Financial Planning Feed

financial planning estate

The AICPA provides information, tools, advocacy and guidance for CPAs who specialize in providing estate, tax, retirement, risk management and investment planning advice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Understanding the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax and Its Effects

In this podcast, Bob Keebler discusses the impact of the regulations on net investment income tax. Access more resources in the Planning After ATRA and NIIT Toolkit, including more podcasts, a customizable letter to send to clients to illustrate why it is important that they meet with you and new charts by Bob Keebler as well as webcast recordings and Forefield Advisor alerts/videos and the complete four-volume set of The CPA’s Guide to Financial & Estate Planning, recently updated for ATRA and NIIT and much more. (Email subscribers can listen to the podcast and see the slides on our website.)

Understanding the Net Investment Income Tax

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In the News: CPAs Providing Financial Guidance for 2014

New-year-resolution

In a recent post I detailed a number of articles highlighting tax tips provided by AICPA staff and members that individuals can use to save themselves money when they file their 2013 returns.

As the calendar flips to 2014 (the year of the polar vortex), AICPA members and staff have been providing guidance on how to ‘recover’ from holiday spending, save more in 2014, and outlining tax changes that may impact consumers.

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The New AICPA Personal Financial Planning Standards

PFP-standards-word-cloudThe increased demand and projected growth of personal financial planning services in areas such as estate, retirement, risk management and investments have brought the accounting profession to an important crossroad. To adapt to an evolving profession and regulatory landscape, in addition to the existing regulatory framework for CPAs, the AICPA is promulgating the Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services.

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Year-End Planning: Roth IRA Conversions

The purpose of Roth IRA conversions as it relates to the Net Investment Income Tax is to lower modified adjusted gross income below the threshold amount over the long-term. Some benefits of Roth conversions include lower overall taxable income, tax-free compounding, no required minimum distributions at age 70 ½, tax-free withdrawals for beneficiaries and more effective funding of the "bypass trust." Converting to a Roth IRA creates opportunities to reduce the overall size of the estate and to take advantage of greater tax-free yields and favorable tax attributes. Bob Keebler walks you through the mathematics of conversion through examples, tactical considerations and a four-step process for Roth conversion planning. Visit the AICPA PFP Section’s Post American Taxpayer Relief Act and NIIT Toolkit for more in-depth resources on planning in preparation for year-end.

Roth IRA Conversions

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Year-End Financial Planning: Bracket Management [PODCAST]

Because of the multi-dimensional tax environment that now exists post-American Taxpayer Relief Act, CPA financial planners must look at the tax impact on clients’ financial plans through a 5 to 10 year horizon. Ordinary income tax rates from the Bush Administration were made permanent. The capital gains rate increased from 15% to 20% for taxpayers with income greater than the threshold amounts. Phase-out of personal exemptions and limitations on itemized deductions (Pease) become critical in managing tax brackets by shifting income and deductions into certain years. This podcast from Bob Keebler provides a overview of theory, strategies and case studies in bracket management. Visit the AICPA PFP Section’s Post ATRA & NIIT Toolkit for more in-depth resources on planning in preparation for year-end. (Email subscribers can listen to the podcast on our website.)

 

Year-End Financial Planning: Bracket Management

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Year-End Financial and Tax Planning Strategies [PODCAST]

In the third webcast in the AICPA Insights Live webcast series, Beth Gamel, CPA/PFS, Robert S. Keebler, CPA, Ted Sarenski, CPA/PFS and Scott Sprinkle, CPA/PFS, CGMA came together to discuss year-end financial and tax planning strategies, specifically to address the American Taxpayer Relief Act and the Net Investment Income Tax. Below you can find an audio recording from the webcast, as well as the accompanying presentation. (Email subscribers can listen to the podcast and see the presentation on our website.) Be sure to explore the other webcasts in the AICPA Insights Live webcast series.

 

Year End Financial Tax Planning Strategies ATRA Net Investment Income Tax

 

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The 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax [PODCAST]

The 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax became effective Jan. 1, 2013, and applies to all taxpayers whose income exceeds a certain threshold amount, thereby raising the marginal income tax rate for affected taxpayers. NIIT includes interest, dividends, annuity distributions, rents, royalties, passive activity income and net capital gain from the disposition of property; it excludes salary, wages, IRA distribution from qualified plans, self-employment income, gain on sale of an active interest in a partnership or S corporation and items which are otherwise excluded or exempt from income under tax law. The threshold amount is the key factor in determining NIIT; thresholds are not inflation protected.

Strategies for reducing net investment income include municipal bonds, tax deferred annuities, life insurance, rental real estate, oil and gas investments, choice of accounting year for estate/trust and timing of estate/trust distributions. Strategies for reducing modified adjusted gross income include Roth IRA conversion, CRTs, non-grantor CLTs, and installment sales. Join Robert Keebler, CPA of Keebler & Associates LLP in this podcast as he walks you through year-end planning for the 3.8% NIIT. Visit the AICPA PFP Section’s Post American Taxpayer Relief Act and NIIT Toolkit for more in-depth resources on planning in preparation for year-end. (Email subscribers can listen to the podcast on our website.)

 

Year End Planning Net Investment Income Tax

 

 

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Spotlight on Health Care Reform with AICPA Insights Live

Health-careEveryone seems to have an opinion on the Affordable Care Act. But what about the facts and what about the impact for your clients?

