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The Senate has approved a bipartisan IRS reform bill, which now heads to President Trump’s desk. Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.


Taxpayers may rely on two new pieces of IRS guidance for applying the Code Sec. 199A deduction to cooperatives and their patrons:


The IRS has issued final regulations that require taxpayers to reduce the amount any charitable contribution deduction by the amount of any state and local tax (SALT) credit they receive or expect to receive in return. The rules are aimed at preventing taxpayers from getting around the SALT deduction limits. A safe harbor has also been provided to certain individuals to treat any disallowed charitable contribution deduction under this rule as a deductible payment of taxes under Code Sec. 164. The final regulations and the safe harbor apply to charitable contribution payments made after August 27, 2018.


Final regulations address the global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) provisions of Code Sec. 951A. The final regulations retain the basic approach and structure of the proposed regulations published on October 10, 2018. The final regulations address open questions and comments received on the proposed regulations.


Newly issued temporary regulations limit the application of the Code Sec. 245A participation dividends received deduction (the participation DRD) and the Code Sec. 954(c)(6) exception in certain situations that present an opportunity for tax avoidance. The temporary regulations also provide related information reporting rules under Code Sec. 6038.


Final regulations reduce the Code Sec. 956 amount for certain domestic corporations that own stock in controlled foreign corporations (CFCs). The regulations are intended to ensure that Code Sec. 956 is applied consistently with the participation exemption system under Code Sec. 245A.


Final rules allow employers to use health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) to reimburse employees for the purchase individual insurance coverage, including coverage on an Affordable Care Act Exchange. The rules also allow "excepted benefit HRAs," which would not have to be integrated with any coverage. The rules generally apply for plan years starting on or after January 1, 2020.


Final regulations provide requirements that a person must satisfy to become and remain a certified professional employer organization (CPEO), as well as the CPEO’s federal employment tax liabilities and other obligations.


The Tax Code contains many taxpayer rights and protections. However, because the Tax Code is so large and complex, many taxpayers, who do not have the advice of a tax professional, are unaware of their rights. To clarify these protections, the IRS recently announced a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, describing 10 rights taxpayers have when dealing with the agency.


Taxpayers who are self-employed must pay self-employment tax on their income from self-employment. The self-employment tax applies in lieu of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes paid by employees and employers on compensation from employment. Like FICA taxes, the self-employment tax consists of taxes collected for Social Security and for Medicare (hospital insurance or HI).


The simple concept of depreciation can get complicated very quickly when one is trying to determining the proper depreciation deduction for any particular asset. Here’s only a summary of some of what’s involved.


Nearly half-way into the year, tax legislation has been hotly debated in Congress but lawmakers have failed to move many bills. Only one bill, legislation to make permanent the research tax credit, has been approved by the House; its fate in the Senate still remains uncertain. Other bills, including legislation to extend many of the now-expired extenders before the 2015 filing season, have stalled. Tax measures could also be attached to other bills, especially as the days wind down to Congress' August recess.


Transit incentives are a popular transportation fringe benefit for many employees. Although the costs of commuting to and from work are not tax-deductible (except in certain relatively rare cases), transportation fringe benefits help to offset some of the costs, including the expenses of riding mass transit or taking a van pool to work. Under current law, the value of qualified transportation fringe benefits provided to an employee is excluded from the employee's gross income and wages for income and payroll tax purposes.


With the April 15th filing season deadline now behind us, it’s not too early to turn your attention to next year’s deadline for filing your 2014 return. That refocus requires among other things an awareness of the direct impact that many "ordinary," as well as one-time, transactions and events will have on the tax you will eventually be obligated to pay April 15, 2015. To gain this forward-looking perspective, however, taking a moment to look back … at the filing season that has just ended, is particularly worthwhile. This generally involves a two-step process: (1) a look-back at your 2013 tax return to pinpoint new opportunities as well as "lessons learned;" and (2) a look-back at what has happened in the tax world since January 1st that may indicate new challenges to be faced for the first time on your 2014 return.

A new tax applies to certain taxpayers, beginning in 2013—the 3.8 percent Net Investment Income (NII) Tax. This is a surtax that certain higher-income taxpayers may owe in addition to their income tax or alternative minimum tax. The tax applies to individuals, estates, and trusts (but not to corporations). Individuals are subject to the tax if they have NII, and their adjusted gross income exceeds a specified threshold—$250,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly; $200,000 for unmarried individuals.

As virtual currencies such as Bitcoin rise in prominence and use, the IRS has for the first time described how virtual currency will be treated for tax purposes. The agency concluded in new guidance (Notice 2014–21) that Bitcoin and other virtual currencies like it are not to be treated as currency, but as property.

The applicable federal rates (AFRs) are used for a number of federal tax provisions. For example, Code Sec. 1274 uses AFRs to determine whether a debt instrument has original issue discount (OID or imputed interest). This determination requires the calculation of the present value of payments made on the debt instrument; present value is calculated using a discount rate equal to the AFR, compounded semi-annually.

Code Sec. 162 permits a business to deduct its ordinary and necessary expenses for carrying on the business. However, Code Sec. 274 restricts the deduction of entertainment expenses incurred for business by disallowing expenses of entertainment activities and entertainment facilities. Many expenses are totally disallowed; other amounts, if allowed under Code Sec. 274, are limited to 50 percent of the expense.

The current likelihood that your business will become involved in an employment tax audit or an employment-related income tax audit has increased: the IRS is aggressively attempting to reduce the "tax gap" of uncollected revenues in a time of increasing budget austerity. Employment tax noncompliance is estimated by the IRS to account for approximately $54 billion of the tax gap. Under-reporting of FICA makes up $14 billion; under-reporting of self-employment tax accounts for $39 billion; and under-reporting of unemployment tax accounts for $1 billion in lost revenue. Add to that total amount over $50 billion in estimated employment-associated income tax lost that are the result of missteps in withholding obligations, tip reporting, and proper fringe benefit classification . . . and employers are forewarned. The IRS is stepping up its auditing in these areas and has been conducting studies to maximize the best use of its agents' time to do so.

In response to the economic downturn that has affected the retirement portfolios of millions of individuals across the country, Congress has been considering a variety of alternatives to offer relief to those who face financial emergencies and need immediate access to their funds. Two of the most significant proposals that have been recommended include: (1) significant broadening of the suspension of the 10 percent penalty tax on early withdrawals from IRAs and defined contribution plans, and (2) extending the temporary suspension of the penalty tax imposed on individuals age 70 ½ or older who do not take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from certain retirement plans.