Question. I read with much interest your item last spring (March 14) on making contributions to the Bureau of the Public Debt. Can contributions be made at any time during the year? If so, where should they be sent? Is there a ceiling on the amount that can be deducted on Schedule A of the tax return? Although I don't expect a mass rush of taxpayers, this does sound like a good idea, and I'm sure a lot of your readers would be interested in a progress report.
Answer: To answer your first question, contributions may be made at any time--but not to the Internal Revenue Service. Checks should be made payable to the Department of the Treasury and mailed to the Bureau of Government-Financial Operations, Treasury Department, Annex 1, Room 300, Madison Place & Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20226.
Like you, I thought this was a good idea, to provide an opportunity for the average person to contribute his or her mite to the reduction of the massive federal deficit.
Unfortunately, not many others felt the same way. Or maybe they thought it was a great idea--but for everybody else. Though June 30, out of more than 93 million individual income tax returns filed, contributions to reduction of the debt were included on only 3,468 returns, totaling just $307,394.01.
Q: I recently inherited some Series E bonds from my mother, who died last March. When I cash them in will I have to pay income tax on the interest from the date purchased, or only from the date of her death?
A: The answer comes in several different parts. If your mother was reporting the interest on the bonds as income each year, then the interest earned from Jan. 1 until the date of her death must be reported as income on her final return (usually prepared by the administrator or executor of the estate).
If your mother was deferring the interest and not reporting it each year, then you (or the administrator or executor, if someone else) have a choice. You may elect to report all of the interest earned since the date of original purchase on her final tax return. In that event you are again liable only for reporting interest earned after March 1983.
But if that accrued interest is not reported on her final return, it becomes something called "income in respect of the decedent," and all of the interest earned since the date of purchase becomes the tax responsibility of the person who inherits the bonds--that's you in this case.
Q: In 1981 my wife and I made a gift of $5,000 to our new-born grandson to establish an educational fund. The money was deposited in a four-year CD at a local S&L with instructions for the CD to be renewed until the boy reaches 21. We were informed by the S&L that there would be no income tax to be paid by our grandson until he is 21. But recently a friend told us that our grandson will be required to pay tax as soon as he earns more than $1,000 in any year. He will have more than $1,000 in interest in 1985--before he starts kindergarden. Is our friend correct? If so, who is responsible for filing and paying the tax?
A: Your friend is correct--an income tax return must be filed, and any tax liability paid, whenever the child's earned income exceeds $1,000 for the year.
Normally, the child's parents will file the return, signing it for him. They may pay the tax from any source they wish, including withdrawal of enough of the interest to make the payment. And as long as they provide more than half of the child's support--as I'm sure they will in this case--they may continue to claim the child as a dependent.