Archive for the ‘Finance/ Retirement’ Category

Video (7.32 minutes) #Trump Tax Reform Will Likely Benefit Taxpayers at All Levels

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Video: President-Elect #Trump Tax Proposal Will Likely Favorably Impact Most Taxpayers.


With control of Congress, President-Elect Trump will most likely be able to get many of the tax provisions he promised during the election passed.  A business tax decrease to as low as 15% (from the current maximum of 36%) and a personal tax decrease to 33% (currently as high as 39.6% plus 3.8% on net investment income).  Potential elimination of:

1) the 3.8% Obamacare Net Investment Income Tax

2) the individual Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)

3) the business AMT, and

4) Estate and Gift Taxes

will further benefit higher income taxpayers.


These changes make the year-end tax planning process even more important than prior years, since deferring income into 2017 will benefit most taxpayers and accelerating deductions into 2016 will generally provide greater tax savings than paying such expenses in 2017.  Of course taxpayers in AMT in 2016 will need to take greater care in their planning.


Additional tax planning strategies can be accessed at: in the Articles and Tax Alerts section.



Planning on Using Turbo-Tax This Year? Think Again.

Saturday, November 26th, 2016


Due to the anticipated tax reductions from a Trump Administration  and Republican Congress, year end planning and 2016 tax return preparation  will provide significant tax savings opportunities.  Therefore self-preparing your 2016 returns may end up costing you more than you think.



         When should you hire a tax pro?


Published: Apr 18, 2016 8:02 a.m. ET

More than 50 million Americans prepare their own taxes, but that doesn’t mean you should

Bill Pugliano
You probably won’t find this guy entering numbers into Turbo Tax.



Personal finance reporter

Of the nearly 151 million individual U.S. income tax returns filed in 2015 for the 2014 tax year, more than 50 million were prepared by individuals — and not tax professionals — a jump of more than 5% over 2014, the IRS says

And that trend appears to be continuing in 2016. So far through April 1 of this year, the IRS says that self-prepared returns are up 3.5% over the same period in 2015, with returns filed by tax professionals falling 3.7%. And many people filing on their own use online tax-prep software.

If you go with a certified public accountant (CPA) or other tax professional, the cost of the return could jump to over $1,000. (A registered tax preparer can do your return but only has limited ability to represent a taxpayer if complications come up, and while CPAs can represent you before the IRS, only the highest tax experts, Enrolled Agents, can actually represent you in tax court. EA’s that aren’t lawyers though have to pass a test administered by the court before they can do so.)

With that in mind, here’s a list of the scenarios when you might be better off seeking a professional:

1. You’re rich: If you’re single and making more than $250,000 — or married and making more than $300,000 jointly — it’s probably time to bring in a tax pro. “Many deductions, credits and exemptions begin phasing out near these levels and tax planning can yield significant results,” says Blake Christian, partner and CPA with the accounting firm of Holthouse, Carlin & Van Trigt LLP in Long Beach, Calif. In addition, beginning in the 2014 tax year, high-income taxpayers may also have to pay a 0.9% additional Medicare tax on wages over $200,000 ($250,000 for joint filers), says Perlman of H&R Block’s Tax Institute.

2. You’re retired: If you’re within a few years of retirement, it’s worth consulting a CPA or a tax professional to maximize retirement funding and evaluate how long your retirement and other funds will last. Retirement to another state or to a foreign country needs to be looked at carefully since there are often numerous state and federal issues, such as mandatory minimum distributions taxability of pensions and other qualified plans, taxability of a home sale, and cost of living and medical issues, says Christian.

3. You’re Elon Musk: Checking with a tax pro when you plan to buy or sell a business often ensures that the company being sold is tidied up and the business can be sold in a tax-efficient manner. A CPA or other tax guru can recommend the most efficient tax structure for the sale of a business or the formation of a business, when assets may need to be removed, when it’s necessary to cut costs, and when employee contracts should be reviewed and updated. If you manufacture or process items in the U.S. — The Domestic Production Activity Deduction can offer significant federal tax savings, Christian said.

