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text of final Covid-19 Senate Bill “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’’ or the ‘‘CARES Act’’.

Posted by William Byrnes on March 25, 2020


2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Professor William Byrnes and Robert Bloink provide for subscribers weekly analysis of tax issues that impact wealth managers and financial planners. Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

Final Covid-19 Text of Bill for Senate Vote [PDF Link] Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’’ or the ‘‘CARES Act’’.

Tax and Benefits sections of Final Bill described below by Senate Finance Committee (March 25, 2020)

DIVISION A – KEEPING WORKERS PAID AND EMPLOYED, HEALTH CARE SYSTEM ENHANCEMENTS, AND ECONOMIC STABILIZATION

TITLE II—ASSISTANCE FOR AMERICAN WORKERS, FAMILIES, AND BUSINESSES

Subtitle A—Unemployment Insurance Provisions

Section 2101. Short Title
This title is called the Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act

Section 2102. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
This section creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through December 31, 2020 to provide payment to those not traditionally eligible for
unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency.

Section 2103. Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations
This section provides payment to states to reimburse nonprofits, government agencies, and Indian tribes for half of the costs they incur through December 31, 2020 to pay
unemployment benefits.

Section 2104. Emergency Increase in Unemployment Compensation Benefits
This section provides an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months.

Section 2105. Temporary Full Federal Funding of the First Week of Compensable Regular Unemployment for States with No Waiting Week
This section provides funding to pay the cost of the first week of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020 for states that choose to pay recipients as soon as they become unemployed instead of waiting one week before the individual is eligible to receive benefits.

Section 2106. Emergency State Staffing Flexibility
This section provides states with temporary, limited flexibility to hire temporary staff, rehire former staff, or take other steps to quickly process unemployment claims.

Section 2107. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
This section provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020 to help those who remain unemployed after weeks of state unemployment benefits are no longer available.

Section 2108. Temporary Financing of Short-Time Compensation Payments in States with Programs in Law
This section provides funding to support “short-time compensation” programs, where employers reduce employee hours instead of laying off workers and the employees with reduced hours receive a pro-rated unemployment benefit. This provision would pay 100 percent of the costs they incur in providing this short-time compensation through December 31, 2020.

Section 2109. Temporary Financing of Short-Time Compensation Agreements
This section provides funding to support states which begin “short-time compensation” programs. This provision would pay 50 percent of the costs that a state incurs in providing short-time compensation through December 31, 2020.

Section 2110. Grants for Short-Time Compensation Programs
This section provides $100 million in grants to states that enact “short-time compensation” programs to help them implement and administer these programs.

Section 2111. Assistance and Guidance in Implementing Programs
This section requires the Department of Labor to disseminate model legislative language for states, provide technical assistance, and establish reporting requirements related to “shorttime compensation” programs.

Section 2112. Waiver of the 7-day Waiting Period for Benefits under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act
This section temporarily eliminates the 7-day waiting period for railroad unemployment insurance benefits through December 31, 2020 (to make this program consistent with the change made in unemployment benefits for states through the same period in an earlier section of this subtitle).

Section 2113. Enhanced Benefits under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act
This section provides an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient of railroad unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months (to make this program consistent with the change made in unemployment benefits for states in an earlier section of this subtitle).

Section 2114. Extended Unemployment under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act
This section provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020 to help those who remain unemployed after weeks of regular unemployment benefits are no longer available (to make this program consistent with the change made in unemployment benefits for states in an earlier section of this subtitle).

Section 2115. Funding for the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General for Oversight of Unemployment Provisions
This section provides the Department of Labor’s Inspector General with $25 million to carry out audits, investigations, and other oversight of the provisions of this subtitle.

Section 2116. Implementation
This section gives the Secretary of Labor the ability to issue operating instructions or other guidance as necessary in order to implement this subtitle, as well as allows the Department of Labor to waive Paperwork Reduction Act requirements, speeding up their ability to gather necessary information from states.

Subtitle B – Rebates and Other Individual Provisions

Section 2201. 2020 recovery rebates for individuals
All U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 married), who are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a work eligible social security number, are eligible for the full $1,200 ($2,400 married) rebate. In addition, they are eligible for an additional $500 per child. This is true even for those who have no income, as well as those whose income comes entirely from non-taxable means-tested benefit programs, such as SSI benefits.

For the vast majority of Americans, no action on their part will be required in order to receive a rebate check as IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if filed, or in the
alternative their 2018 return. This includes many low-income individuals who file a tax return in order to take advantage of the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. The rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 that a taxpayer’s income exceeds the phase-out threshold. The amount is completely phased-out for single filers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $146,500 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for joint filers with no children.

Section 2202. Special rules for use of retirement funds
Consistent with previous disaster-related relief, the provision waives the 10-percent early withdrawal penalty for distributions up to $100,000 from qualified retirement accounts for coronavirus-related purposes made on or after January 1, 2020. In addition, income attributable to such distributions would be subject to tax over three years, and the taxpayer may recontribute the funds to an eligible retirement plan within three years without regard to that year’s cap on contributions. Further, the provision provides flexibility for loans from certain retirement plans for coronavirus-related relief.

A coronavirus-related distribution is a one made to an individual: (1) who is diagnosed with COVID-19, (2) whose spouse or dependent is diagnosed with COVID-19, or (3) who experiences adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, laid off, having work hours reduced, being unable to work due to lack of child care due to COVID-19, closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by the individual due to COVID-19, or other factors as determined by the Treasury Secretary.

Section 2203. Temporary waiver of required minimum distribution rules for certain retirement plans and accounts
The provision waives the required minimum distribution rules for certain defined contribution plans and IRAs for calendar year 2020. This provision provides relief to
individuals who would otherwise be required to withdraw funds from such retirement accounts during the economic slowdown due to COVID-19.

Section 2204. Allowance of partial above the line deduction for charitable contributions
The provision encourages Americans to contribute to churches and charitable organizations in 2020 by permitting them to deduct up to $300 of cash contributions, whether they itemize their deductions or not.

Section 2205. Modification of limitations on charitable contributions during 2020
The provision increases the limitations on deductions for charitable contributions by individuals who itemize, as well as corporations. For individuals, the 50-percent of
adjusted gross income limitation is suspended for 2020. For corporations, the 10-percent limitation is increased to 25 percent of taxable income. This provision also increases the limitation on deductions for contributions of food inventory from 15 percent to 25 percent. Section 2206. Exclusion for certain employer payments of student loans The provision enables employers to provide a student loan repayment benefit to employees on a tax-free basis. Under the provision, an employer may contribute up to $5,250 annually toward an employee’s student loans, and such payment would be excluded from the employee’s income. The $5,250 cap applies to both the new student loan repayment benefit as well as other educational assistance (e.g., tuition, fees, books) provided by the employer under current law. The provision applies to any student loan payments made by an employer on behalf of an employee after date of enactment and before January 1, 2021.

Subtitle C – Business Provisions

Section 2301. Employee retention credit for employers subject to closure due to COVID-19
The provision provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by employers to employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The credit is available to employers whose (1) operations were fully or partially suspended, due to a COVID-19-related shutdown order, or (2) gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent when compared to the same quarter in the prior year.

The credit is based on qualified wages paid to the employee. For employers with greater than 100 full-time employees, qualified wages are wages paid to employees when they are not providing services due to the COVID-19-related circumstances described above. For eligible employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees, all employee wages qualify for the credit, whether the employer is open for business or subject to a shut-down order. The credit is provided for the first $10,000 of compensation, including health benefits, paid to an eligible employee. The credit is provided for wages paid or incurred from March 13, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

Section 2302. Delay of payment of employer payroll taxes
The provision allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax they otherwise are responsible for paying to the federal government with respect to their employees. Employers generally are responsible for paying a 6.2-percent Social Security tax on employee wages. The provision requires that the deferred employment tax be paid over the following two years, with half of the amount required to be paid by December 31, 2021 and the other half by December 31, 2022. The Social Security Trust Funds will be held harmless under this provision.

Section 2303. Modifications for net operating losses
The provision relaxes the limitations on a company’s use of losses. Net operating losses (NOL) are currently subject to a taxable-income limitation, and they cannot be carried back to reduce income in a prior tax year. The provision provides that an NOL arising in a tax year beginning in 2018, 2019, or 2020 can be carried back five years. The provision also temporarily removes the taxable income limitation to allow an NOL to fully offset income. These changes will allow companies to utilize losses and amend prior year returns, which will provide critical cash flow and liquidity during the COVID-19 emergency.

Section 2304. Modification of limitation on losses for taxpayers other than corporations
The provision modifies the loss limitation applicable to pass-through businesses and sole proprietors, so they can utilize excess business losses and access critical cash flow to maintain operations and payroll for their employees.

Section 2305. Modification of credit for prior year minimum tax liability of corporations
The corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT) was repealed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but corporate AMT credits were made available as refundable credits over several years, ending in 2021. The provision accelerates the ability of companies to recover those AMT credits, permitting companies to claim a refund now and obtain additional cash flow during the COVID-19 emergency.

Section 2306. Modification of limitation on business interest
The provision temporarily increases the amount of interest expense businesses are allowed to deduct on their tax returns, by increasing the 30-percent limitation to 50 percent of taxable income (with adjustments) for 2019 and 2020. As businesses look to weather the storm of the current crisis, this provision will allow them to increase liquidity with a reduced cost of capital, so that they are able to continue operations and keep employees on payroll.

Section 2307. Technical amendment regarding qualified improvement property
The provision enables businesses, especially in the hospitality industry, to write off immediately costs associated with improving facilities instead of having to depreciate those improvements over the 39-year life of the building. The provision, which corrects an error in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, not only increases companies’ access to cash flow by allowing them to amend a prior year return, but also incentivizes them to continue to invest in improvements as the country recovers from the COVID-19 emergency.

Section 2308. Temporary exception from excise tax for alcohol used to produce hand sanitizer
The provision waives the federal excise tax on any distilled spirits used for or contained in hand sanitizer that is produced and distributed in a manner consistent with guidance issued by the Food and Drug Administration and is effective for calendar year 2020

 

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Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for March 19, 2020

Posted by William Byrnes on March 20, 2020


2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

Editor’s Note: New rulings from the IRS help clarify that COVID-19 expenses can be paid by HDHPs (before the deductible has been met) and FSAs can pay for genetic testing when the information is intended to be provided to a medical professional for treatment purposes. Note that the decision on genetic testing comes in the form of a PLR that addresses some rather unique facts, so it may not be very broadly applicable. We also have a new (and regrettably timely) ruling on worthless securities.
IRS Announces HDHPs Can Pay Coronavirus Costs

The IRS announced that high deductible health plans are permitted to cover the costs associated with the coronavirus. HDHPs can cover coronavirus-related testing and equipment needed to treat the virus. Generally, HDHPs are prohibited from covering certain non-specified expenses before the covered individual’s deductible has been met. Certain preventative care expenses are excepted from this rule. HDHPs will not jeopardize their status if they pay coronavirus-related expenses before the insured has met the deductible, and the insured will remain HSA-eligible. The guidance applies only to HSA-eligible HDHPs. For more information on the rules governing HDHPs, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Tax Court Rules on Deduction

The Tax Court held that a worthless securities deduction may be permitted even if the entity that issued the securities still held some value. In a complex case involving a number of rounds of financing over several years, the court found it was reasonable to believe that a junior interest may be worthless if there are not funds to pay currently, or anticipated in the future, the senior interests. For more information on the worthless securities deduction, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Finds Health FSA Can Reimburse a Portion of Ancestry Genetic Testing

In a private letter ruling (applicable only to the taxpayer requesting the ruling), the IRS found that a portion of the ancestry genetic test could be reimbursed by the health FSA. In the redacted PLR, the IRS discussed whether the genetic testing service could be classified as medical care. The taxpayer’s goal was to provide genetic information to their healthcare provider, but it was impossible to purchase the genetic information without also purchasing the ancestry services. The IRS found that portions of the testing may be considered medical care, although ancestry reports could not be classified as reimbursable medical care. The IRS directed the taxpayer to use a “reasonable method” to allocate between medical and non-medical services. For more information on health FSAs, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its online wealth management, risk management, and international tax risk management graduate curricula for industry professionals. Apply now for Summer courses that begin May: FATCA & CRS Risk Management; International Tax Risk Management, Data, and Analytics I  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for Summer, call or fill in the form https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/

 

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Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for Financial Advisors (March 16, 2020)

Posted by William Byrnes on March 16, 2020


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its online wealth management, risk management, and international tax risk management graduate curricula for industry professionals. Apply now for Summer courses that begin May: FATCA & CRS Risk Management; International Tax Risk Management, Data, and Analytics I  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for Summer, call or fill in the form https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/

Editor’s Note: Reconciliation abounds! You need to reconcile your advance premium tax credit payments, the Supreme Court needs to reconcile the ACA without the individual mandate, and employers need to reconcile employee withholdings with the new regs.
Do you (or your clients) receive advance premium tax credit payments? If you haven’t squared them away with 2019 income levels that might delay the return. Also, with new withholding regs it’s a good idea for employers to take a second look at employee allowances.
Finally, the Supreme Court will (again) look at the constitutionality of the ACA. Recall that the last time this happened constitutionality hinged on Congress’ ability to tax, with Chief justice Roberts noting that the Aca was clearly tax legislation since the individual mandate penalty was implemented through the tax code. Now that the individual mandate has been repealed, how will the ACA fare under additional scrutiny? Tune in next year to find out!
And wash your hands!
Tax Season Tip: Failure to Reconcile Advance Premium Tax Credit Payments May Delay Returns

The IRS has released guidance reminding taxpayers who received advance payments of their premium tax credit throughout the year of their obligation to reconcile those payments with respect to their actual household income levels for 2019. Taxpayers have the option of choosing to have premium tax credits applied directly to their monthly insurance premiums. For more information on the premium tax credit, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Supreme Court to Once Again Consider ACA Viability

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments and rule on the continued constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The Court may decide whether the remainder of the ACA is constitutional absent the individual mandate. Arguments in the case are set to be heard in October, after the election, and a decision is unlikely before 2021. For more information on the individual mandate, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More
Determining the Employer’s Obligations Under the New Proposed Withholding Regulations

The regulations are clear that the employer is not required to ascertain whether the withholding allowance claimed by the employee is greater than those to which the employee is actually entitled. However, the IRS (or published guidance) may direct an employer to submit employees’ withholding certificates (or the certificates relating to groups of employees) to the IRS. Further, the IRS may notify the employer that an employee is not entitled to claim more than a certain withholding allowance. For more information on the new withholding regulations, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Posted in Pensions, Retirement Planning, Taxation | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

What will be the impact of the 2017 Tax Cuts Act, Covid-19 (coronavirus), a Zombie Apocalypse, on Estimated Tax due by April 15?

Posted by William Byrnes on March 15, 2020


If a zombie apocalypse does not emanate from the illness known as Covid-19 caused by the coronavirus, then we still need to plan for our 2020 tax payments.  It is likely that taxpayers with business or investment income will be able to reduce the 2020 quarterly estimated tax payments that will be due April 15 this year, June 15, September 15, and January 15 of 2021.  Why?

2019 was a good income year for most taxpayers earning investment and business income.  But 2020 will likely be a depressed income year, maybe even a recession (for those not eaten by zombies). Thus, estimated tax payments to avoid a penalty, generally, 90% of the tax that is estimated to be due for 2020, should be much reduced from the 2019 level paid. (Contrarian investor taxpayers that shorted the market may actually need to make higher estimated taxpayers because the contrarians are likely to have a great capital gain year).

What are the changes enacted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that, because of the coronavirus, impact 2020’s estimated tax payments?

  • A taxpayer’s ability to reduce tax because of a net operating loss (“NOL”) in 2020 has been reduced by the TCJA. An NOL resulting in 2020 cannot be applied to taxes paid in the previous two-years of 2019 and 2018 to claw those taxes back.  Before the TCJA, the NOL “carry-back” of two-years was allowed.  NOLs may still be carried forward.  Excess NOL in 2020 may be used to reduce 2021’s income and thus tax due.

However, the TCJA even modifies how much NOL may be used to reduce 2020’s taxable income.  Starting in 2018, the TCJA modified the tax law on “excess business losses” by limiting losses from all types of business for noncorporate taxpayers. An “excess business loss” is the amount of a taxpayer’s total deductions from business income that exceeds a taxpayer’s “total gross income and capital gains from business plus $250,000 for an individual taxpayer or $500,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return.”  Said another way, the business loss in 2020 is limited to a maximum of $250,000 for an individual taxpayer. Yet, the remainder does not evaporate like a vampire stabbed with a stake in the heart.  The remainder may be carried forward to 2021.  The remainder is called a “net operating loss” or NOL.

But the TCJA has another limitation for the carry forward of an NOL.  The NOL may only be used in 2021 to reduce the taxpayer’s taxable income by 80%.  The remainder NOL in 2021, if any, that resulted from 2020’s original loss and 2021’s limitation to just 80% of taxable income may again be carried forward, to 2022, yet again subject to the 80% of taxable income limitation.  The NOL may keep rolling forward indefinitely, subject to the 80% limitation until it is all used.

  • High net wealth taxpayers that generate gross receipts greater than $26 million may be subject to the TCJA’s limitation of interest expense for 2020. The TCJA included a rule that limits the amount of interest associated with a taxpayer’s business income when the taxpayer has on average annual gross receipts of more than $26 million since 2018.  The limitation does not apply to a taxpayer whose business income is generated from providing services as an employee, and a taxpayer that generates business income from real estate may elect not to have the limitation apply.

The amount of deductible business interest expense that is above a taxpayer’s business interest income is limited to 30% of the taxpayer’s adjusted taxable income (called “ATI”).  For 2020, ATI will probably be significantly lower than in 2019 and 2018. A taxpayer calculated ATI taking the year’s taxable income then reducing it by the business interest expense as if the limitation did not apply. The remaining amount is then further reduced by any net operating loss deduction; the 20% deemed deduction for qualified business income, any depreciation, amortization, or depletion deduction, and finally, any capital loss.  The business interest expense allowable for 2020 is 30% of that remainder.  The lost business income resulting from the coronavirus in 2020 may lead the remainder to be zero, and 30% of zero is zero.  Like the NOL above, the business interest expense if not usable in 2020 does not vanish. It carries forward to 2021 and each year thereafter, applying the same limitation rules each year.

  • Many taxpayers may end 2020 in a capital loss position if the stock market does not fully recover by December.  If a taxpayer’s capital losses are more than the year’s capital gains, then $3,000 of that loss may be deducted from the taxpayer’s 2020 regular income.  Remaining capital loss above the $3,000 may be carried forward to apply against 2021 income, and so on until used up.
  • The IRS may offer taxpayers more time beyond the April 15th deadline to file and pay 2019’s tax in 2020.  The filing and payment for 2019, and estimated tax for 2020, is due on or before April 15. But the IRS has indicated that it may extend that deadline.  A taxpayer may, regardless, file a request for a six-month extension on or before April 15, 2020, that is automatically granted if filed on time. But any tax owing for 2019 will still be due April 15, 2020, after which interest begins to be charged by the IRS to the taxpayer’s tax debt.   Check the IRS website here for whether, because of the coronavirus, it has extended the payment deadline beyond April 15, 2020.  Can the IRS extend the deadline, legally? Yes. Because Congress enacted a section of the Internal Revenue Code (our tax law) “§ 7508A” which is aptly named “Authority to postpone certain deadlines by reason of Presidentially declared disaster or terroristic or military actions”.  The President declared an official national emergency (see here).
  • Taxpayers are not required to exhaust the deductible required by a high-deductible health plan (called “HDHP”) before using the HDHP to pay for COVID-19 related testing and treatment.

I have four tax policy suggestions for Congress that it can include in a taxpayer coronavirus relief bill. I welcome acronym suggestions for this proposed bill’s name, especially a creative bill name whose acronym is “Zombie” or “Eat Brains”. The four tax relief suggestions that will mitigate damage caused by Covid-19 are:

Proposal 1 (stop medical bankruptcy): In 2020 the itemized deduction for medical expenses is reduced by 7.5% of a taxpayer’s AGI.  For 2020, I propose eliminating the 7.5% reduction of medical expenses attributed to the coronavirus or any 2020 flu (or zombie bite), such as hospitalization.  Medical diagnosis should suffice. Not going to be used by many people.  But the people who do use will really need it – those that do not awake as zombies that is.

