Newsletters
Tax Alerts
September 18, 2020
Tax Briefing(s)

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has urged the IRS and Treasury in an August 12 letter to issue guidance on President Trump’s payroll tax deferral memorandum. The executive action signed by the president on August 8 instructs Treasury to defer the collection and payment of payroll taxes from September 1 through years-end for eligible employees.


The IRS has released final regulations that address the interaction of the $10,000/$5,000 cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction and charitable contributions. The regulations include:

  • a safe harbor for individuals who have any portion of a charitable deduction disallowed due to the receipt of SALT benefits;
  • a safe harbor for business entities to deduct certain payments made to a charitable organization in exchange for SALT benefits; and
  • application of the quid pro quo principle under Code Sec. 170 to benefits received or expected to be received by the donor from a third party.

The IRS has issued final regulations regarding the limitation for the business interest expense deduction under Code Sec. 163(j), including recent legislative amendments made for the 2019 and 2020 tax years. Also, a safe harbor has been proposed allowing taxpayers managing or operating residential living facilities to qualify as a real property trade or business for purposes of the limitation. In addition, new proposed regulations are provided for a number of different areas.


The IRS has issued proposed regulations that implement the "carried interest" rules under Code Sec. 1061 adopted by Congress as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 ( P.L. 115-97). Some key aspects of the lengthy proposed regulations include the definition of important terms, how the rules work in the context of tiered passthrough structures, the definition of "substantial" services provided by the carried interest holder, and the level of activity required for a business to meet the definition of an "applicable trade or business."


The Treasury and the IRS have issued temporary and proposed regulations to:

  • reconcile advance payments of refundable employment tax credits provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act) ( P.L. 116-127) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136), and
  • recapture the benefit of the credits when necessary.

The IRS has provided guidance on the special rules relating to funding of single-employer defined benefit pension plans, and related benefit limitations, under Act Sec. 3608 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (P.L. 116-136). The guidance clarifies application of the extended contribution deadline, and the optional use of the prior year’s adjusted funding target attainment percentage (AFTAP), with examples.


The IRS has released proposed regulations that implement new Code Sec. 7602(f), which bars non-government persons who are hired by the IRS from questioning a witness under oath whose testimony was obtained pursuant to a summons issued under Code Sec. 7602. The regulations prohibit any IRS contractors from asking a summoned person’s representative to clarify an objection or assertion of privilege. The IRS has also withdrawn a notice of proposed rulemaking ( NPRM REG-132434-17) that contained proposed rules addressing the participation of persons described under Code Sec. 6103(n) in the interview of a summoned witness and excluding certain non-government attorneys from participating in an IRS examination.


Proposed regulations adopt the post-2017 simplified accounting rules for small businesses.


The IRS has modified two safe harbor explanations in Notice 2018-74, 2018-40 I.R.B. 529, that can be used to satisfy the requirement under Code Sec. 402(f) that certain information be provided to recipients of eligible rollover distributions. The modifications were necessary due to recent changes in law made by the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act). One safe harbor explanation is for payments not from a designated Roth account, and the other is for payments from a designated Roth account. The Code Sec. 402(f) notice may be provided as many as 180 days before the date on which the distribution is made (or the annuity starting date).


The IRS has reminded taxpayers that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136) can provide favorable tax treatment for withdrawals from retirement plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Under the CARES Act, individuals eligible for coronavirus-related relief may be able to withdraw up to $100,000 from IRAs or workplace retirement plans before December 31, 2020, if their plans allow. In addition to IRAs, this relief applies to 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, profit-sharing plans and others.


The Treasury and IRS have issued final and proposed regulations under the global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) and subpart F provisions for the treatment of high-taxed income. The final regulations provide guidance on determining the type of high-taxed income that is eligible for the exclusion (the "GILTI high-tax exclusion" or GILTI HTE).


Dual-income families are commonplace these days, however, some couples are discovering that their second income may not be worth the added aggravation and effort. After taking into consideration daycare expenses, commuting expenses, the countless take-out meals, and additional clothing costs, many are surprised at how much (or how little) of that second income is actually hitting their bank account.


You have just been notified that your tax return is going to be audited ... what now? While the best defense is always a good offense (translation: take steps to avoid an audit in the first place), in the event the IRS does come knocking on your door, here are some basic guidelines you can follow to increase the chances that you will come out of your audit unscathed.


When it comes to legal separation or divorce, there are many complex situations to address. A divorcing couple faces many important decisions and issues regarding alimony, child support, and the fair division of property. While most courts and judges will not factor in the impact of taxes on a potential property settlement or cash payments, it is important to realize how the value of assets transferred can be materially affected by the tax implications.


How quickly could you convert your assets to cash if necessary? Do you have a quantitative way to evaluate management's effectiveness? Knowing your business' key financial ratios can provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of your operations and your ability to meet your financial obligations as well as help you chart your company's future.


