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Archive for September, 2016

27
Sep

IRS Announces New Waiver Procedure for Taxpayers Who Inadvertently Miss the 60-day Rollover Deadline

Background–direct and indirect (60-day) rollovers
If you’re eligible to receive a taxable distribution from an employer-sponsored retirement plan (like a 401(k)) you can avoid current taxation by directly rolling the distribution over to another employer plan or IRA (with a direct rollover you never actually receive the funds). You can also avoid current taxation by actually receiving the distribution from the plan, and then rolling it over to another employer  plan or IRA within 60 days following receipt (a “60-day” or “indirect” rollover). But if you choose to receive the funds instead of making a direct rollover the plan must withhold 20 percent of the taxable portion of your distribution, even if you intend to make a 60-day rollover. (You’ll need to make up those withheld funds from your other assets if you want to roll over the entire amount of your plan distribution.)

Similarly, if you’re eligible to receive a taxable distribution from an IRA, you can  avoid current taxation by either transferring the funds directly to another IRA or to an employer plan that accepts rollovers (sometimes called a “trustee-to-trustee transfer”), or by taking the  distribution and making a 60-day indirect rollover (20% withholding doesn’t apply to IRA distributions).

Under recently revised IRS rules you can make only one tax-free, 60-day, rollover from any IRA  you own (traditional or Roth) to any other IRA you own in any 12-month period. However, this limit does not apply to direct  rollovers or trustee-to-trustee transfers (or to Roth IRA conversions). Because of the 20% withholding rule, the one-rollover-per-year rule, and the possibility of missing the 60-day deadline, in almost all cases you’re better off making a direct rollover or trustee-to-trustee transfer to move your retirement plan funds from one account to another.
 

Exceptions to the 60-day rollover deadline
But what happens if you do receive an actual distribution from your employer plan or IRA and you want to roll over the funds, but you’ve missed the 60 day deadline? There are limited statutory exceptions to the 60-day rule. For example, the time for making a rollover may be extended for those serving in a combat zone or in the event of a presidentially declared disaster or a terrorist or military action.

But the IRS also has the authority to waive the 60-day limit “where the failure to waive such requirement would be against equity or good conscience, including casualty, disaster, or other events beyond the [individual’s] reasonable control.” To seek a waiver you previously had to  request a private letter ruling from the IRS. However, the IRS has just announced (in Revenue Procedure 2016-47) a simpler alternative to seeking a private letter ruling.

The new waiver alternative: “self-certification”
Under the new procedure, if you want to make a rollover but the 60-day limit has expired, you can simply send a letter (the Revenue Procedure contains a sample)  to the plan administrator or IRA trustee/custodian certifying that you missed the 60-day deadline due to one of the following 11 reasons:

  1. The financial institution receiving the contribution, or making the distribution to which the contribution relates, made an error.
  2. You misplaced and never cashed a distribution made in the form of a check.
  3. Your distribution was deposited into and remained in an account that you mistakenly thought was an eligible retirement plan.
  4. Your principal residence was severely damaged.
  5. A member of your family died.
  6. You or a member of your family was seriously ill.
  7. You were  incarcerated.
  8. Restrictions were imposed by a foreign country.
  9. A postal error occurred.
  10. Your distribution was made on account of an IRS tax levy and the proceeds of the levy have been returned to you.
  11. The party making the distribution delayed providing information that the receiving plan or IRA needed to complete the rollover, despite your reasonable efforts to obtain the information.

To qualify for this new procedure, you must make your rollover contribution to the employer plan or IRA as soon as practicable after the applicable reason(s) above no longer prevent you from doing so. In general, a rollover contribution made within 30 days is deemed to satisfy this requirement.

Effect of self-certification
It’s important to understand that this new self-certification process is not an automatic waiver by the IRS of the 60-day rollover requirement. The self-certification simply allows you and the financial institution to treat and report the contribution as a valid rollover. However, if you’re subsequently audited, the IRS can still review whether your contribution met the requirements for a waiver.

For example, the IRS may determine that the requirements for a waiver were not met because (1) you made a material misstatement in the self-certification, (2)  the reason(s) you claimed for missing the 60-day deadline did not prevent you from completing the rollover within 60 days following receipt, or (3) you failed to make the contribution as soon as practicable after the reason(s) no longer prevented you from making the contribution. In that case, you may still be subject to additional income taxes and penalties. Because of this potential risk, some taxpayers may still prefer the certainty of a private letter ruling from the IRS waiving the 60-day deadline,  despite the additional time and expense involved.

Remember, you can make only one tax-free, 60-day, rollover from any IRA you own (traditional or Roth) to any other IRA you own in any 12-month period. This limit does not apply to direct  rollovers or trustee-to-trustee transfers (or to Roth IRA conversions).

Also keep in mind that you can generally leave your funds in a 401(k) or similar plan (at least until the plan’s normal retirement age) if your vested account balance at the time you terminate employment exceeds $5,000.

