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February 2018

FAQ: Did the new law change capital gains taxation?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did not directly change the tax rate on capital gains: they remain at 0, 10, 15 and 20 percent, respectively (with the 25- and 28-percent rates also reserved for the same special situations). However, changes within the new law impact both when the favorable rates are applied and the level to which to may be enjoyed.

Capital […]

December 2017

FAQ: What is a change-of-accounting for IRS purposes?

The method and systems by which a taxpayer calculates the amount of income, gains, losses, deductions, and credits and determines when these items must be reported, constitute the taxpayer’s method of tax accounting. Although the Tax Code and the regulations authorize the use of several accounting methods, and permit certain combinations of methods, a taxpayer must use the accounting method […]

November 2017

FAQ: How does a business handle holiday gift-giving?

Holiday gifts made to customers are generally deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses as long as the taxpayer can demonstrate that such gifts maintain or improve customer goodwill. Such gifts must bear a direct relationship to the taxpayer’s business and must be made with a reasonable expectation of a financial return commensurate with the amount of the gift. However, […]

October 2017

FAQ: Can I claim the adoption credit for a foreign adoption?

Yes, however, there are special timing rules for foreign adoptions. These rules differ from the timing rules for domestic adoptions and impact when you may claim qualified adoption expenses.

The Tax Code provides a nonrefundable credit for qualified adoption expenses. The credit is subject to income limitations, which means that some taxpayers may not qualify for it. Generally, the credit covers […]

September 2017

FAQ: What is “assignment of income” under the tax law?

Gross income is taxed to the individual who earns it or to owner of property that generates the income. Under the so-called “assignment of income doctrine,” a taxpayer may not avoid tax by assigning the right to income to another.

Specifically, the assignment of income doctrine holds that a taxpayer who earns income from services that the taxpayer performs or property […]

August 2017

FAQ: What is Country-by-Country reporting?

Country-by-Country (CbC) reporting is part of a larger initiative by the  Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) known as the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project. CbC reporting generally impacts large multi-national businesses. Because CbC is part of BEPS it is important to be familiar with the core concepts.

BEPS

The BEPS project is designed to curb tax avoidance. “No […]

July 2017

FAQ: Has the IRS’s treatment of virtual currency changed?

No. The IRS continues to treat virtual currency as property for U.S. federal tax purposes. However, last year, a government watchdog, and this year, a group of lawmakers, urged the IRS to clarify its virtual currency guidance.

The IRS has described virtual currency as a “digital representation of value that functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and/or […]

June 2017

FAQ: What are passive losses?

Individuals, trusts, estates, personal service corporations and closely held C corporations may only deduct passive activities losses from passive activity income. The rules do not apply to S corporations and partnerships but do apply to their respective shareholders and partners. In general, limited partners are not deemed to materially participate in partnership activities. Thus, a limited partner’s share of partnership […]

May 2017

FAQ: What are my odds of being audited?

Audit coverage rates are at low levels, the IRS has reported. According to the IRS, the audit coverage rate for individuals fell 16 percent from FY 2015 to FY 2016. The 0.7 percent audit coverage rate for individuals was the lowest coverage rate in more than a decade, the agency added.

Selection Process

The raw audit numbers, of course, do not answer […]

April 2017

FAQ…What are miscellaneous itemized deductions?

Miscellaneous itemized deductions are certain nonbusiness expenses that individuals as taxpayers who otherwise itemize deductions may take against their taxable income. Such miscellaneous expenses are allowed only to the extent that they exceed 2-percent of a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income. Miscellaneous itemized deductions may also be limited by the overall itemized deduction phase-out.

These expenses include employee business expenses, expenses of […]

March 2017

FAQ…I received a letter from the IRS inquiring about a suspicious return

Tax-related identity theft spikes during the filing season. Many taxpayers discover for the first time that they are victims of identity theft when they receive a letter from the IRS.

A taxpayer may receive a letter when the IRS stops suspicious tax returns that have indications of being identity theft but contains a real taxpayer’s name and/or Social Security number. Once […]

February 2017

FAQ: What is transferee tax liability?

The prudent businessperson is always cautious when he or she is offered a great bargain on real estate, equipment, a business interest, or some other property that just might be too good to be true. Even in connection with ordinary business transactions but especially when considering taking over a property or business that in a bargain because of some legal […]

January 2017

FAQ: Are some tax return deadlines changing in 2017?

The Surface Transportation Act of 2015: Tax Provisions (enacted on Jul. 31, 2015) provided for major changes in certain tax return deadlines. To allow for a transition period for taxpayers adjust to the new due dates, the new filing deadlines carried a delayed effective date: for tax returns for tax years starting on or after January 1, 2016. As a […]

December 2016

FAQ: How is virtual currency taxed?