Ted J. Sarenski, CPA/PFS, CFP, AEP, provided straightforward answers to these questions during the second webcast session of AICPA Insights Live on Oct. 18. His presentation, titled “What CPAs Need to Know to Advise Clients on Healthcare,” covered the latest developments regarding health care reform, including requirements, deadlines, the individual mandate, penalties and federal subsidies, as well as his predictions and advice for clients in 2014.

To start, what’s changed with the Affordable Care Act? Sarenski recapped the new ground rules for health insurance with a quick rundown:

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Integrating Retirement Planning with Your CPA Practice

Social-securityWhat do the 77 million baby boomers have in common over the next 15 years? They are all going to face retirement in one form or another. Never before in U.S. history has such a large generation transitioned to retirement with so many years still ahead of them. Are they ready? Can they afford it?  What does it look like? Who will answer these and other questions they have? Who else but the CPA has the financial, economic and analytical education, and ability coupled with the highest ethical standards of placing objectivity and integrity at the forefront of all advice. CPAs have a huge opportunity to expand their practices into the area of retirement planning as the natural progression from guiding their clients through the accumulation years.

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Have You Hugged Your CPA Today?

Young-CPAsMore than sixty-five million Americans are serving as volunteer caregivers for vulnerable loved ones – and as baby-boomers step into senior status, that number will rise. Caregiving for someone with a disability, lengthy illness or aging issues is challenging enough, but adding money concerns to the mix can create a massive strain on individuals and families. Caregivers find themselves thrust into roles they are poorly suited to maintain. Juggling medical, relationship and job-related matters can often pale in the face of the financial pressures of caring for someone who is chronically ill or disabled. 

The key is sustainability – and in order to manage the massive bills, extra costs and nuances of the tax code, I have found that I require the help of a trained professional, specifically a CPA.

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The Use of Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts Post ATRA

In view of the changes brought about by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, estate planning has taken on a new complexion. With the portability rules and the applicable estate tax exclusion of $5,250,000 (indexed for inflation) being made permanent, ATRA has not taken away the need for estate planning; rather, it has changed what CPAs now need to plan for. Most CPAs working in the area of estate planning are shifting focus to asset protection, enhanced generational transfers and portability. 

AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, stated this video to AICPA members that the primary purpose of estate planning is to financially protect and provide for loved ones. This same sentiment was echoed by Jean-Luc Bourdon in a previous blog post, Tax Planning Complexity Can Provide Growth for Your Firm. The message is clear: CPAs need to shift from estate tax planning to estate planning.

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Affordable Care Act Implications You Need to Know Now [PODCAST]

In this podcast, Ted Sarenski discusses the latest developments regarding health care reform and the Affordable Care Act, including what will be required of health plans offered both through exchanges and employers, the delay to 2015 of the requirement for large employers to offer health insurance, the individual mandate, penalties and federal subsidies, the October 1 deadline for health insurance exchanges, preexisting conditions, and Ted’s predictions and advice for clients in 2014. 

Affordable Care Act Implications You Need to Know Now

If you prefer, you can read the entire transcript below or download this and other audio webcasts from the Personal Financial Planning Section on AICPA.org.

Ted Sarenski, CPA/PFS, President, Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC. Based in Syracuse, New York, Ted has gotten a taste for providing PFP services in a larger CPA firm and on his own. He provides financial planning services and manages assets. His compensation model is a mix of hourly, retainer and assets under management fees.

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Tax Planning Complexity Can Provide Growth for Your Firm

The increased complexity of individual taxation and the overall personal finance environment is leading many CPA firms to explore ways to address areas where tax planning overlaps with retirement planning, estate planning and other personal finance areas.  This approach delivers great value, creates new firm revenues and increases competitiveness.

As Barry Melancon, AICPA president and CEO recently noted in a video to AICPA members, the need for tax planning that integrates personal finance concerns is critical. Clients have many questions about how the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 and the new Medicare surtax affect them, in particular. The retirement savings crisis is getting national media attention and threatens the financial security of Americans.  Post-ATRA, the estate tax may affect only a small number of clients, lessening the focus on planning to reduce taxes and refocusing estate planning on its primary purpose, which is protecting  loved ones through asset protection, asset titling, beneficiary designations and more.

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Tax and Estate Planning Following the DOMA Decision [PODCAST]

This podcast from Bob Keebler covers tax and estate planning following the Defense of Marriage Act decision by the Supreme Court of the U.S. Bob discusses the complexity of moving from a same-sex marriage state to an opposite-sex only marriage state, income tax planning for same-sex married couples, estate and gift tax planning, the marital deduction, gift splitting and portability issues, as well as IRAs and retirement plans.  [Email subscribers: Visit AICPA Insights to listen to the podcast.]

 

Tax and Estate Planning Following the DOMA Decision

 

Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, DEP, Partner, Keebler & Associates, LLP. Bob is a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Estate Planners award from the National Association of Estate Planning counsels. From 2003 to 2006, Bob was named by CPA Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential practitioners in the United States. He is the past Editor-in-Chief of CCH's magazine, Journal of Retirement Planning and a member of CCH's Financial and Estate Planning Advisory Board. His practice includes family wealth transfer and preservation planning, charitable giving, retirement distribution planning, and estate administration.  

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Health Care Reform: The Questions Just Got More Complicated

Health-care-file“What will health reform mean to my small business clients?” That was one of the hot topics identified at the recent AICPA Private Companies Practice Section Executive Committee meeting, and it’s a question that I and my colleagues on the PCPS team have been hearing from CPAs across the country. In addition, in the 2013 PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues Survey, “the effect on firms of new federal and state regulations (i.e., increasing complexity, costs to comply)” was one of the top five issues for sole practitioners, possibly due to increased concerns and client inquiries about implementing provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  PCPS uses the Top Issues Survey results to inform members about the challenges being faced by other firms and to monitor and respond to member needs.

