and estate and gift tax provisions.
Ordinary Income Tax Rates The TCJA effectively changed individual income tax rates from 2018 to 2025 for all Americans other than those under the 10 percent tax bracket. The TCJA shifted the marginal tax rates for Americans making more than $9,525. The marginal tax rates for middle class Americans are subject to a progressive rate structure as income increases. The ordinary income tax rates under the new law are: 10 percent, 12 percent, 22 percent, 24 percent, 32 percent, 35 percent, and 37 percent. However, the TCJA dramatically altered the income brackets to which the tax rates are applied. For example, the marginal tax rate of 35 percent, which previously encompassed $424,950– $426,700, now encompasses an income bracket of $200,000–$500,000. See Table 1.1 for a complete review of the schedule for joint and single tax filers for 2018. The marginal brackets are indexed for inflation and set to increase beginning in 2018.
TABLE 1.1 Schedule of Individual Income Tax Rates Single Filers 2018 10%
Capital Gains Tax Rates and Qualified Dividends The TCJA maintained the favorable maximum capital gains rates of 15 percent for all Americans making less than $425,000 ($479,000 for married filing jointly), indexed for inflation. For wealthier Americans, the maximum capital gains rate will be 20 percent. Similarly, the 15 percent rate on qualified dividends will apply to taxpayers making less than $425,000 ($479,000 for married filing jointly), indexed for inflation. For taxpayers with incomes above those thresholds, dividends will be taxed at 20 percent.
Educational Provisions Prior law introduced many tax benefits for implementing an educational savings plan. With respect to the TCJA, prior benefits were retained by extending the American Opportunity Tax Credit for Higher Education Expenses through 2025 as well as the addition of new benefits in some areas. Some of these benefits are highlighted below.
Education IRA The TCJA continued the opportunity for taxpayers to contribute to a Coverdell Education Savings Account. Because of some of the restrictions outlined below and the enhanced features to 529 plans under the TCJA, most taxpayers will likely utilize the benefits of a 529 plan under the new law as opposed to Education Savings Accounts. Nonetheless, the features of these accounts under the TCJA include: Permanently increased the contribution limits from $500 per year to $2,000 per year. Distributions, when used to pay for qualified education expenses, are tax free. Allowed tax free withdrawals for elementary (including kindergarten), secondary, and postsecondary school tuition and expenses. Included tuition, room and board, tutoring, uniforms, extended day program costs,
computer technology hardware and software, Internet access, and special needs services for special needs beneficiaries as qualifying expenses. The age limit is waived for special needs beneficiaries. Contributions can be made until the donor's due date for their federal income tax return. For donors who are single tax filers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of between $95,000 and $110,000 ($110,000 and $220,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly), the contribution limits are (ratably) phased out. These MAGI thresholds are adjusted annually for inflation.
Tip If you would like to make a contribution to an education IRA for your child but you do not qualify because your adjusted gross income (AGI) is too high, consider having your child contribute to his or her own account. Unlike other IRAs, a person does not have to have earned income to contribute to an education IRA, nor is there a minimum age requirement. Contributions cannot be made for beneficiaries who are 18 years of age or older.
Section 529 Plans 529 college savings plans were expanded through broadening the meaning of “qualified higher education expenses” to include tuition at public, private, or religious elementary or secondary schools, limited to $10,000 per student during the taxable year.
Business and Corporate Tax Relief Under prior law, the business taxpayer was allowed to immediately deduct up to $500,000 of business property purchased during the calendar year. Prior law also allowed for 50 percent bonus depreciation for purchases of certain new property. The TCJA increased the deductible amount to $1 million with a phase out threshold of $2.5 million. The TCJA expanded the bonus depreciation percentage from 50 percent to 100 percent for purchases of property acquired and in service after September 27, 2017, and before 2023 (2024 for “long production period” property and certain aircraft). For the latest updates regarding tax law changes, visit the Resource Center at www.welchgroup.com; click on “Helpful Links,” then “ESTATE BOOK UPDATES.”
