Tax Alerts
Tax Briefing(s)

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.


With the soaring cost of college tuition rising on a yearly basis, tax-free tuition gifts to children and grandchildren can help them afford such an expensive endeavor, as well as save the generous taxpayers in gift and generation skipping taxes. Under federal law, tuition payments that are made directly to an educational institution on behalf of a student are not considered to be taxable gifts, regardless of how large, or small, the payment may be.


An early glimpse at the income tax picture for 2017 is now available. The new information includes estimated ranges for each 2017 tax bracket as well as projections for a growing number of inflation-sensitive tax figures, such as the tax rate brackets, personal exemption and the standard deduction. Projections – made available by Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting US – are based on the relevant inflation data recently released by the U.S. Department of Labor. The IRS is expected to release the official figures by early November. Here are a few of the more widely-applicable projected amounts: 


It’s not too early to get ready for year-end tax planning. In fact, many strategies take time to set up in order to gain maximum benefit. Here are some preliminary considerations that may help you to prepare.


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.


Almost every day brings news reports of Americans recovering from tornados, wild fires, and other natural disasters. Recovery is often a slow process and when faced with the loss of home or place of businesses, taxes are likely the last thing on a person’s mind.  However, the tax code’s rules on casualty losses and disaster relief can be of significant help after a disaster.

Businesses of all sizes are preparing for a possible avalanche of information reporting after 2011. To help pay for health care reform, lawmakers tacked on expanded information reporting to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The health care reform law generally requires all businesses, charities and state and local governments to file an information return for all payments aggregating $600 or more in a calendar year to a single provider of goods or services. The PPACA also repeals the longstanding reporting exception for payments to a corporation. The magnitude of the reporting requirement has opponents working feverishly to persuade Congress to either repeal it or scale it back.

Casualty losses are damages from a sudden, unexpected or unusual event, including natural disasters. These losses are deductible to the extent they fit under specific tax rules. Ironically, however, due to insurance reimbursements and other payments, you may actually have taxable "casualty gain" as the result of a disaster or accident. Casualty losses and gains are reported on Form 4684.