How Do You Spell “Relief”?

December 10, 2009

            One man’s “relief” is another man’s pain in the neck. 

            Curiously choosing words, the House passed, last week, the “Permanent Estate Tax Relief for Families, Farmers, and Small Business Act of 2009.” We’re still waiting for the Senators to untangle themselves from health care “reform” (at least as we pen this tome) but when they do, they will probably sign on to this measure as well.
            The bill passed by the House certainly provides no “relief” to anybody who might die in 2010, which the pre-existing legislation would have. Recall that existing law was scheduled to “repeal” the estate tax for 2010 decedents. But under this bill, the unified credit would continue to be $3.5 million, with decedents’ estates in excess of that amount subject to tax whether death occurs in 2010 or not. And under this bill, property acquired from a 2010 decedent would continue to receive a “step up” in basis to the fair market value at the date of death.
            In short, the bill would continue the status quo.
            Action also came, last week, on “The Tax Extenders Act of 2009” when it comes to measures which were slated to expire on this upcoming New Year’s Eve. The House Ways and Means Committee (under the control of that noted income tax compliant patriot, Charlie Rangel – D, N.Y.) brings you these highlights:
1.     The bill would extend for one year (through 2010) the election to take an itemized deduction for state and local general sales tax in lieu of the itemized deduction permitted for state and local income taxes. Significant for many Nevadans.
2.     The bill would extend for one year the $250 tax deduction for teachers and other education professionals, for expenses associated with books, supplies, computer equipment and the like. If we were a teach, we wouldn’t spend this one “all in one place.”
3.     The bill would extend for one year the provision which allows taxpayers who have suffered a loss as a result of a Federally-declared disaster to claim a deduction for a casualty loss (both itemizers and non-itemizers) and would allow these taxpayers to compute their casualty loss deduction without regard to the level of their adjusted gross income.
And all of you California nonfilers out there: take heart!
The Franchise Tax Board has announced that it will offer a provisional payment
plan for folks who can now make payments toward their tax liabilities, and no forced collection actions will take place while the underlying delinquent tax returns are being prepared.
            To be able to take part in this generous program, you must owe California $25,000 or less, and file all missing tax returns within 30 days, among other things.
            What more could you ask for?
CONSULT YOUR TAX ADVISOR – This article contains general information. You should consult your CPA regarding the implications to your own particular situation.
            Jeff Quinn, the author of this article, is a shareholder in Ashley Quinn, CPAs and Consultants, Ltd., with offices in Incline Village and Reno. He may be reached at 831-7288, and he welcomes comments below.

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