By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager
Deloitte’s Annual Wealth Guide is enjoying its 27th year of providing valuable analysis on income tax, insights on the current tax policy landscape and discussions on the important issues surrounding wealth transfer tax. Recently, Big4.com caught up with Eddie Gershman, partner, Deloitte Tax LLP and technical leader for Deloitte’s individual tax competency, to go over the guide’s highpoints. Having worked on the wealth guide for the individual tax portion for a number of years, Gershman is positioned as a lead advisor on the significant nuances that are important to both individuals and businesses.
“There are a few things to highlight from the report this year. It’s important for our clients and high net worth individuals to have a long term commitment to thoughtful tax planning and to be diligent in the current tax rate environment,” he said by way of starting our conversation. “I prefer using the phrase year-round-planning rather than year-end-
Income Tax Planning
He says the phraseology is a good way to make people diligent about their income tax planning and helps clients to understand the importance of their individual objectives as far as tax planning goes.
“There really isn’t some silver bullet or one size fits all,” he says. “Understanding an individual’s patterns and objectives is something that’s critical from a planning perspective.”
Gershman stresses that the complexities built into income tax law such as phase-outs and limitations make it difficult to reach accurate conclusions intuitively, and performing the analysis is the best way to feel comfortable with the results.
We spoke about what’s important to watch in the current environment like the Pease limitation which reduces the benefit of certain itemized deductions for high income taxpayers.
“Helping people think through that from the timing of their tax deductions and looking at controllable deductions, like charitable contributions, is really important in today’s environment. Helping people think through the implications of the hurdles as they relate to the benefit of the deductions, and then what character of income it is that those deductions are going to offset, is also very important.”
We also touched on how the concepts around alterative minimum tax planning had changed.
“Now that the ordinary income tax rates have been raised for high net worth individuals, that higher income tax rate applied to income affords us the opportunity to do some basic blocking and tackling around the alternative minimum tax,” Gershman said, adding he’s already had multiple discussions with clients about the possibilities specific planning affords.
He circles back to his original point in conclusion saying if future tax reforms make deductions any less valuable, there is likely to be an even bigger need to have alternate, well-designed plans.