4. You’re moving: Whether it involves an intra-state or inter-state move, you’ll probably need the help of an accountant to take advantage of every tax break. “Hundreds of special tax incentive zones, local and federal tax incentives for hiring and investing in specific regions can be secured with proper planning,” says Christian. In addition to filing other states’ returns, you may have to file some type of annual report on business ownership and activities and pay a fee, says Perlman. “Most states have income-allocation rules based on factors such as receipts, payroll, and real estate,” she says. Taxpayers can also generally claim credits in their state of residence for taxes paid in other states, Christian adds.

5. You do business in foreign countries: “Foreign business structures may be taxed differently in the U.S. than you might expect,” says Perlman. “For instance, a foreign corporation may be taxed as a partnership in the U.S.,” she says. In addition, if you are a U.S. citizen or resident, you must report all of your foreign income, even if you’re allowed to exclude all or most of your foreign earned income or you would qualify for a foreign tax credit, she says. Earned income, as well as investment income, have many complex federal and state treatments and planning opportunities, says Christian, including deducting or claiming a credit for taxes paid in other countries.

Even if you only operate in the U.S., but export U.S. manufactured products, you can reap valuable benefits by establishing an Interest-Charge Domestic International Sales Corporation, says Christian.

6. You bought a yacht — or a plane: Big ticket item purchases such as your personal residence, a vacation home, a boat, a high-end car, or a plane should involve a CPA as there are methods for minimizing costs, including sales and use tax, says Christian. Check with a CPA too if life insurance, annuities, or investments are going to be purchased or sold off.

7. You’re planning your estate: Even if you’re under the federal $5.45 million exemption (2016) for estate taxes, it’s worth talking to a tax professional to help with asset protection, since many states have different thresholds and other fees of settling the estate. (probate fees)

“Reviewing how assets will be distributed and may be revalued for tax purposes upon the death of the decedents is critically important with estate taxes lower than combined income tax rates to beneficiaries in certain states,” Christian said in an e-mail. Also, Christian notes that there are annual gift tax exclusions of $14,000 per donor or beneficiary which can allow tax-free transfers without using up your lifetime estate exemption.

8. You’re an Internet millionaire (or on paper): Can you explain the Black-Scholes method of determining the value of your stock options, if you’re lucky enough to get them? If not, check with a tax professional. “Whenever a taxpayer exercises or even holds any company stock options or is getting compensated from an employer with equity or assets other than cash, a CPA should be consulted,” says Christian. “They will never get this right on their own.”

9. You’re Lord of the Manor: Even a simple residential rental property requires extensive record keeping and proper reporting of income and expenses, says H&R Block’s Perlman. “You need to be mindful of special rules involving passive losses, renting of your personal residence or vacation home, and new depreciation rules,” she says. Other issues, such as bonus depreciation, repairs and maintenance rules could also trip you up, says Christian. In addition, if you’re a homeowner, there are dozens of tax breaks available that a tax professional may know about that you don’t.

10. You don’t know the new laws: Did you get an invite to the NIIT? A new (2014) assessment called the net investment income tax (NIIT) of 3.8% may apply to income from dividends, interest, capital gains, and even rental activities. “It’s important to understand when the tax applies (and when it doesn’t) and what strategies may be appropriate to minimize it,” says Perlman. And as the Supreme Court has recognized same-sex marriage and as states comply, couples may file federal tax returns using a married filing status.


How Will Trump’s Presidency Impact The Economy?

Saturday, November 26th, 2016


Blake Christian, CPA/ MBT, Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt LLP

President-elect Trump has made it clear that he will be focusing on infrastructure projects during his first 100 days, so hopefully some of the long overdue projects in Long Beach, such as the 710 Freeway, will get some funds.


