The IRS has reminded taxpayers that a special tax provision will permit more individuals to easily deduct donations of up to $600 to qualifying charities on their 2021 federal income tax return. Gener...
The IRS will launch a new feature on November 1, 2021, allowing any family receiving monthly Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments to update their income using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP). T...
The IRS has updated its frequently-asked-questions (FAQs) on 2020 Unemployment Compensation Exclusion. These updated FAQs are: (1) Question 2, Topic D: Amended Return (Form 1040-X); (2) Questions 8...
In October and November of 2021, the IRS is sending informational-only CP256V Notices to self-employed individuals and household employers that chose to defer paying certain Social Security taxes unde...
The IRS has provided FAQs regarding Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFR Funds). The FAQs detail the tax consequences for individual recipients and the reporting requirements for th...
The IRS has released frequently asked questions (FAQs) detailing reporting directions for certain passthrough entities and taxpayers partnership interests reporting held in connection with the perfo...
The IRS has updated how users sign in and verify their identity for certain IRS online services with a mobile-friendly platform. The platform relies on trusted third parties and provides an improved u...
A Florida taxpayer’s tangible personal property used in connection with a solar energy generating facility within the federal Air Force base was taxable because once leased, the property is no longe...
For sales and use tax purposes, Georgia issued a policy bulletin providing guidance to organizations exempt from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 501(c)(3) ("501(c)(3) organization...
What is the key to improving business performance?
How do you know what works and what does not?
Benchmarking helps private companies answer these questions and more. It is a powerful performance tool that provides an in depth look at your company as compared to your competitors who are at the same level as your company and also compare you to those companies that are leaders in your industry. We have data based information that has been provided and entered by many CPA firms to help populate these databases. We use this data from private companies like yours to compare your operation with your competitors. This has to be relevant to your company's performance. The data we select goes beyond financials to include hard-to-find operational metrics, gathered from a combination of 2001, 2002, and 2003 companies data elements. These elements include over 200 metrics covering approximately 3,500 company data sets in more than 230 industries.
As discussed above we can use over 200 metrics within these industry segments which include some of the following: Profitability
Information Technology Costs
Health Insurance Costs
Incremental borrowing rates We have the ability to focus on your company by using your industry data sets to assist us in our analysis of your company. The data we select is within revenue ranges, relevant to the size of your business.
We analyze this data and provide you with a report that helps you guide yourself to the next level of profitability. We will make recommendations as to what will be best for your company at the time we provide this service. We can then continue to update our review periodically to help you see that you are moving in the right direction. Benchmarking is a tool that helps you chart the course for profit improvement of your company. With today's intense competition, Benchmarking is a vital performance tool for private companies. By comparing our clients' performance to their peers and competitors both inside and outside their industry, we are able to bring our clients insights and performance-based ideas on how to improve their operations.
This service is something we are recommending to our clients as a value added business consultation which will provide you with insights that you have never before considered. We are offering this value added service during the up coming months for those clients who feel the need to see what improvements they can make to increase profitability.
If you feel this service is something you need to chart your future, please feel free to give us a call to discuss this in more detail.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed the House of Representatives in a late night vote on November 5 by a 228-206 vote with 13 Republicans crossing the aisle to get the bill across the finish line after 6 Democrats voted the bill down.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed the House of Representatives in a late night vote on November 5 by a 228-206 vote with 13 Republicans crossing the aisle to get the bill across the finish line after 6 Democrats voted the bill down. President Biden signed the infrastructure bill into law on November 15 after Congress came back from a week-long recess.
The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act ( P.L. No. 117-58), includes a few tax provisions mixed in with the spending on to repair and rebuild the nation’s bridges, climate issues and other items. It passed the Senate with a 69-30 vote in August.
Cryptocurrency Reporting And Other Tax Provisions
Among the tax provisions in the bill is an expansion of the reporting requirements available to cryptocurrency, which is one of the revenue generators to help offset the new spending in the bill. It is believed that a significant amount of cryptocurrency gains escape taxation due to underreporting.
The bill also includes a few other tax changes meant to spur private infrastructure investment, raise revenue, and expand the scope and applicability of disaster declarations, in addition to typical extension of highway funding provisions. These other changes include
- An extension of highway taxes to 2028 and highway trust fund expenditure authority to 2026;
- Inclusion of qualified broadband projects and carbon dioxide capture facilities among the other types of projects for which private activity bonds can be issued;
- A return of the exception for water and sewage disposal utilities from the rule requiring a corporation to recognize contributions in aid of construction (removed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017);
- A return of Superfund excise taxes on certain chemicals, last effective in the mid-1990s;
- Termination of the employee retention credit for employers closed due to COVID-19 after September 30, 2021; and
- Changes to the extension of tax deadlines due to declared disasters and service in a combat area, as well as expansion of extension authority to taxpayers impacted by wildfires.
The IRS has released the annual inflation adjustments for 2022 for the income tax rate tables, plus more than 56 other tax provisions.
The IRS has released the annual inflation adjustments for 2022 for the income tax rate tables, plus more than 56 other tax provisions. The IRS makes these cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) each year to reflect inflation.
2022 Income Tax Brackets
For 2022, the highest income tax bracket of 37 percent applies when taxable income hits:
- $647,850 for married individuals filing jointly and surviving spouses,
- $539,900 for single individuals and heads of households,
- $323,925 for married individuals filing separately, and
- $13,450 for estates and trusts.
2022 Standard Deduction
The standard deduction for 2022 is:
- $25,900 for married individuals filing jointly and surviving spouses,
- $19,400 for heads of households, and
- $12,950 for single individuals and married individuals filing separately.
The standard deduction for a dependent is limited to the greater of:
- $1,150 or
- the sum of $400, plus the dependent’s earned income.
Individuals who are blind or at least 65 years old get an additional standard deduction of:
- $1,400 for married taxpayers and surviving spouses, or
- $1,750 for other taxpayers.
Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Exemption for 2022
The AMT exemption for 2022 is:
- $118,100 for married individuals filing jointly and surviving spouses,
- $75,900 for single individuals and heads of households,
- $59,050 for married individuals filing separately, and
- $26,500 for estates and trusts.
The exemption amounts phase out in 2022 when AMTI exceeds:
- $1,079,800 for married individuals filing jointly and surviving spouses,
- $539,900 for single individuals, heads of households, and married individuals filing separately, and
- $88,300 for estates and trusts.
Expensing Code Sec. 179 Property in 2022
For tax years beginning in 2022, taxpayers can expense up to $1,080,000 in section 179 property. However, this dollar limit is reduced when the cost of section 179 property placed in service during the year exceeds $2,700,000.
Estate and Gift Tax Adjustments for 2022
The following inflation adjustments apply to federal estate and gift taxes in 2022:
- the gift tax exclusion is $16,000 per donee, or $164,000 for gifts to spouses who are not U.S. citizens;
- the federal estate tax exclusion is $12,060,000; and
- the maximum reduction for real property under the special valuation method is $1,230,000.
2022 Inflation Adjustments for Other Tax Items
The maximum foreign earned income exclusion amount in 2022 is $112,000.
The IRS also provided inflation-adjusted amounts for the:
- adoption credit,
- lifetime learning credit,
- earned income credit,
- excludable interest on U.S. savings bonds used for education,
- various penalties, and
- many other provisions.
Effective Date of 2022 Adjustments
These inflation adjustments generally apply to tax years beginning in 2022, so they affect most returns that will be filed in 2023. However, some specified figures apply to transactions or events in calendar year 2022.
The 2022 cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) that affect pension plan dollar limitations and other retirement-related provisions have been released by the IRS.
The 2022 cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) that affect pension plan dollar limitations and other retirement-related provisions have been released by the IRS. In general, many of the pension plan limitations will change for 2022 because the increase in the cost-of-living index due to inflation met the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment. However, other limitations will remain unchanged.
The 2022 cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) were released for:
- pension plan dollar limitations, and
- other retirement-related provisions.
Highlights of Changes for 2022
The contribution limit has increased from $19,500 to $20,500 for employees who take part in:
- most 457 plans, and
- the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan.
The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over in the plans above remains $6,500.
The annual limit on contributions to an IRA remains unchanged at $6,000. The $1,000 IRA catch-up contribution amount is not subject to inflation adjustments.
The income ranges increased for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to:
- Roth IRAs, and
- to claim the Saver's Credit.
Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions. The deduction phases out if the taxpayer or their spouse takes part in a retirement plan at work. The phase out depends on the taxpayer's filing status and income.
- Single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $68,000 and $78,000, increased from between $66,000 and $76,000.
- Joint filers, when the spouse making the contribution takes part in a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $109,000 and $129,000, increased from between $105,000 and $125,000.
- An IRA contributor, who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan but their spouse is, the phase out is between $204,000 and $214,000, increased from between $198,000 and $208,000.
- For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a workplace plan, the phase-out range remains $0 to $10,000.
- The phase-out ranges for Roth IRA contributions are:
- $129,000 to $144,000, for singles and heads of household,
- $204,000 to $214,000, for joint filers, and
- $0 to $10,000 for married separate filers.
Finally, the income limit for the Saver' Credit is:
- $68,000 for joint filers,
- $51,000 for heads of household, and
- $34,000 for singles and married filing separately.
The IRS has released additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness guidance.
The IRS has released additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness guidance. The guidance addresses (1) timing issues; (2) partner and consolidated group member basis adjustments; and (3) filing of amended partnership returns and information statements.
Timing of Tax-exempt Income
A taxpayer that received a PPP loan may treat tax-exempt income resulting from the partial or complete forgiveness of the PPP loan as received or accrued as follows:
- As the taxpayer pays or incurs eligible expenses. Under the safe harbor that allows certain taxpayers who relied on prior guidance and did not deduct certain PPP-related expenses on a tax return filed before the COVID Tax Relief Act was enacted, to deduct the expenses in the next tax year. A taxpayer that has elected to use the safe harbor will be treated as paying or incurring the eligible expenses during the taxpayer’s immediately subsequent tax year following the taxpayer’s 2020 tax year in which the expenses were actually paid or incurred, as described in Rev. Proc. 2021-20;
- When the taxpayer files an application for forgiveness of the PPP loan; or;
- When the PPP loan forgiveness is granted.
The timing treatment also applies to the extent tax-exempt income resulting from the partial or complete forgiveness of a PPP loan is treated as gross receipts under a federal tax provision.
If a taxpayer received PPP loan forgiveness of less than the amount that the taxpayer previously treated as tax-exempt income, the taxpayer must file an amended return, information return, or administrative adjustment request as applicable.
Partnership Allocations and Basis Adjustments
If covered partnerships meet certain requirements, the IRS will treat the covered taxpayer’s allocation of amounts treated as tax exempt income and allocation of deductions as determined in accordance with Code Sec. 704(b). A partner's basis in its interest is increased by the partner’s distributive share of tax exempt income and is decreased by the partner’s distributive share of deductions. If certain conditions are met, the treatment generally applies in connection with:
- deductions and amounts treated as tax exempt income arising in connection with the forgiveness of a PPP loan;
- deductions and amounts treated as tax exempt income arising in connection with payments made by the SBA on behalf of the taxpayer with respect to a covered loan under § 1112(c) of the CARES Act; and
- the allocation of deductions and amounts treated as tax exempt income arising in connection with the taxpayer receiving a Supplemental Targeted EIDL Advance or a Restaurant Revitalization Grant.
Consolidated Group Members
For consolidated group members, the IRS will treat any amount excluded from gross income under § 7A(i) of the Small Business Act, § 276(b) of the COVID Tax Relief Act, or § 278(a)(1) of the COVID Tax Relief Act, as applicable, as tax exempt income for purposes of Reg. §1.1502-32(b)(2)(ii) investment adjustments. For the treatment to apply, the consolidated group must attach a signed statement to its consolidated tax return.
