Estate Tax Secrets: The Gift Tax Exclusion

Think estate tax planning doesn’t apply to you?

You could be right. Especially if you’re one of the 99.85 percent of people whose estates are worth less than $5.43 million ($5.34 million in 2014), according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

But here’s a secret.

Estate planning isn’t just for the ultra-wealthy.

While you might not have an estate worth $5.43 million to leave your children, you might be financially comfortable enough to distribute some of that wealth to your children or favorite charity right now…But maybe you’re not sure how.

Or perhaps you own a small manufacturing business in the Sacramento Valley, a family vineyard in Placer County, or a thriving brewery business in Roseville that is doing so well that you’re worried you might meet that $5.43 million threshold in the future. Are you wondering what you can do right now to avoid the possibility of leaving your family a large tax bill when you die?

As a taxpayer, you already know that the IRS has special rules taxpayers must follow, but like most of us, you probably don’t pay close attention.

At Cook CPA Group in Roseville, it’s our job to know what these rules are and how they affect your tax situation and because educating our clients is part of our job, we’d like to share what we know with you. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how taxpayers like you can use the gift tax exclusion to your advantage.

What is the Gift Tax?

The gift tax is a tax on the transfer of property from one individual to another while receiving nothing or less than full value, in return. It only applies to amounts more than the annual exclusion. In 2015 (as in 2014) this amount is $14,000 per calendar year.

What Gifts are not taxable?

The general rule is that any gift (over the annual exclusion limit) is a taxable gift; however, there are exceptions. Generally though, the following six types of gifts are not considered taxable gifts:

1. Gifts that are not more than the annual exclusion for the calendar year.

You can make as many annual gifts as you’d like up to the $14,000 limit in 2015 without incurring the gift tax.

2. Tuition you pay for someone.

You can you use the gift tax exclusion to pay for your child’s or grandchild’s tuition at college—as long as it is paid directly to the college and is for tuition only. Supplies, books, dormitory fees, and board do not qualify for the exclusion.
Bonus: Since gifts of tuition paid directly to the college are not considered gifts for gift tax purposes, you can still give your grandchild up to $14,000 under the annual gift tax exclusion rules.

3. Medical expenses you pay for someone.

If you paid an individual to a person or institution that provided medical care for someone. Medical care includes diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body, or for transportation primarily for and essential to medical care. Medical care also includes amounts paid for medical insurance on behalf of any individual.
The payment must be to the care provider, and the exclusion doesn’t apply to amounts paid for medical care that are reimbursed by the donee’s insurance.

4. Gifts to your spouse.

You can give gifts up to the annual exclusion limit to your spouse during any calendar year. In addition, spouses that own property together can donate $28,000 annually in 2015 without paying the gift tax.

5. Gifts to a political organization for its use.

The gift tax does not apply to a transfer to a political organization (as defined by the IRS) for the use of the organization.

6. Gifts to charities.

If the only gifts you made during the year are deductible as gifts to charities, you do not need to file a gift tax return as long as you transferred your entire interest in the property to qualifying charities.

Does Making a Gift Affect My Taxes?

Most people don’t need to worry about paying the gift tax because the amount they give is not substantial enough to be taxed (i.e. more than $14,000 per donee in 2015). However, for amounts exceeding the annual exclusion limit the person giving the gift is generally responsible for paying the gift tax.

Making a gift or leaving your estate to your heirs does not ordinarily affect your federal income tax; however, you cannot deduct the value of gifts you make (other than gifts that are deductible charitable contributions).

At Cook CPA Group, we have answers to all of your estate planning and gift tax questions.

Wondering if you can take advantage of tax laws that lower your present or future tax bill while allowing you to generously donate assets to someone who needs them now?

Call Evelyn Cook, CPA today at 916-724-1665 to learn how you can use the gift tax exclusion to improve your tax situation.

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Bishop the Office Curate goes to Barktoberfest!

I know it’s been awhile since you’ve heard from the Office Curate, so I thought I would blog all about our recent trip to a local, fun and animal benefiting festival!

POSTER-webOn Sunday, October 5, 2014, my sister Ziva and I took mom to the Placer County SPCA’s annual Barktoberfest at Maidu Park in Roseville.  This local festival helped to raise funds for all of the wonderful programs the Placer County SPCA offers to animals and humans in the local community.

The event kicked off with a run and walk for dogs and their humans.  Mom decided we couldn’t do the run/walk because both Ziva and I along for a run might be dangerous.  She seems to have caught on that sometimes we like to play tricks on her and run in front of her while she’s jogging, so we didn’t go!

We got to Barktoberfest just in time to see all the doggie runners and walkers finishing.  A lot of them were in brightly colored costumes.  I’ve got to hand it to those small dogs, some

Dog Shark!

