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Taxpayers who get an unexpected or unsolicited phone call from the IRS should be wary – it’s probably a scam. Phone calls continue to be one of the most common ways that thieves try to get taxpayers to provide personal information. These scammers then use that information to gain access to the victim’s bank or other account. 


The Senate has approved a bipartisan IRS reform bill, which now heads to President Trump’s desk. Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.


Taxpayers may rely on two new pieces of IRS guidance for applying the Code Sec. 199A deduction to cooperatives and their patrons:


The IRS has issued final regulations that require taxpayers to reduce the amount any charitable contribution deduction by the amount of any state and local tax (SALT) credit they receive or expect to receive in return. The rules are aimed at preventing taxpayers from getting around the SALT deduction limits. A safe harbor has also been provided to certain individuals to treat any disallowed charitable contribution deduction under this rule as a deductible payment of taxes under Code Sec. 164. The final regulations and the safe harbor apply to charitable contribution payments made after August 27, 2018.


Final regulations address the global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) provisions of Code Sec. 951A. The final regulations retain the basic approach and structure of the proposed regulations published on October 10, 2018. The final regulations address open questions and comments received on the proposed regulations.


Newly issued temporary regulations limit the application of the Code Sec. 245A participation dividends received deduction (the participation DRD) and the Code Sec. 954(c)(6) exception in certain situations that present an opportunity for tax avoidance. The temporary regulations also provide related information reporting rules under Code Sec. 6038.


Final regulations reduce the Code Sec. 956 amount for certain domestic corporations that own stock in controlled foreign corporations (CFCs). The regulations are intended to ensure that Code Sec. 956 is applied consistently with the participation exemption system under Code Sec. 245A.


Final rules allow employers to use health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) to reimburse employees for the purchase individual insurance coverage, including coverage on an Affordable Care Act Exchange. The rules also allow "excepted benefit HRAs," which would not have to be integrated with any coverage. The rules generally apply for plan years starting on or after January 1, 2020.


Final regulations provide requirements that a person must satisfy to become and remain a certified professional employer organization (CPEO), as well as the CPEO’s federal employment tax liabilities and other obligations.


The change in administrations in Washington has generated a new focus on tax reform. The White House and lawmakers from both parties have discussed tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and more to encourage economic growth. However, the details of their plans have yet to be revealed. Tax reform legislation may be unveiled in February.


The 2017 tax filing season launched on January 23. The IRS predicted a few speedbumps for taxpayers, especially for taxpayers who file early in anticipation of early refunds. The agency expects to receive more than 150 million individual income tax returns. The vast majority of individual income tax returns will be filed electronically and the IRS has extra safeguards in place to protect taxpayers from cybercrime.


National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, in a recent report to Congress, urged the IRS to change its culture from one that is enforcement-oriented to one that is service-oriented. Such a change, Olson provided, would create an environment that encourages taxpayer trust and confidence. In the report, Olson also highlighted key areas for tax simplification and the top-10 most litigated tax issues.


An S corporation can own an interest in another business entity. It can also be a partner in a partnership or a member of a limited liability company (LLC). An S corporation can own 80 percent or more of the stock of a C corporation, which can elect to join in the filing of a consolidated return with its affiliated C corporations. However, an S corporation is ineligible to be a member of the affiliated group and to join in the election to file a consolidated return.


After acknowledging earlier this year that hackers breached one of its popular online apps, the IRS has promised more identity theft protections in the 2016 filing season. The IRS, along with partners in the tax preparation community, has identified and tested more than 20 new data elements on returns to help detect and prevent identity-theft related filings. The agency is also working to prevent criminals from accessing tax-time financial products.


As the calendar approaches the end of 2015, it is helpful to think about ways to shift income and deductions into the following year. For example, spikes in income from selling investments or other property may push a taxpayer into a higher income tax bracket for 2015, including a top bracket of 39.6 percent for ordinary income and short-term capital gains, and a top bracket of 20 percent for dividends and long-term capital gains. Adjusted gross incomes that exceed the threshold for the net investment income (NII) tax can also trigger increased tax liability. Accordingly, traditional year-end techniques to defer income or to accelerate deductions can be useful.