Eligible partnerships subject to the centralized partnership audit regime (BBA partnerships) that filed a Form 1065 and furnished all required Schedules K-1 for tax years ending after March 27, 2020 and before Rev. Proc. 2021-50 was issued may file amended partnership returns and furnish amended Schedules K-1 on or before December 31, 2021. The amended returns must take into account tax changes under Rev. Proc. 2021-48 or Rev. Proc. 2021-49, but eligible BBA partnerships may make any additional changes on their amended returns.
The amended return applies to any partnership tax year ending after March 27, 2020 and before the issuance of Rev. Proc. 2021-48 and Rev. Proc. 2021-49. The BBA partnership must clearly indicate the application of this revenue procedure on the amended return and write "FILED PURSUANT TO REV PROC 2021-50" at the top of the amended return and attach a statement with each amended Schedule K-1 furnished to its partners with the same notation.
Special rules apply to pass-through partners. A partnership under examination that wishes to use this amended return procedure must notify the revenue agent coordinating the partnership’s examination.
The IRS issued guidance related to the application of the per diem rules under Rev. Proc. 2019-48 to the temporary 100-percent deduction for business meals provided by a restaurant.
The IRS issued guidance related to the application of the per diem rules under Rev. Proc. 2019-48 to the temporary 100-percent deduction for business meals provided by a restaurant. The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 ( P.L. 116-260) temporarily increased the deduction from 50 percent to 100 percent for a business’s restaurant food and beverage expenses for 2021 and 2022.
Application of Per Diem Rules
Under Rev. Proc. 2019-48, taxpayers using the per diem rules to substantiate deductible food and beverage expenses must still apply the 50-percent limitation. According to the IRS guidance, taxpayers that follow Rev. Proc. 2019-48 may treat the entire meal portion of a the per diem or allowance as being attributable to food or beverages provided by a restaurant.
This IRS guidance is effective for the meal portion of per diem allowances for lodging and M&IE, or for M&IE only that are paid or incurred by an employer after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2023.
The IRS has released guidance which addresses the federal income tax treatment and information reporting requirements for payments made to or on behalf of financially distressed individual homeowners by a state with funds allocated from the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF).
The IRS has released guidance which addresses the federal income tax treatment and information reporting requirements for payments made to or on behalf of financially distressed individual homeowners by a state with funds allocated from the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF). The fund was established under section 3206 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, P.L. No. 117-2, in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. This guidance is effective on November 8, 2021, and would apply to qualified expenses paid after January 21, 2020.
Disaster Relief Payments
The IRS guidance provides that any HAF payment made to or on behalf of a homeowner is qualified disaster relief payment within the meaning of Code Sec. 139(b)(4) since COVID-19 is a qualified disaster. As a result, such payments are not included in the homeowner’s gross income. However, a homeowner that receives a HAF payment, or on whose behalf a HAF payment is made, for qualified expenses cannot take a deduction or credit with respect to such expenses. Qualified expenses under the HAF program include assistance payments for mortgage payments, utilities, and insurance.
Safe Harbor for Tax Deductions
For tax years beginning in 2021 through 2025, a homeowner may deduct as qualified mortgage interest expenses or qualified real property tax expenses on the homeowner’s federal income tax return for the lesser of:
- the sum of all payments the homeowner actually makes from the homeowner’s own sources during the taxable year to the mortgage servicer; or
- the sum of amounts shown on Form 1098, for qualified housing payment expenses.
A homeowner may first allocate the HAF payments to qualified expenses that are not qualified housing payment expenses before allocating the remaining portion of the HAF payments to qualified housing payment expenses. A qualified housing payment a payment for a mortgage or taxes that would be eligible to be deducted on the taxpayer’s return.
A homeowner is eligible to claim relief under the IRS guidance if:
- the homeowner receives a payment from, or a payment is made on the homeowner’s behalf by, a State;
- the payment is made with funds from the HAF;
- the payment is used to pay qualified expenses of the homeowner, and at least one of the expenses is a qualified housing payment expense;
- the homeowner has also paid a portion of the qualified housing payment expense from their own sources;
- the homeowner itemizes deductions on their federal income tax return;
- the homeowner would meet the requirements of Code Sec. 163(h)(3) to deduct qualified mortgage interest expenses, if they paid the qualified mortgage interest expenses from the homeowner’s own sources; and
- the homeowner would meet the requirements of Code Sec. 164(a)(1) to deduct qualified real property tax expenses if the homeowner paid the qualified real property tax expenses from the Homeowner’s own sources.
Since HAF payments made to or on behalf of homeowners are excluded from the gross income of the homeowners, they are not fixed or determinable income under Code Sec. 6041 and information reporting for such payments is not required. HAF payments that are made directly to third parties on behalf of homeowners, such as payments made to insurance companies and homeowners associations, are generally reportable to those third parties if they constitute fixed or determinable income to the third party and the aggregate payments meet the $600 reporting threshold. Moreover, the interest received from a governmental unit or an agency or instrumentality of a governmental unit is not interest received on a mortgage. Lenders who receive a homeowner’s mortgage payments directly from a State should not report the interest received from the State on Form 1098 as interest received on the homeowner’s mortgage.
If a lender files and furnishes a Form 1098 that includes mortgage interest received directly from the State, thereby reporting an incorrect amount of interest on the information return, the lender will not be subject to penalties under Code Secs. 6721 and 6722 so long as the lender notifies the homeowner that the amounts reported on the Form 1098 are overstated because they include payments from a governmental unit or an agency or instrumentality of a governmental unit, and sets forth the amount of the overstatement. Such notification to the homeowner should be made at the time the Form 1098 is furnished or within 30 days thereafter, and can be provided in a separate statement (written or electronic), or included on Form 1098 in Box 10 labeled "Other".
The IRS has urged taxpayers, including ones who received stimulus payments or advance Child Tax Credit payments, to follow some easy steps for accurate federal tax returns filing in 2022.
