TaxConnections

 
 

Archive for Tax Provision/Tax Reporting

Why The Ministerial Housing Allowance Might Not Survive

On September 7, as was discussed in “Appeals Court Upholds Clergy Housing Exemption,” the Seventh Circuit of appeals reversed a Federal District Court decision that ruled the minister’s housing allowance was unconstitutional. The suit had been brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. So the housing allowance survives, for now.

The Appeals Court ruling was actually based on the fact that the plaintiffs, Dan Barker and Laurie Anne Gaylor (co-presidents of FFRF) did not have standing to sue as they had not been denied the benefit of a housing allowance. In ruling that the plaintiffs did not have standing, the court did not actually address the issue of the constitutionality of the housing allowance. Read more

The Election, 114th Congress And Fate of Tax Reform

What does the change in majority party in the Senate for the 114th Congress mean for tax reform, and perhaps for any tax legislation?

An op ed in the Wall Street Journal on November 5, 2014 by Congressman Boehner and Senator McConnell, states that the Republican controlled Congress will address many challenges including “The insanely complex tax code that is driving American jobs overseas.”

What might that mean? A few possibilities:

Nothing. Complexity is not a bi-partisan issue. There is no contrary argument to the statement that our federal tax law is too complex. So, why hasn’t the complexity been Read more

Appeals Court Upholds Clergy Housing Exemption

The 7th U S Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed a lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) that challenged the constitutionality of the clergy housing allowance. The suit was originally brought in the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin where Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the tax break for ministers was unconstitutional. Her basis for the ruling was that the law benefited religious people and no one else. The decision, which would potentially eliminate the most important tax break for ministers, was stayed pending appeal.

The law allows ministers of the gospel to exclude income tax on amounts designated by the church as housing allowance. Self-employment taxes are payable on these amounts. In addition, ministers may “double dip,” as they are allowed to deduct mortgage interest Read more

Minister’s Housing Allowance Subject of Court Battles

The housing allowance is a significant tax benefit for a minister. It can result in thousands of dollars in tax savings annually. The law currently allows a minister to occupy a church-owned parsonage without paying income tax on the value of the accommodations. Alternatively, the church may designate an amount to be paid to the minister as housing allowance. This amount, when used for housing costs, is not subject to income tax. Both a parsonage and a housing allowance are subject to self-employment taxes.

Only One Home Subject to Housing Allowance

Several court cases have recently been brought, seeking to limit or abolish this tax benefit for ministers.

Read more

Special Rules In The Canada-US Tax Treaty Apply To Cross-Border Death Tax Issues

Canada and the United States have very different regimes for imposing taxes on death. The United States imposes a Federal Estate Tax; however, Canada has not imposed any Estate Tax since 1971. Rather, Canada taxes accrued, but unrealized, capital gains on death, as part of its income tax system.

Most tax practitioners are not aware of the fact that there special rules found in Article XXIX-B of the Canada-United Tax Convention (“the Treaty”) that are aimed at providing relief in connection with certain cross-border death taxes issues.

Some of these are summarized below:

Read more

eBay To Pay $3 Billion Tax On Foreign-Held Cash

eBay has made a huge decision to bring back as much as $9.7 Billion that had been designated as permanently invested overseas. As eBay made this decision, they had to pay tax on the difference between the United States and foreign tax rates. The tax to bring foreign held cash back to the United States: a staggering $3 billion. Moving the money back to the United States diminished eBay’s First Quarter.