If Mr. Trump takes a hard line and directs the Secretary of the Treasury to label China a “currency manipulator,” we might see a short-term trade embargo from the Chinese side, which would negatively impact the port traffic, and also impact U.S. exporters – and possibly manufacturers using imported raw materials.


Tax reform is also at the top of his list and, since he will have cooperation of the House and Senate, we will likely see some quick tax reform, including a decrease in personal (maximum 33%) and business tax (15%) rates, as well as a promised favorable 10% rate on foreign earnings that are brought back onshore. Congress will undoubtedly challenge the new president with respect to the trillions of dollars of deficit increase these tax cuts will cause. Therefore, the ultimate tax changes will likely not be as dramatic as Mr. Trump has proposed.


From a public safety standpoint, President Trump will be pushing to pass the Restoring Community Safety Act, which is focused on reducing surging crime, drugs and violence by creating a Task Force On Violent Crime and increasing funding for programs that train and assist local police; increase resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars. While Long Beach crime is down in most areas, this bill, if passed, may offset some of the negative impact anticipated from the recent passage of Proposition 57.


One final thought. Trump’s focus on improving the Veteran’s Administration should benefit our local VA hospital and possibly Fisher House also. He mentions both fairly regularly.


Trump’s Likely Tax Reductions in 2017 Will Change Your 2016 Year End Tax Planning Strategies

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

Updated: November 22, 2016


CONTACT: Blake Christian, CPA/ MBT Tax Partner

Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt LLP, CPA’s

(435) 200-9262 Office

(562) 305-8050 Cell







President-Elect Trump’s Tax Platform and Year-End Planning Steps

By: Blake Christian, CPA/MBT and Paige Pribble



In light of the recent election results there are many opinions on how President-Elect Donald Trump’s presidency will impact the United States, as well as the world.  The central question for the business community is:  “How will President Trump’s economic and tax policies impact jobs, the stock markets and the federal deficit?


During the campaign, Trump continuously claimed to be an advocate for the working class and one of the pillars of his political  platform was major personal and business tax reform, probably the most extensive we will have seen since the Reagan Administration.  The main questions we are left with is: How is President Trump  going to pay for these massive tax cuts, as well as other new and expanded federal programs?


The economic ramifications resulting from Trump’s tax cuts could take an already dire situation and make it worse.  As of November 15, 2016 the national deficit was in the neighborhood of $19,821,226,000,000 (that is nearly $20 TRILLION!) with annual Federal Tax Revenue coming in around $3,294,188,700,000 – far short of annual expenditures.  When Obama took office in 2009 the national debt was sitting at $10,626,877,048,913.  It is fairly obvious we are not headed in the right direction when it comes to the national debt but will Trump’s tax and economic plan really get us headed in the right direction?  Trump’s economic stimulus plan relies on creating jobs through rebuilding infrastructure somewhat similar to the “New Deal” in the Great Depression-era and bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States.  How this economic stimulus plan will be paid for is yet to be seen. Trump claims that the increase in jobs and overall economic growth with be more than enough to make up for the spending and tax cuts.


While we can anticipate some federal funds being freed up as a result of the Trump Administration identifying and correcting the oft-mentioned “waste, fraud and abuse”, other pools of funds may include taxes related to overall increases in business and personal profits, new or increased duties and custom fees, as well as fees associated with new immigration policies.


It is very possible that some of the credits and deductions we have come to know and love might see their final on December 31, 2016, but we will need to wait and see which sacred cows Congress decides to save.  For now, we can only assume that Trump will be able to accomplish a fair amount with the Republicans in control of both the House and Senate. However, we suspect that deficit control/ reduction may “trump” getting the full tax reductions implemented and Congress will water down certain aspects of the Trump tax proposals.