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Placing the Public’s Interest at the Forefront

HandshakeThe CPA profession has a long-standing history of serving the public interest, with more than 125 years of providing services in the highest professional manner. As individual clients’ financial worlds become increasingly complex, many CPAs have responded by expanding their service offerings beyond traditional tax compliance and planning to include investment, estate, retirement and risk management advice.

The landmark Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed in the wake of the economic crisis of 2008, required that the Securities and Exchange Commission conduct a study on the effectiveness of the existing standards of care for financial professionals. The study covers CPAs who provide investment advice and personal financial planning services to their individual clients (download the free CPA’s Guide to Investment Advisory Business Models to determine if you have a registration requirement). Currently, broker-dealers and investment advisers operate under different standards of care.

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Health Care Considerations for Employee Benefit Plans

Health-careThe debate continues about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will impact health care costs in the overall economy. While CFOs may not be interested in the macroeconomics of it all, they will want to keep their own company’s health insurance costs down. It will not be easy. 

Signed into law in 2010 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will profoundly affect individuals, employers, health care providers and insurance companies.  In addition to the many new tax rules to offset the cost of these reforms, the law also contains many changes that employers are going to need to consider and how it may affect employee benefit plan operations, internal controls, financial reporting and more.

Here are a few things that may have a larger impact on plans:

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In the News: Paying for a Summer Studying Abroad

Graduation-abroadAs a recent – and I use the word recent liberally – college graduate, one of my few regrets is that I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to spend a summer studying abroad. I generally excuse this away because I had my hands full juggling my course work and extracurricular activities and was always eager to return to my native New York. If I was being honest with myself, the real reason was that I could never seem to navigate the financial and administrative aspects of applying to take classes overseas during the summer.

For those of you who are still in school and seeking to broaden your horizons, Michael Eisenberg, a Los Angeles-based CPA/PFS, recently spoke to U.S. News & World Report to educate their audience on how to pay for short study-abroad trips.

The article encourages students to look for scholarships and aid to pay for the parts of a short-term educational trip not eligible for 529 plan funding.

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Small Businesses and Health Care Reform – What Now?

Health-care-reformThe Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (health care reform) seeks to change the way health insurance premiums are established, just as the Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care did in Massachusetts. As CPAs’ small business clients begin to implement the requirements of health care reform, CPAs need to understand two significant ways in which their small business clients, and their own small practices, may be affected.

The Small Group Insurance Market and Increasing Premiums

The first big change that health care reform brings is the prospect of “merging” (formally or via rating rules) the small group insurance market with the individual insurance market. The individual market typically has the highest costs of all the health insurance markets due to the actuarial risk of a single covered life and the time and expense of selling single policies. The small group market, historically 50 employees or less, but in the case of health care reform, 100 employees or less (mandated to expand the risk pool base of small businesses who might also absorb the cost of the merged individual market), is significantly less risky and thus has lower premiums. As has been the case in Massachusetts, if the formal merger of the two markets’ risk pools takes place in your state, it may cause small business premiums to increase dramatically. If you or your client presently have more than 50 employees and are covered in your state’s existing large group market risk pool, premiums could rise once the small group level increase to 100 employees becomes effective in 2014.

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Vast Majority of CPAs Manually Calculate Cost Basis

How do you accurately calculate cost basis when purchase information is unknown or when securities have complicated histories? That's a dilemma many CPAs face today when calculating capital gains and losses for their tax clients – and the question we posed to readers in a recent Financial Planning Digest poll. The results of the reader poll show that despite a variety of software options on the market, 91.61% of practitioners continue to manually calculate cost basis by researching history. Only 5.64% of practitioners said that they use cost basis software and the remaining 2.76% said that they don't run into issues where client cost basis information is missing or inaccurate. 

Calculate-cost-basis

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Immediate 2012 Tax Planning Opportunities for Individuals

Bob Keebler discusses three opportunities individuals can take advantage of while we wait for final resolution on the "fiscal cliff." Bob discusses gain harvesting to avoid the increase in the capital gains, Roth conversions to avoid the increase in income tax rate and the potential to take advantage of the loss of state income tax deductions in the future, and finally funding dynasty trusts before a new federal law could come into effect. Visit aicpa.org/PFP/YearEnd for free resources to help you get financial plans in place for your clients now.

3 Immediate 2012 Tax Planning Opportunities for Individuals

Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, DEP, Partner, Keebler & Associates, LLP. Bob is a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Estate Planners award from the National Association of Estate Planning counsels. From 2003 to 2006, Bob was named by CPA Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential practitioners in the United States. He is the past Editor-in-Chief of CCH's magazine, Journal of Retirement Planning and a member of CCH's Financial and Estate Planning Advisory Board. His practice includes family wealth transfer and preservation planning, charitable giving, retirement distribution planning, and estate administration.  

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Charitable Remainder Trust and the 3.8% Medicare Surtax

The 3.8% Medicare surtax on net investment income is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2013. How this surtax will affect those who are current beneficiaries of charitable remainder trusts is a hot financial planning topic. Robert Keebler explores planning for this new surtax and the Treasury Department's recently issued regulations addressing section 1411 of the Internal Revenue Code, the 3.8% Medicare surtax in his latest podcast. Download a free Medicare surtax chart and visit aicpa.org/PFP/YearEnd for free resources to help you get financial plans in place for your clients now.  

