Archive for the ‘International’ 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

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):

Government Debt Loads Continue to Pile Up

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

According to the Washington Post, the Administration’s current policies will add $9.3 Trillion to the national deficit over the next decade.  This is a 14% increase over the White House’s previous projection of $8.5 Trillion.  The largest component of the increasing deficits is being caused by President Obama’s mid- and low-income tax cuts.

For an eye-opening look at the U.S. and world debt landscape, below are two very useful interactive links to evaluate worldwide and U.S. public debt loads now and in the past.

Current record levels do not bode well for interest rates and financial stability.

California’s $20 billion budget deficit and long history of high taxes, unfunded pension obligations and massive entitlement plans has creditors worried.  Recent debt downgrades and political gridlock will likely drive up future borrowing costs:


To save some of your hard-earned taxes, check out tax planning strategies at:

Also, for daily tax and financial updates, please follow me:

California and Federal Tax Refunds Overlooked by Many

Monday, March 1st, 2010

In today’s challenging economic period, business owners are looking for every way to reduce costs and increase cash flow and profits.

We continue to see businesses and their CPAs overlook extremely valuable tax breaks, including:

- Federal and State Hiring Credits ($500 to $15,000 per employee)

- Federal and State Eco/ Energy/ Green Credits (10% to 50%)

- Use of Interest Charge DISCs for Export Sales

- Evaluation of Compensation Structure Options to Minimize After-Tax Cash Outflows.  This includes taking advantage of the lucrative and flexible qualified retirement plan rules.

- Re-Evaluating Legal Structure of Business Operations to Minimize Taxes

There is still time to claim many of these tax benefits on your 2009 tax returns.

For Daily Tax and Economic Updates, please follow me on Twitter:




Iceland’s Financial Meltdown Overshaddow’s U.S. – and The World

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

The international banking crisis which climaxed in 2008 hit the island nation of Iceland harder than any other country.  The EU member bailout of IceSave Bank left the 325,000 Icelandic residents with a whopping burden of $5.3 billion.

Home defauls, business failures and general economic chaos has been felt by every resident – and despair has turned into anger on all sides.

Iceland residents will vote this week whether they will opt to pay back these amounts to the EU nation which bailed them out, or default on the obligations.  Recent polls show a 60% disapproval rate of paying back these amounts.


Read more in these Financial Times links:

Iceland Voters Set to Reject EU Member Payback :

Bullying Iceland:

Tax Haven Audits – IRS Foreign Bank Account Reporting (FBAR) Update

Friday, February 26th, 2010

For Daily Tax Updates – Follow Me On Twitter:

Please click below to view a 5 minute CNN Local interview (2009) covering the IRS/ Swiss tax battle:


Significant civil and criminal penalties can be imposed on taxpayers having signature or other financial interests in foreign bank accounts.

The ongoing privacy and tax collection battle between the IRS and  Switzerland, as well as other countries, highlights the need for taxpayers to not only report their worldwide earnings, but also file various Treasury disclosures (Form TD 90-22.1) in order to avoid these very onerous penalties.

Read the linked AICPA articles to learn more about recent developments and the billions of dollars at stake:


Click below for a Financial Times article on Swiss Banking: