Michael R. Repoli, CPA,EA
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The Senate Finance Committee (SFC) advanced President Donald Trump’s nomination of Charles Rettig for IRS Commissioner. The SFC approved the nomination on July 19 by a 14-to-13 party line vote.


President Donald Trump and House GOP tax writers discussed "Tax Cuts 2.0" in a July 17 meeting at the White House. The next round of tax cuts will focus primarily on the individual side of the tax code, both Trump and House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady, R-Tex., reiterated to reporters at the White House before the meeting.


House Republicans and the Trump Administration are working together to craft a tax cut "2.0"outline, the House’s top tax writer has said. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex., told reporters during the week that House tax writers and the White House are currently working to finalize the "framework."


The Senate Finance Committee’s (SFC) leading Democrat has released a report critiquing Republicans’ 2017 overhaul of the tax code. The report, focusing primarily on international tax reform, was released by SFC ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on July 18.


Homeowners will be hurt financially by last year’s tax reform, according to a new House Democratic staff report. The report alleges that real estate developers will primarily benefit from the new tax law at the expense of homeowners.


The IRS has issued final regulations that target tax-motivated inversion transactions and certain post-inversion tax avoidance transactions. The final regulations retain the thresholds and substantiation requirements of the 2016 final, temporary and proposed regulations (the 2016 regulations), but make limited changes to the 2016 regulations to improve clarity and reduce unnecessary complexity and burdens on taxpayers. These changes also ensure that the final regulations do not impact cross-border transactions that are economically beneficial and not tax-motivated.


The Fifth Circuit vacated a tax preparer’s conviction for obstructing tax administration. The conviction was no longer valid in light of C.J. Marinello, SCt., 2018-1 ustc ¶50,192.


National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson has released her mid-year report to Congress. The report contains a review of the 2018 filing season, and identifies the priority issues the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) will address during the upcoming fiscal year. It also includes the IRS’s responses to each of the 100 administrative recommendations made in the 2017 Annual Report to Congress.


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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