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Michael F. Reilly, CPA, PC • Monthly Newsletter
Major tax deadlines for March
Are you planning to give sizeable gifts to family members? Due to generous provisions in the tax code, you may not owe any federal gift tax, but you still might be required to a file a gift tax return.
Here's a quick review of the basic rules. Despite a common misconception, gift tax is paid by the gift giver, or "donor," not the recipient, or "donee." This applies to gifts of cash, property, and other interests. For 2013 and thereafter, the top gift tax rate is permanently set at 40%, a slight increase from 35% in 2012. However, you may be able to avoid gift tax liability due to two key tax breaks.
Generally, you don't have to file a gift tax return, Form 709, for gifts covered by the annual exclusion, but you must file this form if you tap into the lifetime exemption amount. Also, when you make a "split gift" with your spouse, the annual exclusion amount is doubled to $28,000 per donee, but a gift tax return is required even if you don't owe any tax. Furthermore, if you give a gift of a "future interest," such as a transfer of assets to a trust, a gift tax return must be filed in any event.
In some cases, you might file a gift tax return when you're not legally required to. This starts the statute of limitations running on the time the IRS will have to challenge the valuation of the gift. It also discloses the gift for other purposes.
The deadline for filing federal gift tax returns is the same as the one for income tax returns. Thus, if you gave more than $14,000 to a donee in 2013, you have until April 15, 2014, to file the return, but you can apply for an automatic six-month filing extension. Caution: This extension is for filing only and not payment of any gift tax that is owed.
Health care reform deadline extended again
On February 10, 2014, the Treasury Department issued rules that will allow certain businesses to delay for one more year the requirement to provide minimum, affordable health insurance to their workers. Businesses with 50 to 99 employees now have until January 1, 2016, to provide health insurance for employees or face penalties. In order to qualify for this extension, employers must certify that they have not laid off employees in order to come under the 100 employee threshold. Large employers - those with 100 or more employees - must still comply with the health insurance mandate by January 1, 2015.
Taxes and retirement accounts
Retirement accounts grow tax-deferred until you need the funds. However, in most cases your money cannot remain in these accounts forever. The IRS has rules that dictate when and how much you must withdraw from your retirement accounts.
In most cases, you must begin withdrawing money from your retirement accounts as follows:
* Your first withdrawal can either be taken in the year you turn age 70½, or it can be postponed until April 1 of the following year.
* Your second withdrawal must be taken by December 31 of the year after you turn 70½.
* In each subsequent year, you must withdraw at least the required minimum amount by December 31.
If you're still working at age 70½ and you own less than 5% of the company you work for, you can wait until you retire to begin taking distributions from qualified plans, such as 401(k)s. This exception does not apply to traditional IRAs.
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Michael F. Reilly, PC
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