Proposal 2 (stop restaurant bankruptcy): The administration proposes the suspension of the Social Security and Medicare payroll tax to jump-start consumer spending, presumably after the removal of quarantine orders to stay indoors or at least six feet away from each other. Not very targeted.  Someone like me may just shift the payroll tax relief and use it instead to upward adjust my 403(b) retirement savings for 2020, taking advantage of my full $19,500 contribution allowance for 2020 (and because I am 50 years old or older – add another $6,000 retirement ‘catchup’ to that $19,500 for a full $25,500),  Not only have I not spent the money to help the economy rebound, I have reduced my tax due for 2020 because my retirement contributions reduce my taxable income.  I have saved tax twice!! While I quite like that idea personally, I feel empathy for all the local restaurant owners who may go bankrupt unless I go out to eat at more local restaurants once I assured that 2020 was not the year of the zombie apocalypse.

A better-targeted proposal to save our nation’s local restaurants and the local farmers that supply them is to allow taxpayers an itemized deduction up to $1,000 for an individual and $2,000 for a married filing jointly 2020, beyond the standard deduction, of 100% of restaurant meals expense between June 1 and October 31, at U.S. restaurants with the last three years gross annual receipts averaging less than [$5 million – whatever is reasonable so that big chains are not included, Small Business Administration uses a maximum of $8 million for full-service restaurants (NAICS 722511)- I’m OK with that].  I know – many reasons not to do this, such as Americans will become hooked on eating out at local restaurants. Wait, why is that a bad thing?  And we will need to address the tax abusers who will order one slice of pizza and 20 bottles of wine, to go. So maybe the maximum meal receipt must be set at $100 per meal receipt per adult. That should allow plenty of food for a couple, and alcohol, and leave enough for the children to still have mac & cheese. Plus it requires ten different restaurant trips. Local restauranteurs and the local farmers can hold out hope that 2020 will not require filing for bankruptcy protection.  November is Thanksgiving when people eat out anyway, at least in the restaurants that have remained open.  By the way, I am purposely leaving business out of this.  Business has a 50% business meal deduction anyway. And my policy suggestion is about Americans being social and not talking business at the dinner table (and perhaps not politics either).

Proposal 3 (stop hotel bankruptcy): And let’s not forget about locally-owned hotels with average gross receipts below $8 million (SBA uses $35 million for hotels and $8 million for B&B Inns so maybe I am way off base with just $8 million – see NAICS subsector 721 Accomodation). A $500 itemized deduction for 2020 for a U.S. hotel stay (not Air BnB homes or apartments, actually licensed hotels/BnB Inns) for an individual or couple between June 1 and October 31. Might not buy a weekend at the Ritz but the Ritz probably exceeds the small business amount of revenue a year.  Is it sound tax policy? Huey Long (I’m from Louisiana) promised a chicken in every pot and a car in every yard.  I promise a get-a-way weekend at a small(ish) hotel.

Proposal 4 (keep employees employed): A tax credit (I am not sure the right amount, let the Labor Secretary decide, something around $5,000 an employee) to employers of less than 500 employees who do not reduce the monthly payroll of the employees, or fire any employees, between June 1 and September 30. October 1 employers start thinking about Christmas hiring for the shopping season.  I can imagine some mathematically-inclined employees thinking “I am going to walk into my boss’ office and projectile vomit because the cost of losing the tax credits for firing me is too high.” OK, so firing ‘for cause including projectile Zombie vomiting on the boss ‘ will be allowed without loss of the tax credit.  Now if a business wants to expand and hire a lot of employees up to 500 that’s great.  I propose that all employees employed and start fulltime work before June 1st qualify for a reduced $4,000 tax credit (basically $1,000 a month of employment for June through September).

These four proposals are enough to keep the economy, restaurants, hotels, and employees out of recession and bankruptcy.  But I have more proposals not currently part of the current bill, but common sense dictates should be (well, maybe not).  Why have we heard nothing from the House to encourage donations of toilet paper rolls to local shelters?   And why hotels and restaurants, but not spas?  I’ll leave it to the politicians (and lobbyists) to argue about.  Meanwhile, I look forward to receiving your comments while I set up my anti-zombie chicken wire barricade around the yard.

I’ll be covering these and related issues in my weekly Tax Facts Intelligence Newsletter.

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for Financial Advisors (March 5, 2020)

Posted by William Byrnes on March 5, 2020


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its online wealth management, risk management, and international tax risk management graduate curricula for industry professionals. Apply now for Summer courses that begin May: FATCA & CRS Risk Management; International Tax Risk Management, Data, and Analytics I  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for Summer, contact Jeff Green, Graduate Programs Coordinator, T: +1 (817) 212-3866, E: jeffgreen@law.tamu.edu or contact David Dye, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, T (817) 212-3954, E: ddye@law.tamu.edu. Texas A&M Admissions website: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/

Editor’s Note: Litigation on breaches of fiduciary duties in qualified plans has increased dramatically in the past few years, and this week sees an interesting decision from the Supreme Court reducing the statute of limitations where the employee has actual knowledge of the breach. In contrast, the IRS indicates that there is no statute of limitations for employer ACA violations. For more on these topics and many others, log in to Tax Facts for the latest.
U.S. Supreme Court Rules on Statute of Limitations for Fiduciary Breach

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the widely watched Intel case, agreed with former employees that an employer cannot shorten the time period over which plan participants can sue by simply posting relevant information online or sending information in the mail. In most cases, plan participants have six years to bring a lawsuit for fiduciary breach. However, that window is shortened to three years from the date the participant had “actual knowledge” of the fiduciary violation. For more information on investment diversification requirements for 401(k)s, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Releases Regs on Post-Reform Deduction for Business Meals and Entertainment

The IRS released regulations governing the post-tax reform treatment of the deduction for business meals and entertainment expenses. The regulations generally mirror guidance release in 2018 and 2019 on the deduction. As such, taxpayers may continue to deduct 50 percent of their business-related food and beverage expenses that are not lavish or extravagant. For more information on the post-reform deduction, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS: No Statute of Limitations on ACA Penalties for Large Employers

In usual scenarios, when a taxpayer files a return reporting certain information to the IRS, that filing triggers the start of a limitations period after which the IRS can no longer challenge the information in that return (generally, three years). However, the IRS has recently clarified that this rule does not apply with respect to ACA penalty taxes owed by applicable large employers—because there is no actual return that they file in order to report those taxes. This is the case despite the fact that ALEs have certain reporting obligations via annual Forms 1094-C and 1095-C. For more information on how penalties are assessed, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for Financial Advisors (Jan 31, 2020)

Posted by William Byrnes on January 31, 2020


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its online wealth management, risk management, and international tax risk management graduate curricula for industry professionals. Apply now for Summer courses that begin late May  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for Summer, contact Jeff Green, Graduate Programs Coordinator, T: +1 (817) 212-3866, E: jeffgreen@law.tamu.edu or contact David Dye, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, T (817) 212-3954, E: ddye@law.tamu.edu. Texas A&M Admissions website: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/

SECURE Act and Extenders Bill

As a part of the year-end budget package, Congress passed the long-awaited SECURE Act and also addressed the recently neglected extenders provisions. The SECURE Act contains a number of provisions that will impact nearly every American. Some of the highlights include:

·  Pushing the age when required minimum distributions (RMDs) from retirement accounts must begin from 70 1/2 to 72.
·  Permitting contributions to traditional retirement accounts at any age (previously, taxpayers were not permitted to contribute after age 71).
·  Limiting the value of inherited IRAs, so that most accounts inherited by non-spouse beneficiaries must now be distributed within 10 years (rather than over the lifetime of the beneficiary).
·  Increasing the retirement plan start-up credit for small businesses who offer a retirement savings option (to $5,000 per year or $5,500 if auto-enrollment provisions are included).
·  Expanding multiple employer plan (MEP) options so that unrelated employers can join together to offer retirement savings options to employees.
·  Requiring plans to provide annual lifetime income estimates to certain retirement plan participants.

The bill signed into law also extends many tax provisions, known as “extenders”, through the 2020 tax year. Some of those provisions include the Work Opportunity Credit, the new Family and Medical Leave Credit created by the 2017 tax reform legislation and the ability to treat mortgage insurance premiums as qualified residence interest for tax deduction purposes. Additionally, the bill lowers the medical expense threshold back to 7.5% through 2020. We will provide more information on the individual provisions of the SECURE Act and how the law will impact planning for clients as we move into 2020. For more information on the credits extended by the year-end spending bill, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Appeals Court Finds ACA Individual Mandate Unconstitutional

The Fifth Circuit Appeals Court ruled that the ACA individual mandate is unconstitutional. However, it declined to invalidate the entire law. Instead, the case was remanded back to the lower court for more detail on other aspects of the law, including the employer mandate that continues in effect. For more information on the individual mandate, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Releases Proposed Regulations on TCJA Executive Compensation Deduction Limits

As a follow up to interim guidance released in August, 2018, the IRS has released proposed regulations that clarify the definitions of covered employee, publicly held corporation and applicable employee remuneration. For more information on the new limits that apply, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for Financial Advisors (Jan 30, 2020)

Posted by William Byrnes on January 30, 2020


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its online wealth management, risk management, and international tax risk management graduate curricula for industry professionals. Apply now for Summer courses that begin late May  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for Summer, contact Jeff Green, Graduate Programs Coordinator, T: +1 (817) 212-3866, E: jeffgreen@law.tamu.edu or contact David Dye, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, T (817) 212-3954, E: ddye@law.tamu.edu. Texas A&M Admissions website: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/

Editor’s Note:
A couple of interesting developments this week. The NAIC action towards creating a best interest standard for annuity sales follows moves by several states (most notably New York with its new Regulation 187) to create similar rules. While the NAIC has not yet taken any definitive action in this area, in the words of Bob Dylan “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

We also have more SECURE Act updates. The Act upped the penalties for anyone filing a Form 5500, and it has also expanded (again, following the 2017 tax reform law) the possible uses for 529 pans, making them an even more valuable planning tool.

NAIC Committee Votes to Pass Best Interest Standard for Annuity Sales

The Life Insurance and Annuities Committee of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) voted to pass a “best interest” standard that would apply to annuity sales. The NAIC standard would be contained in a model that could be passed by states to create a more uniform approach nationwide. The model law would focus on four key concepts: (1) duty of care, (2) disclosure obligations, (3) conflicts of interest and (4) documentation requirements. For more information on the factors that are important to determining whether an annuity is in a client’s best interest, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

SECURE Act Increases Cost of Failing to File Form 5500

Form 5500 is a form that must be filed by most employers that offer an employee benefit plan subject to ERISA (exceptions do apply). The SECURE Act has significantly increased the penalties that the IRS may assess for failure to file (note that the DOL may also assess penalties. For more information on when a Form 5500 may be required, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

SECURE Act Increases 529 Plan Value

The SECURE Act, which primarily impacts retirement-related provisions, also expands upon the permissible uses of Section 529 plan dollars to include apprenticeships and student loan payments. For more information on the use of 529 plan funds, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Posted in Retirement Planning, Taxation | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for Financial Advisors (Jan 29, 2020)

Posted by William Byrnes on January 29, 2020


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its online wealth management, risk management, and international tax risk management graduate curricula for industry professionals. Apply now for Summer courses that begin late May  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for Summer, contact Jeff Green, Graduate Programs Coordinator, T: +1 (817) 212-3866, E: jeffgreen@law.tamu.edu or contact David Dye, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, T (817) 212-3954, E: ddye@law.tamu.edu. Texas A&M Admissions website: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/

Editor’s Note:

Several interesting updates this week, including New Jersey’s unique approach to SALT taxes, which allows optional entity-level taxation for pass-throughs in exchange for individual tax credits to be distributed to the members. We also see a new IRS Gig Economy Tax Center and the elimination of the “one bad apple” rule for MEPs with the SECURE Act.

Did we see you at the Heckerling estate planning conference last week? It was a week of warm sunshine and hot (well, OK, at least interesting) tax and estate planning developments. Happy planning!

Latest in the SALT Cap Saga: New Jersey Passes Pass-through Entity Tax Workaround

In the latest in the ongoing SALT cap debate, New Jersey has passed a new law creating an optional entity-level tax for pass-through entities. The New Jersey law allows pass-through entities to elect taxation at the entity level. In exchange, the members are given a refundable gross income tax credit. For more information on the SALT cap, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Announces New “Gig Economy” Tax Center

More workers than ever are working in the gig, or freelance, economy–whether full-time or simply to supplement regular income. To keep up with the growing gig industry, the IRS has developed a new tool to help gig workers better understand and comply with their tax obligations. Taxpayers can access the site through irs.gov. For more information on the self-employment tax, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

SECURE Act Eliminates the “One Bad Apple” Rule for MEPs—With Conditions

The one bad apple rule presented one of the primary roadblocks for small business owners interested in the multiple employer plan (MEP) structure. The SECURE Act provides that if one employer’s actions would disqualify the plan, only that employer’s portion of the MEP will be disqualified. For more information, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

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Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for Financial Advisors (Jan 28, 2020)

Posted by William Byrnes on January 28, 2020


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online graduate curriculum for tax professionals. Apply now for Jan 13 – April 19 transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for the inaugural cohort opportunity, contact Jeff Green, Graduate Programs Coordinator, T: +1 (817) 212-3866, E: jeffgreen@law.tamu.edu or contact David Dye, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, T (817) 212-3954, E: ddye@law.tamu.edu. Texas A&M Admissions website: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/international-tax

 

TAXFACTS

TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.
Jan 09, 2020

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Editor’s Note: Mileage rates, UBTI for VEBAs, and 401(K)s for part-time employees under the SECURE Act

Vehicle-related reimbursement and deductions can be a big deal. Anyone who tracks mileage for work, medical, or charitable purposes is impacted by the changes in the IRS mileage rates, which have just been updated for 2020. We also have new UBTI rules for VEBAs, which were adopted in light of recent litigation. Finally, the SECURE Act mandates access to employer-sponsored 401(k)s to many part-time workers who could previously be excluded from participation. Learn what the new rules are, including how they impact nondiscrimination testing, with Tax Facts Online.

2020 IRS Business Standard Mileage Rates

In 2020, the optional standard mileage rate for using a car for business purposes will be 57.5 cents per mile driven for business purposes (the 2019 rate was 58 cents per mile). For more information on deducting business-related travel expenses, including medical and charitable mileage rates visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Regs Clarify UBTI Calculation for VEBAs and SUBs

The IRS has released regulations clarifying how voluntary employees’ beneficiary associations (VEBAs) and supplemental unemployment benefit trusts (SUBs) calculate unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) in light of recent litigation. For more information on the new rules and the related litigation, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

SECURE Act Expands 401(k) Access for Long-Term, Part-Time Employees

Under the SECURE Act, employees who perform at least 500 hours of service for at least three consecutive years (and are at least 21 years old) must be allowed to participate in the employer-sponsored 401(k). These long-term, part-time employees may, however, be excluded from coverage and nondiscrimination testing requirements. For more information on 401(k) requirements, including detailed descriptions of the nondiscrimination testing requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for Financial Advisors (Jan 2d, 2020)

Posted by William Byrnes on January 3, 2020


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online graduate curriculum for tax professionals. Apply now for Jan 13 – April 19 transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for the inaugural cohort opportunity, contact Jeff Green, Graduate Programs Coordinator, T: +1 (817) 212-3866, E: jeffgreen@law.tamu.edu or contact David Dye, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, T (817) 212-3954, E: ddye@law.tamu.edu. Texas A&M Admissions website: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/international-tax

Editor’s Note: Ending the Transportation and Parking Tax for Nonprofits, Wrangling the New Form W-4P, and Some SECURE Act Caveats for Inherited IRAs.

We continue to see odds and ends for the new year related to the passage of the SECURE Act. The Act eliminated the Transportation and Parking tax for nonprofits, and we also have an analysis of the caveats for the newly-limited stretch for inherited IRAs.

With the SECURE Act finally passed, the editorial team here at Tax Facts is working hard update all of the relevant content with the new changes. Tax Facts Online content is continually updated, and we will be compiling a white paper for our print customers outlining the changes with the new laws and how they track to the existing Tax Facts Q&As. As always, we strive to make accurate and insightful changes to Tax Facts that reflect the most current tax information available.

Tax-Exempt Entities Wave Goodbye to Tax Reform’s Transportation and Parking Tax
The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act of 2020, which contained the SECURE Act and addressed tax “extender” provisions, also repealed a controversial portion of IRC Section 512(a). Generally, tax-exempt entities were subject to a 21 percent tax on certain benefits, including use of parking facilities, provided to employees beginning in 2018. The new law repeals this expanded definition retroactively to the date of its enactment, to it is essentially as though the UBTI expansion was never enacted. For more information on the issue, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More
IRS Clears Up Questions on Tax Withholding from Retirement Accounts and Annuity Distributions in 2020
Tax withholding from retirement accounts and annuities is handled differently than ordinary employer income tax withholding. However, unless a taxpayer has opted out, payors of amounts from pensions, annuities and other sources are required to withhold for income taxes under Section 3405(a). The IRS guidance discusses how the new Form W-4P can be used for this, and notes that additional changes in later years may be considered. For more information on retirement plan withholding, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More
SECURE Act Limits the Stretch IRA After 2019—with Caveats
In previous years, as retirement accounts have grown in value, the idea of using the account to provide a tax-preferred legacy to future generations had grown in popularity. To offset some of the cost of the SECURE Act, Congress limited the value of the stretch for most taxpayers. Under the new law, most non-spouse account beneficiaries will be required to take distributions over a ten-year period. The new rule has some caveats, and applies for tax years beginning after December 31, 2019. For more information, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for Financial Advisors (December 12 edition)

Posted by William Byrnes on December 12, 2019


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online graduate curriculum for tax professionals. Apply now for Jan 13 – April 19 transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for the inaugural cohort opportunity, contact Jeff Green, Graduate Programs Coordinator, T: +1 (817) 212-3866, E: jeffgreen@law.tamu.edu or contact David Dye, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, T (817) 212-3954, E: ddye@law.tamu.edu. Texas A&M Admissions website: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/international-tax

IRS Provides New ACA Transition Relief for Employer Reporting

As usual, the IRS has released transition relief to extend the deadline for providing Form 1095-C to individuals from January 31, 2020 to March 2, 2020. However, unlike other years, the March 2 deadline is now a firm deadline and the IRS has indicated that it will no longer respond to requests for extension beyond that deadline. Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C that must be provided to the IRS are not subject to the extension. The employer must furnish these filings to the IRS by February 28, 2020 if the filing is on paper and March 31, 2020 if the employer is filing electronically. For 2019 forms, the IRS has extended the relief that may allow employers to escape liability if they make a good faith effort to comply with all filing requirements. Because the individual mandate has been reduced to $0, the IRS will also not impose a penalty under IRC Section 6722 upon employers who fail to provide Form 1095-B if certain requirements are satisfied. For more information, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

December 31 Deadline to Take Full Advantage of Opportunity Zone Deferral is Fast Approaching

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act introduced opportunity zones into the tax code, which allow taxpayers to defer certain gains if certain deadlines and requirements are satisfied. However, the law only gives taxpayers a limited amount of time to take full advantage of the deferral provisions. Specifically, December 31, 2019, is the deadline for taxpayers who wish to make opportunity zone investments and take full advantage of the 15% step-up in the deferred gains. Taxpayers who invest after this deadline (but before December 31, 2020) and hold the opportunity zone investment through 2026 will be entitled to take 10% step-up in basis (10% of the amount deferred) on the deferred tax. For more information on the opportunity zone rules, including the gain deferral provision, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Unpacking the New Section 6050Y Reporting Requirements for Life Insurance Reportable Policy Sales

The new 6050Y regulations create new reporting obligations for many who issue, acquire or sell life insurance policies in a reportable policy sale post-tax reform. An “issuer” under the new regulations is anyone that bears any part of the risk associated with the life insurance contract, including those collecting premiums and paying death benefits. However, where there are multiple issuers, the reporting obligations are satisfied if only one issuer or designee reports on a timely basis. New forms released by the IRS to complete the reporting obligations include Form 1099-LS, Reportable Life Insurance Sale and Form 1099-SB, Seller’s Investment in Life Insurance Contract. While some reporting requirements have been delayed, it’s important to understand the basics of these forms now. Form 1099-LS must be filed by anyone who acquires a life insurance policy (or interest therein) in a reportable policy sale. Basic information about the sale, policy, acquirer and seller must be included. Form 1099-SB must be filed by the issuer of the life insurance policy to report both the seller’s investment in the contract and the surrender amount if the sale is a reportable policy sale (or transferred to a foreign person). For more information on the new 6050Y reporting requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for Financial Advisors (December 5 edition)

