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Tax Alerts
October 20, 2020
Tax Briefing(s)

The Treasury and IRS have issued guidance on the recent order by President Trump to defer certain employee payroll tax obligations on wages paid from September 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020. Under the guidance:


The IRS has released the 2020-2021 special per diem rates. Taxpayers use the per diem rates to substantiate the amount of ordinary and necessary business expenses incurred while traveling away from home. These special per diem rates include the special transportation industry meal and incidental expenses (M&IEs) rates, the rate for the incidental expenses only deduction, and the rates and list of high-cost localities for purposes of the high-low substantiation method. Taxpayers using the rates and list of high-cost localities provided in the guidance must comply with Rev. Proc. 2019-48, I.R.B. 2019-51, 1390.


The Treasury and IRS have issued final regulations that limit the Code Sec. 245A dividends received deduction and the Code Sec. 954(c) exception on distributions supported by certain earnings and profits not subject to the integrated international tax regime created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97). Proposed regulations and temporary regulations, issued on June 18, 2019, are adopted and removed, respectively.


Treasury has issued final and amended regulations on the rules for distributions made by terminated S corporations during the post-termination transition period (PTTP). These regulations apply after an S corporation has become a C corporation.


Final regulations clarify that the amount of the rehabilitation credit for a qualified rehabilitated building (QRB) is determined as a single credit in the year the QRB is placed in service. This is the case even though the credit is allocated ratably over a five-year period. The final regulations adopt without modification proposed regulations released earlier this year ( NPRM REG-124327-19).


The IRS has released final regulations that clarify the definition of a "qualifying relative" for purposes of various provisions for tax years 2018 through 2025. These regulations generally affect taxpayers who claim federal income tax benefits that require a taxpayer to have a qualifying relative.


The IRS has announced that Medicaid coverage of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing and diagnostic services is not minimum essential coverage for purposes of the premium tax credit under Code Sec. 36B.


The IRS has released guidance in the form of questions and answers with respect to certain provisions of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act), and the Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019 (Miners Act).


Final regulations provide additional guidance on the base erosion and anti-abuse tax (BEAT) under Code Sec. 59A. The regulations also address certain aspects of the BEAT under Code Secs. 1502 and 6031.


Taxpayers generally prefer to accelerate deductions to reduce their current year income and taxes. In some situations, the tax code's accounting rules allow an accrual-basis employer to deduct a year-end employee bonus in the current year, even though the bonus will not be paid until the following year. A recent IRS Chief Counsel memorandum (FAA 20134301F) highlights some of the pitfalls that can affect when bonus compensation is deductible.


A child with earned income above a certain level is generally required to file a separate tax return as a single taxpayer. However, a child with a certain amount of unearned income (from investments, including dividends, interest, and capital gains) may find that this income becomes subject to tax at his or her parent's highest marginal tax rate. This is referred to as the "kiddie tax," and it is designed to prevent parents from transferring income-producing investments to their children, who would generally be taxed at a lower rate.


The scheduled January 1, 2014 rollout of withholding, reporting and other rules in the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) has been delayed six months, the Treasury Department and the IRS have announced. The six-month delay is expected to give the U.S. more time to conclude negotiations and sign agreements to implement FATCA with foreign governments. The Treasury Department and the IRS have not, however, delayed the rules for reporting by individuals.


A business can deduct only ordinary and necessary expenses. Further, the amount allowable as a deduction for business meal and entertainment expenses, whether incurred in-town or out-of-town is generally limited to 50 percent of the expenses. (A special exception that raises the level to 80 percent applies to workers who are away from home while working under Department of Transportation regulations.)


Facilitated by the speed, ubiquity, and anonymity of the Internet, criminals are able to easily steal valuable information such as Social Security numbers and use it for a variety of nefarious purposes, including filing false tax returns to generate refunds from the IRS. The victims are often unable to detect the crime until it is too late, generally after the IRS receives the legitimate tax return from the actual taxpayer. By that time the first return has often been long accepted and the refund processed. Because of the ease, speed, and difficulty involved in policing cybercrime, identity theft has grown rapidly. One estimate from the National Taxpayer Advocate Service has calculated that individual identity theft case receipts have increased by more than 666 percent from fiscal year (FY) 2008 to FY 2012.


Gain or loss is not recognized when property held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment is exchanged for like-kind property. Instead, the taxpayer's basis and holding period in the property transferred carries over to the property acquired in the exchange. Deferring taxable gain, always a good strategy, makes more sense than ever after the recent rise in tax rates for many taxpayers under the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. In particular, Code Section 1031 like-kind exchanges deserve a close second look by many businesses and investors.


