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President Trump signed into law the first two phases of the House’s coronavirus economic response package. Meanwhile, the Senate has been developing and negotiating "much bolder" phase three legislation.


"At President Trump’s direction, we are moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a March 20 tweet. "All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties."


The Treasury Department and IRS have extended the due date for the payment of federal income taxes otherwise due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, as a result of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. The extension is available to all taxpayers, and is automatic. Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or contact the IRS to qualify for the extension. The relief only applies to the payment of federal income taxes. Penalties and interest on any remaining unpaid balance will begin to accrue on July 16, 2020.


The IRS has provided emergency relief for health savings accounts (HSAs) and COVID-19 health plans costs. Under this relief, health plans that otherwise qualify as high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) will not lose that status merely because they cover the cost of testing for or treatment of COVID-19 before plan deductibles have been met. In addition, any vaccination costs will count as preventive care and can be paid for by an HDHP.


The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has requested additional guidance on tax reform’s Code Sec. 199A qualified business income (QBI) deduction.


The IRS has issued guidance that:

  • exempts certain U.S. citizens and residents from Code Sec. 6048 information reporting requirements for their transactions with, and ownership of, certain tax-favored foreign retirement trusts and foreign nonretirement savings trusts; and
  • establishes procedures for these individuals to request abatement or refund of penalties assessed or paid under Code Sec. 6677 for failing to comply with the information reporting requirements.

The Treasury and IRS have adopted as final the 2016 proposed regulations on covered assets acquisitions (CAAs) under Code Sec. 901(m) and Code Sec. 704. Proposed regulations issued under Code Sec. 901(m) are adopted with revisions, and the Code Sec. 704 proposed regulations are adopted without revisions. The Code Sec. 901(m) rules were also issued as temporary regulations. The CAA rules impact taxpayers claiming either direct or deemed-paid foreign tax credits.


The new Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, signed into law by President Obama in November, makes some far-reaching changes to partnership audits along with repealing automatic enrollment in health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The new law is a good preview of how Congress is looking to enhanced tax compliance as a revenue raiser. The tax compliance measures in the budget law, largely targeted to partnerships, are projected to generate more than $10 billion in revenue over 10 years.


Small businesses received some welcomed news in October with passage of the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act. The new law revises the definition of small employer for purposes of market reforms under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The PACE Act is intended to help protect small businesses from potential health care premium increases. At the same time, many small businesses wait for expected relief from potential penalties for stand-alone health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) deemed not to comply with the ACA.


After acknowledging earlier this year that hackers breached one of its popular online apps, the IRS has promised more identity theft protections in the 2016 filing season. The IRS, along with partners in the tax preparation community, has identified and tested more than 20 new data elements on returns to help detect and prevent identity-theft related filings. The agency is also working to prevent criminals from accessing tax-time financial products.


As the calendar approaches the end of 2015, it is helpful to think about ways to shift income and deductions into the following year. For example, spikes in income from selling investments or other property may push a taxpayer into a higher income tax bracket for 2015, including a top bracket of 39.6 percent for ordinary income and short-term capital gains, and a top bracket of 20 percent for dividends and long-term capital gains. Adjusted gross incomes that exceed the threshold for the net investment income (NII) tax can also trigger increased tax liability. Accordingly, traditional year-end techniques to defer income or to accelerate deductions can be useful.


For a business to start writing off the cost of depreciable equipment and property, it is necessary that the equipment be placed in service. To write off costs in 2015, the equipment must be placed in service by December 31, 2015. The "placed-in-service" requirement applies, for example, for taking depreciation, especially first-year bonus depreciation, under Code Sec. 168, expensing of the cost of property under Code Sec. 179, and other write-offs such as the investment tax credit under Code Sec. 46.


A business operated by two or more owners can elect to be taxed as a partnership by filing Form 8832, the Entity Classification Election form. A business is eligible to elect partnership status if it has two or more members and:


Taxpayers that invest in a trade or business or an activity for the production of income can only deduct losses from the activity or business if the taxpayer is at risk for the investment. A taxpayer is at risk for the amount of cash and the basis of property contributed to the activity. Taxpayers are also at risk for amounts borrowed if the taxpayer is personally liable to pay the liability, or if the taxpayer has pledged property as security for the loan (other than property already used in the business).


The IRS expects to receive more than 150 million individual income tax returns this year and issue billions of dollars in refunds. That huge pool of refunds drives scam artists and criminals to steal taxpayer identities and claim fraudulent refunds. The IRS has many protections in place to discover false returns and refund claims, but taxpayers still need to be proactive.


An employer must withhold income taxes from compensation paid to common-law employees (but not from compensation paid to independent contractors). The amount withheld from an employee's wages is determined in part by the number of withholding exemptions and allowances the employee claims. Note that although the Tax Code and regulations distinguish between withholding exemptions and withholding allowances, the terms are interchangeable. The amount of reduction attributable to one withholding allowance is the same as that attributable to one withholding exemption. Form W-4 and most informal IRS publications refer to both as withholding allowances, probably to avoid confusion with the complete exemption from withholding for employees with no tax liability.


In Rev. Proc. 2015-20, the IRS substantially simplified the requirements for small businesses to adopt the tangible property regulations (the "repair regulations") for 2014. The relief allows small businesses to change their accounting methods, to comply with the regulations, without having to apply Code Sec. 481 and without having to file Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method.


Form  1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, is a new information return. The IRS requires the Health Insurance Marketplace to report certain information  about every individual who receives health insurance coverage through the Marketplace to the agency and also to the enrollee. Form 1095-A reports information about the individual(s) covered by Marketplace coverage, the starting and ending dates of coverage, and the insurer that provided coverage. Form 1095-A also reports the cost of coverage, the plan's total monthly payment, any advance payment, and more.