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The Senate has approved a bipartisan IRS reform bill, which now heads to President Trump’s desk. Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.


Taxpayers may rely on two new pieces of IRS guidance for applying the Code Sec. 199A deduction to cooperatives and their patrons:


The IRS has issued final regulations that require taxpayers to reduce the amount any charitable contribution deduction by the amount of any state and local tax (SALT) credit they receive or expect to receive in return. The rules are aimed at preventing taxpayers from getting around the SALT deduction limits. A safe harbor has also been provided to certain individuals to treat any disallowed charitable contribution deduction under this rule as a deductible payment of taxes under Code Sec. 164. The final regulations and the safe harbor apply to charitable contribution payments made after August 27, 2018.


Final regulations address the global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) provisions of Code Sec. 951A. The final regulations retain the basic approach and structure of the proposed regulations published on October 10, 2018. The final regulations address open questions and comments received on the proposed regulations.


Newly issued temporary regulations limit the application of the Code Sec. 245A participation dividends received deduction (the participation DRD) and the Code Sec. 954(c)(6) exception in certain situations that present an opportunity for tax avoidance. The temporary regulations also provide related information reporting rules under Code Sec. 6038.


Final regulations reduce the Code Sec. 956 amount for certain domestic corporations that own stock in controlled foreign corporations (CFCs). The regulations are intended to ensure that Code Sec. 956 is applied consistently with the participation exemption system under Code Sec. 245A.


Final rules allow employers to use health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) to reimburse employees for the purchase individual insurance coverage, including coverage on an Affordable Care Act Exchange. The rules also allow "excepted benefit HRAs," which would not have to be integrated with any coverage. The rules generally apply for plan years starting on or after January 1, 2020.


Final regulations provide requirements that a person must satisfy to become and remain a certified professional employer organization (CPEO), as well as the CPEO’s federal employment tax liabilities and other obligations.


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.