For many individuals, volunteering for a charitable organization is a very emotionally rewarding experience. In some cases, your volunteer activities may also qualify for certain federal tax breaks. Although individuals cannot deduct the value of their labor on behalf of a charitable organization, they may be eligible for other tax-related benefits.


Vacation homes offer owners tax breaks similar-but not identical-to those for primary residences. Vacation homes also offer owners the opportunity to earn tax-advantaged and even tax-free income. This combination of current income and tax breaks, combined with the potential for long-term appreciation, can make a second home an attractive investment.


Vacation homes offer owners many tax breaks similar to those for primary residences. Vacation homes also offer owners the opportunity to earn tax-advantaged and even tax-free income from a certain level of rental income. The value of vacation homes are also on the rise again, offering an investment side to ownership that can ultimately be realized at a beneficial long-term capital gains rate.


President Obama recently said that he wants a tax reform/deficit reduction package by August and lawmakers have many proposals to consider. The President has introduced a $3.77 trillion budget for fiscal year (FY) 2014 with a host of tax reform proposals, the House and Senate Budget Committees have approved competing deficit reduction and tax reform blueprints, other committees are exploring ideas for tax reform, and private groups, most notably authors of the Simpson-Bowles Plan, are also making proposals. Whatever proposals are adopted, the outcome is sure to impact your tax strategy and planning.


Questions over the operation of the new 3.8 percent Medicare tax on net investment income (the NII Tax) continue to be placed on the IRS's doorstep as it tries to better explain the operation of the new tax.  Proposed "reliance regulations" issued at the end in 2012 (NPRM REG-130507-11) "are insufficient in many respects," tax experts complain, as the IRS struggles to turn its earlier guidance into final rules.


Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), small employers can claim a credit for providing health insurance for employees and their families. Health insurance includes not only basic medical and hospital care, but dental or vision, long-term care, and coverage for specific diseases or illness. Self-funded plans do not qualify; the insurance must be provided through a third party.


A return or a payment that is mailed to the IRS is timely filed or paid if it is delivered on or before its due date. A return with a U.S. postmark, which is delivered after its due date, is timely filed if the date of the postmark is no later than the due date, the return was properly addressed, and the return had proper postage. The timely mailing/timely filing rule also applies when a taxpayer receives a filing extension. If an envelope has a post office postmark and a non-post office postmark, the latter is disregarded and the post office postmark determines the filing date.


An LLC (limited liability company) is not a federal tax entity. LLCs are organized under state law. LLCs are not specifically mentioned in the Tax Code, and there are no special IRS regulations governing the taxation of LLCs comparable to the regulations for C corporations, S corporations, and partnerships. Instead, LLCs make an election to be taxed as a particular entity (or to be disregarded for tax purposes) by following the check-the-box business entity classification regulations. The election is filed on Form 8832, Entity Classification Election. The IRS will assign an entity classification by default if no election is made. A taxpayer who doesn't mind the IRS default entity classification does not necessarily need to file Form 8832.


The limitation on itemized deductions (also known as the Pease limitation after the member of Congress who sponsored the original legislation) is reinstated by the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) for tax years beginning after December 31, 2012. The reinstated Pease limitation is intended to reduce or eliminate the itemized deductions of higher income taxpayers to raise revenue.


When starting a business or changing an existing one there are several types of business entities to choose from, each of which offers its own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the size of your business, one form may be more suitable than another. For example, a software firm consisting of one principal founder and several part time contractors and employees would be more suited to a sole proprietorship than a corporate or partnership form. But where there are multiple business members, the decision can become more complicated. One form of business that has become increasingly popular is called a limited liability company, or LLC.


A business with a significant amount of receivables should evaluate whether some of them may be written off as business bad debts. A business taxpayer may deduct business bad debts if the receivable becomes partially or completely worthless during the tax year.

Often, timing is everything or so the adage goes. From medicine to sports and cooking, timing can make all the difference in the outcome. What about with taxes? What are your chances of being audited? Does timing play a factor in raising or decreasing your risk of being audited by the IRS? For example, does the time when you file your income tax return affect the IRS's decision to audit you? Some individuals think filing early will decrease their risk of an audit, while others file at the very-last minute, believing this will reduce their chance of being audited. And some taxpayers don't think timing matters at all.