Michael R. Repoli, CPA,EA
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The House on April 18 approved the two largest bills of a bipartisan IRS reform package. On April 17, the House approved seven other bills, by voice vote, which are also part of the larger bipartisan package. Its aim is to restructure the IRS for the first time in 20 years. The entire package of bills was approved by the Ways and Means Committee several weeks ago.


The IRS provided an additional day for taxpayers to file and pay their taxes, following system issues that surfaced early on April 17. Individuals and businesses with a filing or payment due date of April 17 had until midnight on Wednesday, April 18, to file returns and pay taxes. Taxpayers did not need to take extra actions to receive the extra time.


The White House and Republican lawmakers are continuing discussions focused on a second round of tax reform, according to President Trump’s top economic advisor. National Economic Council Director Lawrence Kudlow said in an April 5 interview that Trump and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex., spoke earlier in the week again about a "phase two" of tax reform


Certain proposed regulations issued by Treasury will now be subject to additional oversight by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Treasury and OMB released on April 12 specifies terms under which the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within OMB will review future tax regulations.


The IRS is already working on implementing tax reform, according to IRS Acting Commissioner David Kautter. Speaking at a Tax Executives Institute event in Washington, D.C., Kautter discussed current IRS efforts toward implementing tax law changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97).


Technical corrections to the partnership audit rules were included in the bipartisan Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), 2018 ( P.L. 115-141), which was signed by President Trump on March 23. The omnibus spending package, which provides funding for the government and federal agencies through September 30, contains several tax provisions, including technical corrections to the partnership audit provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2015 ( P.L. 114-74).


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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