Tax Alerts
Tax Briefing(s)

President Trump on February 9 signed the Bipartisan Budget Act into law after a brief government shutdown occurred overnight. The legislation contains tax provisions in addition to a continuing resolution to fund the government and federal agencies through March 23. The House approved this new law in the early morning hours of February 9, by a 240-to-186 vote. The Senate approved the bipartisan measure a few hours earlier, by a 71-to-28 vote.

The Treasury Department has proposed repealing 298 regulations. According to the Treasury, the targeted rules are unnecessary, duplicative or obsolete. In addition, the Treasury proposed to amend another 79 regulations to reflect the repeal.

The Trump administration on February 12 released its much-anticipated fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request, "Efficient, Effective, Accountable An American Budget." The administration’s proposal calls for IRS funding that focuses additional resources on enforcement and cybersecurity. Coming off passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, this year’s budget recommendations contain only a handful of additional tax proposals when compared to some prior-year budget requests.

The Treasury and IRS have released their second quarter update to the 2017-2018 Priority Guidance Plan. The updated 2017-2018 Priority Guidance Plan now reflects 29 additional projects, including 18 projects that have become near term priorities as a result of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.

New proposed regulations under the centralized partnership audit regime address how and when partnerships and their partners adjust tax attributes to take into account partnerships’ payment adjustments. They also provide, among other additions and clarifications to earlier proposed regs, rules to adjust basis and capital accounts if the partnership adjustment is a change to an item of gain, loss, amortization or depreciation.

The IRS has issued guidance for certain specified foreign corporations owned by U.S. shareholders subject to the Code Sec. 965 transition tax that are requesting a change in accounting period. The IRS will not approve a request to change the annual accounting period under either the existing automatic or general change of accounting period procedures if the change could result in the avoidance, reduction, or delay of the transition tax. This guidance applies to any request to change an annual accounting period that ends on December 31, 2017, regardless of when such request was filed.

The IRS has posted best practices for return preparers addressing the Affordable Care Act’s individual shared responsibility requirement, also known as the individual mandate. The Service reminded preparers that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did not eliminate the individual shared responsibility requirement for 2017.

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.