How Has the New Tax Reform Affected Charitable Giving? – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

People typically don’t donate to charity because of tax benefits, but without it, they’re likely to give less.

CNBC’s recent article, “Charitable contributions take a hit following tax reform,” reports that 2018 was the first time the effect of the new tax law could be gauged. The law eliminated or significantly reduced the benefits of charitable giving for many would-be donors.

In total, individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations donated roughly $430 billion to U.S. charities in 2018, according to Giving USA. However, while the giving by individuals dropped, contributions from foundations and corporations went up.

Even though the deduction for donations was unchanged in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, individuals are still required to itemize to claim it. That is now a much higher bar because of the nearly doubled standard deduction.

Under the new tax reform legislation, total itemized deductions must be more than $12,000, which is the new standard deduction. That is an increase from the past $6,350 standard deduction for single people. Married couples need deductions exceeding $24,000, which is an increase from $12,700.

Because of this change, there will be fewer people who itemize their individual tax returns. The result is that many people won’t enjoy the tax benefits of their charitable contributions.

One analysis from the Tax Policy Center showed that the number of itemizers fell from to about 19 million under the new tax law. That’s a decrease of more than half from about 46 million. At the same time, lower tax rates also reduced the marginal benefit of giving, the Tax Policy Center said.

Tax reform probably impacted the middle households that used to itemize the hardest, one tax analyst remarked. As a result, lower-income families reduced giving, a change that could be an issue for non-profits in the long term. The greater the revenue is concentrated in only a few sources, the greater the risk for these charities.

Another study from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project revealed that there was a nearly 3% increase in large gifts, defined as $1,000 or more in 2018. However, modest gifts between $250 and $999 dropped by 4%; and gifts under $250 decreased by more than 4%. In addition, the total number of donors declined.

Reference: CNBC (June 18, 2019) “Charitable contributions take a hit following tax reform”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

Filing Taxes for a Deceased Family Member – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

If you are the executor of a loved one’s estate, and if they were well-off, there are several tax issues that you’ll need to deal with. The article “How to file a loved one’s taxes after they’ve passed away” from Market Watch gives a general overview of estate tax liabilities.

Winding down the financial aspects of the estate is one of the tasks done by the executor. That person will most likely be identified in the decedent’s will. If the family trust holds the assets on behalf of the deceased, the trust document will name a trustee. If the person died without a will, also known as “intestate,” the probate court will appoint an administrator.

The executor is responsible for filing the federal income tax for the decedent’s estate if a return needs to be filed. Income generated by the estate is taxed. The estate’s first federal income tax year starts immediately after the date of death. The tax year-end date can be December 31 or the end of any other month that results in a first tax year of 12 months or less. The IRS form 1041 is used for estates and trusts and the due date is the 15th day of the fourth month after the tax year-end.

For example, if a person died in 2019, the estate tax return deadline is April 15, 2020 if the executor chooses the December 31 date as the tax year-end. An extension is available, but it’s only for five and a half months. In this example, an extension could be given to September 30.

There is no need to file a Form 1041 if all of the decedent’s income producing assets are directly distributed to the spouse or other heirs and bypass probate. This is the case when property is owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship, as well as with IRAs and retirement plan accounts and life insurance proceeds with designated beneficiaries.

Unless the estate is valued at more than $11.2 million for a person who passed in 2018 or $11.4 million in 2019, no federal estate tax will be due.

The executor needs to find out if there were large gifts given. That means gifts larger than $15,000 in 2018-2019 to a single person, $14,000 for gifts in 2013-2017; $13,000 in 2009-2012, $12,000 for 2006-2008; $11,000 for 2002-2005 and $10,000 for 2001 and earlier. If these gifts were made, the excess over the applicable threshold for the year of the gift must be added back to the estate, to see if the federal estate tax exemption has been surpassed. Check with the estate attorney to ensure that this is handled correctly.

The unlimited marital deduction privilege permits any amount of assets to be passed to the spouse, as long as the decedent was married, and the surviving spouse is a U.S. citizen. However, the surviving spouse will need good estate planning to pass the family’s wealth to the next generation without a large tax liability.

While the taxes and tax planning are more complex where significant assets are involved, an estate planning attorney can strategically plan to protect family assets when the assets are not so grand. Estate planning is more important for those with modest assets as there is a greater need to protect the family and less room for error.

