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IRS: Be Prepared To Prove You Are Who You Say You Are

When you call the IRS, the representative can only speak with you or someone you have authorized to speak on their behalf. To make sure that you get the best service, and that you don’t have to call back, be prepared. Here’s what you’ll need to have handy:

  • Social Security numbers (SSN) and birth dates for those named on the tax return, or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) if there’s no SSN;
  • Your filing status – single, head of household, married filing joint or married filing separate;
  • Your prior-year tax returns since the IRS representative may need to verify your identity using information from that return before answering certain questions;
  • A copy of the tax return that you’re calling about; and
  • Any IRS letters or notices that you’ve received.

If you’re an attorney or other person calling about a third party’s account, be prepared not only to verify your identity, but also to provide information about the third party. Here’s what you’ll need to have handy:

  • Authorization to discuss the account, such as a current, completed and signed Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization or completed and signed Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative (remember that if you’re calling to discuss a joint account, you’ll need a signed form from each taxpayer);
  • Your Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) if you’re a paid preparer, a PIN if you’re a third-party designee, and your Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number, if applicable; and
  • The ability to verify the taxpayer’s name, SSN/ITIN, tax period, for the tax form(s) filed.

It’s my experience that even if you’ve sent a copy of form 2848 in advance, the representative may not be able to pull it as quickly as you can provide it. I always have a copy of form 2848 handy in case I need to send it over and avoid an additional call.

If you’re calling about a deceased taxpayer, you’ll need some additional information. Here’s what you’ll also need to have handy:

When you call, the IRS representative will tell you their name and their ID number. Have a pen and paper ready to write this down in case you have questions later.

If you require more help than you can get over the phone, you may need in-person assistance. The IRS offers free, in-person help at taxpayer assistance centers (TACs) but you must have an appointment. You can find one near you here.

Just one more thing: Don’t call yet to ask about your refund. Phone and walk-in representatives can only research the status of your refund if at least 21 days have passed since you filed electronically or six weeks after you mailed your paper return (or if Where’s My Refund? directs you to contact the IRS). It’s faster to use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool. Have your Social security number or ITIN, filing status and exact refund amount handy. Refund updates should appear 24 hours after e-filing or four weeks after you mailed your paper return. The IRS updates the site once per day, usually overnight, so there’s no need to check more than once during the day.

Source: Forbes

Identity protection PIN program expands

The IRS is expanding to seven additional states its voluntary program for taxpayers who wish to obtain identity protection personal identification numbers (IP PINs) and are not currently victims of tax return identity theft. The pilot program originally involved Washington, D.C., Florida, and Georgia. IP PINs will now be available in seven more states: California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Rhode Island. Those states report the highest number of identity thefts to the Federal Trade Commission.

An IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers to prevent their Social Security number (SSN) from being used on fraudulent federal income tax returns. It allows the IRS to verify taxpayers’ identities when they file their return. This prevents a criminal from filing a tax return using the IP PIN holder’s SSN.

The voluntary program permits taxpayers who last year filed a tax return from one of those states to obtain an IP PIN by using the IRS’s Get an IP PIN tool to authenticate their identities. To obtain an IP PIN, taxpayers must validate their identities through a two-factor authentication process called Secure Access. The pilot program will not have a manual option for taxpayers who fail to authenticate their identities.

Any taxpayer in the listed states may obtain an IP PIN. The IRS will continue to issue by mail IP PINs to taxpayers who are confirmed victims of tax-related identity theft. However, these taxpayers may also use the Get an IP PIN tool to obtain an IP PIN immediately.

Once the IRS determines its systems can handle the expansion of the program to the additional states, it hopes to be able to offer it to taxpayers in every state.

The AICPA has long supported expansion of the IP PIN system and has urged the IRS to consider issuing IP PINs to all individuals. (See, for example, the AICPA comment letter to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee dated Sept. 15, 2015.)