Posted by William Byrnes on December 6, 2019


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online graduate curriculum for tax professionals. Apply now for Jan 13 – April 19 transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for the inaugural cohort opportunity, contact Jeff Green, Graduate Programs Coordinator, T: +1 (817) 212-3866, E: jeffgreen@law.tamu.edu or contact David Dye, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, T (817) 212-3954, E: ddye@law.tamu.edu. Texas A&M Admissions website: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/international-tax

Final Regulations Confirm: No “Clawback” for Gifts Made Under Expanded Transfer Tax Exemption

The 2017 tax reform legislation significantly expanded the transfer tax exemption, which applies to exempt both lifetime and postmortem gifts from transfer taxes. However, the new provision is set to sunset after 2025, leading many taxpayers to question whether large gifts made while the provision is effective would be exempt once the exemption reverts to the much lower $5 million (as adjusted for inflation) limit. In general, the exemption applies first to gifts made during life and then to the individual’s remaining estate. Under the final regulations, estates are allowed to compute the available estate tax credit using the higher of the basic exclusion amount that applied to gifts made during life or the basic exclusion amount applicable on the date of death. Essentially, this rule provides certainty that taxpayers can make large gifts now (i.e., gifts that exceed the $5 million exemption) without generating transfer tax liability if the exemption amount is reduced in the future. For more information on the estate tax, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Court Finds Prudent Process Sufficient to Overcome DOL Fiduciary Liability

Many retirement plan sponsors and advisors have been left in uncertainty since the DOL fiduciary rule was vacated. A September 2019 case involving a DOL fiduciary enforcement action may shed light on resolution of fiduciary issues in the retirement plan context. In this case, the court found that retirement committee members were not liable under ERIA for a failure to monitor the committee’s investment manager more closely. The committee here had implemented processes and procedures, including regular meetings and reports, and acted in accordance with those procedures. After the DOL initiated action, the court agreed that the committee was entitled to rely upon those procedures. Once an error or problem arose and the committee became aware—or reasonably should have become aware—of the issue, the committee correctly increased its oversight until the issue was resolved. Here, that issue was that the committee’s instructions with respect to investments were not being followed. Once the committee noticed, they stepped up oversight. Importantly, this ruling shows that a prudent process is often sufficient to avoid fiduciary liability even if a decision results in investment losses. For more information on the fiduciary standard, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Cracking Down on Syndicated Conservation Easements

In recently released IR-2019-182, the IRS announced that it has substantially increased resources to crack down on syndicated conservation easements. Under the IRC, a special rule allows taxpayers to take a deduction for donations of qualified conservation easements (an exception to the general rule prohibiting deductions for donations of less than an entire interest in property). A qualified conservation easement is a contribution of real property including a restriction (granted in perpetuity) for the use of the property, which must be used for conservation purposes. Syndications are often set up to purchase real property for conservation easements. Most syndications involve tiers of pass-through entities so that investors in the entities can more fully use the charitable deduction (which is subject to an adjusted gross income cap like any other charitable deduction). Often, the actual deduction will far exceed the amounts invested—sometimes because inflated property values are used. These and substantially similar arrangements are now classified as listed transactions, which must be disclosed to the IRS. Clients should be made aware of this increased potential for enforcement across several IRS divisions. For more information on the requirements for claiming a conservation easement deduction, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

 

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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Byrnes & Bloink’s Thanksgiving TaxFacts Intelligence for Wealth Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on December 3, 2019


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for Jan 13 – April 19 transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for the inaugural cohort opportunity, contact Jeff Green, Graduate Programs Coordinator, T: +1 (817) 212-3866, E: jeffgreen@law.tamu.edu or contact David Dye, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, T (817) 212-3954, E: ddye@law.tamu.edu. Texas A&M Admissions website: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/international-tax

Often-Overlooked Section 1202 Tax Break for Small Business Adds New Value Post-Reform

Section 1202, while often overlooked by small business owners and investors alike, can provide a valuable tax benefit post-reform because many small businesses have transitioned to C corporation status to take advantage of the simpler 21 percent corporate tax rate. Section 1202 allows for an exclusion of up to 100 percent of gain realized when qualified small business stock is sold. To qualify, the stock must be acquired by the taxpayer when the stock was originally issued and held for at least five years. Further, the Section 1202 stock exclusion only applies to stock in C corporations with active businesses and assets of $50 million or less (measured when the stock is issued). Excluded gains are limited to the greater of: $10 million or 10 times the basis of the qualified small business stock. For more information on the exclusion, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Expands Nondiscrimination Relief for Closed Defined Benefit Plans

Although the IRS has previously extended the nondiscrimination relief for closed DB plans in Notice 2014-5, newly released Notice 2019-60 also expands the relief to include relief from benefits, rights and features testing for closed plans. To qualify, the plan must have closed via amendments adopted before December 13, 2013. Notice 2019-60 does not change prior relief, but adds additional relief. Closed plans’ benefits, rights and features are treated as satisfying testing if the benefits, rights and features were provided at the time of the amendment closing the plan and one of two conditions are satisfied: (1) no amendments were adopted after January 29, 2016 that expanded or restricted eligibility for the benefits, rights and features or (2) if there was such an amendment, the benefit, right or feature does not benefit a relatively larger proportion of highly compensated employees (measured using the plan’s ratio percentage) than before the amendment. This relief is available for plan years ending after November 13, 2019 and before January 1, 2021. For more information on defined benefit plan nondiscrimination testing, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Advisory Fees Withdrawn From Annuity Not Treated as Distributions to the Owner

A recent IRS letter ruling found that investment advisory fees paid periodically from an annuity contract case value should not be treated as amounts received by the contract owner. The annuities in this case were nonqualified deferred annuities. As part of the annuity, the product owner would receive investment advice from a licensed advisor on how to allocate the case value of the contract. The fees were to be negotiated in an arm’s length transaction, but were not to exceed 1.5 percent of the annuity cash value. The fees were paid directly to the advisor (in other words, the owner would never receive the amounts deducted from the annuity value). The IRS found the fees “integral” to operation of the annuity contract based on the fact that the owner would receive ongoing investment advice. Further, the fees did not compensate the advisor for services related to any other asset (other than the annuity). The IRS concluded that the fees were an expense of the contract, not distributions to the owner. For more information on the tax treatment of nonqualified annuities, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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Byrnes & Bloink’s November 21 TaxFacts Intelligence for Wealth Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on November 22, 2019


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for Jan 13 – April 19 transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for the inaugural cohort opportunity, contact Jeff Green, Graduate Programs Coordinator, T: +1 (817) 212-3866, E: jeffgreen@law.tamu.edu or contact David Dye, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, T (817) 212-3954, E: ddye@law.tamu.edu. Texas A&M Admissions website: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/international-tax

IRS Proposes New Life Expectancy Tables for Calculation IRA & 401(k) RMDs

The IRS has released new proposed life expectancy tables that would be used in calculating required minimum distributions from both IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans. The new tables generally assume longer life expectancies and provide information needed to calculate RMDs for participants living to 120 (the current tables stop at 115). For most clients, the primary impact will be seen in lower required distributions beginning in 2021 Individuals taking RMDs from inherited accounts will also be entitled to switch to the new life expectancy tables under a proposed transition rule, as will those clients currently receiving substantially equal periodic payments. For more information on the RMD rules, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Releases Proposed Regulations Implementing Tax Reform Changes to Eligible Terminated S Corporations

The IRS has released proposed regulations that would implement some of the tax reform changes that apply to S corporations that convert to C corporation status. Under tax reform, certain adjustments under IRC Section 481(a) that are required because of the revocation of the S corporation election of an “eligible terminated S corporation” (ETSC) are taken into account ratably during the six tax years beginning with the year of the change (under previous law, most changes had to be accounted for within a one-year period). The proposed regulations’ “no newcomers rule” clarifies that an ETSC is defined as one that (1) was an S corporation on December 21, 2017, (2) during the two-year period beginning on December 22, 2017, revokes its S corporation election, and (3) all of the owners of the corporation on December 22, 2017 are the same as on the day the election is revoked (in identical proportions). The proposed regulations also implement a “snapshot approach” to determining the ratio needed to make allocations under the rules. For more information, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Participating in Two Retirement Plans? Need-to-Know Information on Contribution Limits

In today’s day and age, many clients may participate in more than one employer-sponsored retirement plan. This means that clients must understand the deferral limits that limit the amount that can be contributed on a tax-preferred basis each year. The elective deferral limit is a per-person limit, meaning that each client gets one amount per year (for most clients, the 2019 deferral limit is $19,000, or $25,000 for clients who have reached age 50). This means that clients participating in two 401(k) plans can make $19,000 in pre-tax contributions, spread between the two plans (457(b) plans and 403(b) plans are not subject to this aggregation rule). A second limit, known as an “annual additions limit”, governs the total employer and employee contributions that can be made in a single year. For 2020, that limit is $576,000 and $632,000 for clients 50 and up. The annual additions limit applies to plans offered by a single company, or by companies that are related. Clients participating in two plans sponsored by unrelated companies should be aware that a separate annual additions limit applies to each plan. For more information on the rules governing elective deferrals, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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Byrnes & Bloink’s Actionable TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on November 20, 2019


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for Jan 13 – April 19 transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). To apply for the inaugural cohort opportunity, contact Jeff Green, Graduate Programs Coordinator, T: +1 (817) 212-3866, E: jeffgreen@law.tamu.edu or contact David Dye, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, T (817) 212-3954, E: ddye@law.tamu.edu. Texas A&M Admissions website: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/international-tax

Final 401(k) Hardship Distribution Rules Take Effect January 1, 2020

Plan participants and sponsors should note that the final regulations governing 401(k) hardship distributions take effect in 2020. As of 2020, participants who take a hardship distribution must now be permitted to continue to make deferrals within the six months following the hardship distribution. While some aspects of the new rules are optional, this new requirement is mandatory with respect to qualified plans. For more information on hardship distributions, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Releases Proposed Regs on Accounting for Advance Payments

The IRS has released proposed regulations implementing changes made by the 2017 tax reform legislation that impact the tax treatment of advance payments. The regulations generally adopt the rules contained in Revenue Procedure 2004-34— the approach in place prior to tax reform. For more information on the tax treatment of advance payments, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS FAQ Provides for Specific Identification in Transactions Involving Virtual Currency

The recently released FAQ on the tax treatment of virtual currency confirms that transactions in bitcoin and other forms of virtual currency will be taxed as transactions in property. The guidance goes further and answers the question of whether taxpayers should identify particular virtual currency that is part of a transaction. For more information on the tax treatment of bitcoin, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Posted in Retirement Planning, Taxation | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on November 18, 2019


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for Spring (January) semester for the transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university of the state of Texas and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). 

Final 401(k) Hardship Distribution Rules Take Effect January 1, 2020

Plan participants and sponsors should note that the final regulations governing 401(k) hardship distributions take effect in 2020. As of 2020, participants who take a hardship distribution must now be permitted to continue to make deferrals within the six months following the hardship distribution. While some aspects of the new rules are optional, this new requirement is mandatory with respect to qualified plans. For more information on hardship distributions, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Releases Proposed Regs on Accounting for Advance Payments

The IRS has released proposed regulations implementing changes made by the 2017 tax reform legislation that impact the tax treatment of advance payments. The regulations generally adopt the rules contained in Revenue Procedure 2004-34— the approach in place prior to tax reform. For more information on the tax treatment of advance payments, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS FAQ Provides for Specific Identification in Transactions Involving Virtual Currency

The recently released FAQ on the tax treatment of virtual currency confirms that transactions in bitcoin and other forms of virtual currency will be taxed as transactions in property. The guidance goes further and answers the question of whether taxpayers should identify particular virtual currency that is part of a transaction. For more information on the tax treatment of bitcoin, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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Brand Rights: What type of taxable income? Royalties or Business Income?

Posted by William Byrnes on November 13, 2019


The Tax Court recently decided a case, Slaughter v. Comm’r (find all the citations in 1 Taxation of Intellectual Property § 1.06 (2019), involving annual royalty payments to an author wherein the IRS argued that instead of treating the payments as royalties that are not subject to self-employment and Medicare tax, the payments should be treated as net earnings from self-employment. The dispute that the Tax Court faced was whether there is a distinction, for self-employment tax purposes, between an author’s royalty income derived from her writing and any royalty income derived from her name and likeness. The author contends that one portion of her royalty payments is derived from her writing, which is a trade or business, and that another portion is derived, not from her writing, but rather solely from her name and likeness which are personal attributes which are not part of any trade or business. The IRS argued that the entire payments the author received from her publishing contracts were derived from her trade or business as an author, thus subject to self-employment tax.

To provide context to the dispute, Karin Slaughter is a bestselling crime author: over 35 million books sold in 37 languages. The Tax Court stated the following details of her publishing contract are standard in the publishing industry. Her contracting publishers receive more than just the right to print, publish, distribute, sell, and license the works and manuscripts written, or to be written. The publisher also secures the right to use the author’s name and likeness in advertising, promotion, and publicity for the contracted works. The author is required to provide photos and be available for promotional activities. The contracts include noncompete clauses that vary in scope, from requiring that the specified manuscript be completed before others, to prohibiting the author from entry into another contract until her writing obligations are met. Publishers also secure the right to advertise other works in the author’s books, qualified by the requirement that the author’s consent to the specific advertisements. Several of the contracts allow for, but do not require, a share of advertising proceeds to be paid to the author as a condition of her consent. Finally, the contracts include an exclusive option for the respective publisher to negotiate the contract for the author’s next works.

The author also receives more than just her advances and royalties. For instance, some contracts include a marketing guaranty requiring the publisher to spend a minimum amount on marketing for the author’s books. Although the publishers fund the marketing plan, the author’s agent retains the authority over its development. Another example is the author’s option to purchase the publisher’s plates at a reduced cost for any book that goes out of print and that the publisher refuses to reissue or license. In that instance, the rights in the work also revert to the author.

On her Federal income tax returns, the author deducted as a business expense the cost of leasing a vehicle to attend media interviews and promotional events. She also deducted the cost of hosting her own promotional events. For marketing purposes, many of her meetings were scheduled in New York City. While there, the author often attended meetings, conducted media interviews, and participated in publishing industry events such as trade shows. During the years in the issue she also met with a fellow writer to collaborate on a script for a possible television series. To facilitate her various activities, the petitioner rented an apartment in New York City and deducted the rent. Petitioner also deducted the cost of business gifts to agents, editors, publishers, and others.

The authors income grew eightfold due to her brand as an author. That brand is monetized by the author’s ability to attract and engage readers, speak in front of a crowd, and recommend other authors within her publishing house. Petitioner’s promotional activities and writing have created a very successful brand and body of work. In petitioner’s case, her brand includes her name and likeness as well as her reputation, goodwill, and existing readership. She maintains contact with her readership through social media, websites, and a newsletter.

The author’s advisors concluded that any amount paid to the author for the use of her name and likeness was “investment income,” i.e., payment for an intangible asset beyond that of her trade or business as an author. The author’s name is a brand.  The author’s expert concluded that the actual writing of a manuscript is but a small percentage of the value a publisher seeks from an author. An author’s work may sell on the basis of the author’s name and readers’ expectations for a particular kind of story, rather than for the quality of the writing. Thus, the author contended that the amount paid for her writing is what a publisher would pay a nonbrand author, and the residual amount is a separate and distinct payment for her brand.

The Tax Court held that the author’s brand became part of her trade or business. The Tax Court focused on the following elements of her behavior. The author was engaged in developing her brand with continuity and regularity. The author set out in a businesslike fashion to obtain stationery, a reputable agent, and a publishing contract. The author worked with a media coach and publishers to develop a successful brand. She has spent time meeting with publishers, agents, media contacts, and others to protect and further her status as a brand author. She attended interviews and promotional events and works to develop and maintain good relationships with booksellers and librarians. The author uses social media, websites, and a newsletter to maintain her brand with her readership. The Tax Court noted that royalties earned from her brand are not solely a result of her publishers’ actions.

The Tax Court then turned the fact that the author deducted advertising costs, the cost of a car used, in part, to attend promotional activities around Atlanta, and gifts sent to her contacts in the publishing world. Such expenses, stated the Tax Court, demonstrate that petitioner’s trade or business extends beyond writing to its promotion. If the author takes such promotion and brand-related expenditures on her Schedule C trade or business expenses, then the income derived from the brand to which those expenses relate must also be trade or business income. The Tax Court found on behalf of the IRS.

The Tax Court stated that there was not a particular case on point regarding an author’s income from the business of writing and that attaching to royalties for the sales of an author’s books. The Tax Court distinguished other cases decided in favor of the taxpayer regarding athletes and image rights, albeit these cases arguably are applicable to Karen Slaughter’s situation. For example, in Garcia v. Comm’r, the issues were to what extent to which payments made to the taxpayer under the endorsement agreement were compensation for the performance of the taxpayer’s personal services and the extent to which the payments were royalties for the use of the taxpayer’s image rights. The Tax Court stated that

Courts have repeatedly characterized payments for the right to use a person’s name and likeness as royalties because the person has an ownership interest in the right.”

The Court therein cited Goosen v. Comm’r that the characterization of a taxpayer’s endorsement fees and bonuses depends on whether the sponsors primarily paid for the taxpayer’s services, for the use of the taxpayer’s name and likeness, or for both. The court held that the payments made by the company were allocated 65 percent to royalties and 35 percent to personal services.

In Kramer v. Comm’r, the Tax Court found that royalties paid primarily for the grant of the exclusive right to use the taxpayer’s name to sell sports equipment, and only secondarily for the personal services rendered by taxpayer under the royalty contract. Herein the Tax Court concluded that commercial success for sales upon which the royalty income derives depended upon accompanying aggressive promotional activities. For Mr. Kramer, the Tax Court concluded that only the portion of the royalties that reflected compensation for the personal services constituted “earned income.” In Boulez v. Comm’r, the Tax Court said if a taxpayer has an ownership interest in the property whose licensing or sale gives rise to the income, then that income should be characterized as a royalty as opposed to personal service income. Therein the Tax Court cited the Fifth Circuit decision of Patterson v. Texas Co, wherein the Court of Appeals adopted the definition of a “royalty” as

“a share of the product or profit reserved by the owner for permitting another to use the property.”

The Slaughter case is ripe for appeal. The weight of jurisprudence perhaps rests on the author’s side regarding whether the royalties should be apportioned and that a portion derives from her brand rights that are not personal service income. Like for the tennis star Mr. Kramer, aggressive promotional activities are necessary to grow the sales of the product. There can be no brand, such as a trademark, without promotion of it. But the promotional activities are not the business of the author but rather those of the publishing company to sell books.

Yet, the weight of the facts perhaps rest on the side of the IRS. If the author’s accountants claimed the full amount of the expenses, such as for the New York apartment, on the author’s Schedule C as a trade or business expense, then correspondingly, as the Tax Court presents, income associated with those expenses is also Schedule C. It does not appear that the accountants undertook any diligence, by example not reading the contracts and not seeking any support records for the guestimate by the author of her time apportionment. It does not appear the accountants undertook any research and analysis other than to dismiss that any cases applied. It does not appear that the accountants undertook any planning research, or at least, the author rejected paying for such advice because it is common practice for authors, artists, and athletes of this income level to operate via a Sub S corporation or LLC. The pass-through business is a well-understood mechanism for mitigating Medicare tax, though with its own host of issues regarding compensation versus distributions.

For more analysis and coverage on this and other related issues, see William Byrnes’ treatise Taxation of Intellectual Property and Technology (2020 edition), a 1,000-page analytical treatise to the federal tax consequences of the development, purchase, sale and licensing of intellectual properties and intangibles.  Primary author William Byrnes leads a team of America’s leading tax senior counsel to analyze tax risk challenges for business and investment decisions concerning intellectual property, technology, intangibles, and the digital economy.

