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Tax reform legislation widely known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97) was signed into law on December 22, 2017. The TCJA brought forth the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. tax code in over 30 years. However, widespread efforts to implement the TCJA amidst ongoing tax-related global developments continue to this day. Now, two years following its enactment, Treasury, the IRS, and the tax community remain steadfast in working toward understanding and communicating congressional intent under the new law.


On February 11, the White House released President Donald Trump’s fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget proposal, which outlines his administration’s priorities for extending certain tax cuts and increasing IRS funding. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified before the Senate Finance Committee (SFC) on February 12 regarding the FY 2021 budget proposal.


House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, "Moving Forward Framework"; House Ways and Means Committee, January 29 hearing witnesses’ testimony


House Democratic and Republican tax writers debated the effects of tax reform’s corporate income tax cut during a February 11 hearing convened by Democrats. Democratic lawmakers have consistently called for an increase in the corporate tax rate since it was lowered from 35 percent to 21 percent in 2017 by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97).


The IRS will allow a farmer that is exempt from the uniform capitalization (UNICAP) rules by reason of having average annual gross receipts of $25 million or less to revoke a prior election out of the UNICAP rules made under Code Sec. 263A(d)(3) with respect to pre-productive plant expenditures. The guidance also explains how a farmer may make an election out under Code Sec. 263A(d)(3) in a tax year in which the farmer is no longer exempt from the UNICAP rules as a qualifying small business taxpayer with $25 million or less in average annual gross receipts.


Taxpayers claiming the low-income housing credit should apply the "average income" minimum set aside test by reference to the "very low-income" limits calculated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for purposes of determining eligibility under the HUD Section 8 program. HUD determinations for very low-income housing families are currently used to calculate the low-income housing credit income limits under the alternate "20-50" and "40-60" minimum set-aside tests.



The IRS has provided guidance on qualifying for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is a refundable tax credit that is intended to be a financial boost for families with low to moderate incomes.


The IRS has proposed regulations with guidance for employers on withholding federal income tax from employee’s wages.


Tax reform discussions continue on Capitol Hill with legislation expected to be released very soon. GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate appear to be aiming for a comprehensive overhaul of the Tax Code. President Trump and Republicans in Congress have set out an ambitious schedule of passing a tax reform bill before year-end. 


Holiday gifts made to customers are generally deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses as long as the taxpayer can demonstrate that such gifts maintain or improve customer goodwill. Such gifts must bear a direct relationship to the taxpayer's business and must be made with a reasonable expectation of a financial return commensurate with the amount of the gift. However, the $25 annual limitation per recipient on deductibility is applicable to holiday gifts, unless a statutory exceptions applies.


For purposes of federal tax, employers must withhold and pay FICA taxes (7.65%) if they paid a household employee cash wages of at least $2,000 in 2016 or in 2017 ($2,100 in 2018). Employers must pay FUTA tax (6%) if they paid total cash wages of at least $1,000 in a calendar quarter to household employees. A homeowner may be an “employer” to a housekeeper; or, if enough evidence is shown, merely a recipient of services by an independent contractor or self-employed individual.


Tax writers in Congress are set to begin debating and writing tax reform legislation. On September 27, the White House and GOP leaders in Congress released a framework for tax reform. The framework sets out broad principles for tax reform, leaving the details to the two tax-writing committees: the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. How quickly lawmakers will write and pass tax legislation is unclear. What is clear is that tax reform is definitely one of the top issues on Congress’ Fall agenda.