Charitable Remainder Trust and the 3.8% Medicare Surtax

Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, DEP, Partner, Keebler & Associates, LLP. Bob is a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Estate Planners award from the National Association of Estate Planning counsels. From 2003 to 2006, Bob was named by CPA Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential practitioners in the United States. He is the past Editor-in-Chief of CCH's magazine, Journal of Retirement Planning and a member of CCH's Financial and Estate Planning Advisory Board. His practice includes family wealth transfer and preservation planning, charitable giving, retirement distribution planning, and estate administration.

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New College Planning Opportunities for Upper Income Clients

College financial aidFinancing the cost of college is a significant issue for families and for recent graduates saddled with huge student loans. The total amount of outstanding student loans—around $870 billion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York—is greater than the total level of outstanding credit card or auto loan debt. It is also growing, while the size of other consumer debt is shrinking or remaining the same. However, practitioners may not be aware that, in a surprising new wrinkle, more upper-middle-class families are now turning to student loans to help finance college costs. In fact, the greatest expansion in the percentage of student loan debt was among families with annual incomes between $94,535 and $205,335, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of recent Federal data. A total of 25.6% of them had student loan debt in 2010, up from 19.5% in 2007. The average amount they borrowed jumped to $32,869 from $26,639 in 2007, after adjusting for inflation.

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In the News: AICPA Advocates for Fiscal Responsibility

National debtAs many of you may recall, in an effort to bring attention to how and why the financial sustainability of our nation is at risk, earlier this year the AICPA developed What's at Stake? A CPA’s Insights into the Federal Government’s Finances, which explicitly spells out the issues for policy makers and the public.

Following up on those calls for solutions to our nation’s financial problems, Accounting Today reported that the AICPA’s board of directors recently voted toadopt a resolution calling on lawmakers to do more to ensure the long-term fiscal health of the United States by better controlling the growing national debt. One aspect of this resolution involves the AICPA supporting two non-partisan efforts, the Campaign to Fix the Debt and the Comeback America Initiative, both of which align with the AICPA’s goals of putting America on a better path toward fiscal responsibility.

As AccountingWEB notes, the resolution will also be shared with state CPA societies as the AICPA continues to seek ways to advocate for reduced complexity for American businesses and individuals. Stay tuned.

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3 Year-End Planning Resources to Help Clients Face the Fiscal Cliff

Fiscal-cliffNow that the election is over, the question remains: what does this mean for the upcoming tax season?  In reality, not much will change between now and Dec. 31 and the potential fiscal cliff continues to pose challenges. The more we can plan and get our clients prepared for uncertainty, the better. That’s where year-end planning comes in.

It’s important to reach out to your clients now to develop plans and analyze “what if” scenarios based on what Congress will do to tax rates, exemption extenders and overall tax policy.

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In the News: Now is the Time to Lower your 2012 Tax Bill

Tax planningFall, or autumn if you’re a season snob, is a busy time of year at the AICPA. Earlier this week, we held our Fall 2012 Governing Council Meeting – but you know that already because we’ve covered all the news earlier in the week. In addition to The World Series and beautiful foliage, fall is also the time to get proactive and take steps to lower your 2012 tax rate if you haven’t already done so.

This year, it is particularly important for taxpayers to pay close attention to the planning process with the uncertainty surrounding the potential expiration of the Bush tax cuts and many widely-used tax cuts which have not yet been renewed for the 2012 tax year . Susan B. Garland spoke to Melissa Labant,director of taxation at the AICPAabout this issue for a recent article in Kiplinger's Retirement Report focused on this issue.

The article calls attention to the fact that one of the biggest changes on the books for 2013 is a 3.8% surtax on investment income for singles with a modified Adjusted Gross Income of more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples). The tax applies to the smaller of net investment income or the amount by which taxable income exceeds the thresholds.

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Financial Education for All

Financial educationA common mantra when discussing programs and services to improve an individual’s financial understanding is “One size does not fit all.” In addition, there’s no one age where financial education should begin and end.  This was abundantly clear during the Improving Financial Literacy and Capability: What Works? conference organized held earlier this summer.  This day-long program presented the innovative ideas and work of the Financial Literacy Center, a joint effort of the RAND Corporation, Dartmouth College and the Wharton School.  Each presentation provided insights in to various approaches to and workable solutions to improving financial literacy for consumers of all ages. 

The day’s panels highlighted a variety of research, programs and technologies, and all presentations can be found on this website for the conference.  I want to share with you highlights from the presentations which made up the panel I moderated: Financial Literacy Among Young People.  The AICPA outreach efforts in this area include 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy and Feed the Pig, which encourages 25-34 year olds to improve saving habits for long-term financial health.  However, as we know, waiting until your mid-twenties to begin thinking about money and learning about good financial habits puts you at a serious disadvantage for financial security as an adult.