Virtual currency – often referred to as ‘bitcoin” — is a mystery for many people but an everyday currency for others. As virtual currency grows in popularity, questions arise about its taxation. The IRS treats virtual currency as property and not as currency. This means that general tax principles that apply to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency.

Virtual […]

November 2016

FAQ: What are “excepted benefits” for purposes of ACA minimum essential coverage?

The ACA created Code Sec. 5000A. Individuals must have minimum essential health insurance coverage, qualify for a health coverage exemption, or make an individual shared responsibility payment. Minimum essential coverage includes most government-sponsored health care programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare, and TRICARE.  Eligible employer-sponsored plans; individual market plans, including plans obtained through the ACA Heath Insurance Marketplace, and grandfathered plans […]

October 2016

FAQ: What is the 80/50 rule for van pooling?

Federal tax law allows taxpayers to exclude from income “qualified transportation fringe benefits.” Included in this category of benefits are van pools

There are three types of van pools for federal tax purposes:

Employer-operated van pool. In an employer-operated van pool, the employer either purchases or leases vans to enable employees to commute together to the employer’s place of business or the […]

September 2016

FAQ: What are the new IRS procedures for Individual Tax Identification Numbers?

The IRS announced in August new procedures for renewing an unused or expired Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). The new procedures are scheduled to take effect later this year and will impact 2016 federal individual income tax returns filed in 2017.

PATH Act changes

ITINs are used by individuals who have federal tax filing or payment obligations but who do not have […]

August 2016

FAQ: What is a CPEO?

A professional employer organization (PEO) is an organization that enters into an agreement with a client to perform, among other tasks, the federal employment tax withholding, reporting, and payment functions related to workers performing services for the client. Effective for wages for services performed on or after January 1, 2016, a certifiedprofessional employer organization (CPEO) may be treated, for purposes […]

July 2016

FAQ: How does the suspension of the ACA medical device excise tax impact compliance?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) imposed an excise tax on the sale of certain medical devices by the manufacturer or importer of the device. The tax is 2.3 percent. Under the ACA, the excise tax was effective for the sale of medical devices after December 31, 2012. The tax is now under a two year moratorium.

Medical devices

The IRS has issued […]

June 2016

FAQ: Is the cost of a weight loss program for obesity tax deductible?

Yes …but only if it is a medical necessity. The IRS has ruled that uncompensated amounts paid to participate in a weight-loss program as treatment for a specific disease or diseases (including obesity) diagnosed by a physician are deductible expenses for medical care. The deduction is subject to the limitations of Code Sec. 213 and its regulations.

Generally, Code Sec. 213(a) […]

May 2016

FAQ: Are contributions to foreign charities tax-deductible?

Social media has helped to make our world smaller and when natural disasters and tragedies occur we want to help with contributions of money and/or other types of aid. At home, countless charitable organizations are providing all types of help and generally, your contributions to U.S. charities are tax-deductible. Contributions to foreign charities generally are not tax-deductible; however, special rules […]

April 2016

FAQ: What is the Roth IRA contribution limit for 2016?

Individuals may contribute up to $5,500 to a traditional and a Roth IRA for 2016. This is the same limit as 2015. An individual age 50 and older can make a catch-up contribution of an additional $1,000 for the year. The contribution is limited to the taxpayer’s taxable compensation for the year, minus contributions to all non-Roth IRAs.

Taxpayers can contribute to […]

March 2016

FAQ: What is the self-rental rule?

Under Code Sec. 469, passive losses can only be used to offset passive income. Taxpayers who have losses from a passive activity cannot use losses from a passive activity to offset nonpassive income, such as wages. A passive activity generally is an activity in which a taxpayer does not “materially participate.” Passive losses that cannot be deducted must be carried over […]

February 2016

FAQ: Can the IRS impose penalties if a return is not filed/tax not paid?

Yes, the IRS can impose penalties if a tax return is not timely filed or if a tax liability is not timely paid. As with all IRS penalties, the rules are complex. However, a taxpayer may avoid a penalty if he or she shows reasonable cause.

Failure to file

The penalty for failure to file a timely return is five percent of […]

January 2016

FAQ – What are the 2016 optional standard mileage rates for automobile use?

The IRS has issued the 2016 optional standard mileage rates for calculating the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical, and moving purposes (Notice 2016-1; IR-2015-137). The decline in gas prices appeared to spur the drop in the optional rates.

The optional standard mileage rate for business will drop from 57.5 cents a mile (for 2015) to 54 […]

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