 

The foregoing is provided for information purposes only.  It is not intended or designed to provide legal, accounting, tax, investment or other professional advice.  Such advice requires consideration of individual circumstances.  Before any action is taken based upon this information, it is essential that competent, individual, professional advice be obtained.  JAS Financial Services, LLC is not responsible for any modifications made to this material, or for the accuracy of information provided by other sources.
22
Sep

IRS warning about fake emails(CP2000) relating to the Affordable Care Act

Confronting the latest scheme to target taxpayers, the IRS and its Security Summit partners warned Thursday that scammers have sent fake emails purportedly containing CP2000 notices, which are used in the IRS’s Automated Underreporter Program. The IRS emphasized that it never sends these notices by email, and instead uses the U.S. Postal Service (IR-2016-123).

The notices contain an IRS tax bill supposedly related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and 2014 health care coverage. They use an Austin, Texas, post office box and request payments to the “I.R.S.” at the “Austin Processing Center.” The email also contains a payment link. The fraudulent email lists the letter number as “105C.”

The IRS explains that its procedures for taxpayers who owe additional tax require taxpayers to write checks payable to the “United States Treasury,” not the “I.R.S.,” as in the fake notice. It also advises taxpayers that they can check a notice’s validity on the IRS’s website by doing a search, and they can see sample notices at Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter.

IRS impersonation scams take many forms: threatening telephone calls, phishing emails and demanding letters. Learn more at Reporting Phishing and Online Scams.

Taxpayers  who receive this scam email should forward it to phishing@irs.gov  and then delete it from their email account.

Taxpayers  should always beware of any unsolicited email purported to be from the IRS or any unknown source. They should never open an attachment or click on a link within an email sent by sources they do not know.

20
Sep

New Real Estate Sector Puts Equity REITs in the Spotlight

Publicly traded REITs and other listed real estate companies are being moved to a distinct Real Estate sector by S&P Dow Jones Indices and MSCI.

S&P Dow Jones Indices and MSCI recently moved publicly traded equity real estate investment trusts (REITs) and other listed real estate companies from the Financials sector into a new, separate Real Estate sector effective September 1, 2016. (Mortgage REITs remain in the Financials sector, along with banks and insurance companies.)  There are now 11 headline sectors instead of 10. It’s the first time a new sector has been added to the Global Industry Classification  Standard (GICS®) since it was created in 1999. (1)

The move has implications for investors, because S&P and MSCI   indexes are common benchmarks for investment performance, and the GICS is often used as a framework for portfolio construction. By some estimates, fund managers could shift as much as $100 billion to the Real Estate sector in a collective effort to follow the market weightings of various indexes. (2)

The change could also affect the asset allocation decisions of some individual investors by drawing more attention to equity REITs as income-generating assets with the potential for capital appreciation.

Fixed-income appeal

An equity REIT is a company that combines capital from investors to buy and manage income properties such as apartments, shopping centers, hotels, medical facilities, offices, self-storage units, and industrial buildings. Publicly traded REIT shares can generally be bought or sold on an exchange at a moment’s notice, making them more liquid than physical real estate investments, which involve transactions that can take months to complete.

Many REITs generate a reliable income stream regardless of share price performance, primarily because they are required by law to pay out 90% of their taxable incomes as dividends to stakeholders. In the second quarter of 2016, the S&P REIT index had a dividend yield of 3.73%. (3) The performance of an unmanaged index is not indicative of the performance of any specific security. Individuals cannot invest directly in an index.

REIT share prices can be sensitive to interest rates. As rates rise, steady dividends may appear less attractive to investors relative to the safety of bonds offering similar yields. On the other hand, current fundamentals, including modest economic growth, lower unemployment, and rising rents, are generally seen as positive conditions for REITs and other real estate businesses.

Diversification tool

Breaking real estate out of the Financials sector acknowledges that the industry’s business models and ties to underlying property markets produce a distinctive risk-return profile, including a relatively low correlation to the rest of the stock market. (4) Because the share prices of equity REITs don’t rise and fall in lockstep with the broader stock market, including them in your portfolio could help reduce the overall level of risk.

The return and principal value of all stocks, including REITs, fluctuate with changes in market conditions. Shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Diversification and asset allocation do not guarantee a profit or protect against investment loss; they are methods used to help manage investment risk.

REIT distributions are taxable to the extent they include any ordinary income and capital gains. Some REITs may not qualify as a REIT as defined in the tax code, which could affect operations and negatively impact the ability to make distributions.

There are inherent risks associated with real estate investments that could have an adverse effect on financial performance. Such risks may include a deterioration in the economy or local real estate conditions; tenant defaults; property mismanagement; and changes in operating expenses (including insurance costs, energy prices, real estate taxes, and the cost of compliance with laws, regulations, and government policies).

Breaking real estate out of the Financials sector acknowledges that the industry’s business models and ties to underlying property markets produce a distinctive risk-return profile, including a relatively low correlation to the rest of the stock market.

(1) , (3) S&P Dow Jones Indices, 2015-2016
(2) Investor’s Business Daily, March 18, 2016
(4) FinancialAdvisor.com, March 1, 2016

The foregoing is provided for information purposes only.  It is not intended or designed to provide legal, accounting, tax, investment or other professional advice.  Such advice requires consideration of individual circumstances.  Before any action is taken based upon this information, it is essential that competent, individual, professional advice be obtained.  JAS Financial Services, LLC is not responsible for any modifications made to this material, or for the accuracy of information provided by other sources.