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Tax Alerts
October 27, 2020
Tax Briefing(s)

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.


If you converted your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA earlier this year, incurred a significant amount of tax liability on the conversion, and then watched as the value of your Roth account plummeted amid the market turmoil, you may want to consider undoing the conversion. You can void or significantly lower your tax bill by recharacterizing the conversion, then reconverting your IRA back to a Roth at a later date. Careful timing in using the strategy, however, is essential.

With the economic downturn taking its toll on almost all facets of everyday living, from employment to personal and business expenditures, your business may be losing money as well. As a result, your business may have a net operating loss (NOL). Although no business wants to suffer losses, there are tax benefits to having an NOL for tax purposes. Moreover, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 temporarily enhances certain NOL carryback rules.

You have carefully considered the multitude of complex tax and financial factors, run the numbers, meet the eligibility requirements, and are ready to convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The question now remains, however, how do you convert your IRA?

In a period of declining stock prices, tax benefits may not be foremost in your mind. Nevertheless, you may be able to salvage some benefits from the drop in values. Not only can you reduce your taxable income, but you may be able to move out of unfavorable investments and shift your portfolio to investments that you are more comfortable with.

The high cost of energy has nearly everyone looking for ways to conserve and save money, especially with colder weather coming to many parts of the country. One surprising place to find help is in the financial markets rescue package (the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008) recently passed by Congress. Overshadowed by the financial provisions are some very important energy tax incentives that could save you money at home and in your business.

Nonbusiness creditors may deduct bad debts when they become totally worthless (i.e. there is no chance of its repayment). The proper year for the deduction can generally be established by showing that an insolvent debtor has not timely serviced a debt and has either refused to pay any part of the debt in the future, gone through bankruptcy, or disappeared. Thus, if you have loaned money to a friend or family member that you are unable to collect, you may have a bad debt that is deductible on your personal income tax return.

With the U.S. and world financial markets in turmoil, many individual investors may be watching the value of their stock seesaw, or have seen it plummet in value. If the value of your shares are trading at very low prices, or have no value at all, you may be wondering if you can claim a worthless securities deduction for the stock on your 2008 tax return.

To ease the pain of the ever-escalating costs of healthcare, many employers provide certain tax-driven health benefits and plans to their employees. To help employers understand the differences and similarities among three popular medical savings vehicles - health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) - here's an overview.

The Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008 (2008 Housing Act) gave a boost to individuals purchasing a home for the first time with a $7,500 first-time homebuyer tax credit. The credit was enhanced from $7,500 to $8,000 and extended for certain purchases under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (2009 Recovery Act). This article explains how to determine the credit for eligible first-time homebuyers.

The IRS allows taxpayers with a charitable inclination to take a deduction for a wide range of donated items. However, the IRS does provide specific guidelines for those taxpayers contributing non-cash items, from the type of charity you can donate to in order to take a deduction to the quality of the goods you contribute and how to value them for deduction purposes. If your summer cleaning has led, or may lead, you to set aside clothes and other items for charity, and you would like to know how to value these items for tax purposes, read on.

Every year, Americans donate billions of dollars to charity. Many donations are in cash. Others take the form of clothing and household items. With all this money involved, it's inevitable that some abuses occur. The new Pension Protection Act cracks down on abuses by requiring that all donations of clothing and household items be in "good used condition or better.

When you receive cash other than the like-kind property in a like-kind exchange, the cash is treated as "boot." Boot does not render the transaction ineligible for non-recognition treatment but it does require you to recognize gain to the extent of the cash received. The same is true for other non-like-kind property. In other words, anything you receive in addition to the like-kind property, such as relief from debt from a mortgage or additional property that is not like-kind will force you to recognize the gain realized.

Ordinarily, you can deduct the fair market value (FMV) of property contributed to charity. The FMV is the price in an arm's-length transaction between a willing buyer and seller. If the property's value is less than the price you paid for it, your deduction is limited to FMV. In some cases, you must submit an appraisal with your tax return.

The AMT is difficult to apply and the exact computation is very complex. If you owed AMT last year and no unusual deduction or windfall had come your way that year, you're sufficiently at risk this year to apply a detailed set of computations to any AMT assessment. Ballpark estimates just won't work

If you pay for domestic-type services in your home, you may be considered a "domestic employer" for purposes of employment taxes. As a domestic employer, you in turn may be required to report, withhold, and pay employment taxes on a calendar-year basis. The reporting rules apply to both FICA and FUTA taxes, as well as to income taxes that domestic employees elect to have withheld from their wages. The FICA tax rate, applied separately to the employer's share and the employee's share, is 7.65 percent.

Generally, if you do volunteer work for a charity, you are not entitled to deduct the cost of services you perform for the charity. However, if in connection with the volunteer work you incur out-of-pocket expenses, you may be entitled to deduct some of those expenses.


Throughout all of our lives, we have been told that if we don't want to work all of our life, we must plan ahead and save for retirement. We have also been urged to seek professional guidance to help plan our estates so that we can ensure that our loved ones will get the most out of the assets we have accumulated during our lifetime, with the least amount possible going to pay estate taxes.  What many of us likely have not thought about is how these two financial goals -- retirement and estate planning -- work together. 


Stock options have become a common part of many compensation and benefits packages. Even small businesses have jumped on the bandwagon and now provide a perk previously confined to the executive suites of large publicly held companies. If you are an employee who has received stock options, you need to be aware of the complicated tax rules that govern certain stock options -- several potential "gotchas" exist and failing to spot them can cause major tax headaches.


Q. I am reviewing my portfolio and considering selling some of my stock. How do I determine what tax basis I have in the publicly-traded shares that I own for purposes of determining my gain or loss if I buy and sell multiple shares at different times? Does keeping track of basis really matter?


An attractive benefit package is crucial to attract and retain talented workers. However, the expense of such packages can be cost-prohibitive to a small business. Establishing a tax-advantaged cafeteria plan can be an innovative way to provide employees with additional benefits without significantly adding to the cost of your overall benefit program.


Keeping the family business in the family upon the death or retirement of the business owner is not as easy as one would think. In fact, almost 30% of all family businesses never successfully pass to the next generation. What many business owners do not know is that many problems can be avoided by developing a sound business succession plan in advance.


Probably one of the more difficult decisions you will have to make as a consumer is whether to buy or lease your auto. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of buying vs. leasing a new car or truck before you get to the car dealership can ease the decision-making process and may alleviate unpleasant surprises later.


Q. My company recently downsized its workforce and eliminated my position. I thought this would be a good opportunity to start my own consulting business in the same industry. What are some of the things I should consider before my last day on the job?


The benefits of owning a vacation home can go beyond rest and relaxation. Understanding the special rules related to the tax treatment of vacation homes can not only help you with your tax planning, but may also help you plan your vacation.


Limited liability companies (LLCs) remain one of the most popular choice of business forms in the U.S. today. This form of business entity is a hybrid that features the best characteristics of other forms of business entities, making it a good choice for both new and existing businesses and their owners.


Owning property (real or tangible) and leasing it to your business can give you very favorable tax results, not to mention good long-term benefits. There are some drawbacks, however, and you should consider all factors before structuring such an arrangement.

The decision to start your own business comes with many other important decisions. One of the first tasks you will encounter is choosing the legal form of your new business. There are quite a few choices of legal entities, each with their own advantages and disadvantages that must be taken into consideration along with your own personal tax situation.