Certified Public Accountants & Financial Advisors

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2020 SOCIAL SECURITY, WITHHOLDING AND CERTAIN OTHER CHANGES


The IRS has released new proposed rules related to charitable contributions made to get around the $10,000/$5,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions. The proposed regulations:


Final regulations provide rules on the attribution of ownership of stock or other interests, for determining whether a person is a related person with respect to a controlled foreign corporation (CFC) under the foreign base company sales income rules. The regulations also provide rules to determine whether a CFC receives rents in the active conduct of a trade or business, for determining the exception from foreign personal holding company income.


The IRS has issued final and proposed regulations implementing the base erosion and anti-abuse tax (BEAT) under Code Sec. 59A. The BEAT is a minimum tax that certain large corporations must pay on certain payments made to foreign related parties, and was added by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ( P.L. 115-97).


The IRS has issued highly anticipated final regulations on the significant changes made to the foreign tax credit rules by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97). The final regulations retain the basic approach and structure of the 2018 proposed regulations ( NPRM REG-105600-18). The final regulations also eliminate deadwood, reflect statutory amendments made prior to TCJA, and update expense allocation rules not updated since 1988.


The IRS has released guidance that provides that the requirement to report partners’ shares of partnership capital on the tax basis method will not be effective for 2019 partnership tax years, but will first apply to 2020 partnership tax years.


The IRS has released final regulations that present guidance on how certain organizations that provide employee benefits must calculate unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) under Code Sec. 512(a).


The IRS has issued Reg. §20.2010-1(c) to address the effect of the temporary increase in the basic exclusion amount (BEA) used in computing estate and gift taxes. In addition, Reg. §20.2010-1(e)(3) is amended to reflect the increased BEA for years 2018-2025 ($10 million, as adjusted for inflation). Further, the IRS has confirmed that taxpayers taking advantage of the increased BEA in effect from 2018 to 2025 will not be adversely affected after 2025 when the exclusion amount is set to decrease to pre-2018 levels.


The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has released a report on suitability checks for participation in IRS programs. TIGTA initiated this audit to assess the effectiveness of IRS processes to ensure the suitability of applicants seeking to participate in IRS programs and to follow up on IRS planned corrective actions to address prior TIGTA recommendations.


Last year’s Tax Reform created a new 20-percent deduction of qualified business income for passthrough entities, subject to certain limitations. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97) created the new Code Sec. 199A passthrough deduction for noncorporate taxpayers, effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017. However, the provision was enacted only temporarily through 2025. The controversial deduction has remained a buzzing topic of debate among lawmakers, tax policy experts, and stakeholders. In addition to its impermanence, the new passthrough deduction’s ambiguous statutory language has created many questions for taxpayers and practitioners.


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.


The IRS has issued temporary regulations (T.D. 9780) that explain how a partnership can opt in to the new partnership audit regime that was enacted in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA). As enacted, the new audit rules will apply to partnership returns filed for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017. However, the new law allows partnerships to elect to apply the new audit regime to a return filed for a partnership tax year beginning after November 2, 2015 (the date of enactment of the BBA) and before January 1, 2018. A tax year within this period is identified as an “eligible tax year.”


The IRS expects to receive more than 150 million individual income tax returns this year and issue billions of dollars in refunds. That huge pool of refunds drives scam artists and criminals to steal taxpayer identities and claim fraudulent refunds. The IRS has many protections in place to discover false returns and refund claims, but taxpayers still need to be proactive.


An employer must withhold income taxes from compensation paid to common-law employees (but not from compensation paid to independent contractors). The amount withheld from an employee's wages is determined in part by the number of withholding exemptions and allowances the employee claims. Note that although the Tax Code and regulations distinguish between withholding exemptions and withholding allowances, the terms are interchangeable. The amount of reduction attributable to one withholding allowance is the same as that attributable to one withholding exemption. Form W-4 and most informal IRS publications refer to both as withholding allowances, probably to avoid confusion with the complete exemption from withholding for employees with no tax liability.


Estimated tax is used to pay tax on income that is not subject to withholding or if not enough tax is being withheld from a person's salary, pension or other income. Income not subject to withholding can include dividends, capital gains, prizes, awards, interest, self-employment income, and alimony, among other income items. Generally, individuals who do not pay at least 90 percent of their tax through withholding must estimate their income tax liability and make equal quarterly payments of the "required annual payment" liability during the year.


The tax rules surrounding the dependency exemption deduction on a federal income tax return can be complicated, with many requirements involving who qualifies for the deduction and who qualifies to take the deduction. The deduction can be a very beneficial tax break for taxpayers who qualify to claim dependent children or other qualifying dependent family members on their return. Therefore, it is important to understand the nuances of claiming dependents on your tax return, as the April 18 tax filing deadline is just around the corner.