Source: Journal Of Accountancy

5 Things Every High School Senior Should Know

As the school year rolls into February, suddenly the realization sets in that high school seniors only have a few months left before graduation. Here are five things each graduate should understand before their big graduation day:

Graduation caps in the air

  1. Debt needs to be managed carefully. It is way too easy to burden oneself under a pile of debt. This is especially true with college loans and credit card debt. While college debt may be unavoidable, try to minimize the size of the loans as much as possible. Regarding credit cards, help your student find the one that best fits their circumstance. This card can be used to create a great credit score for future loans by paying off the whole balance every month. If they can’t, the card should only be used for emergencies. And they should never buy something they can’t afford.
  2. Students need to invest in themselves. As it stands right now, high school students consist of 18 years of experiences, nurturing and decision-making. Now they are faced with a big decision. “Should I pay for college or a trade school?” Just remind them, the more employable they are, the greater their life-long income potential. So while tempted to take another path, the best return on most young student’s investment is often one that is made to create a better employment future for themselves.
  3. Comfort is overrated. It is in our nature to be comfortable — to take the path of least resistance. The times where you step outside of your comfort zone are often the times you learn the most about yourself. These experiences often grow confidence to tackle more difficult challenges when they come along. So encourage your teen to work hard and gain the wisdom that comes with these early experiences.
  4. Life is expensive. Utilities, insurance, taxes, association dues and medical expenses are just some examples of typical “hidden” expenses. Before every big decision, teach your young graduate to research the costs and talk to people that have been in their shoes. In addition to recurring expenses, these new grads need to plan for unforeseen emergencies like dropping a phone in the sink or having unexpected car repairs. So teaching a student how to make a budget and save three to six months of expenses in an emergency account are two great habits to encourage.
  5. Enjoy the journey. Graduating from high school is an exciting time, but can also bring tremendous uncertainty. As your student moves on to their next phase, new emotions will arrive and others will fade away. Encourage your young adult to steal moments each day to reflect on where they’ve been and focus on the positive aspects of their current situation. Each phase of life brings its unique set of challenges to be experienced. Encourage them to enjoy their journey.

7 Tax-Free Ideas to Bolster Your Business Benefits Package

The benefits package offered by your business is extremely important to your employees. How important? A survey performed by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that benefits are directly tied to overall job satisfaction for 92 percent of employees. Even more importantly, 29 percent of employees cited the overall benefits package at their current employer as the top reason to look for new employment in the next 12 months.

Happy employees

Here are some tax-free benefit ideas to help beef up your benefits package and retain your employees:

  1. Health benefits. According to SHRM, health insurance still remains one of the most important employee benefits. Health insurance benefits come in all shapes and sizes, so you will need to constantly evaluate plans and costs. From a tax standpoint, employers can deduct this expense, and your employees do not report health insurance premiums or employer contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs) as additional income. This includes premiums paid for the employee and qualified family members. Even better, the employee portion of premiums can still be paid in pre-tax dollars.
  2. Dependent care benefits. Employers are able to provide employees with up to $5,000 per year in tax-free dependent care assistance under a qualified plan. There are a few ways to provide this benefit, but a common method is to set up a flexible spending account (FSA) that both the employer and employee can use to make contributions. The employer portion is tax-free and the employee portion reduces taxable income as long as the total benefit is $5,000 or less.
  3. Employee tuition reimbursement. By offering tuition reimbursement, you can add another quality benefit to your package while investing in your employee’s career. Up to $5,250 of tuition expenses can be reimbursed tax-free to your employee each year.
  4. Credit card points. This is a good benefit for outside sales and employees that travel frequently. If you have a corporate credit card program, consider passing the points on to the employee. If you reimburse employee expenses under an accountable plan, estimate the value of points your employee earns on reimbursed business purchases and include it in your annual benefits presentation. Generally the IRS considers credit card points as rebates and not taxable income.
  5. Group term life insurance. You can generally exclude the cost of up to $50,000 of group term life insurance from your employee’s wages.
  6. Other fringe benefits. Some examples of other nontaxable fringe benefits are employee wellness programs, onsite fitness gyms, adoption assistance, retirement planning services and employee discounts.
  7. Small gifts. The IRS calls these “de minimis” benefits. Small-valued benefits are not included in income and can include things like the use of the company copy machine, occasional meals, small gifts and tickets to a sporting event.

With historically low unemployment levels, employees have more options than normal to look around if they aren’t satisfied. Your business’s benefits package is an important tool to help you keep your valued employees. While each is an additional expense to the employer, the perceived benefit by employees may far outweigh these costs.