The IRS has urged taxpayers, including ones who received stimulus payments or advance Child Tax Credit payments, to follow some easy steps for accurate federal tax returns filing in 2022.
Organized tax records
Taxpayers can easily prepare complete and accurate tax returns with the help of organized tax records. Organized tax records also help avoid errors that lead to processing and refund delays. Taxpayers must have all tax information available before filing their tax returns. Taxpayers must inform the IRS of any address changes and the Social Security Administration of a legal name change.
Recordkeeping for individuals includes the following:
- Forms W-2 from employer(s),
- Forms 1099 from banks, issuing agencies and other payers, including unemployment compensation, dividends, distributions from a pension, annuity or retirement plan,
- Form 1099-K, 1099-MISC, W-2 or other income statement for workers in the gig economy,
- Form 1099-INT for interest received, and
- other income documents and records of virtual currency transactions.
Individuals can determine if they are eligible for deductions or credits with the help of income documents. Further, taxpayers will need their related 2021 information to reconcile their advance payments of the Child Tax Credit and Premium Tax Credit. People will also need their stimulus payment and plus-up amounts to figure and claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit if they received third Economic Impact Payments and think they qualify for an additional amount.
Further, taxpayers must secure the end of year documents, including the following:
- Letter 6419, 2021 Total Advance Child Tax Credit Payments, to reconcile advance Child Tax Credit payments,
- Letter 6475, Your 2021 Economic Impact Payment, to determine eligibility to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, and
- Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, to reconcile advance Premium Tax Credits for Marketplace coverage.
Taxpayers can securely gain entry to the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to see their payment dates and amounts through their Online Account. This information will be required to reconcile taxpayers’ advance Child Tax Credit payments with the Child Tax Credit they can claim when filing their 2021 tax returns.
Eligible individuals claiming a 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit can view their Economic Impact Payment amounts in their online account to accurately claim the credit when they file.
Those who have an Online Account may:
- see the amounts of their Economic Impact Payments,
- access Child Tax Credit Update Portal for information regarding their advance Child Tax Credit payments,
- approve or reject authorization requests from their tax professional, and
- update their email address and opt-out/in for selected paper notice preferences.
The IRS has informed that individuals may want to consider adjusting their withholding if they owed taxes or received a large refund the previous year. Individuals can help avoid a tax bill or let individuals keep more money every payday by changing withholding. Some reasons for adjusting withholding might be marriage or divorce, childbirth or taking on a second job. Taxpayers may complete a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate, every year and when personal or financial situations change.
Further, individuals should make quarterly estimated tax payments if they receive a substantial amount of non-wage income like self-employment income, investment income, taxable Social Security benefits and in some instances, pension and annuity income. The due date for 2021 is January 18, 2022.
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) will expire on December 31, 2021 if it was not included on a U.S. federal tax return at least once for tax years 2018, 2019 and 2020. The IRS has reminded taxpayers that ITINs with middle digits 70 through 88 have expired. Further, ITINs with middle digits 90 through 99, IF assigned before 2013, have expired. Individuals are not required to renew again if they previously submitted a renewal application that was approved.
Individuals can access their refund faster than a paper check with the help of direct deposit. Taxpayers without a bank account can learn how to open an account at an FDIC-Insured bank or through the National Credit Union Locator Tool. Veterans can visit the Veterans Benefits Banking Program to access financial services at participating banks.
IRS Certified Volunteers
The IRS has encouraged people to join the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs to prepare a free tax return for eligible taxpayers.
All members of the G20 on October 30 endorsed a global corporate minimum tax rate of 15 percent in an effort to eliminate countries slashing corporate tax rates and creating tax shelters to attract large multinational corporations.
All members of the G20 on October 30 endorsed a global corporate minimum tax rate of 15 percent in an effort to eliminate countries slashing corporate tax rates and creating tax shelters to attract large multinational corporations.
The agreement comes on the heels of an international agreement in October among 136 of the 140 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members, that featured two pillars. Under Pillar One, taxing rights will be reallocated to market jurisdictions to ensure that market economies receive tax revenue even in locations where large multinational enterprises (MNEs) lack a physical presence. MNEs with global sales above 20 billion euro and profitability above 10 percent will be covered by the new rules, with 25 percent of profit above the 10 percent threshold to be reallocated to market jurisdictions.
Pillar Two introduces the global minimum corporate tax rate set at 15 percent, which applies to companies with revenue above 750 million euro.
Each country will need to ratify the tax within its own governing structure.
"The final political agreement as set out in the Statement on a Two-Pillar Solution to Address the Tax Challenges Arising from the Digitalisation of the Economy and in the Detailed Implementation Plan, released by the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) on October 8, is a historic achievement through which we will establish a more stable and fairer international tax system," the final Rome Declaration states. "We call on the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS to swiftly develop the model rules and multilateral instruments as agreed in the Detailed Implementation Plan, with a view to ensure that the new rules will come into effect at global level in 2023."
Tax To Generate $60 Billion Annually for U.S.
A White House spokesperson said October 29 ahead of the formal G20 endorsement that the 15 percent global corporate minimum tax would generate at least $60 billion annually. The tax has been proposed as part of the current version of the Build Back Better Act ( H.R. 5376) as a key revenue generator that will help offset the $1.75 trillion in new spending that is included in the legislation. The House Rules Committee is in the process of reviewing that legislation as the last stop before the bill advances to the lower chamber of Congress for consideration, something that could happen as early as the week of November 1.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said at a November 1 press conference that while the agreed upon global corporate minimum tax rate was set at 15 percent, it could conceivably go higher, although she does not expect it to.
Individual countries "may choose themselves to establish a higher tax, but I expect many countries to adopt a 15 percent tax," Yellen said, adding that there is nothing that makes 15 percent represents a fixed percentage, a minimum or even a ceiling. " I don't think that there's broad agreement on that. It works for many countries, and I don't think that that's something that is going to be reconsidered as a as a global minimum."
In a case of first impression, the Tax Court retained jurisdiction over a petition for redetermination with respect to a whistleblower's claim for an award after the petitioner’s death.
