Tax, Estate Planning, Benefits Opportunities After Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Decision

Tax, Estate Planning, Benefits Opportunities for Same-Sex Couples

Article by Ashlea Ebelling | Featured on Forbes | Featured Image by Rena Schild /

Today’s historic Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, affirmed a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states, opening up tax, estate planning and employee benefits opportunities for couples in the 13 states that have not permitted same-sex marriage. For one, same-sex married couples may be able to claim state income tax refunds. They no longer have to worry about state estate taxes at the death of the first spouse. And they may save on health insurance at work.

Same-sex couples in these states have been operating in a “sort of limbo situation,” says Nicole Pearl, an estate lawyer with McDermott Will & Emery in Los Angeles. (The states are: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.) If they got married out-of-state, they could get the federal benefits of marriage but their home state could still deny them the benefits of marriage under state law. So they could file a joint federal income tax return but not a joint state income tax return, for example. The first to die could leave property to the other, without the survivor needing to pay federal estate taxes, but there was a same-sex state death tax trap.

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When It Rains, It Pours… HSBC Drowning in Troubles

For over a year, Bank of America seemed to make headline news every day. Unfortunately, none of those headlines were good. Now top honors goes to HSBC. This time it is Argentina claiming that the British banking giant helped clients evade taxes.

According to published reports, the Argentine tax authority, Afip, has raided HSBC. Argentinian regulators say that the bank helped up to 4040 individuals and companies hide income and accounts from the government. Hoping to seize records and bolster their investigation, Afip raided the Argentinian subsidiary of HSBC but learned that many of the records they sought were mysteriously destroyed in an arson attack last year.

Argentina is mulling criminal tax evasion charges against the 4000+ unreported account holders and also wants to hold the bank responsible. Afip says that HSBC owes the government $3.5 billion.

Like other HSBC offshore operations, tax authorities say the bank helped people evade taxes and hide accounts by setting up “ghost” networks of companies. Often called nominee or shell companies, these entities often use offshore addresses, nominee directors and make determining the true ownership of an account difficult.

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Employers: Don’t Overlook the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit - Isler NW

Employers: Don’t Overlook the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

IRS Tax Tip 2015-37, March 12, 2015

Do you own or run a small business or tax-exempt group with fewer than 25 full-time employees? If you do, you should know that the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit can help you provide insurance to your employees. You may be able to save on your taxes if you paid for at least half of their health insurance premiums. Here are several things that you should know about this important credit:

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TIGTA Warns of Phone Scams Related to IRS

TIGTA Warns of Phone Scams Related to IRS

In press release TIGTA 2015-01 J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) warned of the threat of phone scams where the individual claims to represent the Internal Revenue Service in order to defraud individuals.

Phone scams have become the new favorite tool for those running scams since some individuals may mistakenly believe they are safe from scams and financial risks if they avoid online interactions.  The criminal generally uses information obtained about the mark from various sources to convince them that they represent the IRS and, often, that unless the mark does something immediately (like give a credit card number, buy a prepaid debit card to send to the government, etc.) some dire result will occur.

TIGTA has established a webpage for individuals to report such contacts at The release reports that since October of 2013 TIGTA has received reports of over 290,000 contacts and has discovered nearly 3,000 victims who have lost over $14 million.  Given that most of the population is unaware of that website and, as well, many may be embarrassed to admit they fell for a scam even if they are aware of the site, it seems reasonable to assume the real reach of the scam is far wider.

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Misplaced SSA-1099 Forms Can Be Replaced Online

Misplaced SSA-1099 Forms Can Be Replaced Online

The U.S. Social Security Administration has announced that new online services include the ability to quickly and easily get a replacement form SSA-1099 within minutes.

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, said on Monday that the online services are available at

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Republicans, Democrats Agree On Tax Issue

Republicans, Democrats Agree On Tax Issue; Winter Storm Warning Issued For Hell

Congress is determined to fix the broken tax Code, even if it has to do it one provision at a time. Which apparently, it just might have to do.

On Thursday night, the House voted 240-39 to approve a bill (H.R. 644) that would make permanent three of the nearly four dozen tax breaks that expired on December 31, 2014. Typically, these provisions have been addressed en masse, but House leaders have recently adopted a new approach: they will knock of those provisions that have bipartisan support one by one, and leave the stickier sections for later.

On Thursday’s ballot were three charitable provisions:

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IRS Tax Scams - Isler NW

Inflated Refund Claims Remain on the IRS “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for the 2015 Filing Season

IR-2015-12, Jan. 29, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers to be on the lookout for unscrupulous tax return preparers pushing inflated tax refund claims. This scam remains on the annual list of tax scams known as the “Dirty Dozen” for the 2015 filing season.

“Every filing season, scam artists lure victims in by promising outlandish refunds,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Taxpayers should be wary of anyone who asks them to sign a blank return, promise a big refund before looking at their records, or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund.”

Compiled annually, the “Dirty Dozen” lists a variety of common scams that taxpayers may encounter any time but many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their returns or hire someone to help with their taxes.

Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to shutdown scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.

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