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In the News: Accounting Student Paul Wright Wins Medal of Inspiration Award

PaulThe AICPA recently announced Paul Wright, a student at Western Washington University, as this year’s winner of the Beta Alpha Psi’s Medal of Inspiration Award. Danielle Lee of Accounting Tomorrow reports that the AICPA-sponsored award, which includes a $5,000 cash stipend, honors a student who has experienced extreme hardships in his or her life and demonstrated an unusually high level of success in face of this adversity. Wright was born with arthrogryposis, a disability which includes stiff joints and missing muscle, requiring multiple surgeries before he turned 16. AccountingWEB noted that, despite his disability, Wright enrolled in Western Washington University, declared an accounting major and last April joined Beta Alpha Psi, an honorary organization for financial information students and professionals. He has worked with the university’s disability resource center and local BAP chapter to stream meetings to students who couldn’t attend. “A key lesson I learned while growing up is that true strength comes from the heart,” said Wright. “I know that I work harder for everything and that makes me feel even prouder of my accomplishments.”

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Interview: Tax Aspects of Donating a Car to Charity

Donate vehicle to charityWhile donating a car to a charity can get you a nice deduction, it can be complicated and confusing. Kars4Kids, a national car donation charity, interviewed Jerry Love, CPA, who has extensive experience consulting clients on donating cars to charities. This is a summary of the interview; the full interview can be found on AICPA.org.

Kars4Kids: How important is it for a donor to document the donation?

JL: The Internal Revenue Service has gotten very strict recently and will disallow deductions or impose fines if a vehicle donation is not documented properly.

Kars4Kids: What is the proper documentation that donors should get from the charity?

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CPAs Stress the Importance of Long-Term Care

Long-term care for retirementThere is no way to sugar coat it, readers - we are all getting older. I remember when I was a teenager, I would complain about the aches and pains I would get from playing sports and my father would say to me with a wry smile “wait until you get older.” My health was not an issue I wished to consider back when I was a teenager, and I don’t particularly like thinking about it now – but there is certainly no getting around the fact that the older we get, the more important it is to have a plan in place to deal with health issues as they arise.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2010 and 2050, the U.S. is projected to experience rapid growth in its older population. In 2050, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to be 88.5 million, more than double its projected population of 40.2 million in 2010. This means that an increasing number of Americans will be making important decisions about their long-term health in the coming years.

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Estates and Trusts with 3.8% Medicare Surtax

The Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act confirmed that trusts and estates will be subject to a new 3.8% Medicare surtax when net investment income exceeds a threshold amount. This year presents an unprecedented opportunity for you to differentiate your firm and services and show that you provide significant value to your clients by having all of their financial planning needs in mind, including retirement, estate, tax, investment and insurance planning. With so many unknowns in 2013 compounded by an election year, your clients need to take advantage of many financial planning avenues now to avoid missing crucial opportunities to protect their nest egg and increase their net worth. Listen to a recent podcast below from Bob Keebler, CPA, in which he points out issues surrounding this new surtax and how to plan for trusts and estates. Access other resources to help you educate your clients and proactively plan now in preparation for 2013.

Estates and Trusts with the 3.8% Medicare Surtax

Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, DEP, Partner, Keebler & Associates, LLP. Bob is a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Estate Planners award from the National Association of Estate Planning counsels. From 2003 to 2006, Bob was named by CPA Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential practitioners in the United States. He is the past Editor-in-Chief of CCH's magazine, Journal of Retirement Planning and a member of CCH's Financial and Estate Planning Advisory Board. His practice includes family wealth transfer and preservation planning, charitable giving, retirement distribution planning, and estate administration.  

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Key Income Tax Planning Ideas for 2012

This year presents an unprecedented opportunity for CPAs to differentiate their firm and services and show that they provide significant value to their clients by having all of their clients' financial planning needs in mind, including retirement, estate, tax, investment and insurance planning. With so many unknowns in 2013 compounded by an election year, clients need to take advantage of many financial planning avenues now to avoid missing crucial opportunities to protect their nest egg and increase their net worth. Listen to Bob Keebler as he discusses how CPAs can use this uncertain time to help their clients plan for the future.

Key Income Tax Planning Ideas for 2012

Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, DEP, Partner, Keebler & Associates, LLP. Bob is a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Estate Planners award from the National Association of Estate Planning counsels. From 2003 to 2006, Bob was named by CPA Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential practitioners in the United States. He is the past Editor-in-Chief of CCH's magazine, Journal of Retirement Planning and a member of CCH's Financial and Estate Planning Advisory Board. His practice includes family wealth transfer and preservation planning, charitable giving, retirement distribution planning, and estate administration.  

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CPAs Can Help Americans Plan for a Secure Retirement

Cpaletterdaily-readerpoll-retirementA recent CPA Letter Daily Poll recently asked the question, “What would make you cash in your 401(k) before retirement?” and an astounding 42% said nothing.  It’s not that they didn’t answer the question asked, because they did answer it, only their answer was “nothing.” Nothing would ever make them cash in their retirement savings before retirement. People are beginning to realize that you might need to struggle a little more today so that you do not have to struggle in your later years.

Of the remaining 58% respondents to the poll, 47% would use their 401(k) funds prematurely to supplement cash flow because of a loss of employment or to pay their mortgage.  Both of these choices fall into the category of providing cash for the needed expenses in life, certainly understandable.  The CPA Letter Daily is distributed predominantly to CPAs and I’m sure the respondents were also CPAs who have a current 401(k) plan balance.  What is the average worker in the U.S. doing to save for retirement?

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Whatever November Brings, Start Preparing Clients Now

2013 tax uncertaintyThere will be some significant potential consequences on the horizon if Congress allows certain existing tax laws to expire on January 1, 2013. With only a few months left to plan, it’s time for CPAs to be aggressive in educating clients about the decisions they may face.