At the end of 2013, eBay announced it has $12.8 billion in cash and investments with $9.7 billion held overseas. Because of this lucrative tax charge to eBay, they are reporting a $2.33 billion first-quarter loss. eBay made a major decision relocating capital to the United States in pursuit of financial growth and new acquisitions. Finance insiders predict Second Quarter revenues of $4 Billion. eBays sister company PayPal continues to draw new users which is Read more

House Ways And Means Committee Approves Permanent Extension of Research & Experimentation Tax Credit Amongst Other Expired Business Tax Provisions

On April 29th, The House Ways and Means Committee approved six separate bills to permanently extend certain expired business tax provisions. These bills specifically address the research and experimentation tax credit (H.R. 4438); ‘look-through’ treatment for controlled foreign corporations (CFCs) (H.R. 4464); the subpart F exceptions for active financing income (H.R. 4429); increased section 179 ‘small business’ expensing limits (H.R. 4457); a reduced recognition period for S corporation built-in gains (H.R. 4453); and basis adjustments to stock of S corporations making charitable contributions of property (H.R. 4454).

These permanent ‘tax extender’ bills, approved by the Ways and Means Committee without revenue offsets, are estimated by Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) staff to reduce federal Read more

The Independent Contractor Ranks Are Growing

The number of workers identifying themselves as “independent contractors” is growing in the United States. In 2005 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that the number of independent contractors rose from 6.4% of the workforce in 2001 to 27.4% of the workforce by 2005. In 2010, Navigant Economics claimed the following:

“More than 10 million workers, comprising 7.4 percent of the U.S. workforce, are classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as independent contractors, and another 4 million work in alternative work arrangements in which they may be legally classified as independent contractors for one or more purposes. Alternative workers in 2010 will account for approximately $626 billion in personal income, or about one in every eight dollars earned in the U.S.” Read more

FAT(CA) – No One Is Getting “FAT” Except The IRS

President Obama in 2010, signed P.L. 111-147, the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act. The purpose of the law is in its eponymous title, but the Internal Revenue Service got into the act with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) provisions.

FATCA is an attempt by the IRS to “improve reporting compliance” — translation: “widen the net” — to tax United States citizens who stash assets abroad.

The new FATCA reporting rules are broad and will impact U.S. corporations and high-income individuals with offshore financial holdings. The IRS issued its final regulations in January 2013 and put its Treasury Department “tax ambassadors” to work.

The result was a series of intergovernmental agreements with more than 50 other countries. Read more

Foreign Trusts and Installment Sales

Introduction

A United States Settlor of an irrevocable Foreign Trust having a United States beneficiary is deemed to be the owner of the Foreign Trust. Subject to statutory exceptions, the Settlor is the taxable party regardless of whether the Settlor has released all dominion and control of the trust assets by an irrevocable transfer and the right to alter, amend, or modify the trust document. This is the income tax treatment of a United States Settlor by Section 679 of the Code. (1) Because the Settlor is treated as the owner of the trust assets, the transfer of appreciated assets to a Foreign Trust does not occasion a taxable event as contemplated by Section 684 of the Code. Read more

Little Known Facts About Amending Tax Returns With The IRS

What happens when you realize you made an error on your tax return? Most people think they should file an amended tax return, and in most cases that would be correct; however, sometimes it is unnecessary. According to the Internal Revenue Service, if you made a math error, the IRS will correct it for you; an amended return is not normally required. Or, if you forgot to attach a tax form such as a W-2, you do not need to amend your tax return; the IRS will contact you and request missing forms if necessary. If you are due a refund based on your return as originally filed, the IRS recommends waiting to receive the refund before filing an amended return to claim an additional refund. If you are amending multiple years, you should mail them in separate envelopes, and finally, you should always amend your return if you made an error regarding your filing status, income, deductions or credits on your Read more

The Senate Finance Committee Passes Tax Extenders For 2014 & 2015

On April 3rd, the Senate Finance Committee overwhelmingly approved the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency Act of 2014 (hereinafter “EXPIRE”) with a strong bipartisan vote, setting the stage for Congress to address. The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to have its own extension package later this month. To that end and as a caveat, it is not certain whether any or all of these incentives will become law.

The bill extends many long awaited business tax extenders that originally expired on December 31, 2013 and modifies other certain tax provisions. Some of the key temporary tax benefits in this EXPIRE bill includes:

• 50% Bonus Depreciation & §179 Expensing Thresholds Return: The 50% bonus Read more