Nine seats remain for the Spring (4 teams of 3 students each) to join the current 4 teams January 13 – April 20 semester for the TRANSFER PRICING course taught by Dr. Lorraine Eden, Prof. William Byrnes, TP Aggiesand several industry experts. The courses count toward the INTERNATIONAL TAX online Master curriculum of Texas A&M for tax attorneys, accountants, and economists. Taught live twice weekly using Zoom involving teams working to design positions and solutions for real-world post-BEPS client studies each week, supported by originally authored materials, videos and audio casts, PPTs, and a robust online law & business database library.  For more information, contact Texas A&M Admissions https://info.law.tamu.edu/international-tax

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Release of Taxation of IP & Technology Update for 2020

Posted by William Byrnes on November 11, 2019


Taxation of Intellectual Property and Technology 2020 edition is a 1,000 page analytical treatise to the federal tax consequences of the development, purchase, sale and licensing of intellectual properties and intangibles.  Primary author William Byrnes leads a team of America’s leading tax senior counsel to analyze tax risk challenges for business and investment decisions concerning intellectual property, technology, intangibles, and the digital economy. This 2020 update published in November (next update published in June 2020) contains:

  • Expands this treatise beyond 1,000 pages of analysis and planning research.
  • Provides in-depth analysis of the 2019 final and proposed regulations that impact intellectual property and intangibles, including GILTI and FDII.
  • Analyzes the new Cloud Computing Regulations.
  • Expanded analysis of the 2018 Supreme Court Wayfarer decision and its impact on interstate digital business models and trademark holding companies.
  • Analysis of several 2019 decisions cases including AmazonAlteraSlaughterhouse.

Major revisions this update, by chapter, include:

  • GILTI regulations. The final and newly proposed GILTI regs are analyzed in depth in § 2.04[8].
  • FDII regulations. The proposed regulations are explained in depth in § 2.04[9].
  • Cloud Computing Regulations. The proposed regulations are explained in depth in § 2.05[3] and § 10.02[2][c][iii][G].
  • International Transactions. Chapter 12 has been substantially revised and additional analysis of the Service Regulations as well as the Cost Sharing Regulations in light of Amazon and Altera.
  • Economic presence tax nexus and digital services tax. See analysis within Chapters § 11.09, § 14.07[6] and § 15.05[1].
  • Wayfarer’s Impact. On taxation of holding companies, see § 4.06. On tax nexus and sales tax, see Chapter § 11.04.
  • Taxation of Emerging Technologies for Cloud Computing, Blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence. See Chapter § 10.02[2][c].
  • Slaughter v Comm’r. IRS argued that the author’s promotion for the publisher which builds her brand is her trade or business and thus her royalties are net earnings from self-employment. Analyzed and critiqued in Chapter § 1.06[4].

New domestic and internationally focused chapters are in development by treatise author Prof. William Byrnes (Texas A&M Law) for 2020, including on the valuation of intangibles, tax considerations for entrepreneurs, and country analysis chapters. His team of internationally recognized expert practitioners provide strategic and tax risk analysis: Carlos Perez Gautrin, Yair Holtzman, Iselle Coronado-Torres, Jeffrey Trey, Arinjay Kumar Jain, Leonardo Macedo, Venetia Argyropoulou, Pamela Ann Fuller, William Seeger, Lucia Valenzuela, and Charles Lincoln. Please contact William Byrnes with chapter proposals. Taxation of Intellectual Property Publication Update (2019)

Nine seats remain for the Spring (4 teams of 3 students each) to join the current 4 teams January 13 – April 20 semester for TRANSFER PRICING course taught by Dr. Lorraine Eden, Prof. William Byrnes, TP Aggiesand several industry experts. The courses count toward the INTERNATIONAL TAX online Master curriculum of Texas A&M for tax attorneys, accountants, and economists. Taught live twice weekly using Zoom involving teams working to design positions and solutions for real-world post-BEPS client studies each week, supported by originally authored materials, videos and audio casts, PPTs, and a robust online law & business database library.  For more information, contact Texas A&M Admissions https://info.law.tamu.edu/international-tax

Posted in book, Taxation, Transfer Pricing | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on November 9, 2019


2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for Spring (January) semester for the transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university of the state of Texas and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). 

199A Rental Real Estate Safe Harbor Excludes Certain Businesses

Not all taxpayers will be able to take advantage of the Section 199A safe harbor for rental real estate. While the safe harbor does apply to residential rental real estate, taxpayers are not entitled to rely upon the safe harbor if the taxpayer uses the property as a residence during the tax year. Notably, if the real estate is rented or leased under a triple net lease, the safe harbor remains unavailable under the final rule. When satisfying the “hours of rental real estate services” criteria, only certain activities are counted toward the 250-hour threshold. Activities such as rent collection, advertising the rental, property maintenance, negotiating leases and managing the real property generally count toward the threshold. However, the taxpayer’s activities as an “investor” are not counted. Similarly, if any property within the rental real estate enterprise is classified as a specified service trade or business, the safe harbor is unavailable for the entire business. For more information on the final safe harbor rule, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

DOL Proposes New Electronic Disclosure Rules for Pension Plans

In response to the Trump administration’s executive order, the DOL has proposed a safe harbor rule that would allow pension plans to satisfy disclosure obligations electronically. As currently proposed, the rule only applies to pension plans. It would allow plan sponsors to email required documents to participants, beneficiaries and any other individuals entitled to receive disclosures–so long as the individual has provided an email address (which can be a work email address). Any documents required under Title I of ERISA could be furnished electronically, including notices of material modification or blackout notices, except for documents that must be furnished upon request. While employers are not yet entitled to rely upon this rule until it is finalized, it provides important insight into potential future developments surrounding pension disclosure obligations. For more information on the requirements that apply to pension plans, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

District Court Rules Small Business Qualified Retirement Plan Not Exempt in Bankruptcy

While 401(k) funds are generally exempt from a bankruptcy debtor’s estate, a recent district court ruling highlights a situation where a small business owner may lose the exemption. In this case, the taxpayer maintained a pension plan pursuant to a prototype plan document offered by his financial institution that had been approved via an IRS opinion letter, as is commonly the case. The court, however, found that amendments to the prototype plan document rendered the opinion invalid. Further, it found that the plan inappropriately benefitted the taxpayer and his spouse, rather than providing benefits to employees, in violation of IRS nondiscrimination rules. Because of this, the plan was deemed to be disqualified despite the fact that the taxpayer relied upon advisors to manage the plan. Because the taxpayer was owner of the small business responsible for the plan, he was deemed to be materially responsible for the qualification failure, therefore causing the plan assets to lose the typically available bankruptcy exemption. The court noted that this probably wouldn’t have been the case if the taxpayer had been an employee participating in a non-qualified plan. For more information on the treatment of 401(k) assets in bankruptcy, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

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Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on September 20, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for Spring (January) semester for the transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university of the state of Texas and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). 

IRS Releases Guidance on Failure to Cash Distribution Checks

The IRS has released guidance providing that when a check for a fully taxable distribution from a qualified plan is mailed to a plan participant, but not cashed, it is considered to have been “actually distributed” from the plan and is taxable to the participant in the year of distribution. Further, the failure to cash the check did not change the plan administrator’s withholding obligations with respect to the distribution and did not change the obligation to report the distribution on Form 1099-R (assuming the distribution exceeds the applicable reporting threshold). Despite these findings, the IRS was careful to note that it continues to consider the issue of uncashed distribution checks in situations involving missing participants. For more information on the withholding requirements that may apply to qualified plan distributions, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

December 31 Opportunity Zone Deadline Fast Approaching

Investors who are considering an opportunity zone investment should be advised that now is the time to take advantage of the new rules in order to maximize the potential for deferral. December 31, 2019 is the final day that investors can elect to roll their gains into opportunity zone funds in order to obtain the full 15% reduction in the amount of the deferred gain. Generally, taxpayers can defer capital gains tax by rolling gains into a qualified opportunity fund (gains may be deferred until December 31, 2026). If the investment is held for at least seven years, the taxpayer will receive a 15% reduction in the amount of the deferred gain (so that the funds are invested for a full seven years). In turn, the fund has 180 days to acquire qualified property once the taxpayer invests the gain. Because gain on the sale of Section 1231 property is not determined until year-end, taxpayers wishing to roll over Section 1231 gain should be advised to track 1231 sales carefully to determine whether such sales will result in gain (treated as long-term capital gain) or loss (treated as ordinary loss). For more information on the opportunity zone rules, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Extends Nondiscrimination Relief for Closed Defined Benefit Plans

Many employers who have closed defined benefit plans to new participants have continued to allow groups of “grandfathered” employees to earn benefits under the closed defined benefit plans. Because of this, many of these plans have had difficulties meeting the applicable nondiscrimination requirements as more of these grandfathered employees become “highly compensated” over time. Proposed regulations published in 2016 contain special rules to make it easier for these plans to satisfy the nondiscrimination requirements and Notice 2014-5 was released to provide temporary relief if certain conditions are satisfied. The proposed regulations modify the rules applicable to defined benefit replacement allocations (DBRAs) that allow some allocations to be disregarded when determining whether a defined contribution plan has a broadly available allocation rate in order to allow more allocations to satisfy the rules. Further, the regulations provide a special nondiscrimination testing rule that can apply if a benefit or plan feature is only made available to grandfathered employees in a closed plan. In anticipation of the finalization of these regulations, Notice 2019-49 expands the nondiscrimination relief to plan years beginning before 2021, so long as the conditions in Notice 2014-5 are satisfied. For more information the nondiscrimination rules, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of Aug 29, 2019 – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on August 30, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Tuition Waiver for International Tax Online Courses (more information here)

Texas A&M University School of Law will launch August 26, 2019 its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for the inaugural cohort of degree candidates to pilot the launch of the Fall semester introductory courses of international taxation and tax treaties, and provide weekly feedback on content, support, and general experience in exchange for waiving the tuition and providing the books free.  Texas A&M University is a public university of the state of Texas and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). 

IRS Reverses Stance on Lenient Enforcement of ACA Employer Mandate

In a recent reversal of practice, in the early weeks of August the IRS began issuing Notice 972CG to employers informing them that they owe substantial penalties for failing to strictly comply with the ACA employer mandate. Generally, the Notice is sent to inform employers who have made late or incorrect filings of Forms 1094-C and 1095-C that penalties now apply (the current notices generally apply for mistakes made in 2017). The penalty that applied in 2017 was $260 per return ($50 per return if the filing was made within 30 days of the original due date). Employers must respond to the Notice 972CG within 45 days (from the date listed on the notice) or the IRS will bill the employer for the penalty amount listed. If the employer disagrees in whole or part with the proposed penalty, box B or box C of the notice should be checked and the employer must submit a signed statement detailing the disagreement, including supporting documentation if applicable. Generally, the employer will be required to explain that the late or incorrect filing was due to reasonable cause. For more information on responding to this notice and other correspondence that the employer may receive with respect to the employer mandate, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

The Latest Tax Scam: Beware Fake IRS Letters

Nearly every taxpayer has heard warnings about phone-based IRS scams, assuming they have not experienced the calls themselves. However, because the general advice to avoid falling prey to these scams is often accompanied by the advice “the IRS will only contact you via U.S. mail” to initiate a dispute, scammers have now begun sending fake IRS letters–at the exact point in the year when legitimate IRS mail correspondence is at its highest. To avoid falling prey to letter-based scams, keep in mind that IRS letters arrive in government envelopes and provide a notice or letter number in the top right corner, along with a truncated version of your tax ID number. The tax year in question will also appear in the top right corner. A contact telephone number–usually a “1-800” number will appear. If the letter contains what appears to be a personal phone number, you can verify by visiting irs.gov, where legitimate contact information will be posted. Also keep in mind that the IRS will not send threats, such as threats of arrest or deportation. For more information on federal income tax filing requirements, visit Tax Facts Online.Read More

Own an S Corporation? Here’s How to Fix a Violation of the S Corp Requirements

For many clients, making the election to be taxed as an S corporation can have substantial benefits–but also carries the burden of risking disqualification if the business fails to meet the requirements governing S corporations. Selling shares to an impermissible shareholder (such as a partnership), violating the “one class of stock” rule can result in automatic revocation of the S status. To prevent this, the business must show the IRS that the violation was inadvertent, which can be accomplished by submitting a ruling request explaining how the violation occurred. Generally, the S corporation should seek to demonstrate to the IRS that it took remedial action as soon as it learned of the violation, explain the circumstances involved and how the S corporation discovered the violation, in which case the IRS may grant retroactive relief–so that it is treated as though no violation occurred at all. For more information on the specific requirements that an S corporation must satisfy, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Tax Facts Team
Molly Miller
Publisher
William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M
Tax Facts Author
Jason Gilbert, J.D.
Senior Editor
Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.
Tax Facts Author
Connie L. Jump
Senior Manager, Editorial Operations
Alexis Long, J.D.
Senior Contributor
Patti O’Leary
Senior Editorial Assistant
Danielle Birdsail
Digital Marketing Manager
Emily Brunner
Editorial Assistant

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of Aug 1, 2019 – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on August 5, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

Tuition Waiver for International Tax Online Courses (more information here)

Texas A&M University School of Law will launch August 26, 2019 its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for the inaugural cohort of degree candidates to pilot the launch of the Fall semester introductory courses of international taxation and tax treaties, and provide weekly feedback on content, support, and general experience in exchange for waiving the tuition and providing the books free.  Texas A&M University is a public university of the state of Texas and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). 

IRS Expands List of Preventative Care Coverage Not Subject to HDHP Deductibles
Pursuant to the executive order directing the agencies to expand the use of HSAs and HDHPs for individuals suffering from certain chronic conditions, the IRS has released Notice 2019-45, which expands the definition of “preventative care” to include certain treatments and medications related to chronic illnesses. Generally, HDHPs may now provide these forms of care on a pre-deductible basis without jeopardizing the plan’s status as an HDHP and the participant’s ability to use HSA funds in connection with that HDHP. The agencies have indicated that they will review the new list, which includes items deemed to be “low cost”, every five to ten years. The new table, contained Notice 2019-45, includes items such as glucometers for patients suffering from diabetes and beta blockers for patients suffering from congestive heart failure. For more information on HDHPs, visit TaxFacts Online. Read More
 

IRS Releases Premium Tax Credit-Related Inflation Adjustments for 2020
The IRS has released the Affordable Care Act (ACA) premium tax credit-related inflation adjusted numbers for use in 2020. In 2020, the percentage used to determine whether an individual is eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance that is affordable is 9.78% (down from 9.86% in 2019). This means that individuals who contribute more than 9.78% of their household income toward health insurance in 2020, he or she may be eligible for premium tax credit assistance. For more information on determining when health coverage is deemed affordable for ACA purposes, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

 

IRS Announces Compliance Campaign Directed at S Corps
The IRS has announced that one of the areas it will be focusing its compliance efforts upon in the coming year involves S corporations that were formerly C corporations. The primary issue of focus will be the built-in gains tax. In general, the built-in gains tax applies to C corporations that convert to S status at a time when they have net unrealized built-in gain, and then sell assets within five years after converting to an S corporation. The tax should be paid at the S corporation level, but the IRS has determined that the tax is often not paid. While this does not necessarily mean that audit resources will be directed toward these entities, it does mean that the IRS has determined that it is necessary to dedicate training and resources toward the goal of ensuring proper compliance with the built-in gains tax. For more information on situations where S corporations may be taxed at the entity level, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

 

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of July 25, 2019 – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on July 26, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

Jul 25, 2019

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Taxpayer Cannot Shield Self-Directed IRA Assets from Bankruptcy Creditors

The 11th Circuit recently confirmed that a taxpayer was not entitled to creditor protection in bankruptcy with respect to a self-directed IRA that he used for impermissible purposes. The issue in this case was not whether IRA funds were used for prohibited personal use, however, but whether the assets left within the IRA could be protected from creditors in bankruptcy. The court ruled that the creditors could access amounts left in the IRA, regardless of whether that IRA continued to be tax-exempt, because the taxpayer failed to properly maintain the IRA by withdrawing funds for prohibited reasons in the past. For more information on the tax treatment of IRA assets in bankruptcy, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Proposed Regulations Would Eliminate the MEP “One Bad Apple Rule”

The IRS and Treasury have released proposed regulations that would eliminate the so-called “one bad apple rule” for multiple employer plans (MEPs). Under the one bad apple rule, the entire MEP could be disqualified based upon the actions of only one employer that participated in the plan. To qualify, the plan must have established practices and procedures designed to ensure compliance by all MEP participants. The failure must be isolated to a single employer, and cannot be a widespread issue across the employers. The plan administrator must have a process in place that would provide notice to the employer responsible for the failure, and such notice should include a description of the failure, actions necessary to remedy the failure, notice that the relevant employer has only 90 days from the notice date to take remedial action, a description of the consequences for failure to take the remedial action and notice of the right to spin off the non-compliant employer’s portion of the plan and assets. After providing the initial notice and two subsequent notices, the MEP must notify all participants, stop accepting contributions from the noncompliant party and implement spin off procedures designed to terminate the noncompliant employer’s interests in the MEP. For more information on plan qualification requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Considering an Opportunity Zone Investment? Here’s How to Tell the IRS

Now that the IRS has released a significant amount of guidance on the opportunity zone rules, qualified opportunity zone funds are likely to become more common, leading taxpayers to question how to actually defer taxation on their capital gains through the opportunity zone rules. Taxpayers who have made a sale where the proceeds qualify for capital gain treatment may invest all or a part of that gain in a qualified opportunity fund and defer recognizing the gain under the new opportunity zone rules. The taxpayer makes the election on his or her tax return by attaching a completed Form 8949 to the return. For multiple investments occurring on different dates, the taxpayer uses multiple rows of the form to report the deferral election. If the taxpayer has already filed the relevant tax return, he or she will need to file an amended return to make the election. For more information on the opportunity zone rules, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of July 18, 2019 – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on July 19, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

Jul 18, 2019

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Words of Caution for Non-spouse Beneficiaries of Inherited IRAs

Generally, non-spouse beneficiaries are required to take distributions from the account either under the five-year rule (i.e., exhaust the funds within five years of inheriting them) or based on that beneficiary’s life expectancy. However, what many beneficiaries fail to understand is that when they take a distribution, that distribution will be taxable, cannot be undone by rolling the amount into another IRA and can cause the IRA to forfeit its stretch treatment. Non-spouse beneficiaries should be advised that their only opportunity with respect to rollover of an inherited IRA is to transfer the account (as an inherited account) to a new IRA custodian via a direct trustee-to-trustee transfer. For more information on inherited IRAs, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

District Court Finds Retiree Not Entitled to Change Election Regarding Pension Distribution Form

A district court recently ruled that a pension plan did not abuse its discretion by denying the request of a participant in pay status to change her election from a monthly annuity payout to a lump sum payment. In this case, the pension had opened a window whereby retirees could elect to switch from receiving an annuity to the lump sum option. The option also allowed the participant to revoke the change by a certain set date, and revert back to the annuity. Here, the retiree and her son, who had power of attorney, took the lump sum option but later revoked it to revert back to the annuity. Later, when the retiree was diagnosed with a neurological disease, they attempted to revoke the revocation to receive the lump sum. The court held that there was no abuse of discretion in the pension’s denial of that request because the window for electing the lump sum had closed. The impact of the neurological disease was irrelevant because the son who made the initial requests had power of attorney to speak on the participant’s behalf. For more information on what to consider when facing a lump sum option, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Updated IRS FAQ Confirms Section 1231 Gains Invested in Qualified Opportunity Funds in 2018 are Qualifying Investments

The second round of proposed regulations regarding qualified opportunity zone fund (QOF) investments generated questions as to the treatment of Section 1231 gains that had been invested in a QOF. Section 1231 capital gain treatment generally applies to depreciable property and real property used in a business (but not land held as investment property). Under the proposed regulations, Section 1231 capital gains are only permissible QOF investments to the extent of the 1231 capital gain amount, if the investment is made within 180 days of the last day of the tax year. IRS released FAQ to provide relief for the 2018 tax year, so that investment in the QOF and deferral will be available for the gross amount of Section 1231 gain realized during the 2018 tax year if the investment was made within 180 days of the sale date, rather than the last day of the tax year (assuming that the taxpayer’s tax year ended before May 1, 2019, when the regulations were released). For more information on opportunity zones, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

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Getting its “fair share” from the U.S., U.K. implements 2% tax on gross revenues of Google, Amazon, and Facebook

Posted by William Byrnes on July 11, 2019


From April 2020, the government will introduce a new 2% tax on the revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users. Large multi-national enterprises with revenue derived from the provision of a social media platform, a search engine or an online marketplace (‘in scope activities’) to UK users.

