Tax Law

What is the gift tax and how does it work?

The Gift Tax

The federal gift tax applies to gifts of property or money while the donor is living. The federal estate tax, on the other hand, applies to property conveyed to others (with the exception of a spouse) after a person’s death.

The gift tax applies only to the donor. The recipient is under no obligation to pay the gift tax, although other taxes, such as income tax, may apply. The federal estate tax affects the estate of the deceased and can reduce the amount available to heirs.


In theory, any gift is taxable, but there are several notable exceptions. For example, gifts of tuition or medical expenses that you pay directly to a medical or educational institution for someone else are not considered taxable. Gifts to a spouse who is a U.S. citizen, gifts to a qualified charitable organization, and gifts to a political organization are also not subject to the gift tax.

You are not required to file a gift tax return unless any single gift exceeds the annual gift tax exclusion for that calendar year. The exclusion amount ($14,000 in 2013) is indexed annually for inflation. A separate exclusion is applied for each recipient. In addition, gifts from spouses are treated separately; so together, each spouse can gift an amount up to the annual exclusion amount to the same person.

Determining the Gift Tax

Gift taxes are determined by calculating the tax on all gifts made during the tax year that exceed the annual exclusion amount, and then adding that amount to all the gift taxes from gifts above the exclusion limit from previous years. This number is then applied toward an individual’s lifetime applicable exclusion amount. If the cumulative sum exceeds the lifetime exclusion, you may owe gift taxes.

Tax Relief Act

The 2010 Tax Relief Act reunified the estate and gift tax exclusions at $5 million (indexed for inflation), and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 made the higher exemption amount permanent while increasing the estate and gift tax rate to 40% (up from 35% in 2012). Because of inflation, the estate and gift tax exemption is $5.25 million in 2013. This enables individuals to make lifetime gifts up to $5.25 million in 2013 before the gift tax is imposed.

Contact Managing Partner Joseph Maya and the other experienced estate law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. today at (203) 221-3100 or by email at, to schedule a free initial consultation.

What happens if I die without a will in Connecticut?

After someone dies, attention naturally shifts to the decedent’s survivors, property and wishes. A probate court (also called a surrogate court) is a specialized court that handles distribution of the decedent’s property and ensures that any debts, funeral expenses and taxes are paid prior to distributing the remaining assets. If there is a will, the decedent’s wishes are carried out and the process is typically straight forward. However, if there is no will, distribution of property is awarded to survivors in accordance with the state’s laws of “intestacy.”

Asset Distribution

In Connecticut, if you are survived by a spouse and children, your spouse takes the first $100,000 plus half of the remainder and your children take the other half of the remainder. If you are survived by a spouse and children who are not your spouse’s children, your spouse takes half and the children share the other half equally. If you are survived by a spouse and parent(s) but no children, your spouse takes the first $100,000 plus three quarters of the remainder and the parent(s) takes the other one quarter.

If you are survived by a spouse only, your spouse takes it all. If you are survived by children only, your children take it all. If you are survived by parent(s) only, your parent(s) take it all. If you are survived by brother(s) and sister(s) only, your brother(s) and sister(s) take it all. If you are survived by next of kin only, your next of kin takes it all. If there is no next of kin but there is a step-child, your step-child takes it all. If there is no step-child, it all goes to the State of Connecticut.

The Benefits of Having a Will

Regardless of the value of your property, it is always in your best interest to have a will. If you have a will, it may be possible to reduce the amount of tax payable on the inheritance. If you die without a will, your money and property may not be distributed as you had wished. If you are unmarried but have a partner, he or she cannot inherit your property without a will.

If you have children who are minors, you will need a will so that living and financial arrangements are as you had wished in the event of your death. If your your former partner’s circumstances have changed and there is a new partner in the picture, you may want to have a will to ensure your property is distributed as you’d wished.

Maya Murphy Attorneys at Law can provide you with estate planning with artfully crafted trusts and tax avoidance. We know that clients want peace of mind for the future. Our experienced attorneys will help you map out a plan so that your family is properly cared for in the event of your death. Please call us at 203-221-3100, or email us at to schedule a free consultation.

