Dec 16, 2013

EYES ON NEW YORK STATE (Estate Tax Update)

Authored by: Roy P. Kozupsky, Esq. Every once in a while (admittedly not often in this author’s opinion) do our elected officials get tax policy right.  There just seems to be too many special interest groups clogging up the essential arteries of our nation’s government. However, in October of this year, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the formation of the Tax Relief Commission.  Its aim: “devising a series of targeted tax relief proposals” to lower the tax burden(s) of living and doing business in New York State.  Quite admirable in scope, but obviously not an entirely unique aspiration.  Skeptics among… Read more

Jul 2, 2013

The Overturning of DOMA has Broad Tax Implications

Authored by: Paul J. Sowell, Esq. In a 5-4 decision issued this past Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, paving the way for the federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said that the act wrote inequality into federal law and violated the Fifth Amendment’s protection of equal liberty: “DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty. It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds… Read more

Jun 21, 2012

Wandry – A Significant Step Forward for Defined Value Clauses

Authored by: Neeli G. Shah On March 26, 2012, the United States Tax Court issued a memorandum opinion in Wandry v. Commissioner, which was an important taxpayer victory in the world of defined value clauses (“DVC”).[ref]This article only focuses on certain aspects of the Wandry case.  Clients and taxpayers must fully review the entire case or consult at tax professional prior to using DVCs for personal estate and gift tax planning purposes.[/ref]  A DVC is a formula clause that allows the taxpayers to determine a gift’s fair market value, for federal gift tax purposes, by referencing a fixed dollar amount… Read more

May 24, 2012


Authored by: Steven A. Richman Eduardo Savarin, one of Facebook’s co-founders, recently announced that he renounced his U.S. citizenship in September of 2011, several months in advance of Facebook’s initial public offering (“IPO”).  The resulting tax consequences (not to mention the political fallout from Washington) offer an interesting case study into the Internal Revenue Code’s expatriation rules, which are covered in Section 877A. Per Section 877A, individuals who are “covered expatriates” are treated as selling all of their assets for their fair market value (e.g., mark-to-market) upon their expatriation (thereby triggering income tax on any built-in-gain), even if they don’t… Read more

May 8, 2012

Disposition of Digital Assets: Reasons for Digital Estate Planning

Authored by: Neeli G. Shah Death in the digital age is a lot more complicated than it used to be.  Traditionally, fiduciaries and family members start administering an estate by reading the individual’s mail and sorting through records at the person’s home.  However, with online accounts and paperless billing, these traditional approaches may not be available to fiduciaries today.  The information needed to locate and access tangible and digital assets is often in the digital world itself.  Email accounts are typically the primary access point to all other online assets.  Online statements, notifications, messages, paperless bills etc., will all come… Read more

Apr 18, 2012

Failing to do Succession Planning in New York Based Professional Corporations May Cause Big Problems Later

Authored by: David L. Fox It is common for lawyers to advise their clients when setting up a professional corporation to adopt a shareholder’s agreement. Such agreements, if well prepared, will provide a road map on how to resolve disputes when they arise, and provided a means for orderly succession when one or more of the professional shareholders leaves the business, becomes incapacitated or dies. While many lawyers give such advice, a surprising number of professionals fail to adopt such agreements. Even those that do adopt such agreements may fail or refuse to make the hard choices in these early… Read more

Apr 2, 2012

Going… Going… Almost Gone

Authored by: Paul J. Sowell, Esq. In a day of shrinking state coffers you would think that more and more states, in a last chance to grab revenue, would be looking to the estates of their deceased wealthy residents as a source of money.  Actually, you would be wrong. The growing trend among states which have a gift and/or estate or inheritance tax regime has been to repeal these onerous taxes.  Why would this be you may ask? An interesting study published this year by the Beacon Center of Tennessee looked at Tennessee’s death and gift taxes and concluded the… Read more

Mar 2, 2012

Turnover of Estate Property

Authored by: Dorothy J. Santos One major responsibility of an estate fiduciary is to collect the assets of the estate.  Normally, this process is relatively straightforward, especially if the fiduciary is knowledgeable about different types of assets and comfortable dealing with various types of financial institutions.  However, there are undoubtedly times when the fiduciary has to fight to collect an asset or assets belonging to the estate.  This can occur when there are merely different beliefs as to the technical ownership of property or when property was somehow diverted from the decedent or estate by a third party. In New… Read more

Feb 6, 2012

Encrypted Swiss Bank Files

Authored by: Scott A. Harty The U.S. government continues to levy immense pressure on the Swiss banking system, and the Swiss banks, historically renowned for their secrecy, continue to show cracks.  On January 30, 2012, eight Swiss banks acquiesced to intensified pressure from the U.S. and handed over data on many U.S. clients suspected of tax evasion.  The data includes millions of emails between various bankers and their clients (and, by necessity, the names of those parties involved).  While the data was handed over to avoid potential prosecution by the U.S. government, the data was provided in a heavily encrypted… Read more

Feb 2, 2012

Poisonous Estate Planning

Authored by: Dorothy J. Santos Here’s a case for making sure you choose the right spouse and friends in life. A New York State court recently held a widow and her two friends liable in connection with the production of a “sham” Will for the widow’s deceased husband and its admission to probate.  The court’s decision illustrates a terrible family tragedy and the grave consequences of failing to follow the law in this area and doing “favors” for friends or family. After the death of the widow’s husband in 2005, the widow convinced her two friends to witness a fake… Read more