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Benefactors Beware: Fake Charities Included in IRS List of Top Tax Scams for 2017

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Written by Emily Manns and originally posted on BryanCaveCharityLaw.com

Every year, the IRS issues its “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams list, a compilation of tactics and devices used by scam artists against taxpayers.  While the threat exists year-round, the IRS promulgates the list ahead of filing season. As susceptible taxpayers prepare their returns, they face a higher risk of being targeted.

Charitable Income Tax Deductions: The Rockefeller Edition

rockefeller-center-midtown-west--new-york-city-new-york-usa_mainBillionaire David Rockefeller passed away this week at the age of 101.  According to Forbes magazine, during his lifetime, the well-known philanthropist gave away nearly $2 billion.

In light of this newsworthy charitable donation, we thought now would be a good time to remind everyone of some of the basic income tax deductions available for gifts to charities.

IRS Updates Form 990-EZ and New Options to Help Exempt Organizations Avoid Errors

February 1, 2017

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Bryan Cave’s Tax Exempt and Charitable Planning Team posted the following:

WASHINGTON — The IRS announced today the release of an updated Form 990-EZ, Short Form Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, that will help tax-exempt organizations avoid common mistakes when filing their annual return.

The updated Form 990-EZ includes 29 “help” icons describing key information needed to complete many of the fields within the form. The icons also provide links to additional helpful information available on IRS.gov. These “pop-up” boxes share information to help small and mid-size exempt organizations avoid common mistakes when filling out the form and filing their return.

“We’ve been reviewing the areas of the form where exempt organizations encounter the most trouble,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “One out of three paper filers has an error on their form. After reviewing these trouble spots, we developed this new option to help groups

IRS Provides Sample Language for “Qualified Contingency” to Meet “Probability of Exhaustion Test”

One of the many requirements that a trust must meet in order for it to qualify as a Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (“CRAT”) is the “Probability of Exhaustion Test”.  This test applies to CRATs whose annuity term is based on one or more lifetimes, and requires the likelihood that the charitable remainder beneficiary will not receive its interest in the trust be 5% or less.  If a trust fails the test, then the charitable remainder interest does not qualify for income, gift, or estate tax charitable deductions, and the trust is not exempt from income tax.

Review of Income Tax Deduction Rules for Charitable Gifts

 

People.com is reporting that Amber Heard, who received a $7 million settlement in her divorce from Johnny Depp this week, is donating the entire $7 million settlement to charities with “a particular focus to stop violence against women” as well as the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

In light of this newsworthy charitable donation, we thought now would be a good time to remind everyone of some of the basic income tax deductions available for gifts to charities.

Treasury Green Book Proposals — Charitable Contribution Deduction Limitations

The Department of the Treasury has released the Treasury Green Book  for Fiscal Year 2017, which provides explanations of the President’s budget proposals.  One such proposal (remember…these are just proposals, not actual changes in the law) that may affect your estate planning, if passed, is found on page 252 of the Green Book and is re-printed here for your convenience:

CONSOLIDATE CONTRIBUTION LIMITATIONS FOR CHARITABLE DEDUCTIONS AND EXTEND THE CARRYFORWARD PERIOD FOR EXCESS CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTION DEDUCTION AMOUNTS

Current Law

Current law limits the amount of charitable contribution deductions a donor may claim to a share of the donor’s contribution base (the taxpayer’s AGI computed without regard to any net operating loss carryback for the taxable year). An individual taxpayer may generally deduct up to 50 percent of his or her contribution base for contributions of cash to public charities, and up to 30 percent for cash contributions to

Treasury Green Book Proposals — Private Foundations

The Department of the Treasury has released the Treasury Green Book  for Fiscal Year 2017, which provides explanations of the President’s budget proposals.  One such proposal (remember…these are just proposals, not actual changes in the law) that may affect your estate planning, if passed, is found on page 240 of the Green Book and is re-printed here for your convenience:

REFORM EXCISE TAX BASED ON INVESTMENT INCOME OF PRIVATE FOUNDATIONS

Current Law

Private foundations that are exempt from Federal income tax generally are subject to a two percent excise tax on their net investment income. The excise tax rate is reduced to one percent in any year in which the foundation’s distributions for charitable purposes exceed the average level of the foundation’s charitable distributions over the five preceding taxable years (with certain adjustments). Private foundations that are not exempt from Federal income tax, including certain charitable trusts, must

Starting and Governing a Nonprofit 501(c)(3) Organization in Missouri

When: Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Where: Social Sciences and Business Building — SSB # 411 on the UM-St. Louis North Campus Fee: $89 (includes lunch)

Program Description:  Starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and governing a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization are flip sides of the same coin.  Steps you take in forming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation affect how your organization must operate in the future. Steps you take in the governance and operation of your 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation affect your ability to maintain your 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the IRS on an ongoing basis.

Come to this class to learn how to start a Missouri nonprofit corporation that will seek to obtain 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from the IRS. In addition, this class will also cover good governance policies, strategies, and requirements that will allow your organization to maintain its 501(c)(3) tax exempt status on

Review of Income Tax Deduction Rules for Charitable Gifts

According to area newspaper the St. Louis Post Dispatch, one of St. Louis’ wealthiest families, that of Enterprise Holdings founder Jack Taylor, is making some very large charitable donations this week–a total of $92.5 million to 13 cultural institutions and charities, most local to St. Louis.

In light of this, we thought now would be a good time to remind everyone of some of the basic income tax deductions available for gifts to charities.

Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) governs income tax deductions for charitable contributions. In the case of an individual making a cash gift to a Section 501(c)(3) organization classified as a “public charity” (such as churches, schools, hospitals, and governmental units), the gift is deductible for federal income tax purposes so long as the aggregate gifts do not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (“AGI”) for the taxable year.

Cross Your Ts and Dot Your Is – Respect the Formalities of your Family Limited Partnership

155606531 (1)A family limited partnership (“FLP”) can be a useful estate planning tool. A FLP a limited partnership where family members own the limited partnership interests and under certain circumstances may be members or owners in the entity which acts as general partner of the FLP as well. Various family members will invest in the FLP and take back interests proportionate to the capital invested. The limited partners of the FLP are not responsible for making any decisions about underlying FLP assets. They receive distributions or make capital contributions based solely on the decision of the general partner.

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