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Tax Alerts
September 22, 2020
Tax Briefing(s)

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has urged the IRS and Treasury in an August 12 letter to issue guidance on President Trump’s payroll tax deferral memorandum. The executive action signed by the president on August 8 instructs Treasury to defer the collection and payment of payroll taxes from September 1 through years-end for eligible employees.


The IRS has released final regulations that address the interaction of the $10,000/$5,000 cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction and charitable contributions. The regulations include:

  • a safe harbor for individuals who have any portion of a charitable deduction disallowed due to the receipt of SALT benefits;
  • a safe harbor for business entities to deduct certain payments made to a charitable organization in exchange for SALT benefits; and
  • application of the quid pro quo principle under Code Sec. 170 to benefits received or expected to be received by the donor from a third party.

The IRS has issued final regulations regarding the limitation for the business interest expense deduction under Code Sec. 163(j), including recent legislative amendments made for the 2019 and 2020 tax years. Also, a safe harbor has been proposed allowing taxpayers managing or operating residential living facilities to qualify as a real property trade or business for purposes of the limitation. In addition, new proposed regulations are provided for a number of different areas.


The IRS has issued proposed regulations that implement the "carried interest" rules under Code Sec. 1061 adopted by Congress as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 ( P.L. 115-97). Some key aspects of the lengthy proposed regulations include the definition of important terms, how the rules work in the context of tiered passthrough structures, the definition of "substantial" services provided by the carried interest holder, and the level of activity required for a business to meet the definition of an "applicable trade or business."


The Treasury and the IRS have issued temporary and proposed regulations to:

  • reconcile advance payments of refundable employment tax credits provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act) ( P.L. 116-127) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136), and
  • recapture the benefit of the credits when necessary.

The IRS has provided guidance on the special rules relating to funding of single-employer defined benefit pension plans, and related benefit limitations, under Act Sec. 3608 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (P.L. 116-136). The guidance clarifies application of the extended contribution deadline, and the optional use of the prior year’s adjusted funding target attainment percentage (AFTAP), with examples.


The IRS has released proposed regulations that implement new Code Sec. 7602(f), which bars non-government persons who are hired by the IRS from questioning a witness under oath whose testimony was obtained pursuant to a summons issued under Code Sec. 7602. The regulations prohibit any IRS contractors from asking a summoned person’s representative to clarify an objection or assertion of privilege. The IRS has also withdrawn a notice of proposed rulemaking ( NPRM REG-132434-17) that contained proposed rules addressing the participation of persons described under Code Sec. 6103(n) in the interview of a summoned witness and excluding certain non-government attorneys from participating in an IRS examination.


Proposed regulations adopt the post-2017 simplified accounting rules for small businesses.


The IRS has modified two safe harbor explanations in Notice 2018-74, 2018-40 I.R.B. 529, that can be used to satisfy the requirement under Code Sec. 402(f) that certain information be provided to recipients of eligible rollover distributions. The modifications were necessary due to recent changes in law made by the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act). One safe harbor explanation is for payments not from a designated Roth account, and the other is for payments from a designated Roth account. The Code Sec. 402(f) notice may be provided as many as 180 days before the date on which the distribution is made (or the annuity starting date).


The IRS has reminded taxpayers that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136) can provide favorable tax treatment for withdrawals from retirement plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Under the CARES Act, individuals eligible for coronavirus-related relief may be able to withdraw up to $100,000 from IRAs or workplace retirement plans before December 31, 2020, if their plans allow. In addition to IRAs, this relief applies to 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, profit-sharing plans and others.


The Treasury and IRS have issued final and proposed regulations under the global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) and subpart F provisions for the treatment of high-taxed income. The final regulations provide guidance on determining the type of high-taxed income that is eligible for the exclusion (the "GILTI high-tax exclusion" or GILTI HTE).


If you use your car for business purposes, you may have learned that keeping track and properly logging the variety of expenses you incur for tax purposes is not always easy. Practically speaking, how often and how you choose to track expenses associated with the business use of your car depends on your personality; whether you are a meticulous note-taker or you simply abhor recordkeeping. However, by taking a few minutes each day in your car to log your expenses, you may be able to write-off a larger percentage of your business-related automobile costs.

