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New IRS guidance fills in several more pieces of the Code Sec. 199A passthrough deduction puzzle. Taxpayers can generally rely on all of these new final and proposed rules.


The IRS has issued interim guidance on the excise tax payable by exempt organizations on remuneration in excess of $1 million and any excess parachute payments made to certain highly compensated current and former employees in the tax year. The excise tax imposed by Code Sec. 4960 is equal to the maximum corporate tax rate on income (currently 21 percent).


The IRS has provided safe harbors for business entities to deduct certain payments made to a charitable organization in exchange for a state or local tax (SALT) credit. A business entity may deduct the payments as an ordinary and necessary business expenses under Code Sec. 162 if made for a business purpose. Proposed regulations that limit the charitable contribution deduction do not affect the deduction as a business expense.


The Treasury and IRS have issued final regulations for determining the inclusion under Code Sec. 965 of a U.S. shareholder of a foreign corporation with post-1986 accumulated deferred foreign income. Code Sec. 965 imposes a "transition tax" on the inclusion. The final regulations retain the basic approach and structure of the proposed regulations, with certain changes.


The IRS has issued its annual revisions to the general procedures for ruling requests, technical memoranda, determination letters, and user fees, as well as areas on which the Associate Chief Counsel offices will not rule. The revised procedures are generally effective January 2, 2019.


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.


Q: After what period is my federal tax return safe from audit? A: Generally, the time-frame within which the IRS can examine a federal tax return you have filed is three years. To be more specific, Code Sec. 6501 states that the IRS has three years from the later of the deadline for filing the return (usually April 15th for individuals) or, if later, the date you actually filed the return on a requested filing extension or otherwise. This means that if you file your 2014 return on July 10, 2015, the IRS will have until July 10, 2018 to look at it and "assess a deficiency;" not April 15, 2018.