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President Trump signed into law the first two phases of the House’s coronavirus economic response package. Meanwhile, the Senate has been developing and negotiating "much bolder" phase three legislation.


"At President Trump’s direction, we are moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a March 20 tweet. "All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties."


The Treasury Department and IRS have extended the due date for the payment of federal income taxes otherwise due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, as a result of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. The extension is available to all taxpayers, and is automatic. Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or contact the IRS to qualify for the extension. The relief only applies to the payment of federal income taxes. Penalties and interest on any remaining unpaid balance will begin to accrue on July 16, 2020.


The IRS has provided emergency relief for health savings accounts (HSAs) and COVID-19 health plans costs. Under this relief, health plans that otherwise qualify as high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) will not lose that status merely because they cover the cost of testing for or treatment of COVID-19 before plan deductibles have been met. In addition, any vaccination costs will count as preventive care and can be paid for by an HDHP.


The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has requested additional guidance on tax reform’s Code Sec. 199A qualified business income (QBI) deduction.


The IRS has issued guidance that:

  • exempts certain U.S. citizens and residents from Code Sec. 6048 information reporting requirements for their transactions with, and ownership of, certain tax-favored foreign retirement trusts and foreign nonretirement savings trusts; and
  • establishes procedures for these individuals to request abatement or refund of penalties assessed or paid under Code Sec. 6677 for failing to comply with the information reporting requirements.

The Treasury and IRS have adopted as final the 2016 proposed regulations on covered assets acquisitions (CAAs) under Code Sec. 901(m) and Code Sec. 704. Proposed regulations issued under Code Sec. 901(m) are adopted with revisions, and the Code Sec. 704 proposed regulations are adopted without revisions. The Code Sec. 901(m) rules were also issued as temporary regulations. The CAA rules impact taxpayers claiming either direct or deemed-paid foreign tax credits.


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.