Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I am writing this from the National Tax Conference in Washington D.C. This is a great conference, because we hear from the "insiders" on what is happening, or not happening, with our tax policy. The Commissioner of the IRS even made a presentation. You may have seen his talk live on CSPAN, but come to think of it I would imagine not too many people would find his talk interesting so the ratings from CSPAN probably were not up there with Dancing With the Stars.

I wanted to share with you some highlights. This is really important because future tax policy is going to hit us right in our bank account. With taxes scheduled to increase substantially and with the economy waning the more we know the better we can plan.

Here is Part #1 of this 2 1/2 day conference:

+ Nobody can outguess what Congress is going to do. Even the 'insiders' are concerned about the lack of direction.

+ We are fairly safe in planning for 2012. It is an election year so we won't see a lot of major changes. But in 2013 the Bush/Obama laws will be phased out and it is going to be a battle. If the past is any indication we may not know what the 2013 laws will be until late in the year. This is going to make planning in 2012 very important.

+ In 2011 we can take 100% write-off on certain leasehold improvements. This is scheduled to reduce to 50% in 2012 and then disappear in 2013. With the economy as it is we may see the ability to take 100% continue thru 2012- there is a chance but don't count on it. We are watching this for you.

+ The same is true with the write off of equipment. It reduces from $500,000 this year to $139,000 in 2012. This may also be extended. We are watching for you.

+ Many business owners are planning/hoping that Obama Care will be repealed. One of the Congressmen that spoke said that in his opinion it will not be repealed no matter who wins the White House. The Congressmen’s thinking is that it would take 60 Senators to overturn the bill and that will not happen.

+ The extremely high tax rates for people making over $200,000 are getting closer. With the exit of the Bush/Obama cuts; the Obama proposal to raise taxes on those wealthy people making over $250,000; and Obama Care laws tax increases for Medicare coming in 2014 rates could go as high as 43.4%. Plus we still have Social Security and State taxes ~ Ouch.

+ Everything is now political. It used to be a few years back that the leaders from the two parties would get together to work out solutions to problems. This does not happen anymore.

+ Estate planning is a mess. In 2011 and 2012 you can have an estate of $5 million and no estate tax. Any of the $5 million that you do not use you can pass to your spouse. In addition you can give $5 million. But in 2013 the estate drops to $1 million. Who knows how to plan? It may be time to consider gifting. We are watching for you. If you have an old will you should consider reviewing. It most likely is outdated.

+ We even had a session on the power of Social Media. If you are not using any type of Social Media, you better catch up with the times. People trust testimonials 90% but advertising 14%. Social media creates a testimonial "feeling."

+ Health Savings Accounts are a great way to reduce healthcare costs.