Dog Shark!

of the funniest costumes were the ones with the fake human jockeys on their back.  I laughed at each and every one –never gets old!

After catching the end of the run and walk, we toured mom around the festival near all the vendor booths and got to meet a lot of different kind of pooches.  There were all different kinds of dogs around, from German Shepherds, pugs, labs, Pomeranians.  Bark Stability  It was very exciting to see so many types of dogs with their humans –mom let us stop and smell most of them!  There were many vendors, and many cool things for dogs to do!

Bark IQ testWe tried to take a doggie IQ test, whatever that means.  All I know is they kept giving us hot dogs….we love hot dogs!  Also, some cool dog demonstrations by German Shepherds attacking humans on command, kinda scary, but those Shepherds really seemed to know what they were doing.Bark GS Show

The end of our journey landed Ziva a beautiful new bandanna.

Ziva's Pink Bandanna!

Ziva’s Pink Bandanna!

Overall, it was a really fun adventure and a great cause to lend support!

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Spotlight on Local Businesses: NuYo Frozen Yogurt

Mackenzie Harder, the progressive President of NuYo Frozen Yogurt leads with his vision of solid customer-oriented businesses.

Mackenzie Harder in front of the fabulous yogurt dispensers!

Mackenzie Harder in front of the fabulous yogurt dispensers!

The mission of NuYo is not just to provide top-notch delicious premium yogurt with fresh toppings, but the best experience and environment for its customers.  The simple philosophy behind this involves empowering NuYo’s employees to offer outstanding customer service, cleanliness and friendliness with each delicious bite.

NuYo Yogurt’s Approach:  Using a straightforward business approach, Mackenzie established and fine-tuned (with the assistance of a knowledgeable staff and consultants) systems and procedures from the business design, human resources, employee training, from every step down to the delivery of its fresh fruit and freshly topped yogurt.

Always fresh toppings!

Always fresh toppings!

Not Your Everyday Yogurt: NuYo’s dedication to freshness and cleanliness sets it apart from any other yogurt.  The top quality yogurt flavors run from the standard flavors like vanilla and chocolate to the fun and exotic like spicy sriracha mango and pink guava.  Add to these delicious flavors fresh fruits, nuts, gels and many, many other toppings, and you can’t go wrong!

Straight from Mackenzie: NuYo’s President offered his own reflection about what has been his most rewarding part of his participation in NuYo; offering that it’s a time when persons of all ages can come in and truly have an experience enjoying nutritious and delicious treats in a warm, friendly, clean environment.

Cashing Out

You can visit NuYo Yogurt on the web at http://www.nuyofrozenyogurt.com/ and in person at the following nearby locations:

Broadstone Marketplace2750 East Bidwell #300

Folsom, CA 95630

NuYo Frozen Yogurt is located in Broadstone Marketplace next to Blockbuster.

Granite Bay Pavilions9213 Sierra College Blvd. #100

Roseville, CA 95661

NuYo Frozen Yogurt is located on the corner of Sierra College and Eureka.

Fun Atmosphere

Fun Atmosphere

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Bishop the Office Curate visits Woofstock 2014

For the past seven years, Rocklin has hosted the premier canine festival in Northern California, known as Woofstock.  Woofstock isn’t just a happening place for canines, its human fundraising helps support over 20 local dog rescue organizations.  Since it’s in our local community, I decided to take mom this year so she could see some new doggie faces, and hopefully I could get tons of treats!

Woofstock

When we arrived, we caught some pretty cool action with the wiener dog races.  Those dogs moved pretty quick for being so close to the ground.  We didn’t find any treats here, but mom seemed to have a good time.

Then we hit the motherload of treats by cruising through the vendor and sponsor booths.  There were over a 100 booths, and treats EVERYWHERE, not to mention tons of other friendly dogs of all shapes and sizes!

shapes & sizes

So many dogs!

Sheltie Cousins!

Sheltie Cousins!

I met some of my friendly cousins at the Sheltie Rescue booth.

Sheltie Rescue Booth

Sheltie Rescue Booth

After cruising the vendor booths and gathering up as many treats as we could find, mom decided to stop for a human bite to eat.  Mom had a smoothie, which wasn’t very tasty, but I found TONS of food that humans had dropped under the picnic tables.  Humans seem to have trouble keeping foods off the ground!  There were so many humans sitting and eating, it was a smorgasbord of deliciousness!  Mom even said I was being so good that she had to share her dessert with me.  I didn’t care for the brown stuff, but that white stuff was so cold and delicious!

Delicious. yummy, yum!

Delicious. yummy, yum!

 

Once we finished our foods, we went and hung out by the Woofstock band.  They played some pretty cool tunes, and some humans even tried to dance with their canine friends !  Thankfully, mom didn’t try that with me –I’m just a puppy, I don’ t know how to dance!