Reference: Market Watch (June 17, 2019) “How to file a loved one’s taxes after they’ve passed away”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

What’s the Difference Between Capital Gains and a Dividend? – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

Investopedia published an article that asks “Capital Gains vs. Dividend Income: What’s the Difference?” The article looks at the differences between capital gains and dividend income, and their tax implications.

Capital is the initial sum invested. A capital gain is a profit you get when an investment is sold for a higher price than the original purchase price. An investor doesn’t realize a capital gain until an investment is sold for a profit.

On the other hand, dividends are assets paid out of the profits of a corporation to the stockholders. The dividends an investor receives aren’t capital gains. This is treated as income for that tax year.

A capital gain is the increase in the value of a capital asset—either an investment or real estate—that gives it a higher value than the purchase price. A capital loss happens when there’s a decrease in the capital asset value as compared to the asset’s purchase price. There is no capital loss until the asset is sold at a discount.

A dividend is a “reward” or “bonus” that’s given to shareholders who’ve invested in a company’s equity. It is usually from the company’s net profits. Most profits are kept within the company as retained earnings, representing money to be used for ongoing and future business activities. However, the rest is often disbursed to shareholders as a dividend.

Taxes. Capital gains and dividends are taxed differently. Dividends are going to be either ordinary or qualified and taxed accordingly. However, capital gains are taxed based on whether they are seen as short-term or long-term holdings. A capital gain is deemed short-term if the asset that was sold after being held for less than a year. Short-term capital gains are taxed as ordinary income for the year. Assets held for more than a year before being sold are considered long-term capital gains upon sale. The tax is on the net capital gains for the year. Net capital gains are calculated by subtracting capital losses from capital gains for the year. For many, the tax rate for capital gains will be less than 15%.

Dividends are usually paid as cash. However, they can also be in the form of property or stock. Dividends can be ordinary or qualified. Ordinary dividends are taxable and must be declared as income, but qualified dividends are taxed at a lower capital gains rate. When a corporation returns capital to a shareholder, it’s not considered a dividend. It reduces the shareholder’s stock in the company. When a stock basis is reduced to zero through the return of capital, any non-dividend distribution is considered capital gains and will be taxed as such.

Reference: Investopedia (April 11, 2019) “Capital Gains vs. Dividend Income: What’s the Difference?”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys 

Why Have Charitable Gifts From IRAs Increased Dramatically? – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) from IRAs, also known as IRA charitable rollover gifts, increased by 73.8% from 2017 to 2018, and 92% of nonprofit organizations surveyed by FreeWill reported increases in QCD giving.

ThinkAdvisor’s recent article, “Charitable Gifts From IRAs Shot Up by 74% in 2018,” says the 7% of nonprofits that reported a decrease were primarily small charities that received few QCD donations in both years.

FreeWill noted that QCDs are open to anyone 70½ and older with a traditional IRA. However, 401(k)s aren’t eligible for QCDs. Distributions from IRAs can satisfy the IRS’s minimum distribution requirement (RMD). These gifts can be made annually, up to a maximum of $100,000 per year. There is also no minimum.

FreeWill’s research looked at about 120 nonprofits with total revenue ranging from $1 million to $1 billion. The research showed that QCD gifts are getting larger: 52% of charities that responded said the average gift had increased since 2017. Only 12% said the average had decreased, and 30% reported no change.

About 50% of respondents said demographics were responsible for the sharp growth in giving via QCDs, while 27% said it was changes in the tax law. The tax law changes mean that for many donors older than 70, QCDs may be their only way to get a meaningful tax benefit from charitable contributions, since they can no longer itemize deductions and don’t have the charitable deduction.

In addition to the tax incentives, demographic shifts are dramatically altering charitable giving in our country. Americans between 70 and 80 are the fastest growing age bracket. Their numbers will continue to grow over the next 10 years.

The nonprofits in the study said there were several obstacles that keep donors from making QCD contributions. About 80% of respondents said their biggest challenge when processing these gifts, was a lack of information shared by IRA custodians.

The survey’s respondents reported a second challenge to QCDs reaching them: many donors are not aware that the option exists or are confused by the process of making contributions. Planned giving officers reported that up to 75% of all questions in estate planning sessions with donors were about QCDs. The third big challenge comes from confusion within nonprofits, about which department is responsible for QCDs from IRA rollovers. Nearly a quarter of respondents said the responsibility devolved on a combination of departments.