Corporate Tax Rate Changes Under prior law, the tax liability for corporations taxed as C corporations was determined by applying a certain set of progressive rates to brackets of taxable income. A rate of 35
percent as applied at the highest income levels ($18,333,333 in 2017). Under the TCJA, the corporate tax regime is changed from a progressive rate structure to a flat rate of 21 percent. You will notice that this rate is significantly lower than the highest individual rate. However, corporations (again, taxed as C corporations) are still subject to the so called double tax on income, meaning that income is first taxed at the corporate level, now at 21 percent but if it is distributed to shareholders as a dividend, the income is subject to a second level of tax at a top rate 20 percent.
Pass Through Income Deduction Under § 199A One of the biggest changes to the tax law under the TCJA is the new 20 percent deduction for business income derived from a pass through entity. Note, in the discussion of the corporate tax above, we talked about the double tax. Income from a pass through entity is subject to only one level of tax. Under prior law, sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, and S corporations were treated as pass through entities subject to tax at the individual owner or shareholder level. The income earned by the owners or shareholders was reported on their individual tax returns and subject to ordinary income tax rates. Under the TCJA, a 20 percent deduction is now available for taxpayers with domestic “qualified business income” from these types of businesses for tax years after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026. The provisions under new Section 199A are extremely nuanced and complicated, but limits on the deduction are imposed on certain types of income unless a taxpayer's income is below a threshold amount (taxable income under $315,000 for joint filers, $157,500 for single filers). The deduction is available to noncorporate taxpayers such as trusts and estates. However, pass through income from certain service businesses in the fields of health, law, accounting, performing arts, and other service businesses are not eligible for the deduction. However, engineers and architects are not subject to this restriction. Many other limitations and complications to the new pass through deduction exist, and many tax advisers are looking to the IRS to guide them through issues raised by the deduction. Additionally, new regulations addressing the deduction were proposed on August 8, 2018. Taxpayers may rely on these rules until final regulations are published.
Estate, Gift, and Generation Skipping Transfers The TCJA retained the current transfer tax regime but made a significant change that gives taxpayers a tremendous planning opportunity. The tax rate is 40 percent on estates exceeding the exemption amount (i.e., the “taxable” estate). The previous exclusion amount enacted was $5 million indexed for inflation and under prior law was set to be $5,490,000 in 2018. Under the TCJA, the exemption amount doubled, meaning that each
individual may transfer up to $11,180,000 (indexed for inflation) at death or by gift during life without paying transfer taxes. Because of portability, this effectively allowed spouses to transfer approximately $22 million to beneficiaries without estate gift taxes. The applicable exclusion amount is now the basic exclusion amount of $11,180,000 million (indexed for inflation) plus a deceased spouse's unused exclusion (DSUE) amount. Following is a list of select provisions that could affect your estate planning: The TCJA maintained the maximum estate, gift, and generation skipping rates at 40 percent. The TCJA also temporarily increased the exclusion amount to $11.18 million, indexed annually for inflation (see Table 1.2). This amount is set to return to pre 2018 levels at the end of 2025. TABLE 1.2 2018 Tax Relief Act Applicable Exclusion Amount Year Applicable Exclusion Amount Maximum Estate Tax Rate (%) 2018 $11,180,000
Portability is still a feature of the estate tax system under the TCJA. A decedent's applicable exclusion amount is now the basic exclusion amount of $11.18 million plus the DSUE amount. Congress intended that portability would simplify estate planning. Portability will continue to be an important component of the tax system. The TCJA retained the “annual exclusion” in which taxpayers may make gifts of assets (assuming the gift is of a present interest) to as many donees as they like without using their applicable exclusion amount. For spouses, the amount effectively doubles. In 2018, the annual exclusion amount is $15,000.
Estate Planning Issues under the 2017 TCJA Because of the unique opportunity provided by the TCJA, everyone should review their estate plan to take advantage of the new provisions through 2025. An approach we favor is for the client to contact one of their professional advisers on the estate planning team, whether the estate planning lawyer, financial planner, life insurance agent, accountant, or trust officer. Authorize that team member to assemble the team in a preliminary meeting to review the listing of the assets and liabilities (financial X ray), review the current documents, and then meet with the client and the client's spouse to make team recommendations. This approach maximizes creative input and communication and often aids in identifying important new alternatives to consider. The financial X ray would show what assets are titled in the name of each spouse; what, if any, assets are titled in joint names; and, ideally, what assets are in the children's names. Understand that payment of estate or death taxes is largely elective. By making annual gifts during your lifetime, then transferring the maximum tax free amount (applicable exclusion amount) to your children and grandchildren at death, and finally bequeathing your remaining estate to a family charitable foundation, your estate tax would be zero.