In a case of first impression, the Tax Court retained jurisdiction over a petition for redetermination with respect to a whistleblower's claim for an award after the petitioner’s death. The informant filed a claim for an award with the IRS Whistleblower Office (WBO) for naming multiple target taxpayers. The WBO denied the claim and the informant appealed the determination to the Tax Court under Code Sec. 7623(b)(4). The informant died after filing the petition, but before the trial. Moreover, the informant's claim with respect to two of the target taxpayers was pending before the Tax Court prior to the petitioner’s death.
Litigation Post-Death of Informant
The counsel for the informant filed a motion to substitute the informant's estate in order to continue to prosecute the informant's claim after his death. At trial, the Tax Court stated that its jurisdiction over a petition filed under Code Sec. 7623(b)(4) was not extinguished by the death of the informant because the WBO reached a final determination and a petition was filed. Further, the informant's claim survived his death and his estate had standing to be substituted as the petitioner.
An S corporation’s disposition of a major league baseball team was a disguised sale to a newly formed partnership.
An S corporation’s disposition of a major league baseball team was a disguised sale to a newly formed partnership. The taxpayer had formed the partnership, with a renowned family, where the taxpayer contributed the major league baseball team and related assets and the family contributed cash. Subsequently, the partnership then distributed cash to the taxpayer (the transaction) which represented a "disguised sale" which was taxable under Code Sec. 707. Further, the IRS had issued a notice of deficiency to the taxpayer and a notice of final partnership administrative adjustment (FPAA) as to the partnership for the tax year at issue. The IRS claimed that since the debt funded by the family was not bona fide debt, it was supposed to be disregarded for purposes of the debt-financed distribution rule. The taxpayer argued that the transaction was a disguised sale but that the distribution to the taxpayer was not taxable because it was a debt-financed distribution. Moreover, the taxpayer contended that it should be allocated to the debt because it bore the economic risk of loss on account of its guaranties. However, the IRS contended that the possibility of the taxpayer being called on to fulfill the guaranties was so remote it they should be disregarded.
Whether the Sub Debt was Bona Fide Debt or Equity
The parties disputed whether the amount of sub debt which the partnership borrowed from a finance company was bona fide debt and therefore a partnership liability. The factors which determined the same (the Dixie Dairies factors), such as: 1) presence or absence of a fixed maturity date; (2) names given to the certificates evidencing the indebtedness; (3) source of payments; (4) right to enforce payments; (5) participation rights; (6) status of the advances in relation to regular corporate creditors; (7) intent of the parties weighs strongly toward equity; (8) identity of interest between creditor and stockholder; (9) ‘thinness’ of capital structure in relation to debt; (10) ability of the corporation to obtain credit from outside sources; (11) use to which the advances were put; (12) failure of the debtor to repay; and (13) risk, all strongly favored that the sub-debt was equity. Because the sub debt was equity, it was not allowed to be allocated to the taxpayer as recourse debt.
Allocation of Partnership Liabilities
The economic substance of the transaction was a disguised sale with a debt-financed distribution, a structure contemplated by both the statute and the regulations. Moreover, under the constructive liquidation test, the taxpayer bore the risk of economic loss for the senior debt. According to the terms of the taxpayer’s guaranty of the senior debt, the taxpayer was obligated to pay when the partnership failed to make a payment and the debt was accelerated, the creditors had exhausted their remedies, and the creditors had failed to collect the full amount of the debt. Therefore, the senior debt guaranty was a nontaxable debt-financed distribution. Finally, the amount of expenses, in the form of legal expenses, paid by the taxpayer to a group of potential buyers, was required to be capitalized.
There are a number of advantages for starting a Roth IRA account, the most important being that all the investment earnings grow tax-free, and qualified distributions are tax-free. Additionally, you can continue to make contributions to your Roth after you turn 70 ½ and are not subject to the required minimum distribution rules. Currently, only individuals who have a modified adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $100,000 and/or who do not file their return as "married filing separately" can convert their traditional IRA to a Roth.
However, beginning in 2010, everyone, no matter what their income level or filing status, will be able to have a Roth IRA. The question that remains to determine is when you should convert, if at all.
Spreading out your tax liability
A conversion is treated as a taxable distribution, but is not subject to the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. However, taxpayers who convert to a Roth IRA in 2010 (and 2010, only) have the ability to pay taxes on the converted amount ratably over two years, in 2011 and 2012. Therefore, if you convert to a Roth in 2009, you must recognize the entire converted amount in income on your 2009 tax return.
Changes for 2010
In 2010, the $100,000 modified AGI cap that has prevented many individuals from converting from their traditional IRA to a Roth, is completely eliminated. Moreover, the filing status limitation will also be done away with, meaning that married couples filing separately will be able to convert to a Roth IRA as well. However, all other rules continue to apply, and any amount you convert to a Roth IRA will still be taxed as ordinary income at your marginal tax rate. The exception for 2010, of course is that you will have the choice of recognizing the conversion income in 2010 or averaging it over 2011 and 2012.
Example 1. You have $28,000 in a traditional IRA, which consists of deductible contributions and earnings. In 2010, you convert the entire amount to a Roth IRA. You do not take any distributions in 2010. As a result of the conversion, you have $28,000 in gross income. Unless you elect otherwise, $14,000 of the income is included in income in 2011 and $14,000 is included in income in 2012.
Example 2. On the other hand, if you currently meet the AGI and filing status requirements to convert to a Roth IRA (that is, your AGI for 2009 will be less than $100,000 and your filing status is not "married filing separately" you can also convert this year. But, you will recognize all the conversion income in 2009 instead of having it spread over two years. Therefore, if in the example above you convert the entire $28,000 to a Roth IRA in 2009, you will pay tax on the entire $28,000 conversion amount in 2009.