Utilizing Valuation Discounts for Gift Tax Savings: The Family LLC

This memorandum discusses the advantages of using gifts of fractional ownership interests in a family limited liability company (“LLC”) to defer or reduce gift tax and estate taxes. A family limited liability company can be used as an estate planning tool to “leverage” gifts to the next generation. The leverage is created by valuation discounts that apply to gifts of interests in a family LLC.

For gift tax purposes, the value used in determining the amount of a gift is fair market value, generally defined as the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of the facts.

Ownership of an interest in an entity such as a family LLC, whether a majority or minority interest, generally will result in a lower valuation for estate and gift tax purposes than the outright ownership of assets outside of the entity. Lower valuations result because minority interest and lack of marketability valuation discounts are allowed for transfers of interests in closely held corporations and limited partnerships.

What is a minority interest?

A minority interest is any ownership interest in an entity such as a family LLC that lacks voting control over the entity, such that the member has no unilateral power to determine the timing of distributions, to force a liquidation of the LLC, or to control the management of the LLC. A marketability discount generally applies to majority and minority interests in a LLC due to the illiquid nature of such interests. A combined marketability and minority interest discount may approach fifty percent.

Valuation Discounts for Family LLC Interests

The following example illustrates the advantages of utilizing valuation discounts in gifts of Family LLC interests:

Suppose Mom and Dad own real estate worth $1,000,000.00. They wish to make partial gifts of this real estate to their four children to take advantage of the $13,000.00 annual exclusion under Internal Revenue Code § 2503(a). Mom and Dad decide to establish a family LLC to own the real estate. Each receives a 50% interest in the LLC upon contribution of the real estate to the LLC.

Mom and Dad are appointed managers, which gives them the power to make all decisions regarding the management and operation of the LLC. After establishing the LLC for substantial business reasons, and after the LLC has been in existence for some time, Mom and Dad make a gift of 19.2% of their interests in the LLC, by giving a 4.8% interest to each of their four children.

Leveraging the Gift Tax Exclusion Using the LLC

Each gift of an interest in the LLC is entitled to a minority interest discount, because each child lacks control of the entity. Each gift is also entitled to a lack of marketability discount because each interest in the LLC is highly illiquid, and no child has the power to liquidate the LLC. Assuming for purposes of this example a total discount of fifty percent, the fair market value of the 4.8% gift made to each child is only $24,000.00, even though 4.8% of the underlying assets in the LLC is $48,000.00. Thus, the gift tax exclusion has been “leveraged” using the LLC because $48,000.00 in underlying asset value has been transferred to each child without gift tax cost and without using any unified credit.

As the real estate owned by the LLC increases in value, such increase in value will be reflected in Mom’s and Dad’s estates only to the extent of their remaining interest in the LLC. Furthermore, after the gifts Mom and Dad each owns only a 40.4% minority interest in the LLC. Each such interest lacks the power to liquidate the LLC, and would also be entitled to minority interest and lack of marketability discounts. Thus, significant gift and estate tax savings can be achieved by using a family LLC, although at the “cost” to Mom and Dad of foregoing the income that otherwise would have been received on the 19.2% that has been given away to the children.

Analyzing a Family LLC

Because of many court cases involving the use of family limited liability companies and family limited partnerships, a careful analysis in each instance is needed before interests in a family entity are gifted. Moreover, in most situations a professional appraisal is needed to value both the company’s underlying assets and the fair market value of the interests gifted. The cost of such appraisals must be considered when a decision is made to implement the use of family entities as a part of one’s estate plan.

The previous informative article on valuation discounts can be found at:‎ and was produced in its entirety by Barber Merson, L.C.

Maya Murphy, P.C. is a full service law firm with offices in Westport, CT and New York City. We provide clients with attentive, expert representation in all matters of the law but with a focus on employment, divorce, and estate planning. If you have any questions about establishing a family LLC or partnership, feel free to call one of our experienced attorneys at 203-221-3100 anytime for a free consultation.

Use a Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) to Shield Your Policies From Estate Tax

Many clients are surprised to learn that the death proceeds of their life insurance are subject to estate taxation. They believe that life insurance escapes estate taxes and passes to their loved ones intact.

This confusion probably began when the client was told that life insurance is income tax-free. For married clients, the confusion is compounded by the belief that the unlimited marital deduction somehow magically insulates the client’s death proceeds from ever being taxed. Often the marital deduction merely postpones the heavy tax burden on such death proceeds until the second spouse dies.