For example, Raymond and Laura Gold have a $50 million net worth. Each year, they make maximum annual gifts to their two children and their spouses, plus maximum annual gifts to 529 plans for each of their grandchildren. Their wills direct the maximum to legacy trusts (Chapter 11) for the children, with the balance to a private foundation (Chapter 12) where the children (and eventually grandchildren) will serve as trustees. If they died in 2018, the disposition of their estate would look as follows: $50,000,000 Total estate –22,360,000 Exemption amount (2018) to legacy trust $27,640,000 Directed to private foundation $ 0 Estate tax So here's the question: Is $22,360,000 “enough” to leave to your children? If not, you can still achieve “zero” estate taxes by employing additional strategies outlined throughout this book. Here are two areas to focus your attention on: 1. With the advent of portability, does the plan provide the most flexibility while simultaneously taking advantage of the permanently enacted favorable transfer tax provisions and achieving the best result from an income tax perspective? 2. As discussed later in this chapter, does the estate plan and overall tax plan adequately prepare for income tax issues that may be a function of increased exclusion amounts or the 3.8 percent tax on net investment income that began in 2013 under the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act?
Planning with Portability Under the TCJA Portability allows the second spouse to die to use the DSUE amount from the first spouse to die. For example, assuming a couple where the husband has $1 million of assets in his name while the wife has $14 million in her name (combined estate of $15 million). Assuming a $11.18 million exclusion amount, under prior law if the husband died with $1 million of assets titled in his name (and payable to wife), then $10.18 million of his exclusion was wasted. This is because at her subsequent death, her now $15 million estate would be eligible for only her $11.18 million exclusion amount. Thus her taxable estate would be approximately $4 million. Portability will now allow the surviving wife to use the $10.18 million DSUE amount of her deceased husband plus her own $11.18 million exclusion amount. Thus, she could transfer $22.38 million tax free at her death.
Dangers of Relying on Portability The purpose of portability is to provide a level of simplicity to estate planning. For couples with a combined net worth of less than the exclusion amount this may be true, assuming the net worth does not grow faster than the inflation adjusted exclusion
amount. Couples with a combined estate of this size may rely on portability to minimize or eliminate estate taxes. For high net worth couples, relying on portability for tax planning is not the best option. Moreover, there are several tax and nontax advantages to incorporating a plan that uses traditional credit shelter and marital trust planning to be used in conjunction with portability. First, appreciation in the assets is protected from estate taxes on the death of the second spouse to die. Second, the use of trusts will protect the assets from potential creditors of the beneficiaries and safeguard the assets in the event the surviving spouse remarries. Despite the advantages of portability, solely relying on portability is a recipe for disaster. The key to a solid estate plan is flexibility. Therefore, an ideal plan should build in the flexibility to defer the decision of whether to rely on portability or traditional credit shelter and marital trust planning until the death of the first spouse.
Planning Considerations Under the 2017 TCJA With the opportunity provided by the TCJA, you have an opportunity to revisit your own estate plan in light of a recently passed estate tax law that offers many opportunities for business owners and wealthy families, as well as the “not yet wealthy.” Here's a quick review of the major provisions of the law as well as several planning strategies worth considering: Up to $11.18 million (inflation adjusted annually) exempt from estate taxes. Planning point: Many wills use a formula that states that the maximum amount allowed under law first goes to fill up the family trust, with the balance going either outright or in trust for the surviving spouse. With this higher limit, it means that in many cases all of the assets will go to the family trust and none to the surviving spouse, either outright or in the marital trust. For many families, this is an unintended consequence. So, the best course of action is to review your current planning documents to insure that even with the changes in the tax law that your assets will be transferred in a fashion that you desire. Portability of exemption amount. Planning point: Theoretically, the activity of equalizing the estates between spouses is no longer necessary since the surviving spouse now “inherits” the DSUE amount. However, if the surviving spouse remarries and that new spouse dies, the exemption of the first deceased spouse would be lost forever. Relying solely on portability is not an ideal strategy, and building a plan with flexibility is the best course of action. When you review your estate documents, determine the impact that portability will have on your plan in light of your personal circumstances. Make gifts during your lifetime. Planning point: If you are a small business owner who would like to make certain the business stays in the family, now may be an excellent time to gift some of your business ownership to children. And this is not just for business owners. If you have an estate that significantly exceeds the exemption amount, you may want to consider making tax free gifts to family
members, using assets that you believe will appreciate in value in the years ahead. Heirs receive a new tax basis for transfers at death. (This is not new but is a point worth making.) Planning point: You face a trade off in deciding whether to make transfers during your lifetime versus transfers at death. The recipient of a gift during your lifetime gets your same tax basis so that a future sale would be potentially subject to capital gains taxes. With the exclusion amount now exceeding $11 million, the income tax consequences of receiving a step up in basis may be a more important factor than the transfer tax consequences.