Taking advantage of lower tax rates
Currently, the income tax rates are at a historic low. But these rates are scheduled to revert to previously higher levels (and rise further for some taxpayers) after 2010. The Obama administration has proposed extending the lower individual marginal income tax rates but raising the two highest income tax brackets to 36- and 39.6-percent after 2010. This should be considered in your decision of when (and if) to convert to a Roth in 2010, or now in order to take advantage of the lower income tax rates, especially if you expect to be in one of the two highest income tax brackets after 2010.
Conversions in years after 2010 will be included in your income during the tax year in which you completed the conversion to a Roth IRA. While deferring tax is a traditional and beneficial part of tax planning, if you convert in 2010 the tax will be spread out ratably in 2011 and 2012, and therefore taxed at the rates in effect for 2011 and 2012 (which as mentioned could be higher for some taxpayers). Thus, if income tax rates go up, which they are anticipated to do, you may end up paying much more tax. Therefore, if you do not want to take this chance that your income rate will be higher in 2011 and 2012, you may want to elect to pay the full tax on the Roth conversion in your 2010 income tax return, at 2010 income tax rates.
So why would you accelerate a conversion? If you believe your IRA assets are currently valued on the low side, you might opt for a conversion if you are below the $100,000 AGI level for 2009. This reduces your tax liability on the conversion. Similarly, if you converted within the past year and the value of the assets has declined since then, you can elect to "undo" the conversion. Otherwise, you will have paid tax on the conversion when the assets were at a higher value.
Undoing the conversion later
If you convert to a Roth IRA, but later change your mind, you have until Oct. 15 of the year after the year of conversion to undue the transaction and go back to your traditional IRA. For example, if you convert in 2009, you will generally have until October 15, 2010 to recharacterize the transaction. However, to do this you must have filed your individual tax return by the normal filing deadline (April 15, generally) or if you obtained an extension, the extension due date.
For example, if the value of your Roth drastically declines after the conversion, and leaves you essentially with a Roth IRA value that is even less than the tax you paid to convert, this would be a good reason to undo the transaction. Recharacterizing the conversion would undo the tax consequences and therefore you'd get back the tax you paid on the larger amount that was converted to the Roth IRA.
Can you afford the conversion tax?
You will have to pay a conversion tax on the transaction, which can be a significant sum. In spite of all the advantages of a Roth IRA, a conversion is generally advisable if you can readily pay the tax generated in the year of the conversion. If the tax is paid out of a distribution from the converted IRA, that amount is also taxed; and if the distribution counts as an early withdrawal, it is also subject to an additional 10 percent penalty. For those planning to convert who may not already have the funds available, saving now in a regular bank or brokerage account to cover the amount of the tax in 2010 can return an unusually high yield if it enables a Roth IRA conversion in 2010 that might not otherwise take place.Determining whether to convert to a Roth IRA can be a complicated decision to make, as it raises a host of tax and financial questions. Please call our offices if you have any questions about the Roth IRA conversion opportunity.
Individuals who have been "involuntarily terminated" from employment may be eligible for a temporary subsidy to help pay for COBRA continuation coverage. The temporary assistance is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (2009 Recovery Act), and is aimed at helping individuals who have lost their jobs in our troubled economy. However, not every individual who has lost his or her job qualifies for the COBRA subsidy. This article discusses what qualifies as "involuntary termination" for purposes of the temporary COBRA subsidy.
The 2009 Recovery Act temporarily allows individuals involuntarily terminated from their employment between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009 to elect to pay 35 percent of their COBRA coverage and be treated as having paid the full amount. In most cases, the former employer pays the remaining 65 percent of the premium and is reimbursed by claiming a payroll tax credit.
Some individuals who are "qualified beneficiaries" may also be eligible for the COBRA subsidy. They include spouses and dependent children. However, domestic partners generally do not qualify for the COBRA subsidy.
The COBRA subsidy is excludable from gross income. However, individuals with modified adjusted gross incomes (MAGI) between $125,000 and $145,000 ($250,000 and $290,000 for married couples filing jointly) must repay part of the subsidy. For individuals with MAGI exceeding $145,000 and married couples with MAGI exceeding $290,000, the full amount of the subsidy must be repaid as additional tax.
The COBRA subsidy applies as of the first period of coverage starting on or after February 17, 2009 (the effective date of the 2009 Recovery Act). For most plans this was March 1, 2009. The subsidy is available for nine months. However, the nine-month subsidy period may end earlier if the individual becomes eligible for Medicare or another group health plan (such as one sponsored by a new employer).
One of the most important questions for purposes of the COBRA subsidy is what is involuntary termination? The IRS has explained that involuntary termination is severance from employment due to an employer's unilateral authority to terminate the employment. However, the IRS stresses that whether an involuntary termination has occurred depends on all the facts and circumstances.
Involuntary termination can also occur when an employer:
- Declines to renew an employee's contract;
- Furloughs an employee;
- Reduces an employee's time to zero hours;
- Tells an employee to "resign or be fired;"
- Relocates its office or plant and an employee declines to relocate; or
- Locks out its employees.
Moreover, individuals involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008 and February 18, 2009, but who declined COBRA coverage, have a second chance under the 2009 Recovery Act. They may be eligible to re-elect COBRA coverage and receive the subsidy.
COBRA continuation coverage and the subsidy are generally unavailable to employees of small businesses (businesses with 20 or fewer employees). However, some states have mini-COBRA laws that extend COBRA continuation coverage and the subsidy to workers at small businesses. COBRA continuation coverage and the subsidy are also unavailable if the employer terminates its health plan.
If you would like to know more about the COBRA premium subsidy, please contact out offices. We can help determine your eligibility for this assistance.
While the past year has not been stellar for most investors, the tax law in many instances can step in to help salvage some of your losses by offsetting both present and future taxable gains and other income. Knowing how net capital gains and losses are computed, and how carryover capital losses may be used to maximum tax advantage, should form an important part of an investor's portfolio management program during these challenging times.
Net capital losses
Capital assets yield short-term gains or losses if the holding period is one year or less, and long-term gains or losses if the holding period exceeds one year. The excess of net long-term gains over net short-term losses is net capital gain.
