Certified Public Accountants & Financial Advisors

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Tax Alerts
October 27, 2020
Tax Briefing(s)

2020 SOCIAL SECURITY, WITHHOLDING AND CERTAIN OTHER CHANGES


The Treasury and IRS have issued guidance on the recent order by President Trump to defer certain employee payroll tax obligations on wages paid from September 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020. Under the guidance:


The IRS has released the 2020-2021 special per diem rates. Taxpayers use the per diem rates to substantiate the amount of ordinary and necessary business expenses incurred while traveling away from home. These special per diem rates include the special transportation industry meal and incidental expenses (M&IEs) rates, the rate for the incidental expenses only deduction, and the rates and list of high-cost localities for purposes of the high-low substantiation method. Taxpayers using the rates and list of high-cost localities provided in the guidance must comply with Rev. Proc. 2019-48, I.R.B. 2019-51, 1390.


The Treasury and IRS have issued final regulations that limit the Code Sec. 245A dividends received deduction and the Code Sec. 954(c) exception on distributions supported by certain earnings and profits not subject to the integrated international tax regime created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97). Proposed regulations and temporary regulations, issued on June 18, 2019, are adopted and removed, respectively.


Treasury has issued final and amended regulations on the rules for distributions made by terminated S corporations during the post-termination transition period (PTTP). These regulations apply after an S corporation has become a C corporation.


Final regulations clarify that the amount of the rehabilitation credit for a qualified rehabilitated building (QRB) is determined as a single credit in the year the QRB is placed in service. This is the case even though the credit is allocated ratably over a five-year period. The final regulations adopt without modification proposed regulations released earlier this year ( NPRM REG-124327-19).


The IRS has released final regulations that clarify the definition of a "qualifying relative" for purposes of various provisions for tax years 2018 through 2025. These regulations generally affect taxpayers who claim federal income tax benefits that require a taxpayer to have a qualifying relative.


The IRS has announced that Medicaid coverage of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing and diagnostic services is not minimum essential coverage for purposes of the premium tax credit under Code Sec. 36B.


The IRS has released guidance in the form of questions and answers with respect to certain provisions of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act), and the Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019 (Miners Act).


Final regulations provide additional guidance on the base erosion and anti-abuse tax (BEAT) under Code Sec. 59A. The regulations also address certain aspects of the BEAT under Code Secs. 1502 and 6031.


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.