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Tax Alerts
June 11, 2021
Tax Briefing(s)

Sheboygan County adopts additional .5% Sales & Use Tax


On April 28, 2021, the White House released details on President Biden’s new $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. The proposal follows the already passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act and the recently proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure-focused American Jobs Plan. The details were released in advance of President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress.


The IRS announced that it had started issuing refunds to eligible taxpayers who paid taxes on 2020 unemployment compensation that was excluded from taxable income by the recently enacted American Rescue Plan (ARP) (P.L. 117-2).


A safe harbor is available for certain Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan recipients who relied on prior IRS guidance and did not deduct eligible business expenses. These taxpayers may elect to deduct the expenses for their first tax year following their 2020 tax year, rather than filing an amended return or administrative adjustment request for 2020.


Individuals may use two special procedures to file returns for 2020 that allow them to receive advance payments of the 2021 child credit and the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.


The IRS has provided guidance for employers, plan administrators, and health insurers regarding the new credit available to them for providing continuation health coverage to certain individuals under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency.


The IRS has reminded employers that under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) ( P.L. 117-2), small and midsize employers and certain government employers are entitled to claim refundable tax credits that reimburse them for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave to their employees due to COVID-19. This includes leave taken by employees to receive or recover from COVID-19 vaccinations.


The IRS has reminded taxpayers who owe 2020 taxes that there are different ways to pay their taxes online, including payment options for many people who cannot pay in full.


The IRS reminds taxpayers that May includes National Hurricane Preparedness Week and National Wildfire Awareness Month. It urges taxpayers to create or review emergency preparedness plans for surviving natural disasters.


Dependent care assistance benefits carryovers and extended claims period amounts that would have been excluded from income if used during the preceding tax year will remain excludable in tax years ending in 2021 and 2022. In addition, these benefits will not be taken into account in determining the dependent care benefits exclusion limit for the tax years ending in 2021 and 2022.


The Treasury Department has released a statement discussing investment in the IRS and improving tax compliance. 


Michael Jackson’s image and likeness, as well as his interests in two trusts—one trust (NHT II) that held his interest in the Sony/ATV Music Publishing, LLC, and one trust (NHT III) that held Mijac Music—were valued for estate tax purposes.


An employee or self-employed individual is allowed a deduction for the costs of meals and incidental expenses while traveling away from home for business purposes. The deduction of these costs usually requires the substantiation of the costs. However, there is an optional method provided for these taxpayers that avoids keeping receipts.


Many federal income taxes are paid from amounts that are withheld from payments to the taxpayer. For instance, amounts roughly equal to an employee's estimated tax liability are generally withheld from the employee's wages and paid over to the government by the employer. In contrast, estimated taxes are taxes that are paid throughout the year on income that is not subject to withholding. Individuals must make estimated tax payments if they are self-employed or their income derives from interest, dividends, investment gains, rents, alimony, or other funds that are not subject to withholding.


The IRS has responded to criticism from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the National Taxpayer Advocate, among others, that resolution of identity theft accounts takes too long by increasing its measures to flag suspicious tax returns, prevent issuance of fraudulent tax refunds, and to expedite identity theft case processing. As a result, the IRS's resolution time has experienced a moderate improvement from an average of 312 days, as TIGTA reported in September 2013, to an average of 278 days as reported in March 2015. (The 278-day average was based on a statistically valid sampling of 100 cases resolved between August 1, 2011, and July 31, 2012.) The IRS has recently stated that its resolution time dropped to 120 days for cases received in filing season 2013.


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.


Under Code Sec. 25B, a low-income taxpayer can claim a tax credit for a portion of the amounts contributed to an individual retirement account, 401(k) plan, or other retirement plan. A credit is allowed for up to $2,000 of contributions to qualified retirement savings plans. The maximum credit is $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for married couples. A taxpayer's credit amount is based on his or her filing status, adjusted gross income, tax liability and amount contributed to qualifying retirement programs. However, the percentage of contributions for which the credit is allowed decreases depending on the individual's adjusted gross income.


