The voluminous Taxpayers Relief Act of 1997, passed by Congress in late July and signed into law by Bill Clinton, is being hailed as a boon to families, students, and home-based businesses Å but the biggest beneficiaries could be lawyers and accountants. This should be called the `Full Employment Act for Accountants and Lawyers’ because this for sure is going to keep us busy for a few years, says Michael Goodman, the managing partner of the J.H. Cohn office at 997 Lenox Drive. This is the largest, most complex bill in about 10 years. It’s a real potpourri of provisions, some of which are next to meaningless to most taxpayers and some that are terribly important.

Goodman will be explaining the new law along with fellow J.H. Cohn CPAs Miles Sachs, Jeffrey Bernstein, and Neil Becourtney on Thursday, September 25, at 7:45 a.m. at Greenacres Country Club in Lawrenceville. Call 609-896-1221 for more information.

Goodman, 50, is a CPA with a law degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a tax law degree from New York University. Most of his clients are too wealthy to benefit from many of the law’s new parameters, but he sees benefits for a broad range of people. There’s something in here for everybody, he says. It really has more individual income tax changes, which are going to be applied to a vast majority of people, especially estate taxes.

Among the more significant changes effected by the law are increases in estate tax thresholds; increased income limits for tax-deductible contributions to IRAs; the creation of Roth IRAs, which permit additional non-tax-deductible contributions of up to $2,000; lower capital gains taxes; new child tax credits; and a more liberal home office deduction (see article below).

Many of these changes were a long time coming, Goodman reports, although in some cases they are not quite as substantive as they appear. You’ll find that a lot of these things look really, really great on paper and they make for wonderful political advertising, but it’s not necessarily important in reality, he says.

However, Goodman still applauds the pragmatic spirit of the new act, if not the substance. There are some things that needed to be done, he says. It’s going to keep us all very busy.

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