Raising a family in today's economy can be difficult and many people will agree that breaks are few -- more people mean more expenditures. However, in recent years, the IRS has passed legislation that borders on "family-friendly", with tax credits and other breaks benefiting families with children. Recent legislation also addresses the growing trend towards giving families a break.


The responsibility for remitting federal tax payments to the IRS in a timely manner can be overwhelming for the small business owner -- the deadlines seem never ending and the penalties for late payments can be stiff. However, many small business owners may find that participating in the IRS's EFTPS program is a convenient, timesaving way to pay their federal taxes.


Q. Each year when it comes time to prepare my return, I realize how little I think about my tax situation during the rest of the year. I seem to lack any sort of common sense when it comes to dealing with my taxes. Do you have any general advice for people like me trying to "do the right thing" in any tax situation that may arise during the year?


Stock options have become a common part of many compensation and benefits packages. Even small businesses have jumped on the bandwagon and now provide a perk previously confined to the executive suites of large publicly held companies. If you are an employee who has received stock options, you need to be aware of the complicated tax rules that govern certain stock options -- several potential "gotchas" exist and failing to spot them can cause major tax headaches.


Q. Last year when I filed my tax return, I received a huge refund check as I had apparently paid far too much in during the year. Although it's nice to get a big check each year, I can't help but think that there must be a better way to handle my money. What can I do right now to avoid this situation in the future?


All of us will, at one time or another, incur financial losses - whether insubstantial or quite significant -- in our business and personal lives. When business fortunes head South -- either temporarily or in a more prolonged slide, it is important to be aware of how the tax law can limit the actual amount of your losses and your ability to deduct them. Here are some of the types of losses your business may experience and the related tax considerations to keep in mind in the event of a business downturn.


Q. I am reviewing my portfolio and considering selling some of my stock. How do I determine what tax basis I have in the publicly-traded shares that I own for purposes of determining my gain or loss if I buy and sell multiple shares at different times? Does keeping track of basis really matter?


An attractive benefit package is crucial to attract and retain talented workers. However, the expense of such packages can be cost-prohibitive to a small business. Establishing a tax-advantaged cafeteria plan can be an innovative way to provide employees with additional benefits without significantly adding to the cost of your overall benefit program.


While one of the most important keys to financial success of any business is its ability to properly manage its cash flow, few businesses devote adequate attention to this process. By continually monitoring your business cycle, and making some basic decisions up-front, the amount of time you spend managing this part of your business can be significantly reduced.


Keeping the family business in the family upon the death or retirement of the business owner is not as easy as one would think. In fact, almost 30% of all family businesses never successfully pass to the next generation. What many business owners do not know is that many problems can be avoided by developing a sound business succession plan in advance.


If you use your home computer for business purposes, knowing that you can deduct some or all of its costs can help ease the pain of the large initial and ongoing cash outlays. However, there are some tricky IRS rules that you should consider before taking - or forgoing - a deduction for home computer costs.


If you are considering selling business property that has substantially appreciated in value, you owe it to your business to explore the possibility of a like-kind exchange. Done properly, a like-kind exchange will allow you to transfer your appreciated business property without incurring a current tax liability. However, since the related tax rules can be complex, careful planning is needed to properly structure the transaction.


Starting your own small business can be hectic - yet fun and personally fulfilling. As you work towards opening the doors, don't let the onerous task of keeping the books rain on your parade. With a little planning upfront and a promise to "keep it simple", you can get an effective system up and running in no time.


Q. My wife and I are both retired and are what you might call "social gamblers". We like to play bingo and buy lottery tickets, and take an occasional trip to Las Vegas to play the slot machines. Are we required to report all of our winnings on our tax return? Can we deduct our losses?


Q. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine borrowed some money from me to start a small business. The business didn't survive and has left my friend without the ability to pay me back. Since I'm sure I'll never see any of the money again, can I at least get a tax write-off?


Q. Last year I underwent a number of elective surgical procedures and would like to deduct the cost of these expensive procedures on my personal tax return. What are the criteria for medical expenses to be deductible? Do they have to exceed a certain dollar amount?


In addition to decisions that affect the day to day operations of the company, the new business owner will also be faced with accounting and tax related decisions. Whether to use the cash or accrual method of accounting, for example, although not always a matter of choice, is an important decision that must be considered carefully.


We've all heard the basic financial planning strategy "pay yourself first" but paying yourself first doesn't simply mean stashing money into your savings account - debt reduction and retirement plan participation also qualify. Paying yourself today can result in a more comfortable and prosperous future for you and your family.


What do amounts paid for new swimming pools, Lamaze classes, lunches with friends, massages, and America Online fees have in common? All of these costs have been found to be legitimate tax deductions under certain circumstances. As you gather your information for the preparation of your tax return, it may pay to take a closer look at the items you spent money on during the year.


We all know to include the amount shown on our Form W-2 as taxable income on our Form 1040, but what about those other items of income, such as severance pay, lawsuit settlements, and disability payments, that occur less frequently?