areas of expertise
Bernard C. Topper, Jr. serves as counsel and brings years of experience in senior tax positions at law and accounting firms, as well as corporations.
He focuses on tax in business transactions and affairs. Mr. Topper has worked extensively on business strategic tax planning, tax structuring of business combinations and tax advantageous financings. His work in these areas runs the gamut from assisting start-up and early stage companies and creative talent to representing a multi-national bank in an acquisition to form the world's largest bank.
Mr. Topper works extensively with domestic and foreign charitable organizations and charitable donors. His work includes initial structuring of the charitable organization, treatment as a private foundation or public charity, obtaining tax-exempt status, fiscal sponsorships, ‘friends of’ organizations, domestic and international grantmaking, and on-going compliance. He works on complex private foundation matters such as self-dealing, required distributions, investments and program-related investments. He works with individuals in accomplishing their philanthropic objectives through the use of private foundations, public charities and other charitable vehicles.
Mr. Topper also focuses on the entertainment industry. He advises film and television production companies and creative talent in such areas as structuring productions to take advantage of tax credits and other financial incentives, cross-border investments in films and other entertainment activities, and the taxation of U.S. and non-U.S. talent in cross-border productions and performances, including withholding. He has spoken on film finance to members of the Producers Guild of America, the Foundation of Accounting Executives, and other groups. He co-authored the U.S. Incentives chapter of the Film Finance Handbook: How to Fund Your Film (Netribution, 2007).
Prior to joining Frankfurt Kurnit, Mr. Topper’s experience included positions as a partner at KPMG where he served as the Partner-in-Charge of its Northeast M&A Tax Group and a member of KPMG's Northeast Tax Leadership Group, a tax partner at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in New York City and senior tax and legal positions at Sprint Corporation and GTE Corporation. Mr. Topper has also served as Chairman of various American Bar Association tax committees. He is admitted in New York (1971) and Pennsylvania (1967).
University of Notre Dame (BBA)
University of Pennsylvania (LLB)
New York University (LLM in Tax)
Upcoming Speaking Engagements
Past Speaking Engagements
news & press
IRS Final Regulations Clarify Charitable Contribution Substantiation Requirements
Tax deductions for charitable contributions require the satisfaction of certain substantiation requirements.
Claiming the New 20% Pass-Thru Business Deduction—IRS Proposed Regulations Provide Guidance on Meaning of “Specified Service Business”
Background. On August 8, 2018, the IRS issued proposed (not final, but taxpayers can rely on them currently) regulations (the "Regulations") intepreting the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act's new rule under which an individual taxpayer may deduct up to 20% of his income from a domestic business operated as a sole proprietorship or through a partnership (including an LLC taxed as a partnership) or S corporation (a "pass-thru business"). With this 20% deduction, the effective federal marginal tax rate on an individual taxpayer's qualified business income (assuming he is otherwise subject to the maximum 37% tax rate) is 29.6%. The deduction is available through 2025.
Entertainment Law & Finance March 2018
Law Journal Newsletters' Entertainment Law & Finance ©2018 ALM LLC published Thomas D. Selz and Bernard C. Topper Jr.’s article "New Federal Tax Act Gives New Life, and Twists, To Treatment of Film, TV and Stage Productions."
Section 181 Revived
The new tax law, commonly referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the "Act"), contains some good news for producers of motion pictures, television programs and live theatrical shows (each a "Production") and their investors.
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017
As you probably are well-aware by now, the U.S. Congress recently passed H.R. 1 (commonly referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017) (the "Act"), and the President signed the Act on December 22, 2017. The Act embodies the most significant and sweeping changes in U.S. tax law since 1986.
Film Tax Credits: New York Appeals Court Rejects Portion of Filmmaker’s Expenses
The New York film production tax credit is often a crucial piece of the financing for a film. But the rules governing qualification of expenses are strict.
One Beneficial New Tax Code for Producers
Congress Extends IRC Section 181 for Films; Expands it to Cover Live Theatrical Productions
A new law, signed by the President on December 18, extends Section 181 of the Internal Revenue Code for film and television and expands it to cover live stage productions.
