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On July 4, President Donald Trump signed into law a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application extension bill that Congress had quickly passed just before the Independence Day holiday. According to several senators, the measure was "surprisingly" introduced and approved by unanimous consent in the Senate late on June 30. It cleared the House the evening of July 1.


"If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then unto me." — William Shakespeare


The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Trump Administration’s rule under the Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148) that any nongovernment, nonpublicly traded employer can refuse to offer contraceptive coverage for moral or religious reasons, and that publicly traded employers can refuse to do so for religious reasons. Application of this rule had been halted by litigation, but the Administration is now free to apply it.


The IRS has issued guidance to employers on the requirement to report the amount of qualified sick and family leave wages paid to employees under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act) ( P.L. 116-127). This reporting provides employees who are also self-employed with information necessary for properly claiming qualified sick leave equivalent or qualified family leave equivalent credits under the Families First Act.


The IRS has issued guidance and temporary relief for required minimum distribution (RMD) changes in 2020. Distributions that would have been RMDs under old law are treated as eligible rollover distributions. The 60-day rollover period deadline for any 2020 RMDs already taken has been extended to August 31, 2020. Notice 2007-7, I.R.B. 2007-5, 395 is modified.


The IRS has clarified and provided relief for mid-year amendments reducing safe harbor contributions. An updated safe harbor notice and an election opportunity must be provided even if the change is only for highly compensated employees. Coronavirus (COVID-19) relief applies if a plan amendment is adopted between March 13, 2020, and August 31, 2020. For nonelective contribution plans, the supplemental notice requirement is satisfied if provided no later than August 31, 2020, and the amendment that reduces or suspends contributions is adopted no later than the effective date of the reduction or suspension. Notice 2016-16, I.R.B., 2016-7, 318, is clarified.


The IRS amended final regulations with guidance on the Code Sec. 199A deduction for suspended losses and shareholders of regulated investment companies (RICs). The amendments address the treatment of suspended losses included in qualified business income (QBI), the deduction allowed to a shareholder in a regulated investment company (RIC), and additional rules related to trusts and estates. The IRS had previously issued final and proposed regulations addressing these issues (NPRM REG-134652-18)


The Treasury Department and the IRS have released drafts of proposed partnership forms for tax year 2021 (the 2022 filing season). The proposed forms are intended to provide greater clarity for partners on how to compute their U.S. income tax liability for relevant international tax items, including claiming deductions and credits. The redesigned forms and instructions will also give useful guidance to partnerships on how to provide international tax information to their partners in a standardized format.


The Treasury and IRS have issued final regulations covering the Code Sec. 250 deduction for foreign-derived intangible income (FDII) and global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI). Proposed regulations were issued on March 6, 2019 (NPRM REG-104464-18). The final regulations maintain the basic approach and structure of the proposed regulations and provide guidance on computation of the deduction and the determination of FDII, including in the consolidated return context. Additionally, rules requiring the filing of Form 8993, Section 250 Deduction for Foreign-Derived Intangible Income and Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income, are finalized.


The IRS is calling on any taxpayers involved in syndicated conservation easement transactions who receives a settlement offer from the agency to accept it soon. The Service made this request in the wake of the Tax Court’s recent strike down of four additional abusive syndicated conservation easement transactions.


Employers generally have to pay employment taxes on the wages they pay to their employees. A fine point under this rule, however, is missed by many who themselves have full time jobs and don’t think of themselves as employers: a nanny who takes care of a child is considered a household employee, and the parent or other responsible person is his or her household employer. Housekeepers, maids, babysitters, and others who work in or around the residence are employees. Repairmen and other business people who provide services as independent contractors are not employees. An individual who is under age 18 or who is a student is not an employee.


It is never too early to begin planning for the 2016 filing season, the IRS has advised in seven new planning tips published on its website. Although the current filing season has just ended, there are steps that taxpayers can take now to avoid a tax bill when April 2016 rolls around. For example, the IRS stated that taxpayers can adjust their withholding, take stock of any changes in income or family circumstances, maintain accurate tax records, and more, in order to reduce the probability of a surprise tax bill when the next filing season arrives.


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.


The IRS requires that taxpayers substantiate their donations to charity. Whatever the donation is, whether money or a household item or clothing, the substantiation rules must be followed. The rules are complex and frequently tripped up taxpayers who had good intentions but failed to satisfy the IRS's requirements.


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.


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.


As most people know, a taxpayer can take a distribution from an IRA without being taxed if the taxpayer rolls over (contributes) the amount received into an IRA within 60 days. This tax-free treatment does not apply if the individual rolled over another distribution from an IRA within the one-year period ending on the day of the second distribution.


Some gifts to employees are too insignificant for the IRS to care about. The IRS calls these gifts de minimis fringe benefits. A de minimis fringe benefit is any gift or service with a value so small that accounting for it is unreasonable or administratively impracticable. The value must be nominal or very low. Turkeys given to employees at Thanksgiving are a good example.

The IRS has some good news for you. Under new rules, you may be able to gain a partial tax break on the full $250,000 capital gain exclusion ($500,000 if you file jointly with your spouse), even if you haven't satisfied the normal "two out of five year test" necessary to gain that tax benefit. You may qualify for an exception.


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