Several tax changes are now set to occur at the beginning of 2013 if Congress does not act. Among them:

  • Individual income tax rates will go up.
  • Long-term capital gains rates will rise.
  • The gift and estate tax exemption will drop from $5.12 million to $1 million. Estate assets more than the $1 million exemption will be taxed at a maximum 55% rate.
  • Taxpayers whose income exceeds a set “threshold amount” will be subject to a 3.8% Medicare surtax on net investment income, effectively raising their marginal income tax rate. An affected taxpayer in the 39.6% bracket—the highest bracket in 2013—will have a 43.4% marginal rate. This will apply to individuals and trusts and estates.

Continue reading "Whatever November Brings, Start Preparing Clients Now" »

In the News: Leave that Savings Alone

A Bankrate.com article titled “Four Ways to Avoid Dipping Into Your Savings Account” quoted Kelley Long, a Chicago CPA, personal finance coach, and member of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. In the article, Long provides prudent advice on how to keep the money currently in your savings account right where it is. She suggests savers don't get an ATM card or sign-up for Internet account access - because it provides the user with hassle free access to their savings. For more savings tips, please visit 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy, a free program of the nation’s CPAs to help American’s understand their personal finances through every life stage.

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Majority Don’t Expect to Retire at 65

A recent poll conducted by CPA Letter Daily asked the question, “Do you think you will continue to work past 65?”  Coincidentally, the number 65 came up again. 

  • Yes – 64.8%
  • No – 29.31%
  • I don’t know – 5.89%

Approximately 65 percent of the respondents said they would be working beyond age 65.  Do that many people love what they do for a living or is there something else happening?

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AICPA Tells Congress to Keep Oversight of Investment Advisers with SEC

As the AICPA gears up for our 125th Anniversary next week, here’s a wrap up of a few interesting accounting topics recently making the news. You can follow @AICPANews on Twitter to stay on top of all the latest official AICPA news as well as articles impacting the profession.

Barry MelanconCFO.com wrote that the AICPA raised concerns over the Investment Adviser Oversight Act of 2012 and urged Congress to keep oversight of investment advisers with the SEC. Introduced in the House of Representatives on April 25, the bill would transfer oversight of investment advisers from the SEC to a self-regulatory organization."Many of our members work for a firm that is registered as, or affiliated with, a registered investment adviser," Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, AICPA president and CEO, said in a statement. The AICPA's stance is that the system proposed under the bill would cost advisers much more in fees than current SEC oversight would.

On January 19, 2011, the SEC issued a staff report that found the current SEC-registered investment-adviser examination program faces hefty capacity and funding challenges. Three options were proposed to offset these challenges.  One would be to impose "user fees" on SEC-registered investment advisers to fund oversight. A second would authorize one or more SROs to examine investment advisers, with oversight from the SEC. A third choice would be to authorize the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a leading broker-dealer SRO, to examine dual registrants for compliance with the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. All three options require congressional action. "We believe that the SEC's core mission to protect investors requires adequate regulation of the investment advisory profession. The SEC remains the proper regulatory body to protect the public's best interest." Melancon said, "Providing the SEC with resources to properly enforce their rules is the best solution for investors and the public."

Continue reading "AICPA Tells Congress to Keep Oversight of Investment Advisers with SEC" »

From Tax Preparer to Financial Planner

Financial planning consultation

Congratulations on making it through another tax season! As you helped your clients prepare their tax returns, did you ask yourself any of these questions?

  • Who, if anyone, is looking at their overall financial picture?
  • What can I do to help remove financial obstacles so they can accomplish their goals?
  • Can I offer financial knowledge, analysis and a framework to make this person’s dreams a reality?

From those long hours, including rigorous reviews and meetings with clients, you’ve gained unique insight into their lives – insight into their incomes, spending habits, investments and life events. While reviewing those 1040s, you are able to envision potential tax impacts of financial decisions and begin considering tax planning opportunities for your clients. This is a great first step in helping them meet their overall financial planning needs, including making estate, retirement, tax, investment and insurance planning decisions to move them toward meeting their long term goals.

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4 Tips to Stay in the Loop on your Finances

The loopI recently read a blog post that talked about ‘the loop,’ which is essentially the browsing cycle we go through on the internet. This caused me to reflect upon my own habits on the web when I’m home relaxing in front of the computer. I found out that I have a regular routine of scanning the news, checking for any new sports information, seeing what my friends had for breakfast on social media and ensuring any emails are responded to promptly. I do this two or three times on an average night and as many as a dozen times on the weekends (please don’t judge me).

However, I’ve recently made it a point to expand the loop at least once daily to include checking my bank account and recent credit card spending, as well as my 401(k) and investment portfolio. Because as Jordan Amin, CPA, chair of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission puts it, “the first rule of personal finance is be informed.”

Continue reading "4 Tips to Stay in the Loop on your Finances" »

In the News: Accounting named one of the Happiest Jobs in America

We’ve got a lot of big things on the horizon at the AICPA: April Financial Literacy Month (we’ll be releasing survey results on the financial state of Americans) and in mid-May, we’ll be celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the AICPA at our Spring Council meeting in Washington D.C.

Barry Melancon, CPA, Testifying in front of CongressWhich is not to say that we’ve haven’t been busy lately! Just in the last week we released the results of our CGMA Global Economic Forecast and Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, president and CEO of the AICPA, testified before the House Capital Markets Subcommittee Accounting and Auditing Oversight Hearing. Melancon told members of the subcommittee that AICPA supports a strong, balanced and independent regulatory structure that protects investors but does not restrict the flow of capital.