Foreign travel expenses may be subject to allocation if the taxpayer engages in personal activities while traveling on business. A portion of the foreign travel expenses may be nondeductible if the individual engages in substantial nonbusiness activity. The allocation rules apply where the individual engages in substantial nonbusiness activity at, near, or beyond the business destination; or, when the personal destination is en route to and from the business destination.


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.


Form  1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, is a new information return. The IRS requires the Health Insurance Marketplace to report certain information  about every individual who receives health insurance coverage through the Marketplace to the agency and also to the enrollee. Form 1095-A reports information about the individual(s) covered by Marketplace coverage, the starting and ending dates of coverage, and the insurer that provided coverage. Form 1095-A also reports the cost of coverage, the plan's total monthly payment, any advance payment, and more.


Taxpayers who are self-employed must pay self-employment tax on their income from self-employment. The self-employment tax applies in lieu of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes paid by employees and employers on compensation from employment. Like FICA taxes, the self-employment tax consists of taxes collected for Social Security and for Medicare (hospital insurance or HI).


The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, signed into law on January 2, 2013, extended the American Opportunity Tax Credit through (and including) the 2017 tax year. The credit, which is an enhanced version of the Hope tax credit for tuition, allows taxpayers to claim a credit against federal income taxes for costs of tuition and other qualified educational expenses paid for the taxpayer, his or her spouse, or a dependent claimed on the tax return who is enrolled at an eligible educational institution. An eligible educational institution would include any accredited public, nonprofit, or private college, university, vocational school, or other post-secondary institution.


Taxpayers with children should be aware of the numerous tax breaks for which they may qualify. Among them are: the dependency exemption, child tax credit, child care credit, and adoption credit. As they get older, education tax credits for higher education may be available; as is a new tax code requirement for employer-sponsored health care to cover young adults up to age 26. Employers of parents with young children may also qualify for the child care assistance credit.

While Congress extended the reduced individual income tax rates with passage of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (2010 Tax Relief Act) in late 2010, it also extended several educational tax benefits as well through 2012. As families plan their upcoming tax year, it is important to keep these benefits in mind.

Often, individuals end up with an unexpected tax liability on April 15. There are several options available to pay off your tax debt, stop accruing penalties and interest and secure peace of mind. Each payment method has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your financial, and personal, circumstances, and each option should be discussed with a tax professional prior to making a decision. Our office would be glad to answer any questions you have about each payment method.

No. Even though trash pickup and neighborhood oversight provided by a governmental entity such as a town or county can be figured into the amount of deductible property taxes paid by a homeowner, a payment to a nongovernmental entity is not a deductible tax.

On December 18, 2007, Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 (Mortgage Debt Relief Act), providing some major assistance to certain homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments. The centerpiece of the new law is a three-year exception to the long-standing rule under the Tax Code that mortgage debt forgiven by a lender constitutes taxable income to the borrower. However, the new law does not alleviate all the pain of all troubled homeowners but, in conjunction with a mortgage relief plan recently announced by the Treasury Department, the Act provides assistance to many subprime borrowers.

Do you know where your 401(k) plan funds are? Errors can and do occur, sometimes with devastating results. By taking an active role in the management of your account, you can quickly uncover any errors, make good investment choices, and ascertain a secure, comfortable retirement. Here are some guidelines to help you get the most out of your 401(k) plan.


Maintaining good financial records is an important part of running a successful business. Not only will good records help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your business' operations, but they will also help out tremendously if the IRS comes knocking on your door.


After your tax returns have been filed, several questions arise: What do you do with the stack of paperwork? What should you keep? What should you throw away? Will you ever need any of these documents again? Fortunately, recent tax provisions have made it easier for you to part with some of your tax-related clutter.


With home values across the country at the highest levels seen in years, you may find that you could actually have a gain from the sale of your home in excess of the new IRS exclusion amount of $500,000 ($250,000 for single and married filing separately taxpayers). In order to determine your potential gain or loss from the sale, you will first need to know the basis of your personal residence.


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