How to Correct Common Financial Mistakes

You’re working at the office, getting stuff done around the house, or hanging out with family when — wham! — a phone call, email or text alerts you that something is wrong with your finances. When a negative financial event hits, don’t let it take you down. Here are some common mistakes and steps to remedy each situation:

  • You overdraw your bank account. First, stop using the account to avoid additional overdraft fees. Next, manually balance your account by reviewing all posted transactions. Look for unexpected items and fraudulent activity. Then, call your bank to explain the situation and ask that all fees be refunded. Banks are not obligated to refund fees, but often times they will. The next steps vary based on the reason for the overdraft, but ultimately your goal is to bring your account back to a positive balance as soon as possible.Various people with shocked facesYou miss a credit card payment. Make as big a payment as possible as soon as you realize you missed it. Time is of the essence with late credit card payments — the longer it goes, the more serious the consequences. Then call the credit card company to discuss the missed payment. You might be able to get a refund of the late fees, and perhaps a reversal of the interest charge.
  • You forget to file a tax return. Gather all your tax documents as soon as possible, and file the tax return even if you can’t pay the taxes owed. This will stop your account from gathering additional penalties. You can then work with the IRS on a payment plan if need be. The sooner you file, the sooner the money will be in your bank account if you’re due a refund. If you wait too long (three years or more), any potential refunds will be gone forever.
  • You lose your wallet. Start by calling all of your debit card providers, then your bank and the credit card companies. Next, set up fraud alerts with the major credit reporting companies and get a new driver’s license. Finally, if you think it was stolen, file a report with the police.
  • You miss an estimated tax payment. Estimated payments are due in April, June, September and January each year. If you are required to make estimated payments and miss a due date, don’t simply wait until the next due date. Pay it as soon as possible to avoid further penalties. If you have a legitimate reason for missing the payment, such as a casualty or disaster loss, you might be able to reduce your penalty.

Remember, mistakes happen. When they do, stay calm and walk through the steps to correct the situation as soon as possible.

Tips to Protect Yourself From Tax Scams

Too many people downplay the threat of identity theft because it hasn’t been witnessed or experienced firsthand. This false sense of security can leave you exposed, especially during tax season. Here are some tips to keep your identity safe from scammers:

Tax Scam warning signs

  1. Be naturally suspicious. Understand that there are people out there trying to get your information, and others willing to pay for it. With that knowledge, be suspicious of anyone asking for personal information — especially your Social Security number (SSN). Even when a known vendor asks for your SSN, ask what they will be using it for and refuse most requests unless you deem it necessary.
  2. File your tax return as soon as possible. A popular tax scam is to file a fake tax return and deposit the refund into the thief’s account, all before you get the chance to file your own return. You close the door on scammers once your tax return is filed with the IRS.
  3. Shred (don’t just crumple) your documents. Get in the habit of shredding all paperwork before it’s thrown out to keep personal information from falling into the wrong hands. If you don’t own a shredder, contact your bank or other local community services as they often offer free shredding services on specific days.
  4. Keep your Social Security card safe. Only carry your Social Security card with you when it’s needed for a specific purpose. Your wallet or purse is not a good permanent spot for your card. Any criminal would have a treasure trove of personal data if it were to get lost or stolen along with your driver’s license and credit cards.
  5. Periodically check your credit reports. The three major collection agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) are legally required to provide you with a free credit report each year. Take advantage of this service and review the reports. Correct any errors and use this report to monitor your accounts for any potential identity theft.

Be smart when handling your personal information. Don’t get caught off guard by identity theft, especially by being careless. If you think you are a victim of a tax scam, alert the IRS right away and go to identitytheft.gov for more information.

January tax checklist for small business

The start of the year is always a busy time for entrepreneurs and small business owners. There are new laws and regulations to comply with, such as changes in minimum wage rates in your location.

And taxwise, January is a very hectic month. Here are some tax matters to be sure you have checked off as we close out the first month of the year.

Adjust to sales tax changes

New sales tax rates. There are about 10,000 sales tax jurisdictions in the U.S., taking into account not only state sales tax rates, but also the rates from counties and municipalities. Rates have increased in some localities, but there have also been some decreases.
New exemptions. What you sell may or may not be subject to sales tax. There have been some changes in exemptions. For example, in Nevada, effective January 1, 2019, feminine hygiene products are no longer subject to sales tax.

 

Obligations on your remote sales. If you sell to residents in another state, you may be required to collect and remit the tax to that state, thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court case decided last year. But states may offer a “small seller” exemption. The Supreme Court case concerned South Dakota, where the exemption applied to sellers with no more than $100,000 in revenue or 200 transactions within the state.

