Tax Alerts
Tax Briefing(s)

  WELCOME TO 2017                                        

  HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR

          

We hope that this year has been healthy, happy and prosperous for you and your family. We continue to go paperless.  Our individual email addresses, various financial tools, tax links, firm information as well as this letter can be found on our website at www.starrdarcystarr.com.   We would like to encourage you to gather all your tax documents, open your tax envelopes and review them for accuracy and then when complete forward to us for preparation. This tax season is fast approaching and redoing returns with additional information creates additional work and cost. Please keep in mind the following when gathering your tax information:

   


House and Senate lawmakers have started their August recess, leaving pending tax legislation for after Labor Day. In past years, September has been a busy month for tax legislation and this year is likely to be the same. Before leaving Capitol Hill, lawmakers took actions in several areas related to tax reform.


The IRS remains focused on an issue that doesn’t seem to be going away: the misclassification of workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Recently, the IRS issued still another fact sheet “reminding” employers about the importance of correctly classifying workers for purposes of federal employment taxes (FS-2017-9). Generally, employers must withhold income taxes, withhold and pay social security and Medicare taxes, and pay unemployment tax on wages paid to employees. They are lifted of these obligations entirely for independent contractors, with usually the only IRS-related responsibility being information reporting on amounts of $600 or more paid to a contractor.


A recent Tax Court decision and pending tax reform proposals have intersected in highlighting how stock sales can be timed for maximum tax advantage. The taxpayer in the recent case (Turan, TC Memo. 2017-141) failed to convince the Tax Court that he timely made an election with his broker to use the last-in-first-out (LIFO) method to set his cost-per-share cost basis for determining capital gains and losses on his stock trades on shares of the same company. As a result, he was required to calculate the capital gain or loss on his stock trades using the firm’s first-in-first-out (FIFO) “default” method, which, in his case, yielded a significant increase in tax liability for the year.


Country-by-Country (CbC) reporting is part of a larger initiative by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) known as the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project. CbC reporting generally impacts large multi-national businesses. Because CbC is part of BEPS it is important to be familiar with the core concepts.


An eligible taxpayer can deduct qualified interest on a qualified student loan for an eligible student's qualified educational expenses at an eligible institution. The amount of the deduction is limited, and it is phased out for taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds certain thresholds.


As an individual or business, it is your responsibility to be aware of and to meet your tax filing/reporting deadlines. This calendar summarizes important tax reporting and filing data for individuals, businesses and other taxpayers for the month of August 2017.


The Affordable Care Act set January 1, 2014 as the start date for many of its new rules, most notably, the employer shared responsibility provisions (known as the "employer mandate") and the individual shared responsibility provisions (known as the "individual mandate").  One - the employer mandate - has been delayed to 2015; the other - the individual mandate - has not been delayed.


The scheduled January 1, 2014 rollout of withholding, reporting and other rules in the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) has been delayed six months, the Treasury Department and the IRS have announced. The six-month delay is expected to give the U.S. more time to conclude negotiations and sign agreements to implement FATCA with foreign governments. The Treasury Department and the IRS have not, however, delayed the rules for reporting by individuals.


More than one month after the U.S. Supreme Court found Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, the IRS has yet to issue guidance in critical areas of tax filing, employee benefits, and more. Many taxpayers and tax professionals are questioning what revisions the IRS will make to its rules and regulations. At the same time, other federal agencies have announced changes in their policies to reflect the demise of Section 3 of DOMA.


On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional (E.S. Windsor, SCt., June 26, 2013). Immediately after the decision, President Obama directed all federal agencies, including the IRS, to revise their regulations to reflect the Court's order. How the IRS will revise its tax regulations - and when - remains to be seen; but in the meantime, the Court's decision opens a number of planning tax opportunities for same-sex couples.


Vacation homes offer owners tax breaks similar-but not identical-to those for primary residences. Vacation homes also offer owners the opportunity to earn tax-advantaged and even tax-free income. This combination of current income and tax breaks, combined with the potential for long-term appreciation, can make a second home an attractive investment.


The IRS has issued proposed reliance regulations on the 3.8 percent surtax on net investment income (NII), enacted in the 2010 Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. The regulations are proposed to be effective January 1, 2014. However, since the tax applies beginning January 1, 2013, the IRS stated that taxpayers may rely on the proposed regulations for 2013. The IRS expects to issue final regulations sometime later this year.


Effective January 1, 2013, a new Medicare tax takes effect. The Additional Medicare Tax imposes a 0.9 percent tax on compensation and self-employment income above a threshold amount.  Unlike regular Medicare tax, the Additional Medicare Tax has no employer match but employers have withholding obligations. The IRS issued proposed reliance regulations about the Additional Medicare Tax in December 2012.


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