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Charles P. "Chuck" Rettig was confirmed as the new IRS Commissioner on September 12. The Senate confirmed the nomination by a 64-to-33 vote. Rettig received both Democratic and Republican support.


New IRS guidance aiming to curb certain state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap "workarounds" is the latest "hot topic" tax debate on Capitol Hill. The IRS released proposed amendments to regulations, REG-112176-18, on August 23. The proposed rules would prevent taxpayers, effective August 27, 2018, from using certain charitable contributions to work around the new cap on SALT deductions.


The IRS has proposed to remove the Code Sec. 385 documentation regulations provided in Reg. §1.385-2. Although the proposed removal of the documentation rules will apply as of the date the proposed regulations are published as final in the Federal Register, taxpayers can rely on the proposed regulations until the final regulations are published.


Last year’s Tax Reform created a new 20-percent deduction of qualified business income for passthrough entities, subject to certain limitations. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97) created the new Code Sec. 199A passthrough deduction for noncorporate taxpayers, effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017. However, the provision was enacted only temporarily through 2025. The controversial deduction has remained a buzzing topic of debate among lawmakers, tax policy experts, and stakeholders. In addition to its impermanence, the new passthrough deduction’s ambiguous statutory language has created many questions for taxpayers and practitioners.


Wolters Kluwer recently spoke with Joshua Wu, member, Clark Hill PLC, about the tax implications of the new Code Sec. 199A passthrough deduction and its recently-released proposed regulations, REG-107892-18. That exchange included a discussion of the impact that the new law and IRS guidance, both present and future, may have on taxpayers and tax practitioners.


Wolters Kluwer has projected annual inflation-adjusted amounts for tax year 2019. The projected amounts include 2019 tax brackets, the standard deduction, and alternative minimum tax amounts, among others. The projected amounts are based on Consumer Price Index figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor on September 12, 2018.


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.