Health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs) are popular savings vehicles for medical expenses, but their use has been held back by a strict use-or-lose rule. The IRS recently announced a significant change to encourage more employers to offer health FSAs and boost enrollment. At the plan sponsor's option, employees participating in health FSAs will be able to carry over, instead of forfeiting, up to $500 of unused funds remaining at year-end.


A child with earned income above a certain level is generally required to file a separate tax return as a single taxpayer. However, a child with a certain amount of unearned income (from investments, including dividends, interest, and capital gains) may find that this income becomes subject to tax at his or her parent's highest marginal tax rate. This is referred to as the "kiddie tax," and it is designed to prevent parents from transferring income-producing investments to their children, who would generally be taxed at a lower rate.


Small employers will be able to purchase health insurance for their employees for 2014 and subsequent years through Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplaces. Many of these small employers may also be eligible for the Code Sec. 45R tax credit that helps to offset the cost of insurance. In August, the IRS issued new rules on the Code Sec. 45R small employer health insurance credit in the form of proposed regulations. The regulations describe in detail how employers can claim the credit, especially for years after 2013.


Facilitated by the speed, ubiquity, and anonymity of the Internet, criminals are able to easily steal valuable information such as Social Security numbers and use it for a variety of nefarious purposes, including filing false tax returns to generate refunds from the IRS. The victims are often unable to detect the crime until it is too late, generally after the IRS receives the legitimate tax return from the actual taxpayer. By that time the first return has often been long accepted and the refund processed. Because of the ease, speed, and difficulty involved in policing cybercrime, identity theft has grown rapidly. One estimate from the National Taxpayer Advocate Service has calculated that individual identity theft case receipts have increased by more than 666 percent from fiscal year (FY) 2008 to FY 2012.


For many individuals, volunteering for a charitable organization is a very emotionally rewarding experience. In some cases, your volunteer activities may also qualify for certain federal tax breaks. Although individuals cannot deduct the value of their labor on behalf of a charitable organization, they may be eligible for other tax-related benefits.


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.


An LLC (limited liability company) is not a federal tax entity. LLCs are organized under state law. LLCs are not specifically mentioned in the Tax Code, and there are no special IRS regulations governing the taxation of LLCs comparable to the regulations for C corporations, S corporations, and partnerships. Instead, LLCs make an election to be taxed as a particular entity (or to be disregarded for tax purposes) by following the check-the-box business entity classification regulations. The election is filed on Form 8832, Entity Classification Election. The IRS will assign an entity classification by default if no election is made. A taxpayer who doesn't mind the IRS default entity classification does not necessarily need to file Form 8832.


The IRS has unveiled the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DTR), a time-saving tool designed to minimize the time required for college-bound students and their parents to complete the Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The new IRS DTR is available through the website www.fafsa.gov.


A SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees of Small Employers) IRA is a retirement savings plan designed specifically for small employers. A SIMPLE IRA is an IRA-based plan with ease of use features intended to encourage small employers, which may otherwise not offer a retirement plan, to create a retirement plan.

The number of tax return-related identity theft incidents has almost doubled in the past three years to well over half a million reported during 2011, according to a recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Identity theft in the context of tax administration generally involves the fraudulent use of someone else’s identity in order to claim a tax refund. In other cases an identity thief might steal a person’s information to obtain a job, and the thief’s employer may report income to the IRS using the legitimate taxpayer’s Social Security Number, thus making it appear that the taxpayer did not report all of his or her income.

In light of the IRS’s new Voluntary Worker Classification Settlement Program (VCSP), which it announced this fall, the distinction between independent contractors and employees has become a “hot issue” for many businesses. The IRS has devoted considerable effort to rectifying worker misclassification in the past, and continues the trend with this new program.  It is available to employers that have misclassified employees as independent contractors and wish to voluntarily rectify the situation before the IRS or Department of Labor initiates an examination.