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New IRS guidance fills in several more pieces of the Code Sec. 199A passthrough deduction puzzle. Taxpayers can generally rely on all of these new final and proposed rules.


The IRS has issued interim guidance on the excise tax payable by exempt organizations on remuneration in excess of $1 million and any excess parachute payments made to certain highly compensated current and former employees in the tax year. The excise tax imposed by Code Sec. 4960 is equal to the maximum corporate tax rate on income (currently 21 percent).


The IRS has provided safe harbors for business entities to deduct certain payments made to a charitable organization in exchange for a state or local tax (SALT) credit. A business entity may deduct the payments as an ordinary and necessary business expenses under Code Sec. 162 if made for a business purpose. Proposed regulations that limit the charitable contribution deduction do not affect the deduction as a business expense.


The Treasury and IRS have issued final regulations for determining the inclusion under Code Sec. 965 of a U.S. shareholder of a foreign corporation with post-1986 accumulated deferred foreign income. Code Sec. 965 imposes a "transition tax" on the inclusion. The final regulations retain the basic approach and structure of the proposed regulations, with certain changes.


The IRS has issued its annual revisions to the general procedures for ruling requests, technical memoranda, determination letters, and user fees, as well as areas on which the Associate Chief Counsel offices will not rule. The revised procedures are generally effective January 2, 2019.


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.