During busy season and year-round, you can keep abreast of all the most important AICPA news by subscribing to the Media Relations RSS feed or following @AICPANews on Twitter. On to news of note from the last few days.

Continue reading "In the News: Accounting named one of the Happiest Jobs in America" »

Proactive Planning with Your Individual Clients During Tax Season

In this audio stream, Lyle, Ted and Scott discuss why 2012 is a critical year to proactively plan with your clients.  Hear about planning techniques that need to be considered now given the many unknowns in 2013. Learn about planning opportunities that can be uncovered while you’re preparing your clients 2011 tax returns. Find out tips to communicate the value of financial planning with clients, and how you can get paid for the work you are providing and increase your bottom line by adding or expanding Personal Financial Planning services.

Proactive Planning with Your Individual Clients during Tax Season

If you prefer, you can read the entire transcript after the jump or download this and other audio webcasts from the Personal Financial Planning Section on AICPA.org.

Lyle Benson, CPA/PFS, President, L.K. Benson & Co. Based in Baltimore, Lyle runs his practice as a multi-family office, offering traditional tax services as well as a full scope of financial planning, including estate, retirement, investment, insurance and tax planning. He oversees clients’ investment portfolios and his compensation model is retainer/hourly fee.

Ted Sarenski, CPA/PFS, President, Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC. Based in Syracuse, New York, Ted has gotten a taste for providing PFP services in a larger CPA firm and on his own. He provides financial planning services and manages assets. His compensation model is a mix of hourly, retainer and assets under management fees.

Scott Sprinkle, CPA/PFS, Partner, Sprinkle Financial Consultants, LLC. Based in Littleton, Colorado, Scott runs a traditional CPA practice alongside a registered investment adviser entity. He offers a full scope of tax and PFP services, and charges a mix of hourly, retainer and assets under management fees.

Continue reading "Proactive Planning with Your Individual Clients During Tax Season" »

AICPA Podcast on Estate Planning Impact of the President’s Budget Proposals

A 20 minute podcast on the estate planning and financial planning impact of the estate tax provisions in the recently released President’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal covers various provisions, including those affecting intentionally defective grantor trusts, valuation discounts and grantor retained annuity trusts.  Even though these provisions may not be enacted this year, it will help you have intelligent conversations with your clients, know what the President’s legislative agenda for this year is, and be prepared for some of the estate tax provisions that may eventually be enacted.

Estate Planning Impact of the President’s Budget Proposals

If you prefer, you can read the entire transcript after the jump or download this and other audio webcasts from the Personal Financial Planning Section on AICPA.org.

Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, DEP, Partner, Keebler & Associates, LLP. Bob is a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Estate Planners award from the National Association of Estate Planning counsels. From 2003 to 2006, Bob was named by CPA Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential practitioners in the United States. He is the past Editor-in-Chief of CCH's magazine, Journal of Retirement Planning and a member of CCH's Financial and Estate Planning Advisory Board. His practice includes family wealth transfer and preservation planning, charitable giving, retirement distribution planning, and estate administration.  

Continue reading "AICPA Podcast on Estate Planning Impact of the President’s Budget Proposals" »

In the News: Clients Increasingly Turn to CPAs for Financial Planning

Financial planning consultation

While economic uncertainty persists and conflicting economic indicators make predicting the progress of the recovery tough, stocks have been on the rise since late 2011. With the Dow crossing the 13,000 threshold earlier this week, many investors may be considering a return to the market. Before making any important financial decision, it’s essential to develop a plan that addresses the specific situation and ensures alignment with one’s goals for the future. As a number of recent news articles below demonstrate, individuals are increasingly turning to their CPA for help making investment decisions and planning their financial future, and the AICPA is ensuring that CPAs have the tools they need to best advise their clients.

Investment News reports that, as a result of increased demand from their clients, more CPAs than ever before are offering financial planning services. CPAs, who are trusted advisors to their clients, may have an advantage on other investment professionals. “We're in a natural position of trust with clients to expand into financial planning,” said Lyle Benson, CPA/PFS, of the executive committee of the AICPA's Personal Financial Planning section. The economic conditions in the U.S. have only added to the perception that CPAs are one of the best options for financial planning, and the AICPA is ensuring that members who wish to expand their financial planning services have the resources they need. “With the uncertain times, our members are seeing a lot more demand from clients for financial planning services,” said Andrea Millar, CPA/PFS, senior technical manager of the AICPA’s Personal Financial Planning section. “In recent years, we've expanded our efforts to help them add that to their practices.”

Continue reading "In the News: Clients Increasingly Turn to CPAs for Financial Planning" »

Tax Time is the Right Time for Financial Planning

If you’re like any of the CPAs I know, you’re probably fishing receipts from shoeboxes right about now, brewing coffee like it’s a second job and greeting the sun most days from your office chair.

It is, after all, that most taxing of seasons: tax season.

But in those long hours and rigorous reviews you’re also getting fresh insight into the lives of your clients – insight into their incomes, spending habits, investments and life events. That’s why tax season is a great gateway to financial planning. And why CPAs are uniquely positioned to excel as financial planners.

Continue reading "Tax Time is the Right Time for Financial Planning " »

In the News: Accounting Graduates Earn 20% More than Average

multi ethnic graduation studentsThe National Association of Colleges and Employers recently released the findings of their latest Job Outlook survey, which contained good news for current accounting students as well as recent accounting graduates. According to the survey, accounting majors who graduated in 2011 earned an average starting salary of $50,500, up 3.7 percent from the previous year and roughly 20 percent more than the average starting salary of all graduates. This increase isn’t an anomaly, according to Andrea Koncz of NACE, who told FINS.com that "entry-level accounting and finance jobs tend to see steady growth from year to year."