The Digital Services Tax will apply to businesses that provide a social media platform, search engine or an online marketplace to UK users. These businesses will be liable to Digital Services Tax when the group’s worldwide revenues from these digital activities are more than £500m and more than £25m of these revenues are derived from UK users.

If the group’s revenues exceed these thresholds, its revenues derived from UK users will be taxed at a rate of 2%. There is an allowance of £25m, which means a group’s first £25m of revenues derived from UK users will not be subject to Digital Services Tax.

The provision of a social media platform, internet search engine or online marketplace by a group includes the carrying on of any associated online advertising business. An associated online advertising business is a business operated on an online platform that facilitates the placing of online advertising, and derives significant benefit from its connection with the social media platform, search engine or online marketplace. There is an exemption from the online marketplace definition for financial and payment services providers.

The revenues from the business activity will include any revenue earned by the group which is connected to the business activity, irrespective of how the business monetises the platform. If revenues are attributable to the business activity and another activity, the business will need to apportion the revenue to each activity on a just and reasonable basis.

Revenues are derived from UK users if the revenue arises by virtue of a UK user using the platform. However, advertising revenues are derived from UK users when the advertisement is intended to be viewed by a UK user.

A UK user is a user that is normally located in the UK.

Where one of the parties to a transaction on an online marketplace is a UK user, all the revenues from that transaction will be treated as derived from UK users. This will also be the case when the transaction involves land or buildings in the UK. However, the revenue charged will be reduced to 50% of the revenues from the transaction when the other user in respect of the transaction is normally located in a country that operates a similar tax to the Digital Services Tax.

Businesses will be able to elect to calculate the Digital Services Tax under an alternative calculation under the ‘safe harbour’. This is intended to ensure that the tax does not have a disproportionate effect on business sustainability in cases where a business has a low operating margin from providing in-scope activities to UK users

The total Digital Services Tax liability will be calculated at the group level but the tax will be charged on the individual entities in the group that realise the revenues that contribute to this total. The group consists of all entities which are included in the group consolidated accounts, provided these are prepared under an acceptable accounting standard. Revenues will consequently be counted towards the thresholds even if they are recognised in entities which do not have a UK taxable presence for corporation tax purposes.

A single entity in the group will be responsible for reporting the Digital Services Tax to HMRC. Groups can nominate an entity to fulfil these responsibilities. Otherwise, the ultimate parent of the group will be responsible.

The Digital Services Tax will be payable and reportable on an annual basis.

Draft legislation

Explanatory notes

Read:

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of July 11

Posted by William Byrnes on July 11, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Prof. William H. Byrnes, Esq. and Robert Bloink, Esq. of

Texas A&M University Law Wealth Management programs

Jul 11, 2019

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IRS Snapshot Guidance Provides Insight into Post-2018 Plan Hardship Distribution Requirements

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 made substantial changes to the rules governing hardship distributions from qualified plans beginning in 2019. These changes have left many employers wondering how to adequately comply with the new rules. The IRS has directed its agents to review the language in the plan document, as well as any written statement provided by the participant to ensure all documents are properly executed and signed. Further, agents are directed to examine any records that the employer used to verify that a true hardship did exist, as well as the amount of that hardship. These records can include bills, eviction notices, closing documents for purchase of a home, etc. The employee should also provide documentation to establish that no other readily available source of funds existed, which can be as simple as an employee attestation. For more information on post-2018 hardship distributions, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Clarifies Treatment of Transportation Benefits Upon Termination of Employment

An IRS information letter has clarified that a taxpayer forfeits any unused transportation benefits upon termination of employment. Because employers have only been permitted to provide tax-preferred transportation benefits to current employees, those benefits must be lost once the individual is no longer an employee. This is the case even if the benefits were provided through pre-tax employee contributions, and even if the employee is fired (i.e., compensation reductions cannot be reimbursed if the employee had not fully used them). Importantly, employees can change their elections regarding transportation benefits monthly without the need for a change in status event. For more information on employer-provided transportation benefits, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Ninth Circuit Affirms Termination of Pension Benefits for Working Retiree

The Ninth Circuit recently confirmed that a pension plan was within its rights to terminate pension benefits to a participant who retired early, but then returned to work in the same industry. This was the case even though the plan itself had initially approved the taxpayer’s post-retirement work in the same industry in which he worked prior to retirement. Although Supreme Court precedent prohibits a pension from adding additional requirements to a participant’s benefit eligibility after that participant has retired, the court here found that the precedent did not apply because the plan in question had always required participants to withdraw from the industry in order to be eligible for benefits. The plan had begun enforcing the rule pursuant to a voluntary corrective action with the IRS that was entered in order to maintain the plan’s tax-qualified status. For more information on situations where a pension plan may reduce a participant’s benefits, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Tax Facts Team
Molly Miller
Publisher
William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M
Tax Facts Author
Jason Gilbert, J.D.
Senior Editor
Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.
Tax Facts Author
Connie L. Jump
Senior Manager, Editorial Operations
Alexis Long, J.D.
Senior Contributor
Patti O’Leary
Senior Editorial Assistant
Danielle Birdsail
Digital Marketing Manager
Emily Brunner
Editorial Assistant
For questions, contact Customer Service at 1-800-543-0874.

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for May 2 – May 8

Posted by William Byrnes on May 6, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Family Attribution Rules Do Not Impair Deductibility of S Corporation Employee Health Insurance

The IRS released a CCM providing that an S corporation employee who was considered a 2-percent shareholder via the family attribution rules was entitled to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums paid by the S corporation and included in the employee’s income. Here, the S corporation paid the premium costs and included those amounts in the individual’s income, who was, in turn, entitled to the deduction. For more information on the tax treatment of S corporation health insurance, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Rules Loan Availability Does Not Jeopardize Employee Stock Purchase Plan Qualification

The IRS released a PLR providing that a plan participant’s eligibility to obtain a loan from the employer (or a third party) to purchase shares under an employee stock purchase plan does not jeopardize the plan’s qualification under IRC Section 423(b). In this case, loan availability was premised on the fact that the loan could not violate the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, meaning that some participants may have been rendered ineligible to take out a loan to purchase employee shares through the plan. This PLR indicates the IRS’ view that provisions allowing purchase of shares via loans do not prevent qualification even if some employees are ineligible. For more information on the ownership of employer stock in an employer-sponsored plan, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Received a 226J Letter? Here’s How to Respond

Employers have recently begun receiving 226J letters detailing employer mandate compliance issues from the IRS with respect to the 2016 tax year. Importantly, employers must remember that the employer mandate continues in effect despite the repeal of the individual mandate and despite pending challenges to the ACA itself. An employer may receive a 226J letter with respect to two types of failures: failure to offer minimum essential coverage to at least 95% of full-time employees or failure to: (1) offer coverage to the employee, (2) provide affordable coverage or (3) offer coverage that satisfied minimum value requirements, in all cases if the FTE received a tax credit. Letter 226J should contain a deadline for a response, usually 30 days after the letter was issued (employers may request a 30-day extension). It is important to get expert advice when drafting the response, but issues to consider include whether the IRS was using the correct data (i.e., was a corrected Form 1094 filed with the IRS in 2016?), whether the plan was a calendar year plan (transition relief may apply) and whether the employer did, in fact, offer minimum coverage during each month. For more information on the employer mandate, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

LL.M. or M.Jur. Curriculum in Wealth Management at Texas A&M Law

Our Wealth Management program gives you the knowledge and skills you need to advise wealthy clients and help manage their assets. Because wealth management involves professionals with various backgrounds, we’ve designed the program with both lawyers and non-lawyers in mind. This program is offered completely online, which gives professionals the flexibility they need to learn and to meet the increasing need of being versed in the legal aspects of financial transactions and in the legal aspects of financial investment and portfolio management. Contact us to learn more

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly Client Questions Answered on April 29

Posted by William Byrnes on April 29, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

William Byrnes and Robert Bloink reduce complicated tax questions to understandable client answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

IRS Releases FAQ on Section 199A Shedding Light on Impact of S Corporation Health Insurance Deductions

The IRS has released a set of FAQs based upon the regulations governing the new Section 199A deduction for pass-through entities, such as S corporations. One potentially overlooked issue in the S corporation context is the impact of health insurance premium payments on QBI. The FAQ provides that health insurance premiums paid by the S corporation for a greater-than-2-percent shareholder reduce QBI at the entity level (by reducing the ordinary income used to calculate QBI). Similarly, when a self-employed individual takes a deduction for health insurance attributable to the trade or business, this will be a deduction in determining QBI and can reduce QBI at the entity and individual levels. For more information on the treatment of health insurance premiums in the S corporation context, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Post-Reform Life Insurance Reporting Regs Provide Relief for Certain Contacts Acquired in Business Combinations

The proposed regulations governing the new life insurance reporting requirements created by the 2017 tax reform legislation (which do not become effective until finalized) would exclude from the new rules situations where one entity acquires a C corporation that owns life insurance contracts, so long as the life insurance contracts do not represent more than half of the corporation’s assets. Generally, the new rule created by tax reform would make cause certain life insurance contracts to lose their tax-preferred status if transferred in a reportable policy sale (and most business combinations would qualify as such). Under the proposed rules, however, the pre-tax reform exceptions to the transfer for value rule could apply when a C corporation is acquired. For more information on the future reporting requirements that will apply, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Missed the April 15 Tax Filing Deadline? Tips for Obtaining an Extension After the Fact

With the 2018 tax filing deadline behind us, many taxpayers who were unable to complete their returns may be wondering what steps to take to file those returns after the deadline has expired. Most taxpayers can easily request an extension through October 15 by using Form 4868 (available at irs.gov) to request the extension. The form will require that the client provide his or her estimated tax liability–remembering that the filing extension only extends the time for filing a return, so that the client’s 2018 tax payment was still due April 15. If the client was impacted by certain recent disasters, including the California wildfires, severe storms in Alabama, and storms and flooding in Nebraska or Iowa, have automatically been granted various extensions, so are not required to complete the paperwork necessary to obtain the extension. For more information on federal income tax filing requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

Posted by William Byrnes on April 12, 2019


Tax Reform Impact on Performance Goal Certification Requirements in Executive Compensation Context

Prior to tax reform, companies were afforded special treatment for certain compensation in excess of the $1 million limit so long as the compensation was based on performance goals certified by the company’s compensation committee. Tax reform eliminated that exception so that companies cannot deduct this excess compensation even if it is performance based–therefore, there is no tangible benefit to having a compensation committee certify that those goals were met in many cases. Despite this, in order to qualify under tax reform’s grandfathering provisions, performance-based compensation must continue to satisfy all of the standards that existed prior to the reform, so many companies may wish to continue their certification practice if they otherwise qualify for grandfathering treatment. For more information on the post-reform rules governing the deduction for executive compensation and the grandfathering rules, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2019 Tax Season Preview: Now is the Time to Check Withholding

As we near the end of the 2018 tax season, many clients may have been disappointed by the amount of their refunds or even unexpectedly owed taxes because of the changes brought about by the 2017 tax reform legislation. Many of these surprises were caused by the new withholding tables developed by the IRS because the personal exemption was suspended from 2018-2025. Because of this, taxpayers should be advised to check their withholding now even though it may seem early in order to make any adjustments necessary to avoid unpleasant tax surprises next year. Taxpayers are entitled to have their employers withhold more or less depending upon their personal preferences, and the IRS website provides a calculator designed to help taxpayers anticipate how their withholding choices will impact their refund next year. For more information on the federal tax rules that apply this year post-reform, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Provides Last-Minute Penalty Relief for Taxpayers Who Underpaid in 2018

The IRS released last minute penalty relief for certain taxpayers whose tax withholding or estimated tax payments were insufficient in 2018. Usually, a penalty will apply if the taxpayer did not pay at least 90 percent of his or her tax liability for the year. For the 2018 tax year only, the IRS lowered the threshold to 80 percent to account for the significant changes made to the tax code late in 2017. Under previous guidance released in January, the relief was to apply for taxpayers who paid at least 85 percent of their total tax liability. This relief applies both to taxpayers who paid through employer withholding and those who paid quarterly estimated payments (or any combination). If the taxpayer qualifies for this relief but has already filed a return, the taxpayer can request a refund using Form 843, which must be filed in paper format. For more information on the underpayment penalty, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Tax Facts Team
Molly Miller
Publisher
William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M
Tax Facts Author
Jason Gilbert, J.D.
Senior Editor
Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.
Tax Facts Author
Connie L. Jump
Senior Manager, Editorial Operations
Alexis Long, J.D.
Senior Contributor
Patti O’Leary
Senior Editorial Assistant
Danielle Birdsail
Digital Marketing Manager
Emily Brunner
Editorial Assistant

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

Posted by William Byrnes on April 10, 2019


IRS Explains Impact of SALT Cap on Taxpayers Receiving State and Local Tax Refunds

The IRS has provided guidance explaining the relevance of the “tax benefit rule” for taxpayers who receive a refund of state and local taxes in years when the post-reform limit on deducting state and local taxes (the “SALT cap”) is in effect. For more information on the impact of the SALT cap, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Federal Court Invalidates DOL Rules Expanding Association Health Plans

A Washington, D.C. federal court struck down the final regulations released by the DOL in effort to expand the availability of association health plans for various smaller employers and owner-employees, which would have given these groups access to less expensive plans that offered fewer benefits and did not satisfy ACA requirements. The fate of the actual expansion of association health plans remains unclear, however, as the DOL has indicated it will explore all available options and continue to work toward expanding access. For more information on the tax rules for self-employed business owners’ health coverage, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Employer Stock & 401(k) Plans: The Bad, the Ugly…and the Potentially Good?

In recent years, many employers have begun shying away from offering employer stock to employees as 401(k) investments. Fiduciary liability concerns and lack of diversification, especially amid dramatic decreases in value in some cases, have made the strategy risky for some companies. However, this does not mean that any client who currently holds employer stock in a 401(k) should immediately liquidate all employer stock. Clients should first be advised that the potential to take advantage of a net unrealized appreciation (NUA) strategy could provide a more valuable way to sell off employer stock. For more information on the NUA strategy, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Tax Facts Team
Molly Miller
Publisher
William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M
Tax Facts Author
Jason Gilbert, J.D.
Senior Editor
Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.
Tax Facts Author
Connie L. Jump
Senior Manager, Editorial Operations
Alexis Long, J.D.
Senior Contributor
Patti O’Leary
Senior Editorial Assistant
Danielle Birdsail
Digital Marketing Manager
Emily Brunner
Editorial Assistant
For questions, contact Customer Service at 1-800-543-0874.

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

Posted by William Byrnes on March 29, 2019


EDITOR’S NOTE FOR ONLINE SUBSCRIBERS
You will notice a new orange banner appearing at the top of your screen called “Latest Developments”. In this section we are offering new features, and we will introduce other features later in the year….

· Tax Facts Intelligence Weekly – current as well as archive weekly newsletters you receive by email as another way to access our latest developments.

· Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down – a debate each week between Robert Bloink and myself (William Byrnes) whereby we take opposing viewpoints on tax policy and argue our opinions. Find out if you agree or disagree and, eventually, you will be able to vote on whose side you are on for that week.

· Featured Articles – a weekly article with archives written by Robert Bloink and myself, thought leaders in finding customer needs for new products and how to make new practice tools work with your clients, perhaps in ways you may not have thought about.

· Recent Updates – as you may know, our digital version of Tax Facts is updated weekly and not annually like our print version of Tax Facts. You can now see any significant changes made to a Tax Facts question that week as it will appear in the “Latest Developments” section, so you are aware of changes. These changes can even be delivered to your smartphone should you choose.

We are looking for another big year providing lots of value-added commentary and analysis. I am always interested in your feedback so feel free to email me at williambyrnes@gmail.com.

Sixth Circuit Confirms Insurance Agents Remain Independent Contractors

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently confirmed that life insurance agents were properly classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. The case involved eligibility for benefits under ERISA, and a district court, using the traditional Darden factors for determining classification status, had ruled in 2017 that the agents were employees who were eligible for ERISA benefits. For more information on insurance agents and employment classification issues, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Renewed Importance of Checking “Compensation” Definition in Retirement Plans Post-Tax Reform

The definition of “compensation” is important for many reasons in the retirement planning arena, but has gained new importance in light of suspended deductions and exclusions post-tax reform. Retirement plans generally must use the IRC’s definition of compensation for nondiscrimination testing purposes, which includes, for example, nondeductible moving expenses (but excludes deductible moving expenses). Post-reform, however, all moving expenses are nondeductible. Despite this, the moving expense deduction was only suspended, not eliminated. This is one example of how tax reform has created a level of uncertainty regarding the appropriate definition of compensation while all tax reform provisions remain (at least temporarily) in effect. For more information on the definition of compensation for qualified plan purposes, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Grandfathered Health Plan Status: Still Important for Employers

In the years that have passed since the ACA became effective, many employers may have forgotten the importance of maintaining the grandfathered status of their health insurance plans. Grandfathered health plans remain exempt from many of the ACA market reform provisions and help employers avoid some of the more difficult compliance issues presented by the ACA. To maintain grandfathered status, employers should be sure to maintain proper documentation of the plan coverage extending from March 23, 2010 to the present. If and when the plan enters a new policy or contract, it should provide the health insurance company with documents governing the plan terms to make sure the change will not cause loss of grandfathered status. Adding new employees or new contributing employers will not impact the grandfathered status of the plan, so long as the principal purpose of any restructuring of the business was not to cover additional people under a grandfathered plan. Amendments to the plan that eliminate certain benefits can cause loss of grandfathered status, as can increases in certain cost-sharing requirements and copayments. For more information on grandfathered health plans, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

Posted by William Byrnes on March 27, 2019


EDITOR’S NOTE FOR ONLINE SUBSCRIBERS
You will notice a new orange banner appearing at the top of your TaxFacts & App screen called “Latest Developments”. In this section we are offering new features, and we will introduce other features later in the year….

· Tax Facts Intelligence Weekly – current as well as archive weekly newsletters you receive by email as another way to access our latest developments.

· Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down – a debate each week between Robert Bloink and myself (William Byrnes) whereby we take opposing viewpoints on tax policy and argue our opinions. Find out if you agree or disagree and, eventually, you will be able to vote on whose side you are on for that week.

· Featured Articles – a weekly article with archives written by Robert Bloink and myself, thought leaders in finding customer needs for new products and how to make new practice tools work with your clients, perhaps in ways you may not have thought about.

· Recent Updates – as you may know, our digital version of Tax Facts is updated weekly and not annually like our print version of Tax Facts. You can now see any significant changes made to a Tax Facts question that week as it will appear in the “Latest Developments” section, so you are aware of changes. These changes can even be delivered to your smartphone should you choose.

We are looking for another big year providing value-added commentary and analysis. I am always interested in your feedback and “practitioner note” submissions so feel free to email me at williambyrnes@gmail.com.

IRS Releases New Safe Harbor for Depreciating Passenger Autos Under Tax Reform 

Post-reform, taxpayers are generally entitled to an additional depreciation deduction for qualified property, including passenger automobiles, if that property was placed in service after September 27, 2017 (and before 2027). If the passenger auto qualifies for 100% depreciation deduction in year one, the tax legislation increased the first-year limitation by $8,000. Assuming the depreciable basis is less than the first year limitation, the additional amount is deductible in the first tax year after the end of the recovery period. Under the safe harbor, however, the taxpayer can take the depreciation deductible for the excess amounts during the recovery period up to the limits applicable to passenger autos during this time frame. The IRS will publish a depreciation table in Appendix A of Publication 946, which taxpayers must use to apply the safe harbor. The safe harbor only applies to passenger autos placed into service before 2023, and does not apply if (1) the taxpayer elected out of 100% first year depreciation or (2) elected to expense the automobile under Section 179. For more information on the rules that apply in determining the depreciation deduction for passenger automobiles, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

PBGC Proposes Regulations to Simplify Calculating Withdrawal Liability Under the Multi-Employer Pension Reform Act

PBGC recently released a set of proposed regulations to amend the rules on calculating withdrawal liability and annual withdrawal liability payments when an employer withdraws from a multi-employer pension plan. Under the regulations, in calculating withdrawal liability, plan sponsors must disregard benefit suspensions for the ten plan years following the plan year in which the suspension of benefits became effective, and include the suspended benefits when determining the plans unvested benefit liability (UVBs) during that period. The proposed regulations would also require plan sponsors to disregard surcharges when determining how to allocate UVBs to a withdrawing employer, as well as certain increases in contribution rates. The regulations provide detailed guidance on how each element necessary to calculate a withdrawing employer’s liability could be calculated. For more information on benefit reductions under the MPRA, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Court Clarifies When Disabled Employees May be Entitled to Disability Benefits

A district court recently clarified that an employee’s request for reasonable accommodations for a disability does not necessarily mean that the employee will also qualify for benefits under a short-term disability plan. In this case, the employee provided evidence from his doctor that stated he was unable to drive in traffic, but the employer’s plan required that he be unable to perform essential duties of his job in order to qualify for disability benefits. The employer denied the claim for benefits because the employee’s job did not involve driving, although he was entitled to work from home so that he could avoid driving into an office (the “reasonable accommodation” in this case). The court agreed with the employer that the employee’s ability to perform his job was not impaired, so he was not entitled to disability benefits. The key takeaway from this case is that, even if an employee has a disability that requires reasonable accommodation, that employee is not necessarily entitled to receive employer-sponsored disability benefits. For more information on employer-sponsored disability benefits, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

Posted by William Byrnes on March 25, 2019


EDITOR’S NOTE FOR ONLINE SUBSCRIBERS
You will notice a new orange banner appearing at the top of your screen called “Latest Developments”. In this section we are offering new features, and we will introduce other features later in the year….· Tax Facts Intelligence Weekly – current as well as archive weekly newsletters you receive in email today as another way to access our latest developments.

· Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down – a debate each week between Robert Bloink and myself (William Byrnes) whereby we take opposing viewpoints on tax policy and argue our opinions. Find out if you agree or disagree and, eventually, you will be able to vote on whose side you are on for that week.

· Featured Articles – a weekly article with archives written by Robert Bloink and myself, thought leaders in finding customer needs for new products and how to make new practice tools work with your clients, perhaps in ways you may not have thought about.

· Recent Updates – as you may know, our digital version of Tax Facts is updated weekly and not annually like our print version of Tax Facts. You can now see any significant changes made to a Tax Facts question that week as it will appear in the “Latest Developments” section, so you are aware of changes. These changes can even be delivered to your smartphone should you choose.

We are looking for another big year providing lots of value-added commentary and analysis. I am always interested in your feedback so feel free to email me at williambyrnes@gmail.com.

IMPORTANT TAX DEVELOPMENTS

IRS Provides Additional Rules for Employers’ Ability to Recover Mistaken HSA Contributions
The IRS clarified when an employer can recover health savings account (HSA) contributions made in error. Generally, erroneous HSA contributions must be corrected by reducing future contributions. The IRS Office of the Chief Counsel released an information letter stating an employer can recover mistaken contributions if the employer has clear documentary evidence that demonstrates an administrative or process error that caused the mistaken contribution. Examples of correctable mistakes provided by the IRS include situations where the participants’ names were confused, mathematical errors and duplicate payroll transmittals. For more information on excess HSA contributions, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

8th Circuit Denies Bankruptcy Exemption for Retirement Accounts Transferred Incident to Divorce 
The 8th Circuit denied the bankruptcy exemption for retirement plan assets that the debtor acquired incident to divorce. Qualified plan assets and up to about $1.3 million in IRA assets are usually protected from creditors in bankruptcy. In this case, the debtor received a portion of his former spouse’s 401(k) and her entire IRA in their divorce settlement, via a domestic relations order. The courts relied upon the Supreme Court’s prior ruling that inherited IRAs are not exempt in bankruptcy in concluding that assets acquired through a divorce are not primarily retirement assets of the debtor. Instead, the assets represented a property settlement, so were not entitled to any type of special treatment in bankruptcy. For more information on the treatment of qualified plans in divorce, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.
LITIGATION WATCH

Wellness Programs Post-EEOC: What Remains Important 
EEOC regulations that were recently vacated and removed focused incentives an employer could offer without rendering the program impermissibly involuntary. Although the incentive based regulations were removed, the remaining regulations provide some clarity on this “voluntariness” issue. The program may not require employees to participate, and the employer is not permitted to deny health coverage or limit group health plan or other benefits if the employee chooses not to participate in the program. The employer cannot take an action that would be considered retaliation or take any adverse employment actions for non-participation. For more information on the rules that currently govern employer-sponsored wellness programs, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

 

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly March 21, 2019

Posted by William Byrnes on March 21, 2019


William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

IRS Ruling Provides New Impetus for Lump-Sum Pension Buyouts for Retirees

The IRS has released a ruling that impacts whether pension plan sponsors are permitted to provide lump-sum distributions to plan participants who are already receiving plan benefits via regular annuity payments. The issue was whether, under the IRS required minimum distribution (RMD) rules, a lump-sum payment would constitute an impermissible increase in the payment amounts these participants were receiving. In 2015, the IRS reversed its previous stance allowing these lump-sum payments to participants in pay status and stated its intent to amend the RMD rules to prohibit these payment options. Now, the IRS has once again changed course and announced that, for the time being anyway, it is no longer planning to amend the RMD rules to prohibit lump-sum payments to pension plan participants already receiving annuity payments under the plan. For more information on lump sum pension buyout offers, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Tax Court Case Could Eliminate Valuable Split-Dollar Insurance Estate Planning Strategy

The Tax Court is set to hear a case that has had planners who help very wealthy clients use split-dollar strategies to minimize transfer taxes waiting for results since 2014. This issue in this case involves the value of several life insurance policies. Here, a parent purchased life insurance on her sons’ lives–the policies were technically purchased through revocable “dynasty” trusts–for $29.9 million (premium costs). When she died, her reimbursement rights under these “split-dollar” arrangements were valued at only $7.5 million, because the policies would not pay out until the sons died at some future date (essentially, the strategy is valuable because the difference between the two values is a tax-free gift). The IRS has argued that a fair market valuation approach must be used in split-dollar cases, which would assign the much higher premium cost to the value of the policies using the logic typically applied to buy-sell arrangements in family businesses. Initially, the Tax Court indicated that the economic benefit theory of split-dollar could be applied, a result that would favor the estate. Since then, the court has noted that the estate may have to prove it can satisfy an exception under IRC Section 2703 to avoid full taxation of the $29.9 million in premiums paid. A similar case, Cahill v. Comm., was settled out of court in 2018. For more information on split-dollar plans, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Sixth Circuit Allows Employer to Terminate Retiree Health Benefits Despite Collective Bargaining Agreements

The Sixth Circuit recently overturned a district court ruling, finding instead that an employer was permitted to terminate certain retiree health benefits despite the presence of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). The plaintiffs in this case failed to show that the CBAs’ general durational clauses did not apply to healthcare benefits covered under the agreements. In the Sixth Circuit, a CBA’s general durational clause applies to every provision, unless the contract clearly states that it does not. Despite language pertaining to health benefits in the CBAs, that language did not specifically state the duration of the health benefits, so that the general durational clauses applied and the employer was permitted to modify or terminate coverage when the relevant CBAs expired. For more information on retiree-only health benefits provided in the employment context, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

 

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

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15 Recent Tax Debates Between Robert Bloink and William Byrnes

Posted by William Byrnes on March 18, 2019


the weekly tax debate transcribed from Tax Facts authors Professors Robert Bloink and William Byrnes, both of Texas A&M University Law School’s Wealth Management graduate program for professionals.

— More Bloink & Byrnes Go Thumb to Thumb:

  1. IRS Relief for Tax Underpayment: Bloink & Byrnes Go Thumb to Thumb
  2. IRS’ New 199A Real Estate Safe Harbor
  3. Postcard Premiere of IRS Form 1040
  4. Repeal SALT Cap, Raise Corporate Tax
  5. Tax Deferral on Stock Options and RSUs
  6. Should Annuity Products Get a Fiduciary Safe Harbor?
  7. Should Tax Hikes Need Supermajority Vote?
  8. Does DOL’s HRA Proposal Go Far Enough?
  9. Should 2017 Tax Changes Be Permanent?
  10. Is the Proposed Child Tax Credit Even Needed?
  11. Is Inflation Indexing of Capital Gains Good?
  12. Are New USA Plans a Boon to Savers?
  13. Was It Right to Kill the DOL Fiduciary Rule?
  14. Is DOL Rule on Health Plans Bad?
  15. Trump’s RMD Rule Change

 

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

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TaxFacts Intelligence (Week of March 14, 2019)

Posted by William Byrnes on March 14, 2019


William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

Mar 14, 2019

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IRS: Employers Must Exercise Caution in Providing “Free Lunch” for Employees 

The IRS has released a technical advice memorandum (TAM) that sheds light on the potential tax implications when employers provide employees with free meals in the office. Post-tax reform, meals provided “for the convenience of the employer” may receive favorable tax treatment. In the TAM, the IRS denied exclusion of the meals’ value from employee compensation. Here, the employer provided free meals to all employees in snack areas, at their desks and in the cafeteria, justifying provision of these meals by citing need for a secure business environment for confidential discussions, employee protection, improvement of employee health and a shortened meal period policy. The IRS rejected these rationales, stating that the employer was required to show that the policies existed in practice, not just in form, and that they were enforced upon specific employees. In this case, the employer had no policies relating to employee discussion of confidential information and provided no factual support for its other claims. General goals of improving employee health were found to be insufficient. The IRS also considered the availability of meal delivery services a factor in denying the exclusion, but indicated that if the employees were provided meals because they had to remain on the premises to respond to emergencies, that would be a factor indicating that the exclusion should be granted. For more information on “de minimis” type fringe benefits, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Common Scenarios in Client Retirement Planning: Account Consolidation and the Rules of the Road

Most clients will change jobs a few times in their lives, which often means they wind up with multiple 401(k) and other types of retirement plans. Consolidating can produce many benefits–namely, making it easier to manage retirement assets and easing RMD calculations, but there are rules to consolidating and clients also need to be aware of benefits that may be unique to any one type of plan. Clients should evaluate their goals with respect to eventual withdrawals, as the rules for penalty-free withdrawals–for example, via using an IRA to establish a series of substantially equal periodic payments to provide penalty-free withdrawals prior to age 591/2. For more information on the rollover rules and how they may impact clients considering retirement account consolidation, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

April 1 is Fast Approaching: Important Deadline for Clients With First-Time RMD Obligations

While April 15 is a well-known and understood deadline, most clients don’t associate April 1 with any important tax-related deadlines—but April 1 is, in fact, one of the most important deadlines for clients who turned 701/2 years old in the previous year. For those clients who maintain traditional retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s and IRAs, April 1 is the date by which they must take their first required minimum distribution (RMD) from the account if they turned 701/2 in the previous year. For example, a client who turned 701/2 in 2018 must take their first RMD by April 1, 2019. This April 1 deadline is a special rule that applies only to first-time RMDs–a client’s 2019 RMD will be due by December 31, 2019. This means that clients who choose to wait until the April 1 deadline will be required to take two RMDs in 2019. For each subsequent year, the generally applicable December 31 deadline is the relevant date for RMDs. For more information on lifetime RMD requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

 

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly (Feb 7, 2019)

Posted by William Byrnes on February 8, 2019


William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

TAX REFORM DEVELOPMENTS

IRS Provides New 199A Safe Harbor for Rental Real Estate Activities
Since the introduction of Section 199A, business owners engaged in real estate activities have been confused by the new 20 percent deduction for qualified business income of certain pass-through entities. IRS proposed Revenue Procedure 2019-07 provide a safe harbor so that rental real estate businesses will qualify as “trades or businesses” if it: (1) maintains separate books and records for each rental enterprise, (2) involves the performance of at least 250 hours of rental real estate activities, and (3) maintains contemporaneous records regarding the rental real estate services. The safe harbor is effective for tax years ending after December 31, 2017. For more information, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

Final 199A Guidance on Tracking W-2 Wages Provides Guidance for Short Tax Years
The IRS has recently finalized the methods that a business owner can use to track W-2 wages for calculating the Section 199A deduction. The new guidance clarifies that, in the case of short taxable years, the business owner is required to use the “tracking wages method” with certain modifications. The total amount of wages subject to income tax withholding and reported on Form W-2 can only include amounts that are actually or constructively paid to the employee during the short tax year and reported on a Form W-2 for the calendar year with or within that short tax year. For more information on the methods available for calculating W-2 wages for Section 199A purposes, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

LITIGATION WATCH

Court Requires Employer to Pay Dependent Life Insurance Benefits After Failure to Provide SPD
A court recently ruled that an employer was required to pay life insurance benefits to an employee under a life insurance policy insuring her former spouse, which was offered by the employer as a dependent life insurance benefit. When the employee’s former husband died within three months’ of their divorce, her claim for benefits under the policy was denied because she was not an “eligible dependent” because of the divorce. The employee made several claims, including one that the she was not provided a summary plan description (SPD) with respect to the policy. The court agreed with the plaintiff’s claim that failure to provide the SPD was a breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA. For more information on employer-sponsored life insurance, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

Tax Facts Team

  • William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M, Tax Facts Author
  • Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M., Tax Facts Author
  • Alexis Long, J.D., Senior Contributor
  • Richard Cline, J.D. Senior Director, Practical Insights
  • Jason Gilbert, J.D., Senior Editor
  • Patti O’Leary, Senior Editorial Assistant
  • Connie L. Jump, Senior Manager, Editorial Operations
  • Molly Miller, Publisher
  • Danielle Birdsail, Digital Marketing Manager
  • Emily Brunner, Editorial Assistant

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Guidance on receiving the 20% deduction from qualified business income; many rental real estate owners may claim deduction

Posted by William Byrnes on January 25, 2019


The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service issued final regulations and three related pieces of guidance, implementing the new qualified business income (QBI) deduction (section 199A deduction).

The new QBI deduction, created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) allows many owners of sole proprietorships, partnerships, S corporations, trusts, or estates to deduct up to 20 percent of their qualified business income.  Eligible taxpayers can also deduct up to 20 percent of their qualified real estate investment trust (REIT) dividends and publicly traded partnership income.

The QBI deduction is available in tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017, meaning eligible taxpayers will be able to claim it for the first time on their 2018 Form 1040.

The guidance, released today includes:

  • A set of regulations, finalizing proposed regulations issued last summer, A new set of proposed regulations providing guidance on several aspects of the QBI deduction, including qualified REIT dividends received by regulated investment companies
  • revenue procedure providing guidance on determining W-2 wages for QBI deduction purposes,
  • notice on a proposed revenue procedure providing a safe harbor for certain real estate enterprises that may be treated as a trade or business for purposes of the QBI deduction

The proposed revenue procedure, included in Notice 2019-07, allows individuals and entities who own rental real estate directly or through a disregarded entity to treat a rental real estate enterprise as a trade or business for purposes of the QBI deduction if certain requirements are met.  Taxpayers can rely on this safe harbor until a final revenue procedure is issued.

The QBI deduction is generally available to eligible taxpayers with 2018 taxable income at or below $315,000 for joint returns and $157,500 for other filers. Those with incomes above these levels, are still eligible for the deduction but are subject to limitations, such as the type of trade or business, the amount of W-2 wages paid in the trade or business and the unadjusted basis immediately after acquisition of qualified property. These limitations are fully described in the final regulations.

The QBI deduction is not available for wage income or for business income earned by a C corporation.

For details on this deduction, including answers to frequently-asked questions, as well as information on other TCJA provisions, visit IRS.gov/taxreform

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

Posted by William Byrnes on December 3, 2018


TAX DEVELOPMENTS

SEC Announces New Disclosure Requirements for Variable Annuities and Life Insurance 
The SEC recently proposed a rule change designed to improve disclosures with respect to variable annuities and variable life insurance contracts. The new disclosure obligations would help investors understand the features, fees and risks to these types of products in an effort to allow investors to make more informed investment decisions. Under the proposal, annuity and life insurance carriers would be entitled to provide information to investors in a summary prospectus form that would provide a more concise summary of the terms of the contract. For more information on variable annuities, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

Digging Into the Details of Hardship Distributions for Primary Residence Purchases
Qualified plans can to allow participants to take hardship distributions to help with the purchase of a primary residence. The distribution must be directly taken to purchase the residence–items such as renovations made prior to move-in do not qualify. Despite this, the distribution can cover more than just the purchase price of the residence itself. Closing costs would also qualify, as would the cost of a piece of land upon which the primary residence would be built. If a participant buys out a former spouse’s interest in a jointly-owned home pursuant to divorce, the distribution would also qualify. For more information on the hardship distribution rules, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.
Avoiding Gift Tax Traps This Holiday Season
Most taxpayers believe that they are not required to file a gift tax tax return if they do not owe gift taxes–as many will not because of the current $11.18 million gift tax exemption will shield most donors from gift tax liability. Despite this, each gift made during a donor’s lifetime serves to reduce that $11.18 million amount, which applies both to lifetime gifts and transfers made at death. Taxpayers must file Form 709 to report taxable gifts in excess of the annual exclusion amount to avoid potential IRS penalties for failure to file a return. The form is required not because gift taxes are owed, but to provide the IRS with a mechanism for tracking any given taxpayer’s use of the exemption amount during life. For more information on the gift tax filing requirements, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

Posted in Retirement Planning, Taxation | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

IRS provides tax inflation adjustments for tax year 2019

Posted by William Byrnes on November 23, 2018


The Internal Revenue Service was very late (only on November 15) in announcing the tax year 2019 annual inflation adjustments for more than 60 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules and other tax changes. Revenue Procedure 2018-57 provides details about these annual adjustments. The tax year 2019 adjustments generally are used on tax returns filed in 2020.

The tax items for tax year 2019 of greatest interest to most taxpayers include the following dollar amounts:

  • The standard deduction for married filing jointly rises to $24,400 for tax year 2019, up $400 from the prior year. For single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately, the standard deduction rises to $12,200 for 2019, up $200, and for heads of households, the standard deduction will be $18,350 for tax year 2019, up $350.
  • The personal exemption for tax year 2019 remains at 0, as it was for 2018, this elimination of the personal exemption was a provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
  • For tax year 2019, the top rate is 37 percent for individual single taxpayers with incomes greater than $510,300 ($612,350 for married couples filing jointly). The other rates are:

o 35 percent, for incomes over $204,100 ($408,200 for married couples filing jointly);

o 32 percent for incomes over $160,725 ($321,450 for married couples filing jointly);

o 24 percent for incomes over $84,200 ($168,400 for married couples filing jointly);

o 22 percent for incomes over $39,475 ($78,950 for married couples filing jointly);

o 12 percent for incomes over $9,700 ($19,400 for married couples filing jointly).

o The lowest rate is 10 percent for incomes of single individuals with incomes of $9,700 or less ($19,400 for married couples filing jointly).

  • For 2019, as in 2018, there is no limitation on itemized deductions, as that limitation was eliminated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount for tax year 2019 is $71,700 and begins to phase out at $510,300 ($111,700, for married couples filing jointly for whom the exemption begins to phase out at $1,020,600). The 2018 exemption amount was $70,300 and began to phase out at $500,000 ($109,400 for married couples filing jointly and began to phase out at $1 million).
  • The tax year 2019 maximum Earned Income Credit amount is $6,557 for taxpayers filing jointly who have three or more qualifying children, up from a total of $6,431 for tax year 2018. The revenue procedure has a table providing maximum credit amounts for other categories, income thresholds and phase-outs.
  • For tax year 2019, the monthly limitation for the qualified transportation fringe benefit is $265, as is the monthly limitation for qualified parking, up from $260 for tax year 2018.
  • For calendar year 2019, the dollar amount used to determine the penalty for not maintaining minimum essential health coverage is 0, per the Tax Cuts and Jobs act; for 2018 the amount was $695.
  • For the taxable years beginning in 2019, the dollar limitation for employee salary reductions for contributions to health flexible spending arrangements is $2,700, up $50 from the limit for 2018.
  • For tax year 2019, participants who have self-only coverage in a Medical Savings Account, the plan must have an annual deductible that is not less than $2,350, an increase of $50 from tax year 2018; but not more than $3,500, an increase of $50 from tax year 2018. For self-only coverage, the maximum out-of-pocket expense amount is $4,650, up $100 from 2018. For tax year 2019, participants with family coverage, the floor for the annual deductible is $4,650, up from $4,550 in 2018; however, the deductible cannot be more than $7,000, up $150 from the limit for tax year 2018. For family coverage, the out-of-pocket expense limit is $8,550 for tax year 2019, an increase of $150 from tax year 2018.
  • For tax year 2019, the adjusted gross income amount used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the Lifetime Learning Credit is $116,000, up from $114,000 for tax year 2018.
  • For tax year 2019, the foreign earned income exclusion is $105,900 up from $103,900 for tax year 2018.
  • Estates of decedents who die during 2019 have a basic exclusion amount of $11,400,000, up from a total of $11,180,000 for estates of decedents who died in 2018.
  • The annual exclusion for gifts is $15,000 for calendar year 2019, as it was for calendar year 2018.
  • The maximum credit allowed for adoptions is the amount of qualified adoption expenses up to $14,080, up from $13,810 for 2018.