Reference: ThinkAdvisor (May 6, 2019) “Charitable Gifts From IRAs Shot Up by 74% in 2018”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

What Are Some Advantages of Making Lifetime Gifts? – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

There are several non-tax advantages of making lifetime gifts. One is that you’re able to see the recipient or “donee” enjoy your gift. It might give you satisfaction to help your children achieve financial independence or have fewer financial concerns.

WMUR’s recent article, Money Matters: Lifetime non-charitable giving,” explains that lifetime giving means you dictate who gets your property. Remember, if you die without a will, the intestacy laws of the state will dictate who gets what. With a will, you can decide how you want your property distributed after your death. However, it’s true that even with a will, you won’t really know how the property is distributed because a beneficiary could disclaim an inheritance. With lifetime giving, you have more control over how your assets are distributed.

At your death, your property may go through probate. Lifetime giving will help reduce probate and administration costs, since lifetime gifts are typically not included in your probate estate at death.  Unlike probate, lifetime gifts are private.

Let’s discuss some of the tax advantages. First, a properly structured gifting program can save income and estate taxes. A gift isn’t taxable income to the donee, but any income earned by the gift property or capital gain subsequent to the gift usually is taxable. The donor must pay state and/or federal transfer taxes on the gift. There may be state gift tax, state generation-skipping transfer tax, federal gift and estate taxes, as well as federal generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax.

A big reason for lifetime giving is to remove appreciating assets from your estate (i.e., one that’s expected to increase in value over time). If you give the asset away, any future appreciation in value is removed from your estate. The taxes today may be significantly less than what they would be in the future after the asset’s value has increased. Note that lifetime giving results in the carryover of your basis in the property to the donee. If the asset is left to the donee at your death, it will usually receive a step-up in value to a new basis (usually the fair market value at the date of your death). Therefore, if the donee plans to sell the asset, she may have a smaller gain by inheriting it at your death, rather than as a gift during your life.

You can also give by paying tuition to an education institution or medical expenses to a medical care provider directly on behalf of the donee. These transfers are exempt from any federal gift and estate tax.

Remember that the federal annual gift tax exclusion lets you to give $15,000 (for the 2019 year) per donee to an unlimited number of donees without any federal gift and estate tax or federal GST tax (it applies only to gifts of present interest).

Prior to making a gift, discuss your strategy with an estate planning attorney to be sure that it matches your estate plan goals.

Reference: WMUR (April 18, 2019) “Money Matters: Lifetime non-charitable giving”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

What Do I Need to Know About ABLE Accounts? – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

Millions of Americans with disabilities and their families depend on public benefits to help provide income, health care, food and housing assistance. Eligibility for assistance through Supplemental Security Income, SNAP and Medicaid is based upon a resource test, so disabled individuals seeking benefits are typically limited to no more than $2,000 in savings or assets. This can present a difficult problem.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) was created as a way to create a tax-advantaged savings tool for individuals with disabilities and their families.

nj.com’s article, “ABLE accounts–A tax advantaged tool for special needs planning,” advises that when used correctly, this overlooked savings account may allow families to build a small nest egg, without affecting eligibility for public program benefits.

An ABLE 529 account is designed to be a savings or investment account to supplement public benefits. It can be a powerful strategy for individuals, who previously were unable to build supplemental funds outside of a trust for their needs. An ABLE account is funded with after-tax contributions that can grow tax-free, when used for a qualified disability expense. The account owner is also the beneficiary and contributions can be made from any person including the account beneficiary, friends, and family.

The ABLE account is available to individuals with significant disabilities, whose age of onset of disability was before they turned 26. A person could be over the age of 26 but must have had an age of onset before their 26th birthday.

Contributions are restricted to $15,000 per year. Because the ABLE account is connected to the 529 plan for education, the total contribution limit is based upon the individual state’s limit for 529 plans. Individuals can have up to $100,000 in an ABLE account, without impacting SSI eligibility. The first $100,000 also does not count toward the $2,000 resource restriction.

A frequently asked question is whether to use an ABLE account or a Special Needs Trust for planning purposes. ABLE are subject to certain limitations that make it impossible, or at least ill advised, to use them instead of a Special Needs Trust. Remember that ABLE accounts can only receive $15,000 in deposits each year, but, in most cases, Special Needs Trusts can receive much larger contributions in a year, once they are funded. This is an important difference for parents who want to leave more substantial assets to their child when they die but don’t want to jeopardize the child’s eligibility for critical services. In that situation, a Special Needs Trust may be more desirable.

When the beneficiary of the ABLE account passes away, any leftover funds in the account are typically reimbursed to the state to defray the costs of providing services during the beneficiary’s life. However, that’s different than a properly drafted Special Needs Trust.