For clients who have taxable estates, estate taxes may consume up to fifty-five percent of their life insurance proceeds.

The proceeds from your life insurance are generally includable in your taxable estate if you owned the policy or had any “incidents of ownership.” (as defined by the IRS) This is true for term insurance, cash value insurance, and even insurance provided by your employer.

“Incidents of ownership” which will cause life insurance death proceeds to be taxed as part of the insured’s taxable estate include not just policy ownership, but also the right to borrow the cash value, the right to change beneficiaries, and the right to change how the proceeds are ultimately distributed to the beneficiaries.

What is an irrevocable life insurance trust?

The Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (or “ILIT” as it is frequently called) has proven to be a highly effective method of avoiding estate taxes without the many problems of transferring ownership of the policy to the client’s children or other heirs. An ILIT is created to own one or more policies insuring your life. The ILIT is irrevocable, meaning you cannot generally change the terms once it has been signed. You must also choose someone else as trustee of the ILIT besides you and your spouse (a knowledgeable professional is the ideal choice).

You cannot be a beneficiary of the trust, but your children may be (and usually are) beneficiaries. Quite often, the ILIT parallels the dispositive provisions of your revocable living trust or other estate planning documents, although there is no legal requirement for the ILIT to do so.

Moreover, the ILIT cannot be payable to your estate or to your revocable living trust, as your ability during lifetime to change your will or trust would result in your ability to change the beneficial enjoyment of the policy proceeds, thus bringing the policy back into your taxable estate. In addition, if you die within 3 years of placing an existing policy into the trust, it will be brought back into your estate. Hence, it is more favorable for the trust to the insurance on your life than you placing an existing policy in.

ILIT Gifts

Your contribution to the ILIT represents gifts which you cannot get back. The gifts are usually used to pay the premiums on one or more policies insuring your life and which are owned by the trust. Because you cannot reclaim the policies, or receive any benefit from the trust, it would be inappropriate to have the trust own policies whose cash values you had planned to use for retirement income.

Currently, you may gift up to $14,000 per year per donee (recipient) without any gift tax implications. This exclusion is only available to gifts of a present interest, which is something you may enjoy or use now, and gifts in trust generally do not qualify, as they are gifts of a future interest, or one that will be enjoyed or used later. To avoid this limitation, your ILIT should provide that each lifetime beneficiary (who must also be beneficiary or contingent beneficiary at your death) has the right to withdraw his or her proportionate share of the contribution for a limited period of time after each contribution is made.

The Withdrawal Period

This is known as a Crummey power and is named after a famous tax law case. A Crummey power forces what would otherwise be a future interest into a present interest that will fit the annual exclusion if the beneficiary has been given notice of a right to a withdrawal period that lasts at least 30 days.

After the expiration of the withdrawal period, the trustee may use the contribution to pay the premium on a life insurance policy. The IRS has approved the ILIT concept when all the technical requirements are met, but the IRS is notorious for challenging ILITs when the requirements are not met. Even the order in which the documents are signed is critical.

The trustee receives the death benefit upon your death. These proceeds may be distributed to your family, held in trust, or used to purchase assets from your estate or from your revocable living trust. This last option would be important if your estate had insufficient liquid assets to pay estate taxes.

The tax on your estate is due nine months after the date of death. Those with large estates often do not have sufficient cash or other assets which could be easily converted to cash within the nine month time frame. The need to pay estate taxes has caused many a farm, family business, or major real estate holding to be sold at discounted prices to pay the estate tax.

Life insurance may provide the money needed to pay the estate tax, and by having the policy purchased and held in an ILIT, the proceeds may be used to provide the needed liquidity for your estate and yet not be subject to estate tax on your death.

Alternatives to ILIT

Married couples may wish to consider using a “second-to-die” policy which pays the death benefit only after both spouses are deceased. That is usually the exact time that the proceeds are needed to pay the estate taxes. Because no death benefit is paid on the first death, the premium is much lower than purchasing a policy which insures just one life.

