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The House has approved two tax bills that are part of Republicans’ three-pronged "Tax Reform 2.0" package. The two measures, approved by the House on September 27, focus on retirement savings and business innovation.


The House has approved a tax bill that would make permanent tax reform’s individual and small business tax cuts enacted last December. The controversial bill is part of Republican’s three-bill "Tax Reform 2.0" package, two of which cleared the House on September 27 (see the previous story in this Issue).


Stakeholders are urging the IRS to clarify its guidance on tax reform’s new passthrough deduction. The IRS held an October 16 public hearing on proposed rules for the new Code Sec. 199Apassthrough deduction at its headquarters in Washington D.C. The IRS released the proposed regulations, REG-107892-18, on August 8.


Top Senate tax writers have introduced a bipartisan bill to prevent duplicative taxation on digital goods and services. The bill aims to establish a framework across multiple jurisdictions for taxation of digital goods and services, including electronic music, literature, and mobile apps, among other things.


The IRS has released Draft Instructions for the 2018 Form 1040. Additionally, the IRS has cautioned taxpayers that the draft instructions are subject to change. The IRS released a draft of the 2018 Form 1040 and six accompanying schedules last June.


The IRS’s new Commissioner was officially sworn in on October 1 by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. IRS Commissioner Charles "Chuck" P. Rettig will lead the implementation of tax reform enacted last December under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97).


The Senate Small Business Committee held an October 3 hearing on expanding opportunities for small businesses through the tax code. Senate lawmakers examined tax reform’s effect on small businesses and discussed witnesses’ proposals to address ambiguity in the new tax code.


Much-anticipated withholding tables for 2018 have been posted by the IRS. While the new withholding tables are designed to work with existing Forms W-4, the agency encouraged taxpayers to use its online withholding calculator to make adjustments if necessary. New Forms W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, will be released for 2019 withholding; withholding for 2018 will adapt to existing Forms W-4 already submitted by employees. Based upon the specific impact of the new tax law on their situations, some employees may wish to file a revised Form W-4 to supplement revisions to the withholding tables already being made by the IRS.


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.


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increases bonus depreciation rate to 100 percent for property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2023. The rate phases down thereafter. Used property, films, television shows, and theatrical productions are eligible for bonus depreciation. Property used by rate-regulated utilities, and property of certain motor vehicle, boat, and farm machinery retail and lease businesses that use floor financing indebtedness, is excluded from bonus depreciation.


The IRS has released the 2018 optional standard mileage rates to be used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, medical, moving and charitable purposes. Beginning on January 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup of panel truck will be:

  • 54.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (up from 53.5 cents in 2017);
  • 18 cents per mile for medical and moving expenses (up from 17 cents in 2017); and
  • 14 cents per mile for miles driven for charitable purposes (permanently set by statute at 14 cents).

Comment. A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate after using a depreciation method under Code Sec. 168 or after claiming the Code Sec. 179 deduction for that vehicle. A taxpayer may not use the business rate for more than four vehicles at a time. As a result, business owners have a choice for their vehicles: take the standard mileage rate, or “itemize” each part of the expense (gas, tolls, insurance, etc., and depreciation).


The start of a New Year presents a time to reflect on the past 12 months and, based on what has gone before, predict what may happen next. Here is a list of the top 10 developments from 2017 that may prove particularly important as we move forward into the New Year:


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act modifies Section 529 qualified tuition plans to allow the plans to distribute up to $10,000 in tuition expenses incurred during the tax year for designated beneficiaries enrolled at a public, private, or religious elementary or secondary school. Section 529 plans used to only be allowed for college tuition, up to full tuition amounts. That provision for college tuition remains the same.


Yes, conversions from regular (traditional) tax-deferred individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to Roth IRAs are still allowed after enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In fact, in some instances, such Roth conversions are more beneficial than they were prior to 2018, since the tax rates on all income, including conversion income, are now lower. However, the special rule that allows a contribution to one type of an IRA to be recharacterized as a contribution to the other type of IRA will no longer apply to a conversion contribution to a Roth IRA after 2017.


Life insurance proceeds are received tax-free. However, any interest earned on life insurance proceeds, usually referred to as its cash value, is subject to tax. Special rules apply to transfers of ownership in a life insurance policy, accelerated death benefits, and viatical settlements.


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, the $25 annual limitation per recipient on deductibility is applicable to holiday gifts, unless a statutory exceptions applies.


The IRS always urges taxpayers to pay their current tax liabilities when due, to avoid interest and penalties. Taxpayers who can’t pay the full amount are urged to pay as much as they can, for the same reason. But some taxpayers cannot pay their full tax liability by the normal April 15 deadline (April 18th in 2016 because of the intersection of a weekend and a District of Columbia holiday).


In recent years, identity theft has mushroomed and as the filing season starts, tax-related identity theft is especially prevalent. Identity thieves typically file fraudulent returns early in the filing season, before unsuspecting taxpayers file their legitimate returns. Criminals gamble that the IRS will not detect the false return and will issue a fraudulent refund.


Everyone in business must keep records. Among other things, good records will help a business prepare the business tax returns, and will support items reported on tax returns. Taxpayers also must keep their business records available for inspection by the IRS.


A business that has employees must withhold income taxes on payments to each employee. Each employee must first fill out Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, and provide it to the employer. On the form the employee can claim exemptions, such as the personal exemption or an exemption for a spouse or child, and determine the number of withholding allowances for the employee. Based on that information, the employer calculates the employee’s income tax withholding for the year.


An LLC (limited liability company) is not a federal tax entity. LLCs are organized under state law. LLCs are not specifically mentioned in the Tax Code, and there are no special IRS regulations governing the taxation of LLCs comparable to the regulations for C corporations, S corporations, and partnerships. Instead, LLCs make an election to be taxed as a particular entity (or to be disregarded for tax purposes) by following the check-the-box business entity classification regulations. The election is filed on Form 8832, Entity Classification Election. The IRS will assign an entity classification by default if no election is made. A taxpayer who doesn't mind the IRS default entity classification does not necessarily need to file Form 8832.


When starting a business or changing an existing one there are several types of business entities to choose from, each of which offers its own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the size of your business, one form may be more suitable than another. For example, a software firm consisting of one principal founder and several part time contractors and employees would be more suited to a sole proprietorship than a corporate or partnership form. But where there are multiple business members, the decision can become more complicated. One form of business that has become increasingly popular is called a limited liability company, or LLC.


The IRS has announced a new optional safe harbor method, effective for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2013, for individuals to determine the amount of their deductible home office expenses (IR-2013-5, Rev. Proc. 2013-13). Being hailed by many as a long-overdue simplification option, taxpayers may now elect to determine their home office deduction by simply multiplying a prescribed rate by the square footage of the portion of the taxpayer's residence used for business purposes.


2040 Center Stone Ct. | Columbus, GA 31904 | Office 706.323.3643 | Fax 706.323.6266