In summary, Donald Trump is proposing a massive tax reduction package that is estimated to reduce federal revenue by $7 to $10 trillion in the first decade, followed by an additional $15 trillion reduction in years 11 – 20.  The majority of the tax reductions would flow to individual taxpayers, but approximately a third would benefit businesses.  Concerns about the Trump plan involve the impact on the national debt as a result of the lower tax collections.  Dramatic government cuts would likely be needed to avoid a ballooning federal debt; however, economic stimulus via the tax reductions (please refer to economist Art Laffer, the Laffer Curve and Reagan-era “Supply Side Economics”) could increase overall tax collections even with the lower rates.


For Individual taxpayers, Trump would reduce the current seven individual rate brackets – ranging from 10% to 39.6% down to three brackets of 12%, 25% and 33% (which would kick in at $225,000 of taxable income for joint filers).  He would increase the standard deduction to $25,000 for single filers and 50,000 for joint filers (thereby exempting tens of millions of lower-income taxpayers from filing), and would scale back the itemized deductions for wealthy taxpayers.  He would repeal the individual and business AMT and the 3.8% Obamacare Net Investment Income Tax, as well as the federal estate and gift taxes.  He plans on eliminating personal exemptions and the “Head-of-Household” filing status.  He also plans on phasing out certain itemized deductions, other than home mortgage interest and charitable contributions, for higher income taxpayers.  He would allow taxpayers to take a deduction for childcare relating to children under the age of 13, limited to 4 children per taxpayer, as well as for dependent eldercare. The child/ eldercare exclusion will be available for taxpayers that have total income under $500,000 for joint filers and $250,000 for single filers.


On the business side, he plans on eliminating most corporate incentives and credits  with the exception of research and development, and reducing the corporate tax rate to 15% from the current 35/36% rates, and also will limit individual taxes on flow-thru income from S corps., LLC’s/partnerships to 15% – thereby benefiting small business owners.  He would also offer an attractive 10% tax for international companies that bring foreign profits back onshore to the U.S.


Donald Trump’s proposal, with the much lower rates, larger standard deductions and personal exemption amounts would reduce taxes (and filing requirements) on lower income taxpayers and result in only an estimated 14% of taxpayers itemizing their deductions on Schedule A after the aforementioned changes.


As a result of the inevitable 2017 tax changes, year-end tax planning will be critically important this year for both business and personal taxpayers.  With Trump’s broad tax cuts, savvy taxpayers should consider accelerating deductions into 2016 and delaying income until 2017 in order to take advantage of the lower rates.


Some examples of year-end strategies include:


  1. A.    Income Deferral


-       Since 2017 business income will likely be taxed at lower rates – 15% to 20% (rather than 35% to 43.4%) – deferring business income into 2017 will likely lower overall federal  taxes.


-       Delaying the sale of appreciated stocks, real estate and other investments until 2017 when long term capital gains rates may drop from 23.8% to 16.5%.


-       Entering into Section 1031 gain deferral and other statutory deferral transactions if a taxpayer is selling appreciated real estate or other business/ investment assets at a gain and planning to immediately re-invest the proceeds.


-       Manufacturers and distributors of larger ticket items such as machinery and equipment may want to include language in their year-end invoices that the buyer is entitled inspect and return the items within a short period after year-end, in which case the profit can generally be deferred.


  1. B.   Expense Acceleration


-       Consider accelerating various personal and business deductions into 2016, since Trump is considering eliminating or scaling back the deductibility of certain items – particularly itemized deductions for high income (greater than $200,000) taxpayers. However, if you might be subject to AMT in 2016, care must be taken to ensure that the accelerated item will actually produce a benefit.


-       Purchasing depreciable assets prior to year-end in order to accelerate depreciation.  New assets are eligible for 50% “Bonus Depreciation” plus the normal statutory depreciation in the year placed in service.  Section 179 “expensing” on up to $500,000 of new or used equipment is also allowed up to the remaining taxable income of the taxpayer.  Note that the limitations may increase in 2017.