Often clients try to accomplish similar results to the ILIT by having, say, their two children own the policy equally. Many problems may arise under such an arrangement. A child may predecease the parent; the policy may be attached and liquidated by a child’s creditors; the policy could be considered as the child’s property in the event of a divorce; one child may refuse to pay the premiums or may wish to borrow the cash value. The outright gift of a policy makes no provisions for your children or grandchildren. These and other issues may be addressed in a properly drafted ILIT.

If you have a taxable estate and own a large insurance policy, or are contemplating purchasing one, you would be well advised to consider how the ILIT might benefit you and your family.

Zeroed-Out GRATs: A Must For Those With Substantial Assets

Under a GRAT, a grantor creates a trust and transfers property to the trust and retains an annuity payable for a term of years. At the end of the term, the trust property will go to the trust’s beneficiaries (either outright or in trust for their benefit). The initial transfer of property to the trust constitutes a gift for tax purposes which will eat up a person’s lifetime exemption amount. The value of the gift, however, is calculated based on actuarial tables based on the life of the grantor and based on interest rates published by the IRS (also known as the “hurdle rate”).

Because of this, if assets transferred to the trust appreciate at a rate faster than the hurdle rate the grantor can transfer the excess appreciation, free of gift tax, to the grantor’s heirs. The major downside is that if the grantor dies before the GRAT terms expires, all trust assets are included in the grantor’s estate–thereby causing the grantor to lose the opportunity to do other estate planning that might have successfully removed the property from the estate.

Purpose of a Zeroed-Out GRAT

A Zeroed-Out GRAT comes into play when the value of what the grantor gets back in the form of the annuity (actually the present value of the annuity interest) is equal to the value of the property transferred. In this situation the grantor makes a large gift of property to the GRAT, but sets the annuity at an amount so that, for gift tax purposes, there will be nothing left to pass to the heirs at the end of the term.

However, if the trust’s assets appreciate above the hurdle rate, there will be value and appreciation that will pass tax free to the children. By utilizing a Zeroed-Out GRAT, a grantor can pass large amounts of value to their children gift and estate tax free.

2-Year GRATs

But what if the assets you own have a volatile value and there is no guarantee that over many years there will be a net amount of appreciation? In this case, one can utilize what is called a series of Zeroed-Out “rolling” GRATs. Generally, this entails establishing a series of consecutive 2-year GRATs. Because the terms are so short, it reduces the likelihood of dying during the term.

In addition, if there is a down swing in value it will only affect the GRAT for the 2 year term. If there is a subsequent upswing in value that exceeds the hurdle rate the value can be passed on to the heirs. In a sense, it is a one way ratchet that will pass on value to heirs when the assets appreciate.

As with all estate planning techniques, one must consider their unique family circumstances, their assets, and current law to determine whether a GRAT makes sense.

The helpful info graphic above visually explains the use of the rolling GRAT technique, making references to billionaire Sheldon Adelson (via Bloomberg News).

Credit: Jared Callister

Rolling GRATs: A Low Risk High Reward Estate Planning Tool

A Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT) can be an effective wealth transfer technique without incurring a gift tax or utilizing one’s lifetime gift tax exemption. A risk, however, with a long-term GRAT is if the Grantor dies prior to the expiration of its term. Death of the Grantor would subject the trust assets, including any income and appreciation, to estate tax. To reduce the mortality risk (especially for elderly clients or for those with health concerns), there is an estate planning technique that utilizes shorter-term GRATs.

What is a Rolling GRAT?

The “Rolling GRAT” technique involves creating a series of consecutive short-term GRATs (typically 2 to 3 years) with each successive GRAT funded by the previous trust’s annuity payments. Rolling GRATs minimize the risk of mortality during the term and thereby increases the success of transferring wealth. Two years is the shortest amount allowable by the IRS according to recent revenue rulings. These short-term GRATs can take advantage of asset volatility by capturing rapid appreciation in assets such as a rapid increase in stock value (i.e. Tesla).

In fact, research on GRATs funded with publicly traded stock showed that a series of rolling GRATs outperformed an identical long-term GRAT, regardless of the 7520 rate at time of creation. The study showed that the short-term GRAT strategy minimized the risk that good investment performance in one year would be offset by poor performance in another year. Rolling GRATs also keep more funds committed to the estate planning strategy.

