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Tax Alerts
February 27, 2021
Tax Briefing(s)

Sheboygan County adopts additional .5% Sales & Use Tax


The IRS has issued guidance clarifying that taxpayers receiving loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) may deduct their business expenses, even if their PPP loans are forgiven. The IRS previously issued Notice 2020-32 and Rev. Rul. 2020-27, which stated that taxpayers who received PPP loans and had those loans forgiven would not be able to claim business deductions for their otherwise deductible business expenses.


The IRS has waived the requirement to file Form 1099 series information returns or furnish payee statements for certain COVID-related relief that is excluded from gross income.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, certain employers and employees who use the automobile lease valuation rule to determine the value of an employee’s personal use of an employer-provided automobile may switch to the vehicle cents-per-mile method.


Estimated tax underpayment penalties under Code Sec. 6654 are waived for certain excess business loss-related payments for tax years beginning in 2019. The relief is available to individuals, as well as trusts and estates that are treated as individuals for estimated tax payment penalty purposes.


The IRS has extended the time period during which employers must withhold and pay the employee portion of Social Security tax that employers elected to defer on wages paid from September 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.


The IRS has issued guidance that provides partnerships with relief from certain penalties for the inclusion of incorrect information in reporting their partners’ beginning capital account balances on the 2020 Schedules K-1 (Forms 1065 and 8865). The IRS has also provided relief from accuracy-related penalties for any tax year for the portion of an imputed underpayment attributable to the inclusion of incorrect information in a partner’s beginning capital account balance reported by a partnership for the 2020 tax year.


Final regulations provide guidance related to the limitation on the deduction for employee compensation in excess of $1 million.


The IRS has issued final regulations providing additional guidance on the limitation on the deduction for business interest under Code Sec. 163(j). The regulations finalize various portions of the proposed regulations issued in 2020 with few modifications. They address the application of the limit in the context of calculating adjusted taxable income (ATI) with respect to depreciation, amortization, and depletion. The regulations also finalize rules on the definitions of real property development and redevelopment, as well as application to passthrough entities, regulated investment companies (RICs), and controlled foreign corporations.


The IRS has released final regulations that address the changes made to Code Sec. 162(f) by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97), concerning the deduction of certain fines, penalties, and other amounts. The final regulations also provide guidance relating to the information reporting requirements for fines and penalties under Code Sec. 6050X.


The IRS has provided a safe harbor allowing a trade or business that manages or operates a qualified residential living facility to be treated as a "real property trade or business" solely for purposes of qualifying to make the Code Sec. 163(j)(7)(B) election. This guidance formalizes the proposed safe harbor issued in Notice 2020-59, I.R.B. 2020-34, 782. Taxpayers may apply the rules to tax years beginning after December 31, 2017.


The IRS has released final regulations addressing the post-2017 simplified accounting rules for small businesses. The final regulations adopt and modify proposed regulations released in August 2020.


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.