October 2010

For years prior to 2010, only taxpayers with modified AGI of $100,000 or less generally were permitted to convert a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. For years beginning in 2010 and after, the AGI limitation has been eliminated. Thus, regardless of AGI, all otherwise eligible taxpayers will be allowed to convert an IRA to a Roth IRA. The amount converted is includible in income as if a withdrawal had been made, but no early withdrawal penalties are assessed.

Two-year income spread if conversion done in 2010. For conversions occurring in 2010, unless a taxpayer elects otherwise, none of the amount is includible in gross income in 2010, with half of the income resulting from the conversion includible in gross income in 2011 and half in 2012. However, income inclusion is accelerated if converted amounts are distributed before 2012. In that case, the amount included in income in the year of the distribution is increased by the amount distributed, and the amount included in income in 2012 (or 2011 and 2012 in the case of a distribution in 2010) is the lesser of: (1) half of the amount includible in income as a result of the conversion; and (2) the remaining portion of such amount not already included in income. The following example illustrates the application of the accelerated inclusion rule.

Example. Betty has a traditional IRA with a value of $100,000 consisting of deductible contributions and earnings. Betty does not have a Roth IRA. She converts the traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in 2010, and as a result of the conversion, $100,000 is includible in gross income. Unless Betty elects otherwise, $50,000 of the income resulting from the conversion is included in income in 2011 and $50,000 in 2012.

Later in 2010, Betty takes a $20,000 distribution, which is not a qualified distribution and all of which, under the ordering rules, is attributable to amounts includible in gross income as a result of the conversion. Under the accelerated inclusion rule, $20,000 is included in income in 2010. The amount included in income in 2011 is the lesser of (1) $50,000 (half of the income resulting from the conversion); or (2) $80,000 (the remaining income from the conversion). The amount included in income in 2012 is the lesser of (1) $50,000 (half of the income resulting from the conversion), or (2) $30,000 (the remaining income from the conversion, i.e., $100,000 – $70,000 ($20,000 included in income in 2010 and $50,000 included in income in 2011)).

Preparer note. While you cannot elect out of the two year spread on only a portion of the conversion income in 2010 (it’s an all or nothing election), husband and wife may each make separate elections for their individual IRA accounts. For example, a wife could elect to report her conversion income in 2010 and her husband could report his 2010 conversion income in 2011 and 2012. This may result a better spread of the income. The same taxpayer is allowed to make separate elections for separate IRA accounts.

If you need guidance on answering the question, “should my client convert to a Roth?” check out CPE Link’s Federal Tax Update: Part 2 webcast starting in November. You’ll get a myriad of planning ideas and even access to a simple, but sophisticated, calculator. (Note: The above information was excerpted from Vern Hoven’s manual used in the webcast.) In addition to coverage of the IRA & Individual Retirement area, you’ll get an update on Real Estate & Investment, and Estates, Trusts & Beneficiaries.

In March 2010, the President approved two huge pieces of tax legislation: the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Numerous tax provisions from these two bills take effect over the next several years. Will you be able to identify the tax changes that may impact your clients’ tax returns? Here’s a quick list of the things you will want to be familiar with.

1. Tax timeline in the health care reform act—when each provision takes effect. These are major tax changes spread over the next 8 years!

2. The additional Medicare Tax on unearned income and wages found in the new Health Bill (the hottest tax topic of the year)

3. How the Gillet case affects the tax return of a same-sex couple. Is filing “Married Filing Joint” permitted?

4. The 5 tests for qualifying a child as a dependent and who can claim the child after a divorce.

5. The new rules for basis reporting starting in 2011 (Form 1099-B).

6. Cancellation of debt (and exceptions to COD Income (Section 108).

7. The myriad adjustments to gross income such as health savings accounts and prepaid tuition accounts.

8. Changes to itemized deductions including the new charitable contribution rules, the home mortgage rules and medical expenses.

9. Features and effective dates for the American Opportunity Tax Credit (Hope Credit) and the Lifetime Learning Credit.

10. The over 60 provisions that expire at the end of 2010; Ordinary income tax rates, capital gains rates, EIC, child tax credit, dependent care credit, limit on itemized deductions and exemptions, etc. will all revert to 2001 law.

Need help pulling all the information together? Get the details on these and other issues related to individual income taxes in Part 1 of CPE Link’s Federal Tax Update webcasts starting in November. Course includes 129 page downloadable manual containing hyperlinks to applicable code sections.

2010 has been an active year for federal tax changes, aimed at stimulating employment and the economy. The focus of the latest change in the tax code, the Small Business Jobs Act is to help small businesses obtain loans. In fact, most of its $42 billion cost is related to the creation of a new $30 billion fund run by the Treasury Department that would give cheap capital to small banks.

When President Obama signed the latest act on September 27, 2010, eight new tax incentives took effect immediately affecting more than a million businesses. Small business owners can now deduct more start up costs, take a bigger write off for investments in new equipment, deduct the entire cost of health insurance for themselves and their families from the Self-Employment Tax, and more.

When tax laws take effect immediately, practitioners need to be able to answer client questions and be able to identify and solve client tax problems before tax season starts! CPE Link instructor Vern Hoven has already incorporated coverage of the new rules into his upcoming Federal Tax Update webcast series and is ready to train practitioners on what the tax code changes will mean to their clients.

In his Federal Tax Update webcasts, Vern will discuss the $12 billion of tax incentives created through an increase and expansion of Section 179, an extension of bonus depreciation and a small list of other items like cell phones are no longer listed property. These webcasts are a quick and economical way for tax practitioners to get up to speed on all the changes to the tax code. Attendees will receive a detailed, comprehensive manual and have access to the recorded webcast for three months to review the material again if needed.

Most practitioners take at least one tax update course every year to get ready for tax season, but this year it is especially important to get thoroughly versed in all the new code. CPE Link is offering an expanded series of dates for the Federal Tax Update webcasts to accommodate all interested practitioners.