Certified Public Accountants & Advisors

Current Updates

Tax Alerts
September 24, 2020
Tax Briefing(s)

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has urged the IRS and Treasury in an August 12 letter to issue guidance on President Trump’s payroll tax deferral memorandum. The executive action signed by the president on August 8 instructs Treasury to defer the collection and payment of payroll taxes from September 1 through years-end for eligible employees.


The IRS has released final regulations that address the interaction of the $10,000/$5,000 cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction and charitable contributions. The regulations include:

  • a safe harbor for individuals who have any portion of a charitable deduction disallowed due to the receipt of SALT benefits;
  • a safe harbor for business entities to deduct certain payments made to a charitable organization in exchange for SALT benefits; and
  • application of the quid pro quo principle under Code Sec. 170 to benefits received or expected to be received by the donor from a third party.

The IRS has issued final regulations regarding the limitation for the business interest expense deduction under Code Sec. 163(j), including recent legislative amendments made for the 2019 and 2020 tax years. Also, a safe harbor has been proposed allowing taxpayers managing or operating residential living facilities to qualify as a real property trade or business for purposes of the limitation. In addition, new proposed regulations are provided for a number of different areas.


The IRS has issued proposed regulations that implement the "carried interest" rules under Code Sec. 1061 adopted by Congress as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 ( P.L. 115-97). Some key aspects of the lengthy proposed regulations include the definition of important terms, how the rules work in the context of tiered passthrough structures, the definition of "substantial" services provided by the carried interest holder, and the level of activity required for a business to meet the definition of an "applicable trade or business."


The Treasury and the IRS have issued temporary and proposed regulations to:

  • reconcile advance payments of refundable employment tax credits provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act) ( P.L. 116-127) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136), and
  • recapture the benefit of the credits when necessary.

The IRS has provided guidance on the special rules relating to funding of single-employer defined benefit pension plans, and related benefit limitations, under Act Sec. 3608 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (P.L. 116-136). The guidance clarifies application of the extended contribution deadline, and the optional use of the prior year’s adjusted funding target attainment percentage (AFTAP), with examples.


The IRS has released proposed regulations that implement new Code Sec. 7602(f), which bars non-government persons who are hired by the IRS from questioning a witness under oath whose testimony was obtained pursuant to a summons issued under Code Sec. 7602. The regulations prohibit any IRS contractors from asking a summoned person’s representative to clarify an objection or assertion of privilege. The IRS has also withdrawn a notice of proposed rulemaking ( NPRM REG-132434-17) that contained proposed rules addressing the participation of persons described under Code Sec. 6103(n) in the interview of a summoned witness and excluding certain non-government attorneys from participating in an IRS examination.


Proposed regulations adopt the post-2017 simplified accounting rules for small businesses.


The IRS has modified two safe harbor explanations in Notice 2018-74, 2018-40 I.R.B. 529, that can be used to satisfy the requirement under Code Sec. 402(f) that certain information be provided to recipients of eligible rollover distributions. The modifications were necessary due to recent changes in law made by the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act). One safe harbor explanation is for payments not from a designated Roth account, and the other is for payments from a designated Roth account. The Code Sec. 402(f) notice may be provided as many as 180 days before the date on which the distribution is made (or the annuity starting date).


The IRS has reminded taxpayers that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136) can provide favorable tax treatment for withdrawals from retirement plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Under the CARES Act, individuals eligible for coronavirus-related relief may be able to withdraw up to $100,000 from IRAs or workplace retirement plans before December 31, 2020, if their plans allow. In addition to IRAs, this relief applies to 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, profit-sharing plans and others.


The Treasury and IRS have issued final and proposed regulations under the global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) and subpart F provisions for the treatment of high-taxed income. The final regulations provide guidance on determining the type of high-taxed income that is eligible for the exclusion (the "GILTI high-tax exclusion" or GILTI HTE).


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.