If the short-term GRAT strategy is effective (assets appreciate faster than the IRS Section 7520 rate within the trust term), wealth is removed from the taxable estate and transferred to beneficiaries at little cost. If the strategy is not effective (assets did not outperform the IRS Section 7520 rate), all of the assets would go back to the Grantor in form of the annuity payments and none of the lifetime gift tax exemption would be wasted. Thus, almost no risk, but the potential for very high reward.

Advantages of Rolling GRATs

Rolling GRATs also offer the advantage of plan and strategy flexibility. The Grantor can stop the rolling process at any time and for any reason. For example, the Grantor may wish to stop if he or she needs the income from the trust assets, no longer has an estate tax concern, wants to transfer wealth to the beneficiaries sooner, the assets’ growth rate drops too low, or his or her health has deteriorated and is not expected to live for another 2 or 3 years. The disadvantage of a short-term GRAT is that a particularly low Section 7520 rate will not be locked in long-term.

While Rolling GRATs offer advantages for liquid assets, such as publicly traded stock, illiquid or hard-to-value assets are better suited for long-term GRATs. In particular, illiquid assets would require frequent valuations that may be subjective, cumbersome and costly.

It is important to note that a provision in the President Obama’s 2014 Budget seeks to eliminate the use of short-term GRATs. The proposal would require that any new GRAT have a minimum term of 10 years and would require that the remainder interest have a value greater than zero at the time the interest is created. This minimum 10 year term would not eliminate the use of GRATs, but it would increase the risk that the grantor would fail to outlive the GRAT term and lose the anticipated transfer tax benefit.

Overseas Tax Shelters Now Complying With IRS

Some of the world’s most notorious secret account havens have agreed to give information about U.S. tax payers to the Internal Revenue Service.

In a 24-day span ending December 19, eight jurisdictions — the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Bermuda, Malta and the Netherlands – signed separate agreements with the IRS to help it implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), enacted by Congress to uncover offshore tax evasion. Deals with more countries are in the works.

IRS Intergovernmental Agreements

An IRS intergovernmental agreement “obligates the foreign country to require its investment funds and other financial institutions, unless they are exempt, to collect certain information from their U.S. account holders and report it to their country’s tax authority, which will then report the information to the IRS,” explains accountant Jay Bakst, a partner in the financial services practice of EisnerAmper LLP, an advisory and accounting firm in New York.

Institutions in countries that have yet to ink an intergovernmental agreement must enter into an agreement with the IRS to report directly to it or face 30-percent withholding on certain income from U.S. sources.

Reportable data includes the client’s name, address and tax identification number, plus information on account deposits, withdrawals and balances. Reporting begins in 2015, when 2014 account data will be furnished to the IRS.

Considering the Cayman Islands

For advisors and their U.S. clients, the Cayman Islands accord is particularly significant. The British territory’s money and secretive banks, private funds and insurance outfits are popular with affluent Americans, and for some of them the new pact could prove a game changer.

Prior to the Cayman government’s November 29 agreement with the IRS, Cayman banks that didn’t have income from the U.S. — and which were therefore unaffected by FATCA’s withholding on U.S.-source income — had little motivation to comply with the American law.

The same was true for Cayman funds with no U.S. income. But the intergovernmental agreement means an institution will be breaking its own country’s law by failing to report U.S. investors’ information to its government. That is a “strong incentive” to turn over the data regardless of whether withholding would apply, Bakst says.

International Clients

For advisors with international clients, attorney Frank L. Brunetti points out that most IRS intergovernmental agreements are reciprocal. For example, the IRS will be reporting to Costa Rica about its taxpayers in the U.S.

International clients should also be aware that multilateral agreements are expanding, where “multiple countries are sharing in the same exchange-of-information protocol,” says Brunetti. He is a partner at Scarinci Hollenbeck in Lyndhurst, N.J., as well as an academic observer to the United Nations Committee of Experts on Cooperation in International Tax Matters.

“Governments are cooperating with each other because they are looking for revenue, and they’re getting much better at it with the technology and the laws,” Brunetti says. “There are not many places for the international billionaire to hide assets anymore.”

credit: Eric Reiner

Connecticut Conveyance Taxes

Connecticut Conveyance Taxes

These are taxes paid to the Town and State on the sale of real estate. They are generally paid by the seller from the closing and given to the town clerk when the transaction is recorded.