In 2019, ABLE account owners who work but don’t have an employer-sponsored retirement account, can now save up to $12,140 in additional savings from their earnings.

Ask your estate planning attorney about possibly coordinating an ABLE account with a Special Needs Trust.

Reference: nj.com (April 20, 2019) “ABLE accounts – A tax advantaged tool for special needs planning”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

Passing the Family Business to the Next Generation – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

Creating a succession plan for a family business needs awareness of more than just spreadsheets, says the article “How to plan for a smooth transition of your family business” from North Bay Business Journal.

Family owned vineyards or farms face challenges, when one or two children have chosen to work in the business. Sometimes there is preferential treatment, either with economics or voting and control of the business.

Estate planning attorneys can serve as sounding boards in creating a balance between what will be best for the business and what will work to maintain peace and cohesiveness in the family. With experience in guiding families through this process, they are able to provide an unbiased view and can be helpful, when hard decisions need to be made.

Another part of the plan is having the family and the estate planning attorney meet with other professionals, such as a wealth manager and CPAs. This is especially helpful when the owners are reluctant to talk about what is happening in the business with their children, before clarifying their own thoughts about the business.

Taking time to step back and gain some perspective before holding a family meeting where decisions are made will give the owners more clarity.

A succession plan often starts a business plan. Once there is a plan for the future of the business, it’s an easier transition to financial and estate planning. Taking these steps can help the business be successful. Any business will run better when the numbers and projections for future growth are in place. Banks and other lenders look favorably on a company that has its financial reports in place.

This also permits tax planning to be done properly. In some cases, transferring a business or other asset while the owner is still living can be beneficial in the long run, even with today’s higher federal estate tax exemptions.

Lifetime gifts can be a way to reduce estate taxes because making a gift today, before there has been substantial appreciation, is one way to leverage the gift and estate tax exemption. Let’s say an asset is valued at $1 million, but at the time of your death it may be valued at $8 million. By giving it today, you can use less of your lifetime exemption.

To transfer the business to one or more children and give them an opportunity to succeed on their own, through their own efforts, consider bringing them in as a responsible manager with some ownership.

A gradual approach in transferring control of a business is a wise move, say experts. One family put their real estate holdings into an entity that gave some ownership interests to each of their children, but one of them was appointed as the manager.

Reference: North Bay Business Journal (April 9, 2019) “How to plan for a smooth transition of your family business”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jane Frankel Sims

410-828-7775

Contact: Frank Campbell

410-263-1667

Sims & Campbell Estates and Trusts

Frankel Sims Law and Holden & Campbell
Merge to Form Sims & Campbell

Firm will offer comprehensive Trusts & Estates services through offices in Towson and Annapolis

TOWSON, Md. (April 26,2019)  Frankel Sims Law and Holden & Campbell have jointly announced the merger of their firms to create a boutique Trusts & Estates law firm providing comprehensive services in the fields of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Trust Administration and Charitable Giving. The combined firm will be named Sims & Campbell and have offices in Towson, Md. and Annapolis, Md.  Jane Frankel Sims and Frank Campbell will lead and hold equal ownership stakes in the firm.

Sims & Campbell will have 9 attorneys and 15 legal professionals that handle every facet of estate and wealth transfer planning, including wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, estate and gift tax advice, and charitable giving strategies.  The firm will focus solely on Trusts & Estates but will serve a wide range of clients, from young families with modest resources to ultra-high net worth individuals.  This allows clients to remain with the firm as their level of wealth and the complexity of related estate and tax implications change over time. 

“By joining forces, we have expanded our footprint to conveniently serve clients in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia” said Jane Frankel Sims.  We are seeing some of the greatest wealth transfer in our country’s history, and we want to continue to be on the leading edge of helping our clients maintain and enhance their family’s wealth.  In addition, we aim to serve our clients for years to come, and the new firm structure will allow Sims & Campbell to thrive even after Frank and I have retired.”    

“Jane and I have always admired each other’s firms and recognized the need to provide even greater depth and breadth of focused expertise to help families amass and protect their wealth from generation to generation,” said Frank Campbell.  “Now we have even greater capabilities to make a real difference for our clients.” 

The Sims & Campbell Towson office is located at 500 York Road, on the corner of York Road and Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of Towson.  The Annapolis office is currently located at 716 Melvin Avenue, and is moving to 181 Truman Parkway in August, 2019.  For more information, visit www.simscampbell.law.