-       Purchasing a new SUV weighing 6,000 or more pounds (i.e. Gross Vehicle Weight) for business purposes can yield a first year write-off of approximately 70% of the total cost, regardless of your down payment during 2016.


-       Commercial real estate owners should evaluate securing a Cost Segregation Study in order to accelerate depreciation on certain components of the building – e.g. special electrical, plumbing, ventilation, flooring, loading docks, hardscape and landscape – all of which have depreciable lives ranging from 3 years to 15 years vs. the normal 27.5 to 39 year life for residential rental and other buildings, respectively.


-       Write-off wholly or partially worthless bad debts that are uncollectible.


-       Write-down inventory items that are worth less than your tax cost in those cases where you have offered them for sale at a lesser price within 30 days of year-end (before or after).


-       Pay employee bonuses prior to year-end if you are a cash basis business, or by March 15th, 2017, if you use the accrual method of tax reporting.


  1. C.   Other Planning Issues


-       If you are involved in a business that has hired employees and/ or acquired assets during the year, you should discuss with your tax preparer possible credits and other incentives you may be entitled to. 

-       The aforementioned changes will also generally necessitate taxpayers updating their wills, trusts and other estate planning documents.


-       Lower tax rates on ordinary, capital gain and other types of income will also impact the relative attractiveness, or unattractiveness of certain types of investments, such as municipal bonds, real estate and domestic vs. foreign income. 



-       Therefore, a careful look at investors’ entire holdings will be necessary as the specifics on the tax bill get finalized next year.


Of course taxpayers should not let the tax tail wag the dog and must make rational short and long-term decisions based on economics, rather than just the tax implications of certain decisions.


Blake is a Tax Partner and Paige Pribble is an intern in the Park City, Utah office of HCVT, a top 40 national CPA firm with deep expertise in personal and business tax planning.  HCVT has offices in California, Utah and Texas. For more information on HCVT, including career opportunities, please log on to

California Governor Reinstates 50% Gain Exclusion on Certain C Corp Stock Sales

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Although somewhat limited in it’s application, the California gain exlusion for Qualified Small Business Stock (QSBS) has been retroactively reinstated back to 2008.  See IRC Section 1202 for details regardinng QSBS eligibility.


See for additional planning ideas or call (562) 216-1800.


August 2013 Mega Millions Lottery Winners – Lump-Sum or Installments

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The three separate lottery winners of this week’s third highest Mega Millions have some tough decisions ahead of the them.

In addition to deflecting requests for money from every person they have ever met (and many who they have never met), they will have some “good” problems to deal with like – taxes, investment options, insurance protection and ensuring their after-tax funds outlive them.  Unfortunately there are more financial horror stories about looery winners than happy endings – mainly attributable to the fact winners seldom have any experience handling even moderate sums of money.

Before claiming their prizes, I recommend that they have some in-depth conversations with a qualified attorney, CPA and investment advisor (best if all are in the same room – and are not a relative).

The most pressing issues are:


1) Can I retain my annonimity?

2) Am I a solo winner, or are there other family members and/ or friends/ co-workers that are entitled to a portion of the winnings (and the related taxes)?

3)) Should I take a lump-sum or installments?


The first issue will be dictated by each winner’s state of residence.  In some cases, the winner can claim the prize through a trust or another legal entity and might be able to stay inder the radar – for at least a short period of time.

The second issue neeeds to be fully vetted before claiming the prize.  There are numerous, and significant income, gift and estate tax advantages of splitting the winnings amongst various family members, if you have established a verbal agreement prior to winning the game.  For example, if a wife bought a $10 ticket and prior to the drawing announced she was sharing any winnings with her husband and 3 children, there is a good case that she made a gift of a a portion of the ticket ($2 to each family member), and the taxability would now be split 5 ways (ignoring joint filing with her husband).  Since we have a graduated tax system, the savings can be dramatic – especially if they take installment payments – thereby gaining rate beenfits each year for the first couple of hundred thousand dollars of winnings.  Splitting the proceeds up front also saves massive amounts of gift tax and estate taxes which would get triggered if a winner moves funds to family members or friends after they claim the prize.

