Tax Alerts
Tax Briefing(s)

President Trump on February 9 signed the Bipartisan Budget Act into law after a brief government shutdown occurred overnight. The legislation contains tax provisions in addition to a continuing resolution to fund the government and federal agencies through March 23. The House approved this new law in the early morning hours of February 9, by a 240-to-186 vote. The Senate approved the bipartisan measure a few hours earlier, by a 71-to-28 vote.

The Treasury Department has proposed repealing 298 regulations. According to the Treasury, the targeted rules are unnecessary, duplicative or obsolete. In addition, the Treasury proposed to amend another 79 regulations to reflect the repeal.

The Trump administration on February 12 released its much-anticipated fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request, "Efficient, Effective, Accountable An American Budget." The administration’s proposal calls for IRS funding that focuses additional resources on enforcement and cybersecurity. Coming off passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, this year’s budget recommendations contain only a handful of additional tax proposals when compared to some prior-year budget requests.

The Treasury and IRS have released their second quarter update to the 2017-2018 Priority Guidance Plan. The updated 2017-2018 Priority Guidance Plan now reflects 29 additional projects, including 18 projects that have become near term priorities as a result of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.

New proposed regulations under the centralized partnership audit regime address how and when partnerships and their partners adjust tax attributes to take into account partnerships’ payment adjustments. They also provide, among other additions and clarifications to earlier proposed regs, rules to adjust basis and capital accounts if the partnership adjustment is a change to an item of gain, loss, amortization or depreciation.

The IRS has issued guidance for certain specified foreign corporations owned by U.S. shareholders subject to the Code Sec. 965 transition tax that are requesting a change in accounting period. The IRS will not approve a request to change the annual accounting period under either the existing automatic or general change of accounting period procedures if the change could result in the avoidance, reduction, or delay of the transition tax. This guidance applies to any request to change an annual accounting period that ends on December 31, 2017, regardless of when such request was filed.

The IRS has posted best practices for return preparers addressing the Affordable Care Act’s individual shared responsibility requirement, also known as the individual mandate. The Service reminded preparers that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did not eliminate the individual shared responsibility requirement for 2017.

Six years ago, Congress passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which set in motion a wave of new reporting and disclosure requirements by individuals, foreign financial institutions, and others. In response, the IRS created a host of new rules and regulations; and new forms for these reporting requirements. One key FATCA form – Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets – has seen usage steadily increase since passage of FATCA, the IRS recently reported. At the same time, more individuals are filing a related form – FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (known as the FBAR), which reached a record high in 2015.

Gain or loss is not recognized when property held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment is exchanged for like-kind property. Instead, the taxpayer's basis and holding period in the property transferred carries over to the property acquired in the exchange. Deferring taxable gain, always a good strategy, makes more sense than ever after the recent rise in tax rates for many taxpayers under the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. In particular, Code Section 1031 like-kind exchanges deserve a close second look by many businesses and investors.

For many individuals, volunteering for a charitable organization is a very emotionally rewarding experience. In some cases, your volunteer activities may also qualify for certain federal tax breaks. Although individuals cannot deduct the value of their labor on behalf of a charitable organization, they may be eligible for other tax-related benefits.

The government continues to push out guidance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Several major provisions of the law take effect January 1, 2014, including the employer mandate, the individual mandate, the premium assistance tax credit, and the operation of health insurance exchanges. The three agencies responsible for administering PPACA - the IRS, the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - are under pressure to provide needed guidance, and they are responding with regulations, notices, and frequently asked questions.

On May 6, 2013 the Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 (a.k.a, the "Internet Sales Tax Bill" by 69-27. Passage in the Senate was considered a major hurdle for taxing Internet sales. The bill, if passed in the House and signed by the President, would enable states to collect from certain online sellers sales and use tax on sales made to customers in the state. The bill proposes a complete change from the current law, which provides that a state may not compel a seller to collect the state's tax unless the seller has a physical presence within that state.

Questions over the operation of the new 3.8 percent Medicare tax on net investment income (the NII Tax) continue to be placed on the IRS's doorstep as it tries to better explain the operation of the new tax.  Proposed "reliance regulations" issued at the end in 2012 (NPRM REG-130507-11) "are insufficient in many respects," tax experts complain, as the IRS struggles to turn its earlier guidance into final rules.

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) has provided much needed certainty for estate tax planners and for taxpayers who want to arrange their financial affairs. For the first time in 10 years, beginning January 1, 2013, the maximum estate tax rate, the inflation-adjusted exclusion, and other estate tax features have been made permanent.

When starting a business or changing an existing one there are several types of business entities to choose from, each of which offers its own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the size of your business, one form may be more suitable than another. For example, a software firm consisting of one principal founder and several part time contractors and employees would be more suited to a sole proprietorship than a corporate or partnership form. But where there are multiple business members, the decision can become more complicated. One form of business that has become increasingly popular is called a limited liability company, or LLC.

The IRS has announced a new optional safe harbor method, effective for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2013, for individuals to determine the amount of their deductible home office expenses (IR-2013-5, Rev. Proc. 2013-13). Being hailed by many as a long-overdue simplification option, taxpayers may now elect to determine their home office deduction by simply multiplying a prescribed rate by the square footage of the portion of the taxpayer's residence used for business purposes.

Beginning in 2013, the capital gains rates, as amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, are as follows for individuals:

Effective January 1, 2013, a new Medicare tax takes effect. The Additional Medicare Tax imposes a 0.9 percent tax on compensation and self-employment income above a threshold amount.  Unlike regular Medicare tax, the Additional Medicare Tax has no employer match but employers have withholding obligations. The IRS issued proposed reliance regulations about the Additional Medicare Tax in December 2012.