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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.


At the start of 2010, Congress had a full tax agenda. As summer approaches, many tax bills remain unfinished, most notably an estate tax bill. Other important tax legislation is also on Congress's agenda for action before year-end.

The small business health insurance tax credit, created by the health care reform package, rewards employers that offer health insurance to their employees with a tax break. The credit is targeted to small employers; generally employers with 25 or fewer employees. In May 2010, the IRS issued Notice 2010-44, which describes the steps employers take to determine eligibility for the credit and how to calculate the credit.

The health care reform package makes two important changes to insurance coverage for young adults. First, the new law allows young adults to remain on their parents' health insurance plan until age 26. Second, the new law extends certain favorable tax treatment to coverage for young adults.

The health care reform package (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) imposes a new 3.8 percent Medicare contribution tax on the investment income of higher-income individuals. Although the tax does not take effect until 2013, it is not too soon to examine methods to lessen the impact of the tax.

There are two important energy tax credits that can benefit homeowners in 2010: (1) the nonbusiness energy property credit and (2) the residential energy efficient property credit. Collectively, they are known as the "home energy tax credits." With the home energy tax credits, you can not only lower your utility bill by making energy-saving improvements to your home, but you can lower your tax bill in 2010 as well. Eligible taxpayers can claim the credits regardless of whether or not they itemize their deductions on Schedule A. Your costs for making these energy improvements are treated as paid when the installation of the item is completed.

The answer is no for 2010, but yes, in practical terms, for 2014 and beyond. The health care reform package (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) does not require individuals to carry health insurance in 2010. However, after 2013, individuals without minimum essential health insurance coverage will be liable for a penalty unless otherwise exempt.

The IRS is moving quickly to alert employers about a new tax credit for health insurance premiums. The recently enacted health care reform package (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) created the small employer health insurance tax credit. The temporary credit is targeted to small employers that offer or will offer health insurance coverage to their employees. The credit, like so many federal tax incentives, has certain qualifications. Please contact our office and we can arrange to review in detail how the credit may cut the cost of your business's health insurance premiums. The dollar benefits of the credit are substantial and they apply immediately to 2010 premium costs.

The enhanced expensing election under Code Sec. 179 has been extended through December 31, 2010. Under Code Sec. 179, businesses can elect to recover all or part of the cost of qualifying property by deducting (rather than depreciating) the property in the year it is "placed in service," up to a certain limit.

On March 18, 2010, President Obama signed the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act. The $18 billion HIRE Act is expected to be the first of several "jobs" bills out of Congress in 2010. The new law encourages companies to hire unemployed workers and also retain existing workers by providing two key tax incentives: payroll tax relief and a worker retention tax credit. Employers can take a tax credit of up to $1,000 for the year if they hire an unemployed worker and retain the new worker for at least one year.

Health care reform is now law and many employers are asking how does it affect my business and my employees? The first thing to keep in mind is that reform is gradual. The health care reforms and tax provisions in the new health care reform package play out over time, with some taking effect this year or next year but others not until 2014 and beyond. However, the health care package imposes significant new responsibilities and taxes on employers and individuals so it is not too early to start preparing.

Debt that a borrower no longer is liable for because it is discharged by the lender can give rise to taxable income to the borrower. Debt forgiveness income or cancellation of debt income ("COD" income) is the amount of debt that a lender has discharged or canceled. However, in many situations, the canceled debt is excluded from taxable income.

As 2010 unfolds, small businesses are confronted with tax challenges and opportunities on many fronts. Lackluster consumer spending, combined with tight credit, has many small businesses in a holding pattern. Congress may respond with a new tax credit to encourage hiring. Small businesses are also faced with uncertainty over many temporary provisions in the federal Tax Code. Many of these incentives have expired. At the same time, small businesses are uncertain how health care reform, the fate of the federal estate tax and proposed retirement savings initiatives may impact them.

Beginning in 2010, the income limitations that have prevented taxpayers with modified adjusted gross incomes of $100,000 or more and married taxpayers that filed their returns separately from converting a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) to a Roth IRA are eliminated entirely. As a bonus to kick off "unlimited Roth conversions," any income tax payments due on 2010 conversions may be deferred into 2011 and 2012. For higher-income individuals, 2010 presents a long-awaited and much anticipated opportunity to convert their savings into a Roth IRA providing tax-free distributions during their retirement years.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allows employers to claim a credit against certain employment taxes for providing COBRA premium assistance to eligible individuals, including former employees who were involuntarily terminated from employment any time during the period beginning on September 1, 2008, and ending on December 31, 2009. The 2010 defense bill extends eligibility for COBRA premium assistance through February 28, 2010. The 2010 defense bill also extends the maximum duration of COBRA premium assistance to 15 months and provides an election to pay premiums retroactively and maintain COBRA coverage.

Before 2010 begins in earnest, you may find it helpful to take one last look at important tax developments that occurred during 2009 to see what impact they may have on next year's tax strategies. To help, we have prepared a list of 2009 tax developments, selected from the perspective of their importance to you in 2010. Some of the developments on the list are ongoing, with endings yet to be written. With other developments, the law is firmly established, although application of some of them to New Year transactions may remain somewhat uncertain. In all cases, they are notable for their potential to play an important role in 2010 and beyond.

Many back-to-school college students and their families are facing the toughest time in years, in meeting the costs of higher education due to the recent economic downturn. In an attempt to face this challenge, Congress recently passed some tax relief for college students and families that, together with scholarships, loans and work-study grants, can provide invaluable lifelines this year. The tax relief is twofold: the new American Opportunity Tax Credit and more liberal withdrawal rules for Section 529 plans to cover technology needs. Both tax provisions are temporary - for 2009 and 2010 only - but likely will be extended in some form if the need continues.

There are a number of advantages for starting a Roth IRA account, the most important being that all the investment earnings grow tax-free, and qualified distributions are tax-free. Additionally, you can continue to make contributions to your Roth after you turn 70 ½ and are not subject to the required minimum distribution rules. Currently, only individuals who have a modified adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $100,000 and/or who do not file their return as "married filing separately" can convert their traditional IRA to a Roth.

Individuals who have been "involuntarily terminated" from employment may be eligible for a temporary subsidy to help pay for COBRA continuation coverage. The temporary assistance is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (2009 Recovery Act), and is aimed at helping individuals who have lost their jobs in our troubled economy. However, not every individual who has lost his or her job qualifies for the COBRA subsidy. This article discusses what qualifies as "involuntary termination" for purposes of the temporary COBRA subsidy.

If you converted your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA earlier this year, incurred a significant amount of tax liability on the conversion, and then watched as the value of your Roth account plummeted amid the market turmoil, you may want to consider undoing the conversion. You can void or significantly lower your tax bill by recharacterizing the conversion, then reconverting your IRA back to a Roth at a later date. Careful timing in using the strategy, however, is essential.

The IRS allows taxpayers with a charitable inclination to take a deduction for a wide range of donated items. However, the IRS does provide specific guidelines for those taxpayers contributing non-cash items, from the type of charity you can donate to in order to take a deduction to the quality of the goods you contribute and how to value them for deduction purposes. If your summer cleaning has led, or may lead, you to set aside clothes and other items for charity, and you would like to know how to value these items for tax purposes, read on.