Michael R. Repoli, CPA,EA
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On July 1, President Trump signed into law a sweeping, bipartisan IRS reform bill called the Taxpayer First Act ( P.L. 116-25). This legislation aims to broadly redesign the IRS for the first time in over 20 years.


The House has approved a bipartisan repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) so-called "Cadillac"excise tax on certain high-cost insurance plans.


The IRS has released final regulations that clarify the employment tax treatment of partners in a partnership that owns a disregarded entity.


Final regulations allow employers to voluntarily truncate employees’ social security numbers (SSNs) on copies of Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, furnished to employees. The truncated SSNs appear on the forms as IRS truncated taxpayer identification numbers (TTINs). The regulations also clarify and provide an example of how the truncation rules apply to Forms W-2.


IRS final regulations provide rules that apply when the lessor of investment tax credit property elects to pass the credit through to a lessee. If this election is made, the lessee is generally required to include the credit amount in income (50 percent of the energy investment credit). The income is included in income ratably over the shortest MACRS depreciation period that applies to the investment credit property. No basis reduction is made to the investment credit property.


Effective July 17, 2019, the list of preventive care benefits that can be provided by a high deductible health plan (HDHP) without a deductible or with a deductible below the applicable minimum deductible is expanded. The list now includes certain cost effective medical care services and prescription drugs for certain chronic conditions.


The continuity safe harbor placed-in-service date deadlines for the investment tax energy credit (Code Sec. 48) and the renewable electricity production credit (Code Sec. 45(a)) may be tolled if a construction delay is caused by national security concerns raised by the Department of Defense (DOD).


The Treasury and IRS have issued proposed regulations on provisions dealing with passive foreign investment companies (PFICs). Proposed regulations published on April 25, 2015, also have been withdrawn ( NPRM REG-108214-15).


Proposed regulations would provide an exception to the unified plan rule for multiple employer plans (MEPs). The purpose is to reduce the risk of plan disqualification due to noncompliance by other participating employers. The regulations would apply on or after the publication date of final regulations in the Federal Register. They cannot be relied upon until then. Comments and requests for a public hearing must be received by October 1, 2019.


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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