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San Jose tax compliance attorney for form 3520 and 3520-AThe more complex a person’s assets and debts, the more complex his or her tax return will typically be. Non-U.S. trusts and trusts involving gifts from people outside the United States require especially specific tax documentation. Taxpayers who fail to file the applicable tax documents or make errors on trust-related tax forms are subject to significant penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Determining which tax forms are needed and accurately completing these forms is increasingly time-consuming and stressful for many taxpayers. Fortunately, a qualified tax attorney can help. If you are required to file tax Form 3520 or 3520-A this tax season, it is crucial that you complete this paperwork promptly and accurately.

Form 3520 and 3520-A Errors Can Cost You

When reporting transactions with non-U.S. trusts, ownership of non-U.S. trusts subject to Internal Revenue Codes 671 - 679, or receipt of gifts from non-U.S. persons or businesses, you may need to file Form 3520. If you are the trustee of a foreign grantor trust with a grantor in the United States, you will likely be required to file Form 3520-A. Form 3520 is due by April 15. However if the taxpayer lives and works outside the United States, the deadline is June 15. Form 3520-A must be filed by March 15. Time extensions may be granted for qualifying applicants who take the appropriate steps.

If you are required to submit Form 3520 and the form is incomplete, inaccurate, or is not filed before the deadline, you will be subject to a penalty. The initial penalty is typically the greater of $10,000 or 35 percent of the value of the property added to the trust, 35 percent of the distributions received by the U.S. beneficiary, or 5 percent of the value of the trust assets owned by the U.S. grantor. Taxpayers may be subject to additional penalties and other consequences if the noncompliance continues after the IRS notifies the taxpayer of the compliance issue.

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San Jose, CA gift tax attorney marital deductionMany people have strong feelings about the inheritance they plan to leave to loved ones when they pass away. After working hard to acquire assets throughout your life, you do not want the value of these assets to be reduced through estate tax or gift tax. If this is something you are concerned about, you may be interested to learn about an estate preservation tool called the unlimited marital deduction.

The Unlimited Marital Deduction Allows Married Couples to Be Treated as One Economic Entity

The unlimited marital deduction lets an individual leave money or property to his or her spouse without incurring immediate federal taxes or penalties. The value of the property that you can transfer is unlimited, and this transfer can take place during your lifetime or upon your death. In 1982, the unlimited marital deduction took effect, eliminating the federal gift and estate tax for property transfers involving spouses. This provision changed the law so that married spouses are now treated as one financial unit when it comes to property transfers.

The Marital Deduction Delays Estate Tax Liability

Spouses have the opportunity to transfer all of their property to a surviving spouse if they choose to do so, and they can do this without incurring federal gift tax or estate tax liability. However, this property is still included in the surviving spouse’s taxable estate, and it is therefore subject to taxation when the second spouse passes away. The unlimited marital deduction effectively delays the estate tax liability until the second spouse in a marriage passes away. It should be noted that in order to take advantage of the unlimited marital deduction, the spouse receiving the property transfer must be a U.S. citizen. However, other estate planning instruments such as a qualified domestic trust may help those who are not yet U.S. citizens gain the marital deduction and reduce their estate taxes.

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San Jose tax law attorney for estate taxes and TCJAWhen a large amount of money is transferred as a gift, there are certain gift taxes that apply. Similarly, funds left to heirs after an individual passes away are subject to estate taxes. Typically, a unified rate schedule is applied to an individual’s cumulative taxable gifts and/or estate in order to reach a net expected tax. The tax owed is determined after a credit contingent on an exclusion amount is applied. The basic exclusion amount (BEA) is first applied to the gift tax. Any remaining credit is then applied to the estate tax. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has instituted several major changes to the way gift tax and estate tax are calculated. If you are considering making a large gift in the next several years, read on to learn more about how these changes may affect you.

How the TCJA Changed Gift Taxes and Estate Taxes

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made far-reaching changes to United States tax law. One of these changes involves the basic exclusion amount that is applied to gift taxes and estate taxes. The TCJA temporarily doubled the BEA for the years 2018-2025. The BEA rose from $5 million to $10 million, or $11.18 million when adjusted for inflation. In 2026, the BEA is expected to return to the amount (after being adjusted for inflation) that it was before 2018. This means that you may currently leave just over $11 million to heirs without paying federal estate or gift tax. The annual gift exclusion remains $15,000.

IRS Clarifies How the Increased BEA Will Affect Taxpayers

Many taxpayers have expressed concerns about what will happen once the BEA returns to the pre-2018 amount. They worry that taking advantage of the increased BEA might negatively impact them in the future. In response, the IRS has issued a clarifying explanation. There is a special rule that allows estate tax credits to be calculated using either gifts made during a person’s life or the BEA applicable on their date of death – whichever is higher. If you want to make a large gift before 2026, you do not have to worry about losing the benefit of the increased BEA. Even if the basic exclusion amount has reverted to a lower dollar amount when a person dies than it was when s/he made a large gift, the gift tax portion of the estate tax calculation is still based on the higher BEA that previously applied.

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San Jose, CA tax attorney for corporate taxes and TCJAA C Corporation is a separate legal entity that protects a business owner’s assets from creditor claims. All corporations are C corporations by default until a business owner files for S corporation status. In a C corporation, business income and expenses are taxed to the corporation. When a business owner or owners receive profits from the business as dividends, the owner(s) must also pay income tax on the profits – creating a double taxation situation. On the other hand, S corporations are “flow-through” entities, meaning business income is treated as owner and investor income for tax purposes. This may make it seem as if operating your business as an S corporation is a better choice than operating it as a C corporation. However, major changes to U.S tax law were established by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that may influence your decision regarding corporation status.

The Qualified Business Income Deduction

The TCJA initiated sweeping changes to tax law, including the new qualified business income deduction, which is also called the Section 199A deduction. This deduction allows certain individuals the opportunity to deduct up to 20 percent of their qualified business income. However, business income generated by a C corporation is not eligible for this deduction. The TCJA also enacted a flat 21 percent tax rate on C corporations, which is much lower than the previous rate of 35 percent. Because income from an S corporation is taxed at the personal level instead of the corporate level, S corporation income does not qualify for the 21 percent tax rate. S corporation income flows through to the shareholders’ personal tax returns and can therefore be taxed at rates as high as 37 percent.

Potential Issues Regarding Switching From S Corporation to C Corporation Status

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act included provisions to help make the transition from S corporation to C corporation easier. Section 1371(f) extends the time period during which an eligible terminated S corporation can make tax-free distributions from its accumulated adjustments account. Business owners should keep in mind that there is a time constraint regarding the transition relief offered by the TCJA. An eligible terminated S corporation must revoke its S election no more than two years after the TCJA is enacted. This means that reversals after December 22, 2019, will not qualify.

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San Jose tax lawyer for amended tax returns

In previous blogs, we have discussed the many consequences of not paying your taxes in full. However, sometimes a person has the opposite problem: the overpayment of taxes. If you have inadvertently or mistakenly paid more than your fair share of taxes, you may wonder if there is a way to get that extra money back. Whether or not the IRS will refund your money is based on many factors. Read on to learn about your options if you have overpaid your taxes and how a qualified tax lawyer can help.

Getting a Refund From the IRS

If you have overpaid the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you may be able to receive a refund. If the IRS is aware that you overpaid, the agency may correct the issue by refunding you the extra balance. For example, if your tax return shows that you owe $2,000, and you send the IRS a check for $3,000, the IRS may refund you the extra $1,000 without issue. However, the situation becomes more complicated when the IRS is not aware of the overpayment. 

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