Avoid a Summer Bummer from the IRS
Posted on Jun 29, 2018 by
J. David Johnson, IV
Suntan lotion? Check. Surfboard? Check. Passport? Not so fast.
Some summer sojourns abroad could be disrupted this season, as the Internal Revenue Service recently began enforcing a little-known provision of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act that allows the agency, through the U.S. State Department, to revoke – or prevent the issuance of – a passport to any taxpayer who is found to have a "seriously delinquent tax debt."
The relevant provision – section 7345 of the Internal Revenue Code – was originally enacted during the 2015-2016 Congressional Session and languished until this February, when the IRS suddenly began exercising its power to send certifications of unpaid tax debt to the State Department. This seems to be a "hammer" the IRS long desired and one that aligns with President Trump's aim to bring in additional revenue by collecting overdue tax debt.
Under this process, anyone with a "seriously delinquent tax debt" – any "unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt more than $51,000 (including interest and penalties)" – is subject to having their passport seized or new application denied.
Before the IRS can start this procedure, however, it must either (1) file a notice of federal tax lien or (2) issue a levy on the debt (e.g. against the taxpayer's bank account, a garnishment on their wages).
Note that this is an "OR" test, despite some statements to the contrary that are out there. Once the IRS meets either requirement, it can certify the debt to the State Department, which is then empowered to deny the taxpayer's passport application and/or revoke a current passport.
In any case, before the State Department takes this action, taxpayers are allowed 90 days to try to resolve any certification issues, make full payment of the tax debt or enter into a payment arrangement with the IRS. continue reading
Tax Reform Bill Increases Businesses’ Purchasing Power
Posted on May 10, 2018 by
Julie A. Oliver
In keeping with its aim to reduce burdens and encourage businesses to make investments, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, effective Jan. 1, 2018, offers a variety of tax advantages that can yield big savings.
This post highlights two particularly important provisions and touches upon a few others of note. continue reading
Solar Tax Credits & Other Incentives Heat Up Energy-Efficient Demand in South Carolina Construction
Posted on Aug 08, 2017 by
R. Taylor Speer,
Thomas M. Kennaday
With an abundance of sunshine in South Carolina (August’s total solar eclipse notwithstanding), developers and builders are jumping on ways to take advantage of the sun’s rays to provide energy-efficient construction.
Solar panels provide cheap energy, but a major obstacle to mainstream use is the upfront installation cost. The most common residential solar installation – a 5-kilowatt system – costs about $20,000 to install in South Carolina, but generates only about $500 to $1,000 in annual energy savings.
Federal and state tax credits are the most significant tool to offset initial costs, along with rebates and other incentives from private utilities in South Carolina. A lucrative rebate for Duke Energy customers was exhausted at the end of January after falling victim to its own popularity. The utility offered a $5,000 annual rebate for the average household by paying $1 per watt of energy generated from solar panels. Another program for South Carolina Electric & Gas customers offered performance payments of up to 4 cents for every kilowatt hour of electricity generated from solar panels. It expired at the end of 2016.
Still, South Carolina users enjoy some of the best tax credits in the country and may be able to take advantage of new legislation pending in the House. continue reading
7 Steps to Prepare Your Business for Sale
Posted on Apr 07, 2017 by
Ryan T. Judd
Putting your business up for sale is a major decision with implications that extend far beyond the financial considerations. Selling your company affects not only your future but the future of your valued employees. What’s more, letting go of a business you’ve grown for years or even decades can be a difficult process.
First, you need to consider whether you are truly ready to sell your business. Talk to family members and others who care about your future and may have a stake in your decision. Working through any personal concerns before proceeding will make the entire process a lot easier. continue reading
New South Carolina Law Helps Fiduciaries Access Digital Assets
Posted on Aug 03, 2016 by
Marshall T. Minton
Our online presence can live forever. The internet is packed with Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and neglected blogs that have outlived their makers. With the increasing presence of technology in our lives, we often a leave behind a plethora of digital assets without any guidance to our fiduciaries about what they are and how to access them. Digital assets include our smartphones, tablets, personal computers, social networking site, email accounts, electronic access to our financial and insurance information, online accounts that hold a cash value such as PayPal, url addresses, blogs, and files, pictures, videos stored on the cloud. Often, these digital assets are held by a third-party custodian, and gaining access in the past has been a daunting process if the deceased didn’t have the foresight to ease this process in estate planning.
Fortunately, South Carolina passed legislation this summer that provides a pathway for fiduciaries to access the digital assets of deceased or incapacitated family members. Called the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, it sets out a process for personal representatives and others with power of attorney or fiduciary powers to view these accounts. Custodians of accounts must comply with requests to view accounts so long as access has not been eliminated by the account user, federal law, or by a separate terms of service agreement with the user. continue reading
Why Your Lawyer and Accountant Should Work as a Team
Posted on Oct 28, 2015 by
J. David Johnson, IV
One of the first things I do when I get a new business client is to ask if they have a relationship with an accountant. With the client's permission, I'll call the accountant, introduce myself and open up the lines of communication between us. continue reading
What You Need to Know about Estimating the Value of Your Business
Posted on Sep 03, 2015 by
J. David Johnson, IV
If you're considering buying or selling a business, including it in estate planning or setting terms for a buy-sell agreement that is part of succession planning, you want to know what it's worth. While valuing a business certainly includes subjective judgments, there is a method to arriving at an accurate estimate. continue reading
Plan for Succession Even if You Plan to Work Forever
Posted on Jul 30, 2015 by
Marshall T. Minton
You may be one of those business owners too busy being successful to think about succession planning. Nonetheless, it is folly not to plan for your succession, and your strategy should follow the old adage of “hope for the best and plan for the worst.” Assuming the worst – that you would unexpectedly leave the business tomorrow – do you have plans in place for transition in management, what happens to your ownership interest, and how to use your stake to provide for a spouse and family members? continue reading
Don’t Allow Your Business to Become a Victim of the Dreaded Ds
Posted on Feb 11, 2015 by
Michael G. Roberts
Is your closely-held business protected from the five dreaded Ds – death, disability, divorce, disaster and disagreement? continue reading
Turmoil, and even business failure, can follow if you don’t have a legal succession plan in place when any of these events occur. While this may not offer you any comfort, you are certainly not alone if you haven’t yet set up a succession plan: fewer than half of closely-held and family-owned businesses have a plan in place that covers these contingencies.