Michael R. Repoli, CPA,EA
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The IRS has announced a significant increase in enforcement actions for syndicated conservation easement transactions. This is a "priority compliance area" for the agency.


Treasury and the IRS are expected to release proposed rules in "early 2020" that would clarify certain limitations on the carried interest tax break, according to David Kautter, Treasury’s assistant secretary for tax policy. Kautter briefly addressed the proposed regulations’ timeline while speaking at the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) 2019 National Tax Conference in Washington, D.C.


Hopes for a year-end tax extenders package appear to be dwindling on Capitol Hill.


Senate Finance Committee (SFC) Chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and other top Senate tax writers are calling for Senate action on the bipartisan Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Secure bill (HR 1994) (SECURE Act). The House-approved, bipartisan retirement savings bill has remained stalled in the Senate since May.


The Senate blocked a Democratic resolution on October 23 to overturn Treasury rules preventing certain workarounds to the $10,000 state and local tax (SALT) federal deduction cap.


Treasury and the IRS on October 31 announced the release of a new, draft form implementing certain reporting requirements under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone program.


A California-based medical marijuana dispensary corporation’s motion for summary judgment challenging the constitutionality of Code Sec. 280E was denied. The Tax Court also addressed whether Code Sec. 280E applies to marijuana businesses legally operating under state (California) law, and whether the prohibition on deductions is limited to ordinary and necessary business expenses.


The IRS has proposed regulations that define an eligible terminated S corporation (ETSC), and provide rules relating to distributions of money by an ETSC after the post-termination transition period (PTTP). The proposed regulations also extend the treatment of distributions of money during the PTTP to all shareholders of the corporation, and update and clarify the allocation of current earnings and profits to distributions of money and other property.


Eleventh-hour votes in Congress in December renewed a package of tax extenders for 2014, created new savings accounts for individuals with disabilities, cut the IRS’ budget, and more. At the same time, the votes helped to set the stage for the 114th Congress that convenes this month. Republicans have majorities in the House and Senate and have indicated that taxes are one of the top items on their agenda for 2015.


The IRS is expected to shortly open the 2015 filing season and both the agency and taxpayers are preparing for some turbulence. The IRS is going into the filing season with a reduced budget, which could translate into fewer audits. Legislation passed by Congress in late 2014 could delay the start of the filing season, although to date, the IRS has not announced a delay. Taxpayers and the IRS are on alert for identity theft, a pervasive problem during filing season. Additionally, new requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act kick-in.


Beginning January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) required individuals to carry minimum essential health coverage or make a shared responsibility payment, unless exempt. Individuals will report on their 2014 federal income tax return if they had minimum essential health coverage for all or part of the year. Individuals who file Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, will indicate on Line 61 if they were covered by minimum essential health coverage for 2014, if they are exempt from the requirement to carry minimum essential health coverage or if they are making an individual shared responsibility payment.


The IRS has announced an increase in the optional business standard mileage reimbursement rate for 2015. The business standard mileage rate increased by one and a half cents, to 57.5 cents (up from 56 cents for 2014). The 2015 standard mileage rate for medical and moving expenses decreased slightly to 23 cents (down from 23.5 cents for 2014). The charitable mileage rate, however, is set by statute at a flat 14 cents per mile without inflation adjustment each year. The revised rates apply to deductible transportation expenses paid or incurred for business or medical/moving expenditures, or qualified charitable miles driven, on or after January 1, 2015.


The upcoming filing season is expected to be challenging for taxpayers and the IRS as new requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act kick-in. Taxpayers, for the first time, must make a shared responsibility payment if they fail to carry minimum essential health care coverage or qualify for an exemption. At the same time, there is growing uncertainty over one of the key elements of the Affordable Care Act: the Code Sec. 36B premium assistance tax credit as litigation makes its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Under Code Sec. 6020, the IRS has the authority to prepare and file a substitute tax return for a taxpayer who fails to file a timely return. If a taxpayer does not file a return or cooperate with the IRS on a substitute return, the IRS can prepare and sign a substitute return based on the information it has.


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