Certified Public Accountants & Advisors

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President Donald Trump signed into law the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (P.L. 116-142) on June 5. The legislation aims to expand usability of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s ( P.L. 116-136) headliner small business loan program.


In consultation with Treasury Department, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued...


The IRS is postponing deadlines for certain time-sensitive actions due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) emergency. This relief affects employment taxes, employee benefit plans, exempt organizations, individual retirement arrangements (IRAs), Coverdell education savings accounts, health savings accounts (HSAs), and Archer and Medicare Advantage medical saving accounts (MSAs).


The IRS has issued guidance on coronavirus-related distributions and plan loans.


The IRS has released guidance that provides temporary administrative relief to help certain retirement plan participants or beneficiaries who need to make participant elections by allowing flexibility for remote signatures. Specifically, the guidance provides participants, beneficiaries, and administrators of qualified retirement plans and other tax-favored retirement arrangements with temporary relief from the physical presence requirement for any participant election (1) witnessed by a notary public in a state that permits remote notarization, or (2) witnessed by a plan representative using certain safeguards. The guidance accommodates local shutdowns and social distancing practices and is intended to facilitate the payment of coronavirus-related distributions and plan loans to qualified individuals, as permitted by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) ( P.L. 116-136).


The IRS has released a revenue procedure that describes temporary safe harbors for the purpose of determining the federal tax status of certain arrangements that hold real property as trusts in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Specifically, the Service has provided temporary relief to arrangements that are treated as trusts under Reg. §301.7701-4(c) which are, or have tenants who are, experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, to allow them to make certain modifications to their mortgages loans and their lease agreements, and to accept additional cash contributions without jeopardizing their tax status as grantor trusts. This revenue procedure also indicates that a cash contribution from one or more new trust interest holders to acquire a trust interest or a non-pro rata cash contribution from one or more current trust interest holders must be treated as a purchase and sale under Code Sec. 1001 of a portion of each non-contributing (or lesser contributing) trust interest holder’s proportionate interest in the trust’s assets.


The IRS has announced various extensions of deadlines for qualified opportunity funds and their investors due to the Coronavirus pandemic.


The IRS has issued proposed regulations clarifying the definition of a qualifying relative for various tax benefits for tax years 2018 through 2025 in which the dependent exemption amount is zero. During these years, the exemption amount will be inflation adjusted as provided in annual IRS guidance in determining whether an individual is a qualifying relative such as for head of household filing status and $500 child tax credit.


Proposed regulations provide guidance regarding the elimination of the deduction for expenses related to qualified transportation fringe benefits (QTFs) provided to an employee. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (P.L. 115-97) eliminated the deduction, effective for amounts paid or incurred after December 31, 2017.


Proposed regulations would define expenditures for direct primary care arrangements and health care sharing ministry memberships as amounts paid for medical care. Thus, amounts paid for those arrangements may be deductible medical expenses. The proposed regulations also clarify that amounts paid for certain arrangements and programs, such as health maintenance organizations (HMO) and certain government-sponsored health care programs, are amounts paid for medical insurance.


Proposed reliance regulations clarify the definitions of "real property" that qualifies for a like-kind exchange, including incidental personal property. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97), like-kind exchanges occurring after 2017 are limited to real property used in a trade or business or for investment. Comments are requested.


The IRS has released the 2018 optional standard mileage rates to be used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, medical, moving and charitable purposes. Beginning on January 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup of panel truck will be:

  • 54.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (up from 53.5 cents in 2017);
  • 18 cents per mile for medical and moving expenses (up from 17 cents in 2017); and
  • 14 cents per mile for miles driven for charitable purposes (permanently set by statute at 14 cents).

Comment. A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate after using a depreciation method under Code Sec. 168 or after claiming the Code Sec. 179 deduction for that vehicle. A taxpayer may not use the business rate for more than four vehicles at a time. As a result, business owners have a choice for their vehicles: take the standard mileage rate, or “itemize” each part of the expense (gas, tolls, insurance, etc., and depreciation).


January 1, 2018 not only brings a new year, it brings a new federal Tax Code. The just-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act makes sweeping changes to the nation’s tax laws. Many of these changes take effect January 1. Everyone – especially individuals and business owners – needs to review their tax strategies for the new law. The changes are huge. However, many changes are temporary, especially for individuals.


The start of a New Year presents a time to reflect on the past 12 months and, based on what has gone before, predict what may happen next. Here is a list of the top 10 developments from 2017 that may prove particularly important as we move forward into the New Year:


Many federal income taxes are paid from amounts that are withheld from payments to the taxpayer. For instance, amounts roughly equal to an employee's estimated tax liability are generally withheld from the employee's wages and paid over to the government by the employer. In contrast, estimated taxes are taxes that are paid throughout the year on income that is not subject to withholding. Individuals must make estimated tax payments if they are self-employed or their income derives from interest, dividends, investment gains, rents, alimony, or other funds that are not subject to withholding.


Employers generally have to pay employment taxes on the wages they pay to their employees. A fine point under this rule, however, is missed by many who themselves have full time jobs and don’t think of themselves as employers: a nanny who takes care of a child is considered a household employee, and the parent or other responsible person is his or her household employer. Housekeepers, maids, babysitters, and others who work in or around the residence are employees. Repairmen and other business people who provide services as independent contractors are not employees. An individual who is under age 18 or who is a student is not an employee.


The IRS expects to receive more than 150 million individual income tax returns this year and issue billions of dollars in refunds. That huge pool of refunds drives scam artists and criminals to steal taxpayer identities and claim fraudulent refunds. The IRS has many protections in place to discover false returns and refund claims, but taxpayers still need to be proactive.


An employer must withhold income taxes from compensation paid to common-law employees (but not from compensation paid to independent contractors). The amount withheld from an employee's wages is determined in part by the number of withholding exemptions and allowances the employee claims. Note that although the Tax Code and regulations distinguish between withholding exemptions and withholding allowances, the terms are interchangeable. The amount of reduction attributable to one withholding allowance is the same as that attributable to one withholding exemption. Form W-4 and most informal IRS publications refer to both as withholding allowances, probably to avoid confusion with the complete exemption from withholding for employees with no tax liability.