Short-term capital losses, including short-term capital loss carryovers, are applied first against short-term capital gains. If the losses exceed the gains the net short-term capital loss is applied first against any net long-term capital gain from the 28-percent group (collectibles), then against the 25-percent group (recapture property), and last against the 15- (or zero) percent group. Long-term capital losses are similarly netted and then applied against the most highly taxed net gains that a taxpayer has.
If an investor's capital losses exceed capital gains for the year, he or she may offset losses against ordinary income to the extent of the lesser of: the excess capital loss; or $3,000 ($1,500 for married persons filing separate returns). Although several bills have been introduced to raise these dollar levels, which have not been adjusted for inflation for decades, none has yet to see the light of day.
Individuals may carry net capital losses to future tax years but not back to prior years. There is no limit on the number of years to which net capital losses may be carried over as there is with corporate taxpayers. Short-term and long-term capital losses are carried forward and retain their character. Capital loss carryovers that originate in several years are applied in the order in which incurred.
Dividend offsets. While qualified dividends are taxed at the net capital gains rate, they do not take part in the general computation of net capital gains and, therefore, are not reduced by capital losses, either in the same year or in carried forward years. Although your overall portfolio may have experienced a loss for the year, you must still pay tax on your dividend income.
If you need any advice on how to structure your portfolio over the next year to take advantage of current losses while protecting future gains from as much income tax as possible, please do not hesitate to call this office.
The IRS has released the numbers behind its activities from October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2008 in a publication called the 2008 IRS Data Book. This annually released information provides statistics on returns filed, taxes collected, and the IRS's enforcement efforts.
For example, the IRS reported that its examinations totaled over 1.54 million during FY 2008, or 0.8 percent of the total returns filed during the previous calendar year. This amount was a 0.65-percent drop from returns examined during FY 2007. Of all the returns examined, a little over one-percent were individual income tax returns, a 0.507-percent increase from FY 2007.
Within the category of individual income tax returns, the IRS examined 0.93-percent less taxpayers with under $200,000 of total positive income than the previous year; i.e. a total of all sources of income, excluding losses. This figure increased by 33.23-percent for taxpayers with total positive income between $200,000 and $1 million, but decreased by 30.3-percent for individuals with total positive income over $1 million from the previous year. Also, for the first time, the IRS delineated examination percentages during FY 2008 for individual income tax returns according to adjusted gross income as follows:
Adjusted Gross Income
Percent of All 2007 Returns Filed
No adjusted gross income
$1 - $25,000
$25,000 - $50,000
$50,000 - $75,000
$75,000 - $100,000
$100,000 - $200,000
$200,000 - $500,000
$500,000 - $1,000,000
$1,000,000 - $5,000,000
$5,000,000 - $10,000,000
$10,000,000 or more
Decreased Tax Collection
The IRS also reported that, while it received over $2.7 trillion in gross collections during the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008, its net tax collections (after refunds) actually decreased by 3.34-percent from FY 2007. The IRS distributed more than 237 million total refunds in FY 2008 with over 118 million going to individual tax payers. Total FY 2008 tax refunds rose to over $425 billion, while over $270 billion (63.52-percent) alone went to individual filers. The IRS also reported that $95.7 billion in economic stimulus payments were made during the year, as mandated by the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008.
One major reason for these large refunds was the large increase in individual income tax returns filed during FY 2008 as a result of the one-time economic stimulus payments under the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. While the number of individual income tax returns received by the IRS only increased by 3.7-percent for FY 2007, it increased 11.1-percent for FY 2008. The increase was even greater for Forms 1040NR, 1040NR-EZ, 1040PR, 1040-SS, and 1040CC; which increased by 36-percent for FY 2008 (as compared to 2.3-percent for FY 2007).
The IRS also reported that the economic stimulus payments generated an increase in electronically filed income tax returns as well. During FY 2008, taxpayers electronically filed over 101.5 million returns, 89.5 million of which were individual income tax returns. Of all individual income tax returns filed, 58-percent were filed electronically during the year.
On December 18, 2007, Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 (Mortgage Debt Relief Act), providing some major assistance to certain homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments. The centerpiece of the new law is a three-year exception to the long-standing rule under the Tax Code that mortgage debt forgiven by a lender constitutes taxable income to the borrower. However, the new law does not alleviate all the pain of all troubled homeowners but, in conjunction with a mortgage relief plan recently announced by the Treasury Department, the Act provides assistance to many subprime borrowers.
Cancellation of debt income
When a lender forecloses on property, sells the home for less than the borrower's outstanding mortgage debt and forgives all, or part, of the unpaid debt, the Tax Code generally treats the forgiven portion of the mortgage debt as taxable income to the homeowner. This is regarded as "cancellation of debt income" (reported on a Form 1099) and taxed to the borrower at ordinary income tax rates.
Example. Mary's principal residence is subject to a $250,000 mortgage debt. Her lender forecloses on the property in 2008. Her home is sold for $200,000 due to declining real estate values. The lender forgives the $50,000 difference leaving Mary with $50,000 in discharge of indebtedness income. Without the new exclusion in the Mortgage Debt Relief Act, Mary would have to pay income taxes on the $50,000 cancelled debt income.
The Mortgage Debt Relief Act
The Mortgage Debt Relief Act excludes from taxation discharges of up to $2 million of indebtedness that is secured by a principal residence and was incurred to acquire, build or make substantial improvements to the taxpayer's principal residence. While the determination of a taxpayer's principal residence is to be based on consideration of "all the facts and circumstances," it is generally the one in which the taxpayer lives most of the time. Therefore, vacation homes and second homes are generally excluded.
Moreover, the debt must be secured by, and used for, the principal residence. Home equity indebtedness is not covered by the new law unless it was used to make improvements to the home. "Cash out" refinancing, popular during the recent real estate boom, in which the funds were not put back into the home but were instead used to pay off credit card debt, tuition, medical expenses, or make other expenditures, is not covered by the new law. Such debt is fully taxable income unless other exceptions apply, such as bankruptcy or insolvency. Additionally, "acquisition indebtedness" includes refinancing debt to the extent the amount of the refinancing does not exceed the amount of the refinanced debt.
