Newsletters
Tax Alerts
November 24, 2020
Tax Briefing(s)

For 2021, the Social Security tax wage cap will be $142,800, and Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will increase by 1.3 percent. These changes reflect cost-of-living adjustments to account for inflation.


The IRS has adopted previously issued proposed regulations ( REG-106808-19) dealing with the 100 percent bonus depreciation deduction. In addition, some clarifying changes have been made to previously issued final regulations ( T.D. 9874). Changes to the proposed and earlier final regulations are largely in response to various comments submitted by practitioners, and generally relate to:


Final regulations reflect the significant changes that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97) made to the Code Sec. 274 deduction for travel and entertainment expenses. These regulations finalize, with some changes, previously released proposed regulations, NPRM REG-100814-19.


The IRS has issued a final regulation addressing tax withholding on certain periodic retirement and annuity payments under Code Sec. 3405(a), to implement amendments made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ( P.L. 115-97) (TCJA). The regulation affects payors of certain periodic payments, plan administrators that are required to withhold on such payments, and payees who receive such payments. The final regulation adopts, without modification, a proposed regulation that updated and replaced the provisions of three questions and answers with a new regulation regarding the default withholding rate on periodic payments made after December 31, 2020.


The IRS has issued final regulations that provide guidance for employers on federal income tax withholding from employees’ wages.


The Treasury and IRS have released final regulations that provide guidance for Achieve a Better Living Experience (ABLE) programs under Code Sec. 529A to help eligible individuals pay for qualified disability expenses.


The IRS has released final regulations clarifying that the following deductions allowed to an estate or non-grantor trust are not miscellaneous itemized deductions.


The IRS has issued final regulations that address the gain or loss of certain foreign persons on the sale or exchange of an interest in a partnership that is engaged in a trade or business in the United States. The regulations provide guidance on determining the amount of gain or loss treated as effectively connected income under Code Sec. 864(c)(8), as well coordination rules. The final regulations retain the basic approach and structure of the proposed regulations ( REG-113604-18) with certain revisions. Proposed regulations ( REG-105476-18) on information reporting and withholding on dispositions of these interests will be finalized at a later date.


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.