Continue reading "In the News: Accounting Graduates Earn 20% More than Average" »

Financial Planning Conference Attracted Diverse Crowd (Part 3)

Personal Financial Specialist 25th anniversary

The third and final part of this series covering the 2012 AICPA Advanced PFP Conference. Our on the ground bloggers:

Jean-Luc Bourdon, CPA/PFS, Principal, BrightPath Wealth Planning LLC. Jean-Luc is a regular contributor to CPA Insider and currently serves on the AICPA’s PFS Credential Committee.

Theodore Sarenski, CPA/PFS, President/CEO, Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC. Ted is an appointed member of the AICPA Virtual Grassroots Panel, Social Security Task Force and Planner Magazine Editorial Advisory Board. Ted serves as Chair of the AICPA Elder Planning Task Force and is a liaison to the AICPA PFP Executive Committee.

From the beginning, several other attendees posted notable take-aways on Twitter. Take a look at what experts, including Michael Kitces, Mitch Freeman, Bill Winterberg and Carolyn McClanahan, had to say at the bottom of this post.

Continue reading "Financial Planning Conference Attracted Diverse Crowd (Part 3)" »

Financial Planning Conference Provides Wealth of Knowledge (Part 2)

Personal Financial Specialist 25th anniversary

Part 2 covering day two of the 2012 AICPA Advanced PFP Conference. Our on the ground bloggers:

Jean-Luc Bourdon, CPA/PFS, Principal, BrightPath Wealth Planning LLC. Jean-Luc is a regular contributor to CPA Insider and currently serves on the AICPA’s PFS Credential Committee.

Theodore Sarenski, CPA/PFS, President/CEO, Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC. Ted is an appointed member of the AICPA Virtual Grassroots Panel, Social Security Task Force and Planner Magazine Editorial Advisory Board. Ted serves as Chair of the AICPA Elder Planning Task Force and is a liaison to the AICPA PFP Executive Committee.

From the beginning, several other attendees posted notable take-aways on Twitter. Take a look at what experts, including Michael Kitces, Mitch Freeman, Bill Winterberg and Carolyn McClanahan, had to say at the bottom of this post.

Continue reading "Financial Planning Conference Provides Wealth of Knowledge (Part 2)" »

Financial Planning Conference Offers Path to New Career (Part 1)

Personal Financial Specialist 25th anniversaryThe 2012 AICPA Advanced Personal Financial Planning Conference concluded Wednesday at the Aria Resort in Las Vegas. The conference, held annually, brings together experts from four diverse financial planning areas: Investment Management, Wealth Management, Practice Management and Retirement/Elder Planning. This year we asked two attendees to share their thoughts and experiences from the financial planning conference. See what they had to say.

Our on the ground bloggers:

Jean-Luc Bourdon, CPA/PFS, Principal, BrightPath Wealth Planning LLC. Jean-Luc is a regular contributor to CPA Insider and currently serves on the AICPA’s PFS Credential Committee.

Theodore Sarenski, CPA/PFS, President/CEO, Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC. Ted is an appointed member of the AICPA Virtual Grassroots Panel, Social Security Task Force and Planner Magazine Editorial Advisory Board. Ted serves as Chair of the AICPA Elder Planning Task Force and is a liaison to the AICPA PFP Executive Committee.

Continue reading "Financial Planning Conference Offers Path to New Career (Part 1)" »

In the News: Easy Steps to Save $1,000

Mackey McNeillDo you happen to be one of the many people who has resolved to make saving money a priority this year? Do you also find yourself in the category of those who feel they cannot even save $25 a week?  If so, Mackey McNeill, CPA/PFS, a former member of the AICPA’s National Financial Literacy Commission, has offered some actionable tips to help you painlessly save $1,000 this year in an article appearing on depositaccounts.com.

McNeill suggests finding your largest discretionary expense and challenging yourself to spend 5% less. For example, if you spend $400 a month at the grocery store, make it your goal to reduce that figure to $380. The 5% challenge works because it doesn’t feel like a huge sacrifice, but $20 over the course of a month translates to a cool $240 a year (full disclosure: I was a math minor).

Continue reading "In the News: Easy Steps to Save $1,000" »

Cost Basis Reporting Rules

In this audio stream, Michael Kitces covers the new cost basis reporting rules enacted under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

Note that the new tracking rules will require any financial intermediaries (i.e., generally all brokers and custodians, as well as certain other types of financial institutions) that currently issue Form 1099-B to report using an updated version, which tracks not only the gross proceeds from sales of securities, but the cost basis, acquisition date, amount of gain/loss, and character of the gain/loss (i.e., short-term or longterm). Actual reporting on cost basis will be phased in over time, with equities in 2011, mutual funds and dividend reinvestment plans in 2012, and bonds and other securities in 2013.

Michael Kitces on Cost Basis Reporting Rules

If you prefer, you can read the entire transcript after the jump or download this and other audio webcasts from the Personal Financial Planning Section on AICPA.org.

Michael Kitces, Director of Research, Pinnacle Advisory Group. Michael is the publisher of the e-newsletter The Kitces Report and the blog Nerd’s Eye View through his website kitces.com, dedicated to advancing knowledge in financial planning.

Continue reading "Cost Basis Reporting Rules" »

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