The final and somewhat complex decision is whether to take a lump-sum or installments.  As previously mentioned, installments allow multiple years of lower taxes on the first $200,000 of winnings/ income, before hitting the maximum tax rates which can be as high as 43.4% for federal alone after $200,000 of taxable income.  Installmants also allow multi-year tax planning, which is not possible if a lump-sum is claimed.  The installment approach can allow winners to still access future payments through deferred-taxable private loans or specialty companies that will purchase deferred installments at a discount.

With amounts as large as the current prize ($149M pre-tax each for the three winners), I highly recommend installments for the reasons above and as further discussed in my prior blog post:


It is being reported that the Minnesotta winner is claiming a lump-sum prize which will only leave him with about $54M (about 1/3 of the gross under the installment method) – not a good % by my calcs……

Garden Grove, CA Wins $12 Million Super Lotto Prize – Lump Sum or Installments??

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Since another local person won a good sized prize – it is worth reviewing the link above.

Larger prizes almost always support taking the winnings in installments since taxpayers will get graduated tax rates, personal exemptions and itemized deductions shaved off their taxable income over the entire installment period (vs. just one year).

It is also important to fully evaluate who the actual owners of the ticket are.  The purchaser?  Other family members?  Friends?  Co-workers?  The tax difference when the income is spread over multiple winners can be significant — and is much better than one person claiming the prize and then gifting a portion to others who may have a partial claim.

More questions? – (562) 216-1800.



Tax Transparency – How Technology, Social Activism and Government Enforcement is Altering the Tax Compliance and Tax Policy Process

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

From the AICPA Corporate Taxation Insider


Corporate tax transparency and corporate tax reform

Trends in technology and increased availability of information have placed a spotlight on corporate and individual taxpayer compliance and financial stewardship.

March 28, 2013 by Blake E. Christian, CPA/ MBT

Last  month I attended the annual University of Southern California Gould School of  Law Tax Institute conference. As usual, the  quality of the presenters, as well as the technical content, was exceptionally  high.

While  there were plenty of presentations covering the American Taxpayer Relief Act  (ATRA) of 2012, P.L. 112-240, a few notable presentations covered some  interesting trends and predictions relevant to business taxpayers.

Following  is a summary of a few tax trends and policy discussions:

Technology and tax transparency (Click the link for the full article):

Issuing or Recieving Stock or Other Equity Interests Can Produce Significant Tax Liabilities and Benefits for the Parties

Monday, July 30th, 2012

AICPA Corporate Taxation Insider Article – IRC Section 83 – Property in Exchange For Services.

Businesses issuing equity interests to employees and service providors results in very significant tax issues for both the company and the service providor. Quick action(30 days) is required by the recipient when restricted stock is issued in order to minimize ordinary income and maximize future capital gain income.

These complex rules are overlooked or misunderstood in many cases and can create huge issues if the value of the equity interests increase significantly after issuance.

Tax Impact From Mid-Term Elections – Good News We Think

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

The voters have spoken and the Congressireonal balance of power has shifted dramatically.  So how will this impact future federal tax policy?    We think the new composition will serve the U.S. taxpayers well in terms of limiting tax hikes and controlling deficit spending.

The following video (Video #4) and other other links will provide you some useful guidance:


Additional Library of tax and economic videos can be accessed at:



The expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts in 2011 will equate to a $138 Billion tax hit in 2011 and $200 Billion in 2012 to wealthy and middle-class U.S. taxpayers.   An extension of the Bush Tax Cuts are predicted to increase GNP by .5% to 1.4%  and the Congressional Budget Office predicts job creation in the 1.3 to 3.5 Million full-time jobs.

Check out the Financial Times’  Op-Ed:

For a full library of my AICPA Tax Articles, click the link below:|1