The Mortgage Debt Relief Act is effective for debt that has been discharged on or after January 1, 2007, and before January 1, 2010.
In addition to foreclosure situations, some taxpayers renegotiating the terms of their mortgage with their lender are also covered by the new law. A typical foreclosure nets a lender only about 60 cents on the dollar. When the lender determines that foreclosure is not in its best interests, it may offer a mortgage workout. Generally, in a mortgage workout the terms of the mortgage are modified to result in a lower monthly payment and thus make the loan more affordable.
Recently, Treasury Department officials brokered a plan that brings together private sector mortgage lenders, banks, and the Bush Administration to help homeowners. The plan is called HOPE NOW.
Here's how it works: The HOPE NOW plan is aimed at helping borrowers who were able to afford the introductory "teaser" rates on their adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), but will not be able to afford the loan once the rate resets between 2008 and 2010 (approximately 1.3 million ARMs are expected to reset during this period). The plan will "freeze" these borrowers' interest rates for a period of five years. The plan, however, has some limitations that exclude many borrowers. Only borrowers who are current on their mortgage payments will benefit. Borrowers already in default or who have not remained current on their mortgage payments are excluded.
Under the HOPE NOW plan, borrowers may be able t
- Refinance to a new mortgage;
- Switch to a loan insured by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA);
- Freeze their "teaser" introductory rate for five years.
Without the Mortgage Debt Relief Act, a homeowner who modifies the terms of their mortgage loan, or has their interest rate frozen for a period of time, could be subject to debt forgiveness income under the Tax Code. This is why the provision of the Mortgage Debt Relief Act excluding debt forgiveness income from a borrower's income is a critical component necessary to make the HOPE NOW plan effective.
If you would like to know more about relief under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 and the Treasury Department's plan, please call our office. We are happy to help you navigate these complicated issues.
A: If you have the money, contributing to your IRA immediately on January 1st or as soon thereafter as possible is the best strategy. The #1 advantage of an IRA is that interest or other investment income earned on the account accumulates without tax each year. The sooner the money starts working at earning tax-free income, the greater the tax advantage. With a traditional IRA, that tax advantage means no tax until you finally withdraw the money at retirement or for a qualified emergency. In the case of a Roth IRA, the tax advantage comes in the form of the investment income that is never taxed.
While the earliest date to contribute to an IRA for a current year is January 1st of that year, the latest date is 15 1/2 months later, on April 15th of the next year when your tax return is due. (Because of the weekend-next business day rule that's April 16, 2007 for 2006 tax-year contributions.)
Although you may file for an extension to file your tax return, that extension does not extend the time you have to contribute to an IRA; April 15th is the deadline. Another caveat: If you make a contribution after December 31st it will be presumed to be made for the next year unless you designate it as relating back to the year just ended. Finally, until the due date for your return, you are allowed to withdraw any IRA contribution, plus earnings on that contribution.
Soon, the recently-passed Pension Protection Act of 2006 will give you another option: designating all or a portion of your tax refund for the year to be directly deposited into your IRA account. In fact, the IRS has moved quickly to provide several refund options, already announcing that new Form 8888 will be created to give all individual filers the ability to split their refunds in up to three financial accounts, such as checking, savings and retirement accounts.
In addition to knowing when to make IRA contributions, you also need to know how much you are able to contribute and whether a traditional or a Roth IRA makes more sense. For those who are already covered by a retirement plan, restrictions on contributing to deductible IRAs must be heeded. Nondeductible and "spousal" IRAs also are options to be considered. Please call our offices if you need further guidance on any of the IRA rules. They are worth using and can grow into a substantial additional nest egg for you at retirement.
When trying to maximize retirement savings contributions, you may find you have contributed too much to your IRA. Typically, you either have too much income to qualify for a certain IRA or you can't recall what contributions you made until they are added up at tax time and you discover they were too much. There are steps you can take to correct an excess contribution.
What is an excess contribution?
An excess contribution is the amount by which your total contributions to one or more IRAs exceed the applicable dollar limit for the tax year. For tax years 2005 through 2007, the maximum annual combined contribution to a taxpayer's traditional IRAs and Roth IRA is $4,000. For those 50 years or older, an additional $500 is allowed in 2005, and $1,000 for 2006 and subsequent years.
Your total contributions also include any rollover contributions completed more than 60 days after a distribution is received from a qualified plan or an IRA. If you contribute more than the allowable amount to all IRAs, the excess is subject to a six percent excise tax.
The six percent tax is nondeductible. The tax applies in each subsequent year if excess is not withdrawn or eliminated by treating it as allowable contribution in a future year. The excise tax is also imposed on excess contributions to a Roth IRA. This tax is reported on Form 5329, Additional Taxes Attributable to IRAs, Other Qualified Retirement Plans, Annuities, Modified Endowment Contracts, and medical savings accounts (MSAs).
Steps to take
The IRS treats an amount distributed from an IRA to the individual making the contribution, before the due date (including extensions) of the individual's tax return, as not contributed to the IRA. If your excess contribution was made by mistake, you can avoid the excise tax on excess contributions (and premature withdrawals) by withdrawing the contribution and any earnings on the contribution, on or before the due date, including extensions, of your return.
Keep in mind that IRA contributions can only be made up to the due date of the return excluding extensions. The "corrective distribution" can be made up to the due date of the return including extensions.
If you withdraw the contribution in a timely manner, you don't have to include the contribution in your gross income if no deduction is allowed and the interest attributable to the contribution is returned. The interest, however, must be included in your income for the year the contribution was made.
It's very important that you make certain that contributions to your IRA do not exceed the allowable limits. Otherwise, you could be paying the six percent excise tax. Fortunately, there are remedies. If you discover that you have over-contributed to your IRA, please contact our office immediately. We can help you correct your excess contribution.