An afternoon of happy endings and tips to avoid the tax man

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  • | 12:00 p.m. February 22, 2010
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Jacksonville Bar Association Tax Law Section Chair Harris L. Bonnette Jr.

As many of you may know, Stephanie Harriett, a Florida attorney and Senior Trust Officer with U.S. Trust, is the Chair of the Probate and Trust Section and I am the Chair of the Tax Section of the Jacksonville Bar Association this season. Stephanie and I teamed up our sections this year to present a series of happy hours, luncheons, and a continuing legal education seminar. The seminar is from 1-5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25 at Florida Coastal School of Law.

It is entitled “An Afternoon of CLE on Happy Endings: Life, Marriage, Relationships, and the Tax Man (and a Happy Hour at the End).” We have four speakers and each will speak for about 50 minutes or so on their topic.

John Callender will be speaking on enforcement of prenuptial agreements by or against a surviving spouse. John “Jack” Fishburne will be discussing spouses, domestic partners, and family members and working your way through the ethics mine field when representing more than one party in those relationships. Robert “Bob” Iseley will be providing the legislative and case law update including a discussion of homestead and tax apportionment issues.

My presentation is entitled “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Tax Issues in Probate Administrations (but were afraid to ask).” This presentation focuses on tax issues that arise in probate administrations and the necessary tax steps to complete during probate administrations. A reception immediately follows the seminar where beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvres will be served complements of our sponsor, Lawgic, LLC, a company offering estate planning document drafting software.

The topics covered and the all important happy hour at the end are sure to please. Lawyers and non-lawyers are invited. The cost of registration is $130 for members and $170 for non members. The registration form is available online at

As the income tax filing season is well under way, it’s worthwhile to mention a few tax filing tips. If you bought a new vehicle in 2009 you may be able to deduct the sales and excise taxes associated with the purchase. You are also permitted a tax credit for expenditures made for making your home or business more energy efficient. If you or your child attended college or trade school last year you may also be entitled to a tax credit. If you buy a house for the first time in 2009, you are entitled to up to $8,000 as a first time home buyer tax credit.

Of course, keep in mind that you can file your tax return electronically or by mailing in a paper tax return. Although there are still a few complex returns that must be filed by mail, the vast majority of tax returns these days can be filed electronically. It is simply the direction our country is headed. Electronic filing tends to avoid common handwritten mistakes and you are not subjecting the delivery of your tax return to the potential problems that can arise when it is sent by regular mail. Another option to consider is the method of making payments (estimated tax payments, installment agreement payments, and employer’s quarterly federal tax deposits).

You can now make payments on the IRS’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or “EFTPS.” Under EFTPS, your tax payments are made electronically. After enrolling in the EFTPS system (, you can go online and trigger a payment to the IRS. Upon being triggered, the IRS then initiates an electronic transaction by taking the specified amount out of your registered bank account.

For those of you who have indigestion with the thought of the IRS having your personal bank account information, it is easy to set up a separate account and provide the EFTPS system information with respect to that separate account. That way, you can transfer money into that separate account and then trigger a payment from that separate account to the IRS. I find that making payments to the IRS through the EFTPS system is much better because you don’t have to worry about routing your payment through the U.S. mail (and the delays that can cause) and the payment is credited on the day you make the EFTPS payment.

Thus, for example, those of you who may be on an installment agreement to pay off old taxes, if a payment is late, the agreement could default thereby negating the installment agreement. Frequently, if you don’t mail your installment payment to the IRS timely or if the payment isn’t delivered timely, you can create an unintended default. Using EFTPS avoids that problem as long as you trigger the EFTPS payment by the last day the payment is due.



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