State Conveyance Taxes

State Conveyance Taxes are paid to the State of Connecticut, Commissioner of Revenue Services. Based upon sales price, they are three quarters of one percent of the sales price up to $800,000.00; and one and a quarter percent for everything over $800,000.00.

Local Conveyance Taxes

Paid to the city or town where the property is located. They are 0.25% of the sales price except as noted below.

The rate in Stamford is 0.35%.

Certain other towns are allowed to charge one half of one percent. These towns are:

  • Bloomfield
  • Bridgeport
  • Bristol
  • East Hartford
  • Groton
  • Hamden
  • Hartford
  • Meriden
  • Middletown
  • New Britain
  • New Haven
  • New London
  • Norwalk
  • Norwich
  • Southington
  • Waterbury
  • Windham

Unconstitutionality of DOMA and How it Impacts Employee Benefit Plans Going Forward

The U.S. Supreme Court issued two landmark decisions on same-sex marriage Wednesday that will affect how employers administer their employee benefit plans and treat same-sex spouses. Below is a summary of the cases, their outcomes and how these two decisions impact plan sponsors of employee benefit plans.

The Cases

In U.S. v. Windsor, the Court struck down the federal law defining “marriage” as exclusively the union between a man and a woman and “spouse” as a person who is married to someone of the opposite sex. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibited the federal government from treating same-sex and opposite-sex married couples alike. It entitled only opposite-sex married couples to federal privileges incident to marriage, such as the ability to file joint federal tax returns.

In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court ruled DOMA was unconstitutional because states and territories are generally free to define “marriage” and the federal government must generally accept those definitions for purposes of administering benefits incident to marriage. Therefore, if a person in a same-sex marriage resides in a state or territory that permits or recognizes same-sex marriages, such as Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and the District of Columbia, that person must now be deemed married for federal purposes.

Currently, 12 states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage. However, if the person lives in a state or territory that does not authorize or recognize same-sex marriages, then federal law does not require that the person be considered married.

In a related decision, Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Court declined to rule on a dispute over the validity of a California state law that, like DOMA, defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. This decision leaves in place a lower federal court’s ruling that California’s law was unconstitutional, and so, effectively, same-sex couples are once again permitted to marry in California.

What Does This Mean For Employee Benefit Plans?

These decisions will significantly impact how employers administer their employee benefit plans and how they treat same-sex spouses for benefit purposes. Summarized below are examples of how welfare and retirement benefit plans will be affected:

Welfare Benefit Plans

Same-sex spouses will be able to receive tax-free employer-paid health benefits, meaning employers will not have to impute income on the value of employer-provided health coverage to nondependent same-sex spouses or their children, nor will they be required to pay payroll taxes on the imputed income.

Same-sex spouses will be able to claim COBRA continuation healthcare coverage in the event they lose their employer-provided coverage due to a COBRA qualifying event.

Employees will be entitled to reimbursements under flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement accounts and health savings accounts (HSAs) for expenses incurred by their same-sex spouse.

Earned income from same-sex spouses will affect the exclusion amount under a dependent care assistance program.

A single-family contribution limit applicable to HSAs will apply to same-sex couples (same-sex couples were formerly entitled to twice the family limit).

The invalidation of DOMA may trigger a change-in-status event under the cafeteria plan rules.

Retirement Benefit Plans

Same-sex spouses will be entitled to survivor benefits, including those available under the qualified joint and survivor annuity and qualified preretirement survivor annuity rules applicable to pension plans.

Domestic relations orders involving same-sex spouses may entitle the former spouse to retirement benefits.

Expenses related to same-sex spouses may entitle plan participants to hardship withdrawals.

Same-sex widows/widowers will not be required to commence payment of their same-sex spouse’s retirement benefits until April 1 of the year following the year such same-sex spouse would have attained age 70½.

The Supreme Court’s rulings in these two cases leave open many issues. Specifically, the rulings do not answer the questions of whether the invalidation of DOMA is prospective (i.e., effective as of the date of the Supreme Court’s ruling) or retroactive (i.e., effective as of the date of DOMA’s enactment) and what employers are required to do to comply. We anticipate transition guidance from the Internal Revenue Service and expect employers will be given sufficient time to adequately address the required changes.

