The month of January, of course, brings the start of the tax filing season. As such, there are a couple of items to think about. These two particular items are mainly directed at businesses, however, individuals who own rental properties or who are sole proprietors may be impacted as well.
First, 1099 reporting has become a hot topic in recent years due to the increasing penalties for failure to file. Any payments for services (including rents) exceeding $600 annually in the ordinary course of business requires the issuance of a 1099 to that entity. Of course with any IRS rule, there are a couple of exceptions. The first is that you do not have to issue a 1099 if the payee is a corporation (unless it is for attorney’s fees; see next rule). The 1099 rule also stipulates that all attorney’s fees paid in the ordinary course of business require the issuance of a 1099.
The best practice is to provide the payee the 1099s no later than February 1st. Filing of the actual forms can come as late as March 31st, if filing them electronically.
Second, the other hot topic this year is the new tangible property regulations. The way that businesses are looking at how they capitalize property will completely change. Effective for tax years beginning on or after 1/1/2014: Nearly every business with tangible property will have a change in accounting method and will require a Form 3115. Additionally, most businesses will have to also file an election to adopt some of the new rules that apply to the current year and forward.
If you or your business is in need assistance with these new rules, be sure to contact a CPA.
The British government announced recently that 4 million historical wills have been digitized and are now available for download by the public. As in the United States, these documents were previously available by traveling to the probate court and searching the available public records. Now anyone with an internet connection and a credit card can search and download a copy of a will (including that of Charles Dickens, Alan Turing, and more).
I have to wonder if, as the barrier to obtaining public records lessens, perhaps privacy will become more of a concern for those drafting estate plans. Even if the other reasons for creating a revocable trust and avoiding the probate process do not apply, maybe the appeal of keeping assets and distribution provisions private will give increasingly sufficient cause for going the extra mile and setting up a trust. This is yet another example of “information planning” as an increasingly important component of estate planning in the digital era.
Becoming an organ donor is easy. You can indicate that you want to be a donor in the following ways:
Register with your state’s donor registry.
Most states have registries. Check the list at OrganDonor.gov. In Minnesota, the registry can be found here. Once registered, you will receive a welcome packet in the mail including postcards to share with your family and friends to inform them of your generous decision to save lives through donation.
Designate your choice on your driver’s license.
Do this when you obtain or renew your license.
Sign and carry a donor card.
Cards are available from OrganDonor.gov.
Tell your family.
Make sure your family knows your wishes regarding donation. The best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out is to put them in writing. Include your wishes in your living will or Health Care Directive, if you have one. If you have designated someone to make health care decisions for you if you become unable to do so, make sure that person knows that you want to be an organ donor. It’s also very important to tell your family that you want to be a donor. Hospitals seek consent from the next of kin before removing organs, although this is usually not required if you’re registered with your state’s donor registry. Keep in mind that you can also choose not to make a designation in writing and simply leave it to your family to decide.
Consider becoming a living donor.
Organs that can be donated by living donors include a kidney, lobe of a lung, or a portion of the liver, pancreas or intestine. You can find more information online at Be the Match.
If you are interested in making sure your family knows your wishes, consult an attorney regarding a living will or Health Care Directive. If you are a Minnesota resident, you can complete a health care directive for free here.