Certified Public Accountants & Advisors

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On July 4, President Donald Trump signed into law a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application extension bill that Congress had quickly passed just before the Independence Day holiday. According to several senators, the measure was "surprisingly" introduced and approved by unanimous consent in the Senate late on June 30. It cleared the House the evening of July 1.


"If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then unto me." — William Shakespeare


The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Trump Administration’s rule under the Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148) that any nongovernment, nonpublicly traded employer can refuse to offer contraceptive coverage for moral or religious reasons, and that publicly traded employers can refuse to do so for religious reasons. Application of this rule had been halted by litigation, but the Administration is now free to apply it.


The IRS has issued guidance to employers on the requirement to report the amount of qualified sick and family leave wages paid to employees under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act) ( P.L. 116-127). This reporting provides employees who are also self-employed with information necessary for properly claiming qualified sick leave equivalent or qualified family leave equivalent credits under the Families First Act.


The IRS has issued guidance and temporary relief for required minimum distribution (RMD) changes in 2020. Distributions that would have been RMDs under old law are treated as eligible rollover distributions. The 60-day rollover period deadline for any 2020 RMDs already taken has been extended to August 31, 2020. Notice 2007-7, I.R.B. 2007-5, 395 is modified.


The IRS has clarified and provided relief for mid-year amendments reducing safe harbor contributions. An updated safe harbor notice and an election opportunity must be provided even if the change is only for highly compensated employees. Coronavirus (COVID-19) relief applies if a plan amendment is adopted between March 13, 2020, and August 31, 2020. For nonelective contribution plans, the supplemental notice requirement is satisfied if provided no later than August 31, 2020, and the amendment that reduces or suspends contributions is adopted no later than the effective date of the reduction or suspension. Notice 2016-16, I.R.B., 2016-7, 318, is clarified.


The IRS amended final regulations with guidance on the Code Sec. 199A deduction for suspended losses and shareholders of regulated investment companies (RICs). The amendments address the treatment of suspended losses included in qualified business income (QBI), the deduction allowed to a shareholder in a regulated investment company (RIC), and additional rules related to trusts and estates. The IRS had previously issued final and proposed regulations addressing these issues (NPRM REG-134652-18)


The Treasury Department and the IRS have released drafts of proposed partnership forms for tax year 2021 (the 2022 filing season). The proposed forms are intended to provide greater clarity for partners on how to compute their U.S. income tax liability for relevant international tax items, including claiming deductions and credits. The redesigned forms and instructions will also give useful guidance to partnerships on how to provide international tax information to their partners in a standardized format.


The Treasury and IRS have issued final regulations covering the Code Sec. 250 deduction for foreign-derived intangible income (FDII) and global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI). Proposed regulations were issued on March 6, 2019 (NPRM REG-104464-18). The final regulations maintain the basic approach and structure of the proposed regulations and provide guidance on computation of the deduction and the determination of FDII, including in the consolidated return context. Additionally, rules requiring the filing of Form 8993, Section 250 Deduction for Foreign-Derived Intangible Income and Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income, are finalized.


The IRS is calling on any taxpayers involved in syndicated conservation easement transactions who receives a settlement offer from the agency to accept it soon. The Service made this request in the wake of the Tax Court’s recent strike down of four additional abusive syndicated conservation easement transactions.


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.