June 1, 2024 - Think Outside the Tax Box

June 1, 2024

Life Cycle of a Cost Segregation Study

The concept of cost segregation began in the 1960s, when taxpayers argued specific components of real estate had a shorter life than the depreciation tables allowed (39 years for commercial property and 27.5 years for residential real estate). After decades of legal cases, the IRS provided rules and safe harbors in 1996 and 2002. Taxpayers now can use cost segregation and remain compliant with IRS regulations. The real question now is: Does a cost segregation study really reduce a taxpayer’s liability? And if so, by how much?

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Three Rules for the Augusta Rule

Today I want to talk about the quick question, “Can I rent my home to my business tax free?” The answer is not straightforward. It takes time to look at the specific set-up of that taxpayer's business. It requires a bit of research. You need to know things like: ● What's the fair market value of renting your home? ● How many days will you rent your home to your business? ● Can we substantiate that this rental is ordinary and necessary? Amber Gray-Fenner already did an excellent job of explaining the Augusta Rule in an earlier issue of the newsletter. So, I won't go over all the same points. I want to look at what the Augusta Rule is and how it came about. Then, we'll look at three takeaways for you to remember in your practice and give to your clients.

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Death and Taxes: What Clients Should Know About the Death of a Spouse

Even your most financially savvy client isn’t going to think clearly after the death of their spouse. Taxes will be last on their minds. That’s where you’ll come in, nudging them toward tax and money moves both immediate and long-term, from filing returns to budgeting income to taking a step-up in basis. Above all, don’t assume grieving clients know these details or that they’ll remember them in one of life’s toughest moments.

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Looking Bad for Investors in Syndicated Conservation Easements

Albert Lauber, my favorite Tax Court judge, gave us an opinion in February that paints a detailed picture of the workings of a syndicated conservation easement. In the end, he supports the findings of the Senate Joint Finance Committee that the engine of these abusive transactions is an inflated appraisal. In November, David Gustafson issued an opinion that exposed the financial engineering techniques that promoters engaged in. We’ll take a look at those, but first I would like to give you an overview, because we may need that to figure out the lessons to be learned.

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