The 3.8 Percent Tax on Net Investment Income The 3.8 percent tax on net investment income (NII) was enacted as a new Section 1411 to the Code in 2013. The purpose behind the tax was to tax “unearned” income, such as dividends, rents, royalties, gain on the sale of capital assets, and income from businesses in which the taxpayer did not “materially participate” to name a few. The effect of the 3.8 percent surtax tax is that taxpayers in the highest income brackets (37 percent for ordinary income and 20 percent for net capital gains) may be subject to an additional 3.8 percent tax on income that meets the definition of NII. Anytime that a client owns an interest in a business, there are numerous planning considerations involved. If the business interest is held in trust, then there is an additional layer of issues to work through to get the best result for the client.
NOTICE As we are sure you are aware, Congress frequently changes tax law that can significantly impact your estate, retirement, and tax planning. To stay apprised of the latest changes that affect you, visit the Resource Center at www.welchgroup.com; click on “Links,” then “ESTATE BOOK UPDATES.” Posted content will focus on tax law changes that affect this book's content as well as changes we believe are most important to our readers. Although the NII tax is harsh, there are some planning opportunities to minimize the tax. Individuals that own an interest in a trade or business should consult their tax professionals to ensure that the requirements of active participation are satisfied. Distributing NII from trusts will lower the amount of the NII tax imposed on trusts. However, there may be nontax reasons to not distribute the income to a beneficiary—for instance, to protect the distribution from creditors or provide incentive to the beneficiary. If you feel your estate is not large enough to take advantage of any of these strategies, be clear that, at a minimum, you need at least a basic estate plan, which would include a will, durable power of attorney, and an advanced health care directive.
Limitations on Deductions The TCJA made significant changes to income tax deductions for individual taxpayers. The biggest changes involve an increase in the standard deduction and the suspension or limitation on certain other deductions. As discussed below, the increase in the standard deduction may cause a taxpayer who previously itemized to utilize the more beneficial standard deduction. Taxpayers should consult their personal tax professionals to determine what is best for their particular circumstances, but many will change to a system in which they no longer deduct the interest on their mortgage or property taxes on their home.
Changes to Standard Deduction Under the TCJA, the standard deduction is increased from $13,000 to $24,000 for married taxpayers that file a joint return. The TCJA also eliminates the personal exemption. Because of the increase in the standard deduction and the elimination or limitations imposed on other itemized deductions, many taxpayers who previously itemized will now use the standard deduction and may only itemize once every several years—for example if they have significant charitable contributions.
Mortgage Interest Deduction The mortgage interest deduction—perhaps the most well known itemized deduction—has been modified significantly by the TCJA. Under the TCJA, homeowners with mortgages that existed before the enactment of the new law may continue to deduct interest on a total of $1 million of debt for their first and second home. However, new buyers are limited to deduct the interest on $750,000. Additionally, deductions are suspended for home equity loans through 2025 unless the loan is used to make substantial improvements to the home and the combined total of the loan and the first mortgage does not exceed $750,000. However, because of the substantially increased standard deduction, millions fewer taxpayers will likely opt to take the standard deduction rather than using the mortgage interest deduction.
Charitable Deductions For tax years after 2017 and before 2026, the limitation on the deduction for cash contributions made to public charities, private operating foundations, and private distributing foundations is increased from 50 percent to 60 percent of AGI. The limitation on deductions for cash contributions to private nonoperating foundations remains at 30 percent of the AGI. For tax years beginning after 2017, the 80 percent deduction for contributions made for university athletic seating rights is repealed. In other words, season ticket holders for