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Tax Facts was first published in 1951 in a slim, 137-page volume covering the income, estate and gift tax aspects of life insurance and annuity ownership, titled Tax Facts on Life Insurance. Since that first year, the breadth and depth of Tax Facts coverage has grown to include employee benefits, business continuation, individual and qualified retirement plans, as well as decades of hard-to-find rulings and clarifications of longstanding regulations.  In 1983, Tax Facts grew to two volumes, with the second covering investments of all types: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, and the tax requirements related to each. What began as a 234-page book grew rapidly as tax reform in the 1980s multiplied the rules covering the treatment of investments.

In 2010 Tax Facts expanded to its current 4 volume and online format.  In its 67-year history, Tax Facts has become the financial advisor industry’s standard for clear, up-to-date thorough tax information. Now in an all-inclusive online format, every answer, ruling and table is easier than ever to find.

Tax Facts is the place I go to find the answers to those tough life insurance questions that no one else has – and to check those they do. It’s THE SOURCE for authoritative income, estate, and gift tax information on life insurance and annuity contracts.”

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly Nov 16th

Posted by William Byrnes on November 16, 2018


IRS Releases Guidance on Impact of Personal Exemption Suspension on Premium Tax Credit
The 2017 tax reform legislation suspended the personal exemption for tax years beginning after 2017 and before 2026. Relatedly, taxpayers are entitled to claim the Affordable Care Act premium tax credit with respect to an individual if the taxpayer has claimed an exemption with respect to that taxpayer (i.e., the personal or dependency exemption). A taxpayer is entitled to claim the premium tax credit with respect to another individual if the taxpayer would otherwise be entitled to claim a dependency exemption with respect to that individual, and includes the individual’s name and TIN on his or her Form 1040. For more information, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.
OTHER IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS

Grandfathering Potential May Still Exist Under Section 162(m) Post-Regulations
The IRS regulations governing the new limitations on the Section 162(m) executive compensation deduction limits may have curtailed grandfathering opportunities that some had expected under the new tax law, but possibilities still remain. The test for determining whether grandfather treatment is permitted involves whether the company was legally obligated to pay the compensation under state law (meaning contract law) as of November 2, 2017. For more information on the new rules governing the deductibility of executive compensation, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

LITIGATION WATCH

Tax Court Rules Business-Provided Life Insurance Taxable to Insured Individual Under Split Dollar Rules
The Tax Court recently ruled that the “economic benefit” of business-sponsored life insurance provided to a key employee through a multiple-employer welfare benefit fund was taxable income to the employee. The Tax Court agreed with the IRS that this structure required current income inclusion under the split dollar life insurance principles, so that the economic benefit received by the employee was required to be included in his gross income for the year in question despite the fact that no actual cash benefits were received during that year. For more information on the rules governing split dollar life insurance, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

Posted by William Byrnes on September 21, 2018


TAX REFORM DEVELOPMENTS

IRS Provides Guidance Updating Accounting Method Changes for Terminated S Corporations
The 2017 tax reform legislation added a new IRC section that now requires eligible terminated S corporations to take any Section 481(a) adjustment attributable to revocation of the S election into account ratably over a six-year period. Under newly released Revenue Procedure 2018-44, an eligible terminated S corporation is required to take a Section 481(a) adjustment ratably over six years beginning with the year of change if the corporation (1) is required to change from the cash method to accrual method and (2) makes the accounting method change for the C corporation’s first tax year. For more information on the rules governing S corporations that convert to C corporation status post-reform, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.
OTHER IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS

IRS Guidance on Interaction between New Association Health Plan Rules and ACA Employer Mandate
The IRS recently released new guidance on the rules governing association health plans (AHPs), which permit expanded access to these types of plans, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) employer mandate. The guidance provides that determination of whether an employer is an applicable large employer subject to the shared responsibility provisions is not impacted by whether the employer offers coverage through an AHP. Participation in an AHP does not turn an employer into an applicable large employer if the employer has less than 50 employees. For more information on the employer mandate, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

OCC Explains Employee Tax Consequences of Employer’s Belated Payment of FICA Tax on Fringe Benefits
The IRS Office of Chief Counsel (OCC) released a memo explaining the tax consequences of a situation where the employer failed to include $10,000 of fringe benefits. The employer paid the FICA taxes associated with the benefits in 2018, although the benefits were provided in 2016. The guidance provides that the payment in 2018 did not create additional compensation for the employee in 2016. If the employer collects the amount of the employee portion of the FICA tax from the employee in 2018, the employer’s payment is not additional compensation. However, if the employer does not seek repayment, the payment of the employee’s portion is additional compensation. For more information on FICA tax issues in the employment benefit context, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.
LITIGATION WATCH

Employer Amendments to VEBA Did Not Result in Adverse Tax Consequences
The IRS recently ruled that an employer could amend its voluntary employees’ beneficiary association (VEBA) to provide health benefits for active employees in addition to retired employees without violating the tax benefit rule or incurring excise taxes. In this case, the VEBA provided health benefits for collectively bargained retired employees. When the VEBA became overfunded, the employer proposed transferring the excess assets into a subaccount for collectively bargained active employees. The IRS found that this proposed amendment would not violate the tax benefit rule because, the new purpose of providing health benefits to active employees under a collective bargaining agreement was not inconsistent with the employer’s earlier deduction. For more information on VEBAs, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.
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5 Fundamentals Of LLCs (Guest Attorney Article by Haik Chilingaryan, Esq.)

Posted by William Byrnes on June 29, 2018


Haik Chilingaryan, Esq.

Please contact Mr. Chilingaryan to discuss the five fundamentals of an LLC at E-Mail: haik@chilingaryan.law or Tel: 818.442.7777

A Limited Liability Company (“LLC”) is a hybrid business entity which contains elements of a partnership and a corporation. LLCs consist of members and managers. An LLC may provide tremendous benefits for its members, which include asset protection, intergenerational transfers, tax saving strategies, wealth preservation, flexible management structures, and clarity on the roles of all essential parties involved in the company as set out in the Operating Agreement.

The following five concepts are fundamental for establishing an LLC: Asset Protection, Intergenerational Transfers, Tax Saving Strategies, Management, and Funding.

Asset Protection

Generally, the more assets a person owns in one’s name, the more likely it is that he or she will be a target mark for creditors. This is why it’s good practice to own as little as possible in your own name. In order to accomplish this goal, it’s important to evaluate the types of asset protections tools that are available to you. An LLC is one such tool that is effective for asset protection purposes.

For creditors of the LLC itself, a member’s personal liability will generally be limited to the amount of the member’s investment in the LLC unless the member personally guarantees the transaction in question.

For creditors of the member of the LLC, a creditor is generally precluded from acquiring an interest in the debtor-member’s interest in the LLC if the judgment was entered after the LLC was formed. However, most states allow for a judgment creditor to levy on assets after distributions have been made to the debtor-member by the LLC.

As a general rule, a creditor has no right to become a member, compel a distribution, or demand company assets. If such rights were given to a creditor, then the other members of the company would suffer from an action or inaction of a particular member. This would inevitably lead to an unjust result for the remainder of the group. Therefore, the creditor must wait until distributions are made to the member before any potential recovery can be pursued.

Another limitation on a creditor’s pursuit on a claim against the debtor-member is that an Operating Agreement has the power to prevent non-members from acquiring an interest in the company. This is especially important in the case of failed marriages and judgment creditors because courts may at times issue overreaching rulings in order to accomplish an equitable outcome in the event of divorces or other circumstances. An LLC can also provide the means for family members or ex-family members who are in dispute to not be compelled to communicate at the time their interest is being transferred from their donors to them.

There is another layer of asset protection that deals particularly with the recipients of the LLC interest. It’s standard practice for owner-members to make gifts to their heirs throughout their lives. Several problems are immediately surfaced when gifts of substantial value such as property or a significant amount of cash are transferred to their heirs. Without a proper plan in place, the recipients are likely to subject these assets to waste or relinquish them to creditors or former spouses. However, the transfer of an interest in the LLC can protect these assets from loss or waste by the recipient-members.

Keep in mind that the asset protection planning must be done well in advance of any anticipation to a claim. That’s because fraudulent transfers are broadly construed. Intent is generally presumed if a transfer is found to have been made before or after the claim arose with the intent to defraud, hinder, or delay a known creditor. If the transfer is deemed fraudulent by the court, the court may set aside the transfer, which may also lead to criminal consequences.

An LLC is the preferred homeplace for many types of properties, including real estate. Real estate held for the purpose of investment is a ubiquitous phenomenon. Yet in practice, it is widespread to see title to its ownership being held in an individual’s name. In fact, if an investor owns multiple income-producing properties, it’s recommended (subject to some exceptions) to form and operate a separate LLC for each piece of property. In the case of a primary residence, transferring title to a living trust is the preferred method primarily due to tax advantages and the homestead exemption.

One of the reasons for forming a separate LLC for an income-producing real estate is that an injury on its premises can be costly even if the insurance policy satisfies a portion of the claim. Thus, if an entity only owns one piece of real estate, the claims will only be limited to that piece of property. If, however, the entity owns other assets, all such assets are at the risk of being exposed to the creditor.

Let’s also not forget one crucial point in the context of asset protection. By merely establishing an LLC, it will not be enough to be sheltered from personal liability. Formalities must be followed to embolden the shield of limited liability (just like for corporations or other types of entities that are subject to limited liability). If formalities are not adequately followed or there is a personal guarantee against the particular risk in question, the member’s personal assets will likely be exposed to the creditor.

It’s also equally important to make sure that the business is never conducted in the individual member’s capacity, but only in business capacity. For example, as “Manager” or “Member.” In the context of distributions, the accounting must continuously be updated as the distributions are being made to the members. The lack of formalities will give more weight to the argument that the LLC had no business purpose and should be disregarded as a separate legal entity.

Despite all the asset protection tools, a creditor has a few recourses (some of which go beyond the scope of this article). The one recourse that is generally available to a creditor is commonly referred to as a “charging order.” A charging order permits a creditor to seize only those assets that have been actually distributed, but not the assets that the debtor-member may potentially be entitled to receive under his or her ownership interest in the LLC.

Charging orders are better known as “phantom income” for a reason. The IRS requires for the members of the LLC to pay income tax even if they do not receive any distributions. In the case of charging orders, the creditor would be required to pay income tax on the debtor-member’s interest in the LLC even if the creditor does not receive any actual distributions. This is perhaps the most deterring factor on a creditor’s pursuit in recovering from an LLC because a creditor generally ends up in a worse position than before his pursuit of the charging order. Additionally, a creditor’s tax bracket may also increase as a result of the charging order.

Intergenerational Transfers

An LLC can be structured in such a way to protect the assets of a family for generations. These are otherwise known as Family Limited Liability Companies (“FLLC”). Even though such entities are structured and operated just like typical LLCs, most, if not all of the assets, are owned by the family in FLLCs.

In general, LLCs have some of the same benefits as living trusts when it comes to intergenerational transfers. An LLC can provide for a smoother transfer of wealth upon the death of an owner by avoiding probate. It can further prevent assets from going through probate in the event of a member’s disability and even in guardianship or conservatorship proceedings.

Another similarity with a living trust is that the nature and character of the underlying assets of the company are private. In other words, details as to what assets the LLC owns will generally be outside the scope of the public domain. As opposed to probate, where the circumstances surrounding the transfers of the decedent’s assets are a matter of public record, transfers of LLC assets are generally accomplished under private circumstances.

The effective planning techniques involve not only how the assets will be transferred when the owner of those assets dies, but to also employ techniques that will allow the transfer of assets during the donor’s life. In the context of FLLCs, there is a planning method available through gifting which allows for senior family members to periodically gift a portion of their assets to their younger family members.

There are some assets, however, that by their nature make it difficult to gift in fractions. Transferring portions of real estate, farm, or other assets are difficult to calculate especially when their value can fluctuate on a daily basis. There are some factors that may make the particular asset periodically more or less valuable: external market conditions and the overall condition of the asset. However, the gifting of an interest in an LLC avoids the trouble of transferring a fraction of a particular asset.

Regardless of the type of asset being transferred, there are incentives in place for transferring wealth during a donor’s life. These incentives can range from reducing the donor’s taxable estate to providing for the living expenses of the donor’s children. As such, the implementation of an annual gifting method may play a significant role in the periodic transfer of wealth from the older family members to the younger ones.

In 2018, the annual exclusion amount is $15,000 for individual taxpayers. Under the taxation rule of gift-splitting, a married couple can transfer $30,000 to any individual without being required to pay a Gift Tax or having to file a Gift Tax Return. To illustrate the significance of annual gifting, suppose that a married couple has four children. The couple can potentially remove $120,000 per annum from their estate without the Gift Tax consequences.

An LLC can also provide an excellent tool for gifting an interest during the donor’s life without commingling the gifted portion of the assets with the recipient’s other assets that have been accumulated during his or her marriage. After the membership interest is directly transferred to the recipient or in a separate property trust that has been specifically established for the recipient, the “paper trail” can show that a particular asset (whether in the form of cash or other property interest) is in fact the separate property of the recipient-member.

In the context of LLC ownership transfers, it is the member’s interest – not the actual asset – being transferred. Thus, the interest is adjusted in value due to lack of marketability. That’s because the assets that are subject to the LLC generally have limitations. Such limitations may include the right of first refusal, the inability to demand a distribution, order a dissolution, or participate in the management of the LLC.

The fundamental reason for the lack of marketability is that the membership interest is not a liquid asset and generally cannot be freely assigned. In other words, if the buyer cannot indeed purchase the piece of a parcel, but instead he or she can only purchase a potential ownership interest in the parcel (e.g., by owning X% in the LLC) with some of the previously mentioned limitations, the value of the membership interest will be discounted in accordance with the limitations.

The discounting aspect for lack of marketability is especially useful in the context of gifting. For instance, if a member’s interest is discounted by 1/3 due to lack of marketability, a gift of $10,000 in the form of an LLC interest is equivalent to a gift of $15,000 in the underlying assets of the LLC ($15,000 x 2/3 =$10,000).

Upon the death of the owner-member, value adjustments may also apply to the remaining portion of the deceased member’s interest in the LLC based on lack of marketability. A general formula for calculating the taxable value of the estate of the deceased-member’s interest is the following:

% of ownership x FMV (1 – discount) = Estate Tax Value

Tax Saving Strategies

An LLC can be taxed as a disregarded entity, partnership, cooperative, or corporation. By default, a multi-member LLC is taxed as a partnership. By default, a single-member LLC is taxed as a sole proprietorship. Under such a classification, the member is considered self-employed and is consequently responsible for self-employment taxes (Social Security and Medicare).

For income tax purposes, sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S-corporations are classified as pass-through entities. This means that the income and expense will pass through to the owner’s personal tax returns. Under a pass-through scenario, the LLC itself will file a Form 1065 tax return, but it will not pay the income taxes on the LLC’s profits.

One strategy for lowering a member’s taxable income is to not have them actively participate in the management of the LLC. Members who do not participate in the management of the company will generally be exempt from paying the self-employment tax. Therefore, their overall income tax may be reduced since they will not pay the self-employment tax on the LLC portion of their income.

Another way to reduce the overall income taxes during the members’ life is by spreading them among members who happen to fall in lower tax brackets than the owners. This is especially useful in the context of FLLCs since younger family members may not necessarily earn as high of an income as their elder counterparts.

Another benefit of an LLC is that a transfer of an asset by an individual to the LLC is normally not a taxable event unless otherwise excepted. Similarly, transfers upon the dissolution of the LLC are also not taxable since they are deemed a return of capital. Of course, gain may be recognized if the asset is sold by the individual after the asset has been transferred from the LLC.

The general tax consequence on transfers (to and from) an LLC is especially significant when considering that virtually any transfer from one entity to another can either be accomplished by sale or gift. If it’s a sale, then the transferor must generally pay capital gain taxes if the asset has appreciated in value since its purchase. If it’s a gift, there may be gift tax consequences. In this case, we have the owner being a separate entity, transferring to the LLC (also a separate entity). Nonetheless, these transfers generally do not qualify as taxable events for IRS purposes.

In the context of FLLCs, calculating the basis of assets or membership interests can be problematic, especially if such assets are sold generations after their purchase. This will inevitably affect the basis adjustments of those assets. The basis of an asset is what the original owner paid for its purchase. Several factors may affect the adjustment of the basis by either increasing the original basis (e.g., capital improvements) or by decreasing the original basis (e.g., depreciation deductions).

The similar concepts on basis adjustments apply to a member’s interest in the LLC because these interests also have their own basis. If there are many assets with different basis inside the LLC, it can become a logistical nightmare for accountants and administrators to calculate each member’s separate basis in the LLC. Thus, mixing different assets in the same LLC can be problematic especially in the context of multi-generational entities (e.g., FLLCs). Instead of being limited to one LLC, it is recommended to consider additional or subordinate LLCs especially for preventing such problems down the road.

The last point with regard to tax consequences of LLCs pertains to state law. When forming an LLC, it’s essential to consider all of the laws that the state provides on the formation and governance of LLCs. Some states have favorable laws with regard to LLCs versus other business types of entities; other states tend to be less favorable.

Management of an LLC

LLCs consist of members and managers. If we can make an analogy with corporations, members would be equivalent to the shareholders of a corporation; whereas managers can be a hybrid between Board of Directors and senior officers of a corporation (depending on the scope of authority provided by the members and the Operating Agreement).

There are two types of structures in which LLCs operate. There are member-managed and manager-managed LLCs. In member-managed LLCs, the members of the company manage the company by voting in accordance with each member’s interest. In manager-managed LLCs, members appoint one or more managers to conduct business activities that fall within the scope authorized by the company’s members.

There is no requirement for a manager to be a member of the LLC. Even in a member-managed LLC, the members may appoint a manager to be responsible for the daily business operations, but nevertheless be prevented from exercising any decision-making management authority.

A managing entity is recommended for a variety of reasons. First, as opposed to an individual, a managing entity does not have the same limitations as a human being might have, including disability and death. Since managers generally answer to members, the level of control over investment decisions can be set by the members in accordance with the manager’s fiduciary duty to the LLC. The level of control may vary from how much income to distribute or reinvest to being limited to only managing simple day-to-day operations.

An LLC formed in California must have an Operating Agreement. The Operating Agreement sets forth the scope of authority of members and managers. It can also provide restrictions on the transferability of membership interests and determine the form of compensation of its managers. A membership interest can be in the form of percentage or membership units. Membership units are analogous to owning shares in a corporation.

There are generally four ways members can receive compensation from the LLC. First, the General Members can receive management fees for managing the company. Such compensation can even be in the form of “preferred equity interest,” whereby a certain percentage of income is paid to the individual or entity holding that interest.

The second way is for the LLC to make distributions to the members. In such a scenario, the limited members will generally be entitled to a pro rata share from the distributions. The third way is for the LLC to make loans to the members. This strategy should be implemented with extreme caution. The fourth way provides an option to the limited members to potentially purchase a more significant share in the LLC from the owners, thereby resulting in more direct income for the owners.

Funding the LLC

Funding is the process of transferring assets to the LLC. Funding is an essential step in order for the LLC to be legally enforceable. An LLC must have a business purpose. If the LLC does not have any assets or is not otherwise funded, it follows that it does not have a business purpose.

The similar concept of funding applies to revocable living trusts. If a revocable living trust does not have any assets, it can be the most potent trust instrument ever written, but it will generally have no legal effect. Therefore, an LLC must also be properly funded, for among other things, to potentially grant limited liability to its members.

The means for funding the LLC may vary from asset to asset. For example, different standards apply when real estate is transferred onto the LLC as opposed to a publicly traded security company. As a baseline rule, the transfer of an asset to the LLC must happen in the same manner in which title to the particular type of property is held. In case of real estate, such transfers may only be effectuated by deeds, regardless of whether the transfer is from person to person, or from (or to) an LLC.

