I was shocked by the March 13, 2015 IRS release warning individuals to chose their tax professional carefully. The IRS found that some “unscrupulous preparers” instructed their clients to make individual shared responsibility payment directly to the preparer! That is stealing!
I fault the clients, preparers and the complex system.
The IRS has tried to regulate all return preparers but been held up by a need for a statute change that Congress will have to address (see quick summary from IRS on this). Of course, truly unscrupulous people will still find a way around the law.
So, more is needed to educate individuals about the tax system so they better understand Read more
Well into the start of busy season, the IRS issued important guidance on some parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how small businesses can adopt the tangible property regulations (TPR). I’ve got a summary of the ACA updates (and beyond) in a short article in the 3/12/15 AICPA Tax Insider – An update on Affordable Care Act busy season developments.
Here is my summary of the TPR items as well as a recent news release by the California Franchise Tax Board on conformity with TPR.
Policy Item: Both the ACA items (particularly the relief from the $100/employee/day penalty for health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) that violate ACA provisions), and the TPR Read more
After the US Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor in 2013, tax filing for most same-sex married couples got easier because they were then allowed to file as married at the federal level. However, that might not have been the case at the state level if the state did not recognize same-sex marriage. But, states are changing and a few states, including Virginia and Wisconsin now require all married couples to file as married filing joint or married filing separately.
So, how you filed your state return for 2013 might not be the same for 2014. Same-sex couples should check to see if state law has changed to allow for (require) filing as married. Read more
Our health care system is too complex. I am not only referring to the numerous tax provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare), but the system itself. For example, if you have health insurance, do you know what it covers, how costs are computed, how insurance companies and the medical profession make money?
On March 4, the US Supreme Court heard oral argument in King v Burwell on whether individuals who obtained health insurance through the federal exchange (because their state did not establish its own exchange), are entitled to a Premium Tax Credit (PTC). The PTC provision in the Code (Section 36B) makes reference to state exchange. The Administration interprets that as also meaning a federal exchange. Millions of individuals have obtained (in 2014) and are currently obtaining for 2015, a PTC to help pay for Read more
A growing number of individuals and businesses own bitcoin or use it for transactions (perhaps with a third party actually handling the bitcoin to cash exchange). So, more people, including tax practitioners, need to know the federal guidance at Notice 2014-21.
I was interviewed recently for an article in Business Insider by Jonathan Marino on the topic. The article is titled: “Bitcoin will be a big mess for both Bitcoin holders and the IRS.” That may be true for some, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be.
Certainly, if an individual has been using bitcoin regularly and not doing anything to track the basis and value for each transaction, they have some catching up to do. If someone gets on a system of tracking, they should have the data all ready when it comes time to Read more
Despite marijuana operations at the state level being legal at the state level since 1996 in California (and now many states), tax guidance has been sparse. A recent, non-binding Chief Counsel Advice memo sheds some light on how the UNICAP rules apply (or don’t apply), but more is needed.
I’ve got a short article in the AICPA Tax Insider today about the CCA and its meaning – here.
A few more observations beyond the article: While the CCA basically says that the UNICAP rules do not allow a seller of a controlled substance, such as marijuana, to treat more costs as inventoriable, there seems to still be some leeway for a producer. Producers Read more
Remember back in 2010, the IRS rolled out its plan to regulate all return preparers. Those who were not a CPA, attorney, Enrolled Agent or non-signing/supervised preparer would have to pass a test and complete continuing education from IRS approved providers. That plan though was shot down in the DC Circuit in the Loving decision (click here for IRS response). The IRS even had to reinstate some practitioners it had previously suspended from practice because these individuals were only preparing returns (they were not otherwise representing taxpayers before the IRS).
The court found that Title 31 of the US Code, Section 330, did not give IRS authority to regulate preparers who did not “represent” taxpayers before the IRS. So, one solution Read more
On 1/14/15, Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate released her required annual report to Congress about problems with the tax system. As noted on the NTA website, the key parts of this 700+ page report are:
• Most Serious Problems• Legislative Recommendations• Most Litigated Issues• Volume 2: TAS Research and Related Studies
Some key points noted include:
• Tax law complexity (here + Executive Summary)
• The need to put taxpayer bill of rights into the Internal Revenue Code (here)
• Problems due to inadequate funding of the IRS (here + Executive Summary) Read more
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) imposes a penalty on “applicable large employers” starting in 2014 (changed to 2015 by the Administration). An ALE is an employer with 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent workers. A full-time worker is one who works on average, 30 hours per week, or 130 hours per month.
There have been proposals to increase the threshold from 30 to 40, including this week – H.R. 30 of the new 114th Congress. Full-time employee is relevant in determining if an employer is an ALE, but more significantly, it is relevant in describing which employee the ALE has to offer coverage to (as well as the employee’s dependents up to age 26), in order to avoid the employer mandate penalty (IRC Section 4980H). An ALE only owes a penalty if one of its full-time employees obtains a Premium Tax Credit. The change from 30 to 40 Read more
What state tax rules and issues exist when a business accepts bitcoin from customers? What about for the customers? In March 2014, the IRS told us that convertible, virtual currency should be treated as property (rather than as currency under any special rule for currency, such as Code Section 988). That was in Notice 2014-21. States have mostly been silent on the topic. Where states conform to the federal system, that means, treat as property as well. But what about treatment for sales tax and some special state income tax issues, such as sourcing?
New York recently issued guidance on both income and sales tax.
I’m working on an article about state tax issues and virtual currency. What issues do you Read more
In filing our 2014 tax returns, we will all have to answer a new question (line 61 on the 2014 Form 1040) – did you and everyone in your family (spouses and dependents on the return) have health coverage for every month of 2014. If anyone was lacking coverage for any month, they must next determine if they meet an exemption. If they do not, they owe the Individual Shared Responsibility Payment (penalty). One of the exemptions that many people might qualify for is that the health insurance available to them was unaffordable. If the employer offered coverage, you look at the cost of that coverage (cost less what employer contributes to that cost). If the employer did not offer coverage, you look at what the cost of coverage would have been in the Marketplace (Exchange). If you would have been eligible for a Premium Tax Credit (Section 36B), you must reduce that cost of Marketplace coverage Read more
On December 31, 2013, 57 provisions in the federal tax law expired. Many had expired before and been renewed. While there was discussion in the congressional tax committees since at least April 2014, as well as votes, no consensus was reached until early December. The House passed the bill – H.R. 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act, on December 3 by 378-46. On December 16, the Senate passed it by a vote of 76-16. On December 19, President Obama signed the bill. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the cost of H.R. 5771 for one year as about $81 billion, but only $42 billion for ten years (because some of the items, such as bonus depreciation involved timing of deductions).
The extension means, for example, that if a business purchased new equipment in the first 50 weeks of 2014 not expecting to be able to claim 50% bonus depreciation on it (because Read more