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Under the so-called "kiddie tax," a minor under the age of 19 (or a student under the age of 24) who has certain unearned income exceeding a threshold amount will have the excess taxed at his or her parents' highest marginal tax rate. The "kiddie tax" is intended to prevent parents from sheltering income through their children.

The alternative minimum tax (AMT) is imposed on corporations in an amount by which the tentative minimum tax exceeds the regular income tax for the taxable year. The purpose of the AMT is to prevent taxpayers with substantial economic income from avoiding all tax liability through the use of exclusions, deductions and credits. Without the AMT, corporate taxpayers could significantly reduce their tax income through tax benefits under the regular tax structure, to the point of such reduction being unfair and unintended by Congress.

With the subprime mortgage mess wreaking havoc across the country, many homeowners who over-extended themselves with creative financing arrangements and exotic loan terms are now faced with some grim tax realities. Not only are they confronted with the overwhelming possibility of losing their homes either voluntarily through selling at a loss or involuntarily through foreclosure, but they must accept certain tax consequences for which they are totally unprepared.

These days, both individuals and businesses buy goods, services, even food on-line. Credit card payments and other bills are paid over the internet, from the comfort of one's home or office and without any trip to the mailbox or post office.

If you own a vacation home, you may be considering whether renting the property for some of the time could come with big tax breaks. More and more vacation homeowners are renting their property. But while renting your vacation home can help defray costs and provide certain tax benefits, it also may raise some complex tax issues.

Fringe benefits have not only become an important component of employee compensation, they also have a large financial impact on an employer's business. Fringe benefits are non-compensation benefits provided by an employer to employees. Unless they fall within one of the specific categories of tax-exempt fringe benefits, however, are taxable to employees.

In order to be tax deductible, compensation must be a reasonable payment for services. Smaller companies, whose employees frequently hold significant ownership interests, are particularly vulnerable to IRS attack on their compensation deductions.


A lump-sum of social security benefits is usually included in gross income for the year in which it is received. However, a recipient may choose to include in gross income the total amount of benefits that would have been included in gross income in the appropriate year if the payments had been received when due.

Non-cash incentive awards, such as merchandise from a local retailer given to its employees or vacation trips offered to the employee team member who contributes the most to a special project, are a form of supplemental wages and are subject to most of the reporting and withholding requirements of other forms of compensation that employees receive. There are, however, special rules for calculating and timing withholding, as well as exceptions for de minimis awards and "length of service" awards.

There are tax benefits for which you may be eligible if you are paying education expenses for yourself or an immediate member of your family. In the rush to claim one of two education tax credits or the higher-education expense deduction, IRS statistics indicate that a more modest yet still significant tax break is often being overlooked: the higher education student-loan interest deduction.

More third-party reporting is coming. Treasury, Congress, and the IRS are all entertaining proposals to require the reporting of income that currently does not have to be reported to the IRS. IRS National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson reports that there are 45 million taxpayers who have a small business or are self-employed. She reports that not all of them have professional help, and that the IRS is not adequately helping them.

A major repair to a business vehicle is usually deductible in the year of the repair as a "maintenance and repair" cost if your business uses the actual expense method of deducting vehicle expenses. If your business vehicle is written off under the standard mileage rate method, your repair and maintenance costs are assumed to be built into that standard rate and no further deduction is allowed.

Although you may want your traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to keep accumulating tax-free well into your old age, the IRS sets certain deadlines. The price for getting an upfront deduction when contributing to a traditional IRA (or having a rollover IRA) is that Uncle Sam eventually starts taxing it once you reach 70½. The required minimum distribution (RMD) rules under the Internal Revenue Code accomplish that.

Businesses benefit from many tax breaks. If you are in business with the objective of making a profit, you can generally claim all your business deductions. If your deductions exceed your income for the year, you can claim a loss for the year, up to the amount of your income from other activities. Remaining losses can be carried over into other years.

Payroll tax" is a blanket term used to address the combination of social security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and state and federal income taxes withheld by an employer from an employee's wages. In addition to withholding these taxes at the time of payment of wages, employers are also required to pay most of the taxes on their own behalves, deposit the taxes with appropriate government depositories, report withholding activities to the government, and keep appropriate records.

No, taxpayers may destroy the original hardcopy of books and records and the original computerized records detailing the expenses of a business if they use an electronic storage system.

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