Notwithstanding the type of asset being transferred, the value of the asset must be determined at the time of transfer. Determining the valuation of real estate and business interests in firmly held companies or LLCs is not an exact science. Consequently, such assets may be required to be appraised by a qualified appraiser (someone with an excellent reputation in the field of appraisals and a successful track record for audits). To justify any valuation discounts in the event of litigation or potential challenges by taxing authorities, qualified appraisals should also value the interest in the LLC at the time the member’s interest is either sold or gifted or when one of the members dies.

The transfer of stocks, bonds, and other securities to an LLC is accomplished by a stockbroker, the issuing company, or a third party agent. If a stockbroker is used to facilitate the transfer, it’s recommended for the stocks to be held in a “nominee securities” account. In other words, the brokerage account will be in the name of the LLC, however, the actual stocks will be held in the brokerage company’s name.

One final point concerning funding to keep in mind when it comes to stocks and investment assets are the “anti-diversification rules.” Generally, the transfer of an asset to the LLC is not a taxable event unless the transfer triggers an immediate tax consequence within the meaning of diversification of securities.

Several standards are used to determine issues related to diversification. First, “The 80% Rule” states that if 80% or more of the assets of the LLC are marketable securities, the LLC can be classified as an “investment company.” As a result, the anti-diversification rules may apply and tax may be due on the transfer. Therefore, if 20% or more of the assets are made up of real estate, the anti-diversification rules will not be triggered and no tax would be due on the transfer provided that real estate assets remain at 20% or more in the LLC after the transfer.

Second, “The Non-Identical Assets Rule” applies in a scenario where one person contributes one type of stock and another person contributes another type of stock, the anti-diversification rule may be triggered. However, if the same two people were to contribute two of the same stock or if one person contributes all of the assets (even if they are not identical), the anti-diversification rules will generally not be triggered.

Third, “The 25% Test and 50% Test” states that no diversification can occur when the transferor transfers a diversified portfolio of securities to the LLC which contains no more than 25% of the value of all securities from one issuer and no more than 50% of the value of all securities from five or fewer issuers. In this instance, the portfolio itself is considered diversified since it does not contain any one issuer which represents more than 25% of the value of the total securities nor five or fewer issuers which represent more than 50% of the securities in the same portfolio. Similar to mutual funds, diversification rules generally do not apply to a portfolio that is being contributed to the LLC that is already diversified.

The crux of the matter regarding the anti-diversification rules is that if an LLC owns securities and the LLC itself is in fact performing the functions of an investment company within the context of securities, then any asset being transferred (including cash) to the LLC may be subject to tax. The application of these rules can be pernicious and planning around them must be done with extreme caution to minimize the likelihood of a tax being due on a transfer.

Final Thoughts

The rigorous legal standards surrounding LLCs increase the likelihood for the LLC to lose its asset protection status against creditors or to be successfully challenged by taxing authorities. The LLC provides tremendous benefits to its members: asset protection, intergenerational transfers, tax saving strategies, flexible management structures, and wealth preservation. In order to enjoy all the benefits that an LLC has to offer, it’s important to be in constant contact with qualified advisors, including attorneys, CPAs, tax specialists, and financial advisors to make sure that all applicable legal matters are properly addressed in advance.

Remember that an LLC is a business, it must have a business purpose, and it must be operated as a business. Problems are bound to occur when the owners of LLCs deviate from these standards and become overconfident in the notion that their LLC is an enforceable legal entity that is unequivocally protected against creditors and taxing authorities by virtue of its existence.

Important Note: Chilingaryan Law or its affiliates are not rendering legal, financial, or tax advice by providing the content above. No attorney-client relationship is formed based on the information provided above. The above content is designated only for educational use. Accordingly, Chilingaryan Law assumes no liability whatsoever in reliance on its use. Additionally, certain changes in law may affect on the legality of the information provided above and certain circumstances of the reader may vary the applicability of the above content to his or her situation.

About Chilingaryan Law

Our law firm focuses its practice on serving professionals and business owners who, among other things, seek counsel on matters relating to Estate Planning and Business Planning with an emphasis on tax efficiency.  We work with of counsel attorneys, financial advisors, tax specialists, and accountants to provide the most optimal services for our clients. We recognize that some clients wish to minimize their tax consequences, others are more concerned about posterity, yet many others are concerned about their financial security and lifestyle needs once they retire.

Our main office is in Glendale, California. We also have offices in Downtown Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, and Sherman Oaks. Tel: 818.442.7777

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EY Report: State of the Tax Industry and Tax Education

Posted by William Byrnes on March 21, 2016


“The central function of the tax office has evolved from strategy and planning into risk management”, says William Byrnes, professor of law and associate dean at Texas A&M University.  Read Full Report here E&Y tax industry report

E&Y reports that “According to a 2015 report by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), which launched a Competency Crisis website to deal with the talent gap in 2013, 90% of North American organizations cannot find the entry-level management accounting and finance talent they need.”

“The educational curriculum isn’t keeping up with the needs of business, and employers expect more advanced skills at entry level, according to the report.”

E&Y finds: “Texas A&M University is among the pioneers of change in tax education. …the State of Texas not only established a new law school at the university but also gave it carte blanche to create a new education model.”

 

Posted in Education Theory, international taxation, Taxation, Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Deciding Whether to Itemize Deductions or Use the Standard Deduction?

Posted by William Byrnes on February 17, 2016


Most people claim the standard deduction when they file their federal tax return, but you may be able to lower your tax bill if you itemize. You can find out which way saves you the most by figuring your taxes both ways. The IRS offers these six tips to help you choose:

 

Figure Your Itemized Deductions. Add up deductible expenses you paid during the year. These may include expenses such as:

  • Home mortgage interest
  • State and local income taxes or sales taxes (but not both)
  • Real estate and personal property taxes
  • Gifts to charities
  • Casualty or theft losses
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses
  • Unreimbursed employee business expenses

Special rules and limits apply to each type of itemized expense which may lead to less of a tax deduction than the actual expense.

Know Your Standard Deduction. If you don’t itemize, your basic standard deduction for 2015 depends on your filing status:

  • Single $6,300
  • Married Filing Jointly $12,600

If you’re 65 or older or blind, your standard deduction is higher than these amounts. If someone can claim you as a dependent, your deduction may be limited.

IRS YouTube Videos: Standard vs. Itemized DeductionsEnglish

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Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business focuses exclusively on what individuals and small buisnesses need to know to maximize opportunities under today’s often complex tax rules.  It is the essential tax reference for financial advisors, & planners; insurance professionals; CPAs; attorneys; and other practitioners advising small businesses and individuals.

  • Charles Calello Enterprise/Group Inquiries 201-526-1259 Email Me
  • Customer Service 800-543-0874 8am – 6pm ET Monday – Thursday 8am – 5pm ET Friday Email Customer Service

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Tax Facts about Taxable and Non-Taxable Income

Posted by William Byrnes on February 16, 2016


All income is taxable unless a law specifically says it isn’t. Here are some basic rules you should know to help you file the 2015 – 1040 tax return due April 15, 2016.

  • Taxable income.  Taxable income includes money you earn, like wages and tips. It also includes bartering, an exchange of property or services. The fair market value of property or services received is normally taxable.

Some types of income are not taxable except under certain conditions, including:

  • Life insurance.  Proceeds paid to you upon the death of an insured person are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount you get that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.
  • Qualified scholarship.  In most cases, income from a scholarship is not taxable. This includes amounts used for certain costs, such as tuition and required books. On the other hand, amounts you use for room and board are taxable.
  • Other income tax refunds.  State or local income tax refunds may be taxable. You should receive a Form 1099-G from the agency that paid you. They may have sent the form by mail or electronically. Contact them to find out how to get the form. Report any taxable refund you got even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.

Here are some items that are usually not taxable:

  • Gifts and inheritances
  • Child support payments
  • Welfare benefits
  • Damage awards for physical injury or sickness
  • Cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer for an item you buy
  • Reimbursements for qualified adoption expenses

Tax Facts Online is the premier practical, useful, actionable, and affordable reference on the taxation of insurance, employee benefits, investments, small tax-facts-online
business and individuals. This advisory service provides expert guidance on hundreds of the most frequently asked client questions concerning their most important tax issues.

Many ongoing, significant developments have affected tax law and, consequently, tax advice and strategies. Tax Facts Online is the only source that is reviewed daily and updated regularly by our expert editors.

In addition to completely current content not available anywhere else, Tax Facts Online gives you exclusive access to:

  • Robust search capabilities that enable you to locate detailed answers—fast
  • Time-saving calculators, tables and graphs
  • A copy/paste capability that speeds the production of presentations and enables you to easily incorporate Tax Facts content into your workPlus, the recent addition of current news, case studies, commentary and competitive intelligence serves our customers well as the only tax reference that a non-professional tax expert will ever need.

Tax Facts Online Core Content

Tax Facts on Insurance provides definitive answers to your clients’ most important tax-related insurance questions, while offering insightful analysis and illustrative examples. Numerous planning points direct you to the most recent and important insurance solutions.

Tax Facts on Employee Benefits provides current in-depth coverage of important client-related employee benefits questions. Employee benefits affect most everyone2015_tf_triple_combo_cover-m, and your clients must know how to deal with often complex issues and problems. Tax Facts on Employee Benefits provides the answers in a direct, concise, and practical manner.

Tax Facts on Investments provides clear, detailed answers to your difficult tax questions concerning investments. You must know what investments best suit your clients from a tax standpoint. You will discover questions that directly provide insightful answers, comparison of investment choices, as well as how investments have changed in recent years.

Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business focuses exclusively on what individuals and small buisnesses need to know to maximize opportunities under today’s often complex tax rules.  It is the essential tax reference for financial advisors, & planners; insurance professionals; CPAs; attorneys; and other practitioners advising small businesses and individuals.

  • Charles Calello Enterprise/Group Inquiries 201-526-1259 Email Me
  • Customer Service 800-543-0874 8am – 6pm ET Monday – Thursday 8am – 5pm ET Friday Email Customer Service

Posted in Taxation, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Tax Facts for Choosing the Right Tax Filing Status

Posted by William Byrnes on December 14, 2015


Using the correct filing status is very important when filing a tax return. The right status affects how much is owed in taxes. It may even affect whether a tax return must be filed.

When choosing a filing status, keep in mind that marital status on Dec. 31 is the status for the entire year.  If more than one filing status applies, choose the one that will result in the lowest tax.

Note for same-sex married couples that new rules apply if legally married in a state or foreign country that recognizes same-sex marriage.  The same sex spouses generally must use a married filing status on the 2015 federal tax return and forward.  This is true even if the same sex spouses now live in a state or foreign country that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Here is a list of the five filing statuses to help you choose:

1. Single.  This status normally applies if you aren’t married or are divorced or legally separated under state law.

2. Married Filing Jointly.  A married couple can file one tax return together. If your spouse died in 2013, you usually can still file a joint return for that year.

3. Married Filing Separately.  A married couple can choose to file two separate tax returns instead of one joint return. This status may be to your benefit if it results in less tax. You can also use it if you want to be responsible only for your own tax.

4. Head of Household.  This status normally applies if you are not married. You also must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for yourself and a qualifying person. Some people choose this status by mistake. Be sure to check all the rules before you file.

5. Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child.  If your spouse died during 2014 or 2015 and you have a dependent child, this status may apply. Certain other conditions also apply.

Tax Facts Online is the premier practical, useful, actionable, and affordable reference on the taxation of insurance, employee benefits, investments, small tax-facts-online
business and individuals. This advisory service provides expert guidance on hundreds of the most frequently asked client questions concerning their most important tax issues.

Many ongoing, significant developments have affected tax law and, consequently, tax advice and strategies. Tax Facts Online is the only source that is reviewed daily and updated regularly by our expert editors.

In addition to completely current content not available anywhere else, Tax Facts Online gives you exclusive access to:

  • Robust search capabilities that enable you to locate detailed answers—fast
  • Time-saving calculators, tables and graphs
  • A copy/paste capability that speeds the production of presentations and enables you to easily incorporate Tax Facts content into your workPlus, the recent addition of current news, case studies, commentary and competitive intelligence serves our customers well as the only tax reference that a non-professional tax expert will ever need.

Tax Facts Online Core Content

Tax Facts on Insurance provides definitive answers to your clients’ most important tax-related insurance questions, while offering insightful analysis and illustrative examples. Numerous planning points direct you to the most recent and important insurance solutions.

Tax Facts on Employee Benefits provides current in-depth coverage of important client-related employee benefits questions. Employee benefits affect most2015_tf_triple_combo_cover-meveryone, and your clients must know how to deal with often complex issues and problems. Tax Facts on Employee Benefits provides the answers in a direct, concise, and practical manner.

Tax Facts on Investments provides clear, detailed answers to your difficult tax questions concerning investments. You must know what investments best suit your clients from a tax standpoint. You will discover questions that directly provide insightful answers, comparison of investment choices, as well as how investments have changed in recent years.

Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business focuses exclusively on what individuals and small buisnesses need to know to maximize opportunities under today’s often complex tax rules.  It is the essential tax reference for financial advisors, & planners; insurance professionals; CPAs; attorneys; and other practitioners advising small businesses and individuals.

  • Charles Calello Enterprise/Group Inquiries 201-526-1259 Email Me
  • Customer Service 800-543-0874 8am – 6pm ET Monday – Thursday 8am – 5pm ET Friday Email Customer Service

Posted in Compliance, Taxation | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Deducting Moving Expenses

Posted by William Byrnes on December 9, 2015


If you move because of your job, you may be able to deduct the cost of the move on your tax return. You may be able to deduct your costs if you move to start a new job or to work at the same job in a new location. The IRS offers the following tips about moving expenses and your tax return.

In order to deduct moving expenses, your move must meet three requirements:

1. The move must closely relate to the start of work.  Generally, you can consider moving expenses within one year of the date you start work at a new job location. Additional rules apply to this requirement.

2. Your move must meet the distance test.  Your new main job location must be at least 50 miles farther from your old home than your previous job location. For example, if your old job was three miles from your old home, your new job must be at least 53 miles from your old home.

3. You must meet the time test.  After the move, you must work full-time at your new job for at least 39 weeks the first year. If you’re self-employed, you must meet this test and work full-time for a total of at least 78 weeks during the first two years at the new job site. If your income tax return is due before you’ve met this test, you can still deduct moving expenses if you expect to meet it.

If you can claim this deduction, here are a few more tips from the IRS:

  • Travel.  You can deduct transportation and lodging expenses for yourself and household members while moving from your old home to your new home.  BUT you cannot deduct your travel meal costs.
  • Household goods and utilities.  You can deduct the cost of packing, crating and shipping your things. You may be able to include the cost of storing and insuring these items while in transit. You can deduct the cost of connecting or disconnecting utilities.
  • Nondeductible expenses.  You cannot deduct as moving expenses any part of the purchase price of your new home, the cost of selling a home or the cost of entering into or breaking a lease. See Publication 521 for a complete list.
  • Reimbursed expenses.  If your employer later pays you for the cost of a move that you deducted on your tax return, you may need to include the payment as income. You report any taxable amount on your tax return in the year you get the payment.
  • Address Change.  When you move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Post Office. To notify the IRS file Form 8822, Change of Address.

Tax Facts Online is the premier practical, useful, actionable, and affordable reference on the taxation of insurance, employee benefits, investments, small tax-facts-online
business and individuals. This advisory service provides expert guidance on hundreds of the most frequently asked client questions concerning their most important tax issues.

Many ongoing, significant developments have affected tax law and, consequently, tax advice and strategies. Tax Facts Online is the only source that is reviewed daily and updated regularly by our expert editors.

In addition to completely current content not available anywhere else, Tax Facts Online gives you exclusive access to:

  • Robust search capabilities that enable you to locate detailed answers—fast
  • Time-saving calculators, tables and graphs
  • A copy/paste capability that speeds the production of presentations and enables you to easily incorporate Tax Facts content into your workPlus, the recent addition of current news, case studies, commentary and competitive intelligence serves our customers well as the only tax reference that a non-professional tax expert will ever need.

Tax Facts Online Core Content

Tax Facts on Insurance provides definitive answers to your clients’ most important tax-related insurance questions, while offering insightful analysis and illustrative examples. Numerous planning points direct you to the most recent and important insurance solutions.

Tax Facts on Employee Benefits provides current in-depth coverage of important client-related employee benefits questions. Employee benefits affect most2015_tf_triple_combo_cover-meveryone, and your clients must know how to deal with often complex issues and problems. Tax Facts on Employee Benefits provides the answers in a direct, concise, and practical manner.

Tax Facts on Investments provides clear, detailed answers to your difficult tax questions concerning investments. You must know what investments best suit your clients from a tax standpoint. You will discover questions that directly provide insightful answers, comparison of investment choices, as well as how investments have changed in recent years.

Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business focuses exclusively on what individuals and small buisnesses need to know to maximize opportunities under today’s often complex tax rules.  It is the essential tax reference for financial advisors, & planners; insurance professionals; CPAs; attorneys; and other practitioners advising small businesses and individuals.

  • Charles Calello Enterprise/Group Inquiries 201-526-1259 Email Me
  • Customer Service 800-543-0874 8am – 6pm ET Monday – Thursday 8am – 5pm ET Friday Email Customer Service

Posted in Taxation, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

New Lexis Advance® Tax Platform Now Available to Law School Faculty & Students; Cutting-Edge International Tax Titles

Posted by William Byrnes on October 22, 2015


On June 1, LexisNexis launched its new online tax research platform called Lexis Advance® Tax.

Already available to America’s law school faculty and students, it includes a rich, comprehensive package of nearly 1,400 sources, including tax news, primary law, journals and nearly 300 treatises, practice guides and forms products for both tax and estates lawyers.

Along with news, another strong area for L.A. Tax is its subpage devoted to International Tax. There, users will find a selection01701_11_1_cover of titles examining hot, cutting-edge issues like: Lexis Guide to FATCA Compliance, the Lexis global guide to anti-money laundering laws around the world, and the recently-revised Foreign Tax & Trade Briefs, 2nd Ed, which provides summaries of each country’s tax system and laws.

All of these titles are produced by a team of tax experts led by Professor William H. Byrnes, Associate Dean, International Financial Law, at Texas A&M University Law School, in Fort Worth, the newest law school in Texas. See https://law.tamu.edu/

Looking for Lexis Advance Tax?
Sign in to www.lexisadvance.com, look for the pull-down menu called “Lexis Advance Research” in the upper-left corner. Click the down arrow and select Lexis Advance Tax.

If you have questions or would like to schedule a short training, please contact your LexisNexis® Account Executive.

– See more at: http://www.lexisnexis.com/lextalk/legal-content-insider/f/21/t/2525.aspx?utm_content=2015-10-20+15:00:04#sthash.szct2yk6.dpuf

Posted in BEPS, FATCA, Financial Crimes, Money Laundering, Taxation, Transfer Pricing | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Taxable or Not?

Posted by William Byrnes on March 16, 2015


9dc30-6a00d8341bfae553ef01bb07b43355970d-piAll income is taxable unless the law excludes it. Here are some basic rules you should know to help you file an accurate tax return:

  • Taxed income.  Taxable income includes money you earn, like wages and tips. It also includes bartering, an exchange of property or services. The fair market value of property or services received is taxable.

Some types of income are not taxable except under certain conditions, including:

  • Life insurance.  Proceeds paid to you because of the death of the insured person are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount that you get that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.
  • Qualified scholarship.  In most cases, income from this type of scholarship is not taxable. This means that amounts you use for certain costs, such as tuition and required books, are not taxable. On the other hand, amounts you use for room and board are taxable.
  • State income tax refund.  If you got a state or local income tax refund, the amount may be taxable. You should have received a 2014 Form 1099-G from the agency that made the payment to you. If you didn’t get it by mail, the agency may have provided the form electronically. Contact them to find out how to get the form. Report any taxable refund you got even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.

Here are some types of income that are usually not taxable:

  • Gifts and inheritances
  • Child support payments
  • Welfare benefits
  • Damage awards for physical injury or sickness
  • Cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer for an item you buy
  • Reimbursements for qualified adoption expenses

Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor.  Financial advisors are continually looking for competitive information to help them provide the best answers for their clients and to obtain new clients.  National Underwriter’s Tax Facts series is the only resource written specifically for the financial advisor and producer providing fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts has been famous over 50 years.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts Online risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  Call 1-800-543-0874.

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

 
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