Certified Public Accountants & Financial Advisors

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2020 SOCIAL SECURITY, WITHHOLDING AND CERTAIN OTHER CHANGES


The IRS has released the 2021-2022 special per diem rates. Taxpayers use the per diem rates to substantiate certain expenses incurred while traveling away from home.


The IRS and the Treasury Department have issued guidance to employers about reporting the amount of qualified sick and family leave wages paid to employees for leave taken in 2021 on Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.


The IRS has issued temporary and proposed regulations that authorize the assessment of any erroneous refund of the COVID-19 employment tax credits which were added by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 ( P.L. 117-2). These credits for certain wages paid by employers are:



The IRS has reminded taxpayers to file their 2020 tax returns by the upcoming October 15, 2021 due date. Taxpayers must file on or before the extension deadline to avoid the penalty for filing late if they request an extension. Tax returns can still be filed through electronic filing options, such as the IRS Free File.


The IRS has reminded taxpayers to develop emergency preparedness plans due to the upcoming hurricane season and the ongoing threat of wildfires in some parts of the country. September is declared as the National Preparedness Month.


The IRS has emphasized the importance of correctly determining whether the individuals providing services to businesses were employees or independent contractors.


The IRS has allowed taxpayers to use electronic or digital signatures on certain paper forms they cannot file electronically.


The Tax Court had jurisdiction to determine the appropriate relief available to an individual who sought innocent spouse relief for two tax years at issue. Initially, the taxpayer submitted a request for innocent spouse relief for one tax year, which the IRS denied in a final determination.


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.