The Shape of Tax to Come

A Tax & Estate Planning blog for 21st-century Texans

Steven Colbert on the Estate Tax Repeal

Colbert, in his own fashion, gets to one of the main issues with the current estate tax. 
Is it better to have somebody die now and avoid paying the estate tax?  Based on what happened during the Clinton administration, it is not a far cry to expect that any change in the law will be made retroactive to January 1, 2010.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

New York Times: Why Can’t the IRS Help Fill in the Blanks?:

For many taxpayers, filing out simple returns is still a major chore.  There has been a growing movement to have the IRS provide taxpayers with pre-filled returns to take much of the headache out of the return process.

Requiring taxpayers to file returns without being told what the government already knows makes as much sense “as if Visa sent customers a blank piece of paper, requiring that they assemble their receipts, list their purchases — and pay a fine if they forget one,” said Joseph Bankman, a professor at the Stanford Law School.

Many developed countries now offer taxpayers a return containing all information collected by the taxing authority — to “get the ball rolling by telling you what it knows,” Mr. Bankman says.

It’s a stunningly reasonable idea. When you prepare your return, why can’t you first download whatever data the Internal Revenue Service has received about you and, if your return is simple, learn what the I.R.S.’s calculation of your taxes would be? You’d have the chance to check whether the information was accurate, correct it as needed and add any pertinent details — that you’re newly married, for example, or have a new child — before sending it. Far better to discover problems early with the I.R.S., whose say matters more than third-party software’s best guess.

The I.R.S., however, isn’t rushing to offer returns that are already filled in. In the 2009 report to Congress of its Taxpayer Advocate Service, it noted that during the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama proposed giving taxpayers “the option of pre-filled tax forms to verify, sign and return.” The report said “it is not feasible at this time” because the agency receives W-2 data from the Social Security Administration and 1099 data from financial institutions too late in the filing season, “much later than most eligible taxpayers would be willing to wait.”

January 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

The Top Ten Reasons NOT to Prepare Your Will and Guardianship Paperwork

1.    You want your children’s future to be decided in a lengthy and costly courtroom battle.

2.    You would like to end up relaxing in bed for several years like Terry Schiavo as your family argues about what you wishes were while medical bills and lawyers’ fees spiral out of control.

3.    You know exactly how the Texas community property system works.

4.    You want the State of Texas to decide where you property goes when you die.

5.     You like paying lawyers to go to the courthouse every time your survivors want to deal with your assets.

6.    You don’t really care what happens to your body after your death.

7.    You are certain that your minor children will be ready to manage the full value of their inheritance within a few months of your death.

8.    In the event of an emergency, you don’t care if police, fire department, or paramedics know your blood type, your allergies, and whom to contact first.

9.    You are confident that the $69.00 will from LegalZoom perfectly provides for all of your bequests exactly as you wanted and in accordance with the Texas Probate Code thereby avoiding the excitement and family entertainment value of your will being contested.

10.    You are not concerned about your loved ones’ financial well-being after you’re gone.

I’ll be developing each of these topics in later entries.  For right now, it is enough that you are thinking about the consequences of not having this paperwork completed.

January 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: