WASHINGTON — The IRS announced today the release of an updated Form 990-EZ, Short Form Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, that will help tax-exempt organizations avoid common mistakes when filing their annual return.
The updated Form 990-EZ includes 29 “help” icons describing key information needed to complete many of the fields within the form. The icons also provide links to additional helpful information available on IRS.gov. These “pop-up” boxes share information to help small and mid-size exempt organizations avoid common mistakes when filling out the form and filing their return.
“We’ve been reviewing the areas of the form where exempt organizations encounter the most trouble,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “One out of three paper filers has an error on their form. After reviewing these trouble spots, we developed this new option to help groups navigate the form. This common-sense approach is designed to make it easier for exempt organizations to avoid problems up front – and avoid getting a follow-up contact from the IRS.”
On the new form, the help icons are marked in boxes with a blue question mark. The icons and underlying links work on any device with Adobe Acrobat Reader and Internet access. Once completed, filers can print Form 990-EZ and mail it to the IRS.
Although many large exempt organizations are required to file Form 990-series information returns electronically, the IRS encourages all exempt organizations to consider filing electronically.
In 2016, the error rate for electronically-filed 990-EZ returns was only 1 percent, compared to the 33 percent error rate in paper-filed returns. In 2016, the IRS processed over 263,000 Forms 990-EZ, with the majority of the filings – 139,000 — on paper.
A list of providers assisting with electronic filing is available on IRS.gov.
Exempt organizations should keep in mind that the new help icons do not replace the Form 990-EZ instructions. Filers should review the Form’s instructions when completing a return and use the help icons as an additional tool.
The IRS also reminds exempt organizations that Form 990-series returns are due on the 15th day of the fifth month after an organization’s tax year ends. Many organizations use the calendar year as their tax year, making May 15, 2017, the deadline to file for tax year 2016.
The 7520 rate for February 2017 has increased to 2.6%.
The February 2017 Applicable Federal Interest Rates can be found here.
What he wants to accomplish vs. what he needs to accomplish…
As the United States rings in a New Year, it also welcomes a new president. All eyes are trained on Washington in anticipation of what President-elect Donald Trump will tackle in his first 100 days in office. Trump’s initial success will depend on how well he defines his own agenda and how he navigates the difference in details between his goals and the policy priorities of Congressional Republicans. Trump will also need to divide his political capital between the things his administration wants to do versus what it needs to do in the New Year.
On February 13, 2016, Doug Stanley, partner in the Private Client Services group at Bryan Cave, and Justin Flach of The Commerce Trust Company (an alumnus of the Bryan Cave Private Client Services group), will present “Creating A Living Legacy”, addressing estate planning basics to a group of artists. The presentation is hosted by the Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts and will be held at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar, St. Louis, Missouri.
The 7520 rate for January 2017 has increased to 2.4%.
The January 2017 Applicable Federal Interest Rates can be found here.
(This is an updated post from December 2015)
With the end of the year approaching, we thought now would be a good time to re-post and update this blog from the end of 2015.
For 2017, the annual exclusion gift amount will remain the same at $14,000 but the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption will increase to $5,490,000 (up from 2016’s $5,450,000).
With fourteen days left in the year, many people are still planning how to make 2016 gifts, whether by making “annual exclusion” gifts of $14,000 per beneficiary, or by taking advantage of the 2016 gift tax exemption amount of $5,450,000. Whatever the reason for the last-minute gifting, as the end of the year approaches, people may be tempted to make a “quick and easy” gift to their beneficiaries by simply writing a check. As the year draws to a close, however, if your gift is dependent on utilizing 2016 tax law, beware of the potential trap of making a gift by check.
A gift is not complete for tax purposes until the gift is no longer revocable. However, if you write someone a check, until that check clears, you could always “revoke” the check by alerting your bank to stop payment, or by emptying your account of sufficient funds to pay on the check. Until the check clears the bank, your gift is still revocable. Therefore, if your beneficiary doesn’t deposit the check in time for the banking system to clear the check, your gift may not be considered irrevocable until 2017, and you have therefore made a gift in 2017 instead of 2016.
If you are planning to make 2016 gifts over the next 10 days by means of a check, be wary and let your beneficiaries know that they need to deposit that check as soon as possible. Better yet, make the gift by means of a cashier’s check, which is considered irrevocable as soon as you hand it over. That way, you don’t have to rely on the promptness of your beneficiaries’ next trip to the bank, and the promptness of the banks in processing the checks.
(This is an updated post from December 2015)
Need a New Year’s resolutions to kick start 2017? Here is an idea you probably hadn’t considered: review your estate planning documents.
If you are like most people, you are probably thinking that reading legal documents does not sound like an even remotely enjoyable way to start a new year. But, it doesn’t have to be as unpleasant as it sounds. Reviewing your documents does not mean you have to read them cover to cover. If you know what are the most important elements, it is easy to review your will, trust, and powers of attorney regularly to ensure they still comply with your wishes. These documents not only determine who will receive your property when you die, but also likely determine who has the right to make financial and major medical decisions during your lifetime. Needless to say, it is important that you are still comfortable with the designations you have made.
To get you started, below is a basic checklist of items we suggest you review annually (make it a New Year’s tradition!).
1. Assess the changes in your life since you last updated your estate planning documents.
Have you gotten married or divorced? Had a child or adopted a child? Moved to a different state? Had a death in the family? Had a major financial event? Any of these life changes may affect your estate planning, and your documents may need to be revised. (more…)
While there is considerable uncertainty among wealth planners and tax professionals regarding how the incoming administration will impact the federal tax code, nearly everyone agrees that change is imminent. With that in mind, we have assembled this chart, which compares current tax rates with President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed tax plan, and the House Republicans’ Blueprint plan (released in June, 2016). Click here.
Bryan Cave’s Private Client Group was recently recognized by US News & World Report’s 2017 “Best Law Firms” as a “National Tier 1” practice in the Trusts and Estates category.