Michael R. Repoli, CPA,EA
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Final regulations relating to the low-income housing tax credit revise and clarify requirements that low-income housing agencies must follow when conducting physical inspections of low-income units and reviewing low-income certifications and other documentation. The regulations finalize previously issued temporary regulations (T.D. 9753, February 25, 2016).


The Senate’s top Democratic tax writer is calling on the IRS and Treasury to further waive underpayment penalties for the 2018 tax year. Nearly 30 million taxpayers are expected to have underpaid taxes last year, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).


Senators have introduced a bipartisan bill specifically tailored to reduce excise taxes and regulations for the U.S. craft beverage industry. The bill aims to promote job creation and permanently reduce certain taxes and compliance burdens.


The IRS’s proposed 50-percent gross income locational rule on the active conduct of Opportunity Zone businesses is garnering criticism from stakeholders and lawmakers alike. The IRS released proposed regulations, NPRM REG-115420-18, for tax reform’s Opportunity Zone program last October.


The IRS has said that it is postponing its plan to discontinue faxing taxpayer transcripts. The IRS statement came on the heels of a letter sent earlier this week from bipartisan leaders of the Senate Finance Committee urging such a delay.


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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