What estate planning strategies are available for non-U.S. citizens?

Are you, or is your spouse, a non-U.S. citizen? If so, several traditional estate planning techniques won’t be available to you. However, if you’re a U.S. resident, but not a citizen, the IRS will treat you similarly to a U.S. citizen.

If you’re considered a resident, you’re subject to federal gift and estate taxes on your worldwide assets, but you also enjoy the benefits of the $12.06 million federal gift and estate tax exemption and the $16,000 per recipient annual exclusion in 2022. And you can double the annual exclusion to $32,000 through gift-splitting with your spouse, so long as your spouse is a U.S. citizen or resident.

Fully deduct business meals this year

The federal government is helping to pick up the tab for certain business meals. Under a provision that’s part of one of the COVID-19 relief laws, the usual deduction for 50% of the cost of business meals is doubled to 100% for food and beverages provided by restaurants in 2022 (and 2021).

So, you can take a customer out for a business meal or order take-out for your team and temporarily write off the entire cost — including the tip, sales tax and any delivery charges.

A beneficiary designation or joint title can override your will

Inattention to beneficiary designations and jointly titled assets can quickly unravel your estate plan. Suppose, for example, that your will provides for all of your property to be divided equally among your three children. But what if your IRA, which names the oldest child as beneficiary, accounts for half of the estate? In that case, the oldest child will inherit half of your estate plus a one-third share of the remaining assets — hardly equal.

There still may be time to cut your tax bill with an IRA

If you’re getting ready to file your 2021 tax return, and your tax bill is more than you’d like, there might still be a way to lower it. If you’re eligible, you can make a deductible contribution to a traditional IRA right up until the April 18, 2022, filing date and benefit from the tax savings on your 2021 return.

Married couples filing separate tax returns: Why would they do it?

If you’re married, you may wonder whether you should file joint or separate tax returns. The answer depends on your individual tax situation.

In general, it depends on which filing status results in the lowest tax. But keep in mind that, if you and your spouse file a joint return, each of you is “jointly and severally” liable for the tax on your combined income.