Newsletters
Tax Alerts
September 27, 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).


When you receive cash other than the like-kind property in a like-kind exchange, the cash is treated as "boot." Boot does not render the transaction ineligible for non-recognition treatment but it does require you to recognize gain to the extent of the cash received. The same is true for other non-like-kind property. In other words, anything you receive in addition to the like-kind property, such as relief from debt from a mortgage or additional property that is not like-kind will force you to recognize the gain realized.

Starting in 2010, the $100,000 adjusted gross income cap for converting a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA is eliminated. All other rules continue to apply, which means that the amount converted to a Roth IRA still will be taxed as income at the individual's marginal tax rate. One exception for 2010 only: you will have a choice of recognizing the conversion income in 2010 or averaging it over 2011 and 2012.

More small businesses get into trouble with the IRS over payroll taxes than any other type of tax. Payroll taxes are a huge source of government revenue and the IRS takes them very seriously. It is actively looking for businesses that have fallen behind in their payroll taxes or aren't depositing them. When the IRS finds a noncompliant business, it hits hard with penalties.

Whether a parent who employs his or her child in a family business must withhold FICA and pay FUTA taxes will depend on the age of the teenager, the amount of income the teenager earns and the type of business.

If you pay for domestic-type services in your home, you may be considered a "domestic employer" for purposes of employment taxes. As a domestic employer, you in turn may be required to report, withhold, and pay employment taxes on a calendar-year basis. The reporting rules apply to both FICA and FUTA taxes, as well as to income taxes that domestic employees elect to have withheld from their wages. The FICA tax rate, applied separately to the employer's share and the employee's share, is 7.65 percent.

This is a simple question, but the question does not have a simple answer. Generally speaking the answer is no, closing costs are not deductible when refinancing. However, the answer depends on what you mean by "closing costs" and what is done with the money obtained in the refinancing.

The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (2004 Jobs Act) changed the rules for start-up expenses in both favorable and unfavorable ways. Start-up expenditures are amounts that would have been deductible as trade or business expenses, had they not been paid or incurred before the business began. Prior to the 2004 Jobs Act, a taxpayer had to file an election to amortize start-up expenditures over a period of not less than 60 months, no later than the due date for the tax year in which the trade or business begins.

The general rule on business expenses is that you must prove everything in detail to be entitled to a deduction. Logs, preferably made contemporaneously to the business transaction, must show date, amount, and business purpose and you must produce receipts. Fortunately, the tax law has a practical side. Congress, the IRS and the courts each have applied their own brand of practicality in allowing certain exceptions to be made to the business substantiation rule.

No, taxpayers may destroy the original hardcopy of books and records and the original computerized records detailing the expenses of a business if they use an electronic storage system.

As a business owner you have likely heard about the tax advantages of setting up a retirement plan for you and your employees. Many small business owners, however, have also heard some of the horror stories and administrative nightmares that can go along with plan sponsorship. Through marketing information that you receive, you may have learned that a simplified employer plan (SEP) is a retirement plan you can sponsor without the administrative hassle associated with establishing other company plans, including Keoghs.


Higher-income individuals whose adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds a threshold level must reduce the amount of their otherwise allowable itemized deductions.


Q. I converted my regular IRA to a Roth IRA when the account had a high value because the stock market was at an all time high. I paid the required tax on the conversion when the conversion proceeds pushed me up into the 36% tax bracket. The Roth IRA is now worth only about 40% of its original value. Is there any type of tax deduction that I can take based on this loss?


A taxpayer who may have misplaced or lost a copy of his tax return that was already filed with the IRS or whose copy may have been destroyed in a fire, flood, or other disaster may need information contained on that return in order to complete his or her return for the current year. In addition, an individual may be required by a governmental agency or other entity, such as a mortgage lender or the Small Business Administration, to supply a copy of his or a related party's tax return.


Generally, if you do volunteer work for a charity, you are not entitled to deduct the cost of services you perform for the charity. However, if in connection with the volunteer work you incur out-of-pocket expenses, you may be entitled to deduct some of those expenses.


The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) allows individuals and businesses to make tax payments by telephone, personal computer or through the Internet.


Q. My husband and I have a housekeeper come in to clean once a week; and someone watches our children for about 10 hours over the course of each week to free up our time for chores. Are there any tax problems here that we are missing?


Q: The holidays are approaching and I would like to consider giving gifts of appreciation to my employees. What kinds of gifts can I give my employees that they would not have to declare as income on their tax returns?I also would like to make sure my company would be able to deduct the costs of these gifts.

Q: When it comes to investing, I've always played pretty "mainstream" - investing in mutual funds and governments bonds. However, I've heard people talking about tax-sheltered annuities. Is this something I should consider to round out my investments while saving some additional taxes?


Employers are required by the Internal Revenue Code to calculate, withhold, and deposit with the IRS all federal employment taxes related to wages paid to employees. Failure to comply with these requirements can find certain "responsible persons" held personally liable. Who is a responsible person for purposes of employment tax obligations? The broad interpretation defined by the courts and the IRS may surprise you.


Q. I have a professional services firm and am considering hiring my wife to help out with some of the administrative tasks in the office. I don't think we'll have a problem working together but I would like to have more information about the tax aspects of such an arrangement before I make the leap. What are some of the tax advantages of hiring my spouse?


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?


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.


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.


Incentive stock options (ISOs) give employees a "piece of the action" while allowing employers to attract workers at relatively inexpensive costs. However, before you accept that job offer, there are some intricate rules regarding the taxation of ISOs that you should understand.


Q. The recent upturn in home values has left me with quite a bit of equity in my home. I would like to tap into this equity to pay off my credit cards and make some major home improvements. If I get a home equity loan, will the interest I pay be fully deductible on my tax return?


Probably one of the more difficult decisions you will have to make as a consumer is whether to buy or lease your auto. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of buying vs. leasing a new car or truck before you get to the car dealership can ease the decision-making process and may alleviate unpleasant surprises later.


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?


Q. I've just started my own business and am having a hard time deciding whether I should buy or lease the equipment I need before I open my doors. What are some of the things I should consider when making this decision?


Q. Our daughter is entering college and we're considering seeking financial aid to help with tuition expenses. My spouse and I have always made the maximum contributions to our IRA accounts. Will our IRA accounts effect our child's ability to get financial aid for college costs? Should we hold off on this year's IRA contributions?


As you open the doors of your new business, the last thing on your mind may be the potential for loss of profits through employee oversight or theft - especially if you are the only employee. However, setting up some basic internal controls to guard against future loss before you hire others can save you headaches in the future.


Ordering office supplies for your business over the phone seems harmless enough, but beware - an increasing number of small businesses are falling prey to office supply scams. According to the FTC, small businesses are losing more than $100 million each year from fraudulent "toner-phoner" schemes. Educating yourself to be able to recognize these scams and understand your rights can protect your business and save you money.


Biweekly mortgage prepayment plans are popular in the mortgage lending industry. These plans tout substantial interest savings and shortened loan terms by making two smaller mortgage payments each month instead of one large payment. Is this type of program right for you? Is a formal plan necessary?

I have a car that I would like to donate to my church. Can I just claim the amount shown as the value of the car per the Kelly Blue Book (about $6,500) on Schedule A of Form 1040?