Certified Public Accountants & Advisors

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The Senate Finance Committee (SFC) advanced President Donald Trump’s nomination of Charles Rettig for IRS Commissioner. The SFC approved the nomination on July 19 by a 14-to-13 party line vote.


President Donald Trump and House GOP tax writers discussed "Tax Cuts 2.0" in a July 17 meeting at the White House. The next round of tax cuts will focus primarily on the individual side of the tax code, both Trump and House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady, R-Tex., reiterated to reporters at the White House before the meeting.


House Republicans and the Trump Administration are working together to craft a tax cut "2.0"outline, the House’s top tax writer has said. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex., told reporters during the week that House tax writers and the White House are currently working to finalize the "framework."


The Senate Finance Committee’s (SFC) leading Democrat has released a report critiquing Republicans’ 2017 overhaul of the tax code. The report, focusing primarily on international tax reform, was released by SFC ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on July 18.


Homeowners will be hurt financially by last year’s tax reform, according to a new House Democratic staff report. The report alleges that real estate developers will primarily benefit from the new tax law at the expense of homeowners.


The IRS has issued final regulations that target tax-motivated inversion transactions and certain post-inversion tax avoidance transactions. The final regulations retain the thresholds and substantiation requirements of the 2016 final, temporary and proposed regulations (the 2016 regulations), but make limited changes to the 2016 regulations to improve clarity and reduce unnecessary complexity and burdens on taxpayers. These changes also ensure that the final regulations do not impact cross-border transactions that are economically beneficial and not tax-motivated.


The Fifth Circuit vacated a tax preparer’s conviction for obstructing tax administration. The conviction was no longer valid in light of C.J. Marinello, SCt., 2018-1 ustc ¶50,192.


National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson has released her mid-year report to Congress. The report contains a review of the 2018 filing season, and identifies the priority issues the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) will address during the upcoming fiscal year. It also includes the IRS’s responses to each of the 100 administrative recommendations made in the 2017 Annual Report to Congress.


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.