What to do. Check with your state revenue department to determine if there are any sales tax changes that affect your business. If you use a point of sale (POS) system, be sure it’s been adjusted to reflect any changes. And determine whether you must collect sales tax on remote sales or if you meet the small seller exemption.

Provide W-2s

January 31 is the deadline for furnishing employees with their Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, which reports their compensation, tax withholding and certain employee benefits for 2018.

Your W-2s, plus a transmittal form — Form W-3 — must be filed with the Social Security Administration by the same deadline. This is so, whether you use paper forms or file electronically.

Note: You cannot get an automatic extension of time to file, but can ask for a 30-day extension on Form 8809. if you have special circumstances requiring more time to file.

What to do. You cannot download W-2 forms from the IRS website because these forms must be completed in triplicate (or more), with one copy or more to the employee, one to the Social Security Administration (SSA), and one for your records. You can order them from the IRS or purchase forms from an office supply store and prepare them yourself, have your payroll provider do it, or use an outside filing service or preparer. If you want to file electronically with the SSA, you must register to use its online service.

Prepare and file Form 1099-MISC

If you engage independent contractors, then January 31 is the deadline for furnishing them with Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income to report payments you made in 2018. The form must be given to any contractor who earned $600 or more from your company in 2018. And they must be filed with the IRS by January 31.

File employer returns

January 31 is also the deadline for filing certain employer returns with the IRS:

Form 940 to report your annual federal unemployment (FUTA) tax.

Form 941 to report your quarterly withholding on employees and your employer payments of Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA). If you are a small employer permitted to file annually, then your Form 944 is due on January 31.

Final thought

If you fail to file on time, you’ll be penalized, and penalty amounts on small businesses have increased for forms required to be filed after December 31, 2018. So address your filing obligations now.

Qualified business income deduction regs. and other guidance issued

On Friday, the IRS released guidance on a large number of Sec. 199A issues, including the eagerly awaited final Sec. 199A regulations (in an as-yet-unnumbered Treasury decision). The IRS also issued new proposed regulations on how to treat previously suspended losses and how to determine the deduction for taxpayers that hold interests in regulated investment companies (RICs), charitable remainder trusts (CRTs), and split-interest trusts. The guidance also includes a notice that provides a safe-harbor rule for rental real estate businesses and a revenue procedure on calculating W-2 wages.

Sec. 199A allows taxpayers to deduction up to 20% of qualified business income (QBI) from a domestic business operated as a sole proprietorship or through a partnership, S corporation, trust, or estate. The Sec. 199A deduction can be taken by individuals and by some estates and trusts. The deduction is not available for wage income or for business income earned through a C corporation.

The deduction is generally available to taxpayers whose 2018 taxable incomes fall below $315,000 for joint returns and $157,500 for other taxpayers. The deduction is generally equal to the lesser of 20% of the taxpayer’s QBI plus 20% of the taxpayer’s qualified real estate investment trust (REIT) dividends and qualified publicly traded partnership (PTP) income, or 20% of taxable income minus net capital gains. Deductions for taxpayers above the $157,500/$315,000 thresholds may be limited; the application of those limits is described in the regulations. These amounts are inflation-adjusted. (For more on the deduction, see “Understanding the New Sec. 199A Business Income Deduction,” The Tax Adviser, April 2018).

Final regulations

The IRS noted that the final regulations had been modified somewhat from the proposed regulations issued last August (REG-107892-18) as a result of comments it received and testimony at a public hearing it held. The final regulations apply to tax years ending after their publication in the Federal Register (they have so far only been posted on the IRS website); however, taxpayers may rely on the proposed regulations for tax years ending in 2018.

The final regulations focus on determining the amount of Sec. 199A deduction. They also cover determining when to treat two or more trusts as a single trust for purposes of Subchapter J (governing estates, trusts, beneficiaries, and decedents).

The IRS says it received approximately 335 comments on the proposed regulations. The final regulations contain modifications based on some of those comments, and the IRS says it is continuing to study some comments it received that were beyond the scope of the proposed regulations.

Net capital gain: First, the IRS noted that it had not defined “net capital gain” in the proposed regulations and that a number of commenters had requested a definition. The final regulations, however, reject one comment suggesting that net capital gain exclude qualified dividends. Instead, the regulations define net capital gain for purposes of Sec. 199A as net capital gain under Sec. 1222(11) (the excess of net long-term capital gain for the tax year over the net