Half a Loaf of Sec. 181: What Congress’s “Extension” of Expiring Tax Provisions Really Means
In a "generous" holiday gift-giving mood, Congress just passed, and the President is expected to sign, a bill that extends Section 181 of the Internal Revenue Code.
IRS Eases Rules for Participation in Taxpayer Amnesty Program
Taxpayers with undisclosed offshore financial assets or income may be interested to learn of changes to the IRS's Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program - an initiative designed to encourage people to bring offshore assets into the U.S. tax system.
IRS Will Treat Virtual Currencies as “Property”
In Notice 2014-21 issued on March 25, 2014, the IRS announced that it will treat virtual currencies (such as Bitcoin) as "property" for U.S. federal tax purposes.
NY Sales and Use Tax Application to Advertising Businesses
In a recently-issued Tax Bulletin, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance explained that the application of New York's Sales and Use Tax to sales and purchases by advertising businesses.The bulletin defines advertising services as "consultation and development of advertising campaigns and placement of advertisements with the media."
START-UP NY Program Offers Tax Incentives for Eligible Businesses
Described by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as "one of the most ambitious economic development programs our state has seen in decades," the recently adopted START-UP NY program, which took effect January 1, 2014, offers eligible businesses and their employees an opportunity to enjoy substantial tax benefits.
Frankfurt Kurnit Estate Planning Alert
As a result of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 signed by President Obama on January 2, 2013, the New Year has brought with it several permanent changes to the Federal estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax laws that are unexpectedly more favorable than those predicted in the closing months of 2012.
Fiscal Cliff Legislation Renews Section 181 Production Incentives
The fiscal cliff legislation, signed yesterday by President Obama, contains a number of provisions relating to US taxes, including an extension of Section 181 of the Internal Revenue Code. That's good news for film and television producers.
IRS Offers New Tax Amnesty Program for Offshore Account Holders
There’s important news for people who maintain funds in offshore accounts. The IRS announced this week the 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative - a new program designed to encourage people to bring offshore assets into the U.S. tax system. The initiative more or less reprises a 2009 program under which 15,000 taxpayers disclosed offshore accounts.
Tom Selz and Bernard Topper in Backstage
Recently, President Obama signed a new tax law that extends a significant tax incentive to film and TV producers. Bernard Topper and Tom Selz discussed the implications of this new tax law in Backstage.
Tax Law Renews Section 181 Production Incentives
President Obama signed a new tax law that reinstates Section 181 of the Internal Revenue Code.
New IRS Reporting Forms for ISOs and Employee Stock Purchase Plans
The IRS has just released Form 3921 to cover the reporting of incentive stock options and Form 3922 to cover qualified employee stock purchase plans. ISOs are the tax favored stock options issued pursuant to plans that satisfy certain requirements. ESPPs, which are subject to different requirements, permit the purchase of stock at a discount.
New Federal Tax Law Provides Significant Benefits to Film and Television Productions
On October 22, 2004, the President signed into law major tax legislation known as the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (the "New Tax Law"). It removes what the World Trade Organization believes are subsidies given to US exports under the US tax law and replaces the subsidies with new provisions to assist US businesses. The New Tax Law, which is hundreds of pages long, also makes numerous other changes, including changes that provide significant tax benefits for film and television productions. These benefits are outlined here.
New Tax Law Requires Companies and Executives to Review Their Deferred and Equity-Based Compensation
The new tax law, entitled, "The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004," applies to non-qualified deferred compensation and will dramatically alter the tax landscape for traditional forms of deferred compensation such as deferrals of salaries and bonuses. But, in what may come as a surprise, the law may classify many types of equity-based compensation (e.g., certain stock options) as deferred compensation, subjecting them to the new provisions.
New York State and City Now Provide Additional Tax Benefits for Filmmaking
As part of a continuing effort to attract film production activities, New York State now offers a 10% refundable tax credit and New York City offers an additional 5% refundable tax credit for below-the-line production costs for many movies and television films, pilots and series. In effect, these new provisions provide subsidies for film production in New York and provide filmmakers the opportunity to significantly reduce their production costs.