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Tax Alerts
Tax Briefing(s)

Just hours before government funding was set to expire, President Trump on March 23 signed the bipartisan Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, averting a government shutdown. The $1.3 trillion fiscal year 2018 omnibus spending package, which provides funding for the government and federal agencies through September 30, contains several tax provisions and increased IRS funding.


The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has renewed its call for immediate guidance on new Code Sec. 199A. The AICPA highlighted questions about qualified business income (QBI) of pass-through income under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ( P.L. 115-97). "Taxpayers and practitioners need clarity regarding QBI in order to comply with their 2018 tax obligations," the AICPA said in a February 21 letter to the Service.


A top House tax writer has confirmed that House Republicans and the Trump administration are working on a second phase of tax reform this year. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex., said in an interview that the Trump administration and House Republicans "think more can be done."


The House Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee held a March 14 hearing in which lawmakers and stakeholders examined the future of various temporary tax extenders post-tax reform. Over 30 tax breaks, which included energy and fuel credits, among others, were retroactively extended for the 2017 tax year in the Bipartisan Budget Act ( P.L. 115-123) enacted in February.


The IRS has released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to address a taxpayer’s filing obligations and payment requirements with respect to the Code Sec. 965 transition tax, enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Creation Act ( P.L. 115-97). The instructions in the FAQs are for filing 2017 returns with an amount of Code Sec. 965 tax. Failure to follow the FAQs could result in difficulties in processing the returns. Taxpayers who are required to file electronically are asked to wait until April 2, 2018, to file returns so that the IRS can make system changes.


The U.S. Supreme Court reversed an individual’s conviction for obstructing tax law administration. The government failed to show that the individual knew that a "proceeding" was pending when he engaged in the obstructive conduct.


Tax writers in Congress are set to begin debating and writing tax reform legislation. On September 27, the White House and GOP leaders in Congress released a framework for tax reform. The framework sets out broad principles for tax reform, leaving the details to the two tax-writing committees: the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. How quickly lawmakers will write and pass tax legislation is unclear. What is clear is that tax reform is definitely one of the top issues on Congress’ Fall agenda.


As millions of Americans recover from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, Congress is debating disaster tax relief. The relief would enhance the casualty loss rules, relax some retirement savings rules, and make other temporary changes to the tax laws, all intended to help victims of these recent disasters. At press time, a package of temporary disaster tax relief measures is pending in the House. The timeline for Senate action, however, is unclear.


IRS Exam staffing in fiscal year (FY) 2016, the latest tax year with statistics available, reached a 20-year low. As a result, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has reported that the IRS undertook fewer audits.


IRS Chief Counsel, in generic legal advice (AM-2017-003), recently described when a qualified employer may take into account the payroll tax credit for increasing research activities. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) created the payroll credit aimed at start-ups with little or no income tax liabilities. This tax break allows taxpayers to get the cash benefit of the payroll tax credit sooner as they reduce their payroll tax liability as payroll payments are made, instead of having to wait until the end of the quarter to receive the credit.


Every year, millions of post-secondary students access the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This year, the DRT is unavailable for FAFSA filers because of cybersecurity concerns. The information needed to complete the FAFSA can be found on a previously filed federal income tax return.


As the new administration and Congress get to work, tax reform is high on the agenda. Although legislative language has not been yet released, statements from tax writers in Congress shed some light on various proposals.


The start of the school year is a good time to consider the variety of tax benefits available for education. Congress has been generous in providing education benefits in the form of credits, deductions and exclusions from income. The following list describes the most often used of these benefits.