Woofstock Band

Woofstock Band

Finally, our last stop landed us with my new accessory –a blue bandanna!  I love it almost as much as the treats!!!

 

Bandanna!

Bandanna!

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Guest Curate Breyer Visits Downtown Roseville Food Truck Mania!

Hi, I’m Breyer, filling in for my nephew Bishop, who has the week off from his tremendous responsibilities of curating Cook CPA.  Since I’m guest blogging, I thought we would visit a local Roseville event and check out the scenery.

 BREYER!

BREYER!

Each month Roseville hosts a Food Truck Mania at the intersection of Lincoln & Vernon Streets in downtown Roseville.  Yesterday evening, August 14, I took my mom Evelyn out on the town for some tasty food truck streets.

krushburger

Krush Burger Truck home of the delicious smells!

Krush Burger Truck home of the delicious smells!

 

First we stopped by one of Cook CPA’s favorite clients, Roseville Cyclery, located on Vernon Street, just down from the tasty treat trucks.  They have an amazing selection of two-wheeled transportation in all shapes and sizes.  We talked with one of the human owners, Oliver, who we were very excited to meet and chat with because he smelled a lot like his Doberman Kaizer!

Roseville Cyclery

Then, we proceeded down to the food truck event.  There were a few fellow friendly dogs around, but overall, it was mostly humans eating tons of delicious smelling food!  Mom bought this delicious plate of food from Krush Burger.  We sat and ate at one of the fancy stand up tables, which was perfect height for my food delivery via sloppy humans!!  I had the most delicious bite of lobster roll…mmmmmmm!!

Mom's Delicious Dinner

Mom’s Delicious Dinner

After we finished eating dinner, mom ate this huge snowcone.  It smelled like something no smart dog would want part of,  but I waited patiently while she finished gazing over at the civic center water fountains which were off by the time we got there.

 Downtown Roseville Fountain

Downtown Roseville Fountain

Overall, it was a great time and good idea to get mom out of the house.  I would highly recommend this to any other doggie adventurer!

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Curate Bishop – Weekend Adventures!

Office curating can have its stressful moments, that’s why it’s important to take breaks during the weekends to reset and enjoy nature.  Even though it’s extremely warm outside, I let mom take me on adventures around California to seek out nature.  Our most recent trip was to Pt. Reyes, California.  On this trip, we brought along my best friend, Caspar, for some hiking and beach running.  Caspar is a lab, and he seems to really like that scary, noisy, wet stuff mom called the “ocean.”

Beach Buddies

Beach Buddies

After running and walking for a few hours, we finally made it to sand next to the ocean.  Mom let Caspar and me off our leashes and we ran like the wind in circles around and around and around.  It was so much fun and made Mom laugh REALLY hard!  Caspar ran straight to the ocean and tried to get in until that huge ocean tried to attack him –then he just lay down for a bit.  I tried to follow him, but it was too scary!!

Caspar's Break

Caspar’s Break

 

We ate some of Mom’s lunch, and then took a quick nap before our trip back.

I had so much fun, I slept the whole way home!

Riding Home

Riding Home

Stay tuned for our next adventure!!

Bishop, Curate at Cook CPA Group

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Bishop the Cook CPA Curate

Hi, I’m BisBishophop the Cook CPA Curate.

Before I begin blogging about our activities, achievements and Cook CPA news, I thought I would introduce myself and why I curate the Cook CPA office.

I was born in September 2013, along with six other brothers and sisters.  We come from a very respectable line of performance and show shelties.firstbord

This was me at one month, back then I was known simply as “Firstborn.”

I am a Shetland Sheepdog, often referred to as a “Sheltie” which are known for being a herding dog breed.   Shelties are also known for being energetic, fiercely loyal, and hard-working.  Often I am shy and reserved with strangers, but once I get to know someone, I offer as much love and curating as I can!

 

This brings us to why I’m charged with curating at the Cook CPA office.  A Curator in biblical terms refers to someone (or some dog) who is vested with caring for the souls of a parish.  In broader terms, a curator oversees and manages collectibles, artwork or historic items. desking it So, in essence, my job is to watch over and guard the souls of those at Cook CPA, and anyone who is affiliated with our firm, clients, vendors, neighbors.

In my research of the curation of souls, I notice that souls require much nurturing.  I’m just the dog to do it!  Often, when my hard-working Cook CPA souls are in need of a break, I will let them take me for walks, or simply roll around on the floor to give them a well-deserved smile.  Nurturing can simply be a nudge with a sturdy nose or throwing myself in a deep Curate trance on the floor for hours at a time.  It is difficult work some days, but it’s manageable.

trancethrow rugDo not try these maneuvers at home! 

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