In the meantime, we recommend employers immediately review their plan documents and administrative procedures to determine what plan amendments and adjustments to administrative procedures will be required. Day Pitney’s employee benefits attorneys can assist you in this process.

Credit to Day Pitney

The lawyers at Maya Murphy, P.C., are experienced and knowledgeable employment and corporate law practitioners and assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and elsewhere in Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to your non-compete agreement or would like to discuss any element of your employment agreement, place contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at

IRS Issues Proposed Regulations on Dependent Care Expenses

The IRS has issued proposed regulations under Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) 21 regarding dependent care assistance expenses. (Code Section 21 defines when a dependent care expense qualifies for the dependent care tax credit.) For Dependent Care Assistance Plan (“DCAP”) sponsors, these regulations are important because they provide much-needed clarity with respect to what constitutes a qualifying expense under a DCAP.

A dependent care assistance expense will qualify for reimbursement under a Dependent Care Assistance Plan (“DCAP”) if the expense meets the definition of an employment-related “dependent care assistance” expense under Code Section 21(b)(2). This requires, among other things, that the individual has an “employment-related” purpose in paying for the expense – in other words, the individual must incur the expense so that he or she can be gainfully employed.

Proposed Regulations

The highlights of the proposed regulations are as follows:

Pre-Kindergarten Programs, Nursery Schools, and Specialty Day Camps Qualify as Dependent Care Assistance Expenses

The expenses of pre-school and other pre-kindergarten programs now qualify as dependent care assistance expenses.

The cost of kindergarten, and other educational programs above the kindergarten level, may not be considered dependent care assistance expenses since such programs have an educational purpose. However, the cost of after-school programs for children above kindergarten age may qualify as a dependent-care assistance expense.

Day Camps/Specialty Day Camps. The full cost of day camps, including specialty day camps that specialize in one particular activity such as soccer or computers, now qualify as a dependent-care assistance expense. (Overnight camp expenses still do not qualify since they are not considered employment-related expenses.)

“Indirect Expenses,” Transportation Expenses, and a Caregiver’s Room and Board Now Qualify as Dependent-Care Assistance Expenses

Transportation Expenses – to and from a day camp or an after-school program not on school premises – now qualify as a dependent-care assistance expense.

“Indirect Expenses.” Indirect expenses are expenses that relate to, but are not directly for the care of a dependent. Examples of qualifying indirect expenses include application fees, agency fees, and deposits may qualify if they are paid to obtain care for the dependent. Let’s say Jane places a deposit with Pre-School A to reserve a place for her child and subsequently decides to send her child to a different pre-school. By doing this, Jane forfeits her deposit with Pre-School A. The forfeited deposit does not qualify as a dependent-care assistance expense.

Room and Board. The cost of providing room and board to a caregiver may be considered an employment-related expense and therefore qualify as a dependent-care assistance expense.

Payments to Most Relatives for “Dependent Care” Do Not Qualify as Dependent-Care Assistance Expenses

The proposed regulations clarify that an individual’s payments to his or her child, spouse, or the dependent child’s parent (who is not the individual’s spouse), do not qualify as a dependent-care assistance expense.

However, if an individual pays his parent to care for his dependent children, those payments may qualify as a dependent-care assistance expense as long as the parent cannot be characterized as the individual’s dependent under Code Section 151.

Temporary Absences and Part-Time Work

Expenses Incurred During a Temporary Absence May Qualify as a Dependent-Care Assistance Expense. Prior to the proposed regulations, this was not the case. However, under the proposed regulations, an expense may qualify as a dependent-care assistance expense even if it is incurred while the individual is temporarily absent from work, for example, due to vacation or sickness. Although the proposed regulations have not specified the maximum duration of the absence, in two examples they note that expenses incurred during a two-day absence will qualify while expenses incurred during a four-month absence will not.

Part-Time Employees

If the part-time employee is required to pay for dependent care on a periodic basis, such as weekly or monthly, which includes both worked days and non-worked days, the entire cost of day care may constitute a dependent-care assistance expense. If, however, the part-time employee pays for dependent care on a daily basis, he or she can treat as dependent-care assistance expenses only those expenses incurred while he or she was at work.

Credit: Stefanie Kastrinsky

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