Michael R. Repoli, CPA,EA
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Tax-Related Portion of the Substance Use–Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act, Enrolled, as Signed by the President on October 24, 2018, P.L. 115-271


Congressional Republicans are looking to move forward with certain legislative tax efforts during Congress’s lame-duck session. The House’s top tax writer, who will hand the reins to Democrats next year, has reportedly outlined several tax measures that will be a priority when lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., during the week of November 12. However, President Donald Trump’s recently touted 10-percent middle-income tax cut does not appear to be one of them.


The Senate Finance Committee’s (SFC) top ranking Democrat has introduced a bill to restore a retirement savings program known as myRA that was terminated by Treasury last year. The myRA program was created by former President Obama through an Executive Order.


A new, 10 percent middle-income tax cut is conditionally expected to be advanced in 2019, according to the House’s top tax writer. This timeline, although largely already expected on Capitol Hill, departs sharply from President Donald Trump’s original prediction that the measure would surface by November.


IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig gave his first speech since being confirmed as the 49th chief of the Service at the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) November 13 National Tax Conference in Washington, D.C. "You’re going to see things [I do] and go, ‘I can’t believe he did that,’" Rettig said.


The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Taxation are urging the IRS to make extensive changes to proposed "transition tax" rules.


Last year’s tax reform created a new Opportunity Zone program, which offers qualifying investors certain tax incentives aimed to spur investment in economically distressed areas. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has predicted that the Opportunity Zone program will create $100 billion in private capital that will be invested in designated opportunity zones.


The IRS is expected to soon release proposed regulations for tax reform’s new business interest limitation. "They are so broad that nearly every domestic taxpayer will be impacted," Daniel G. Strickland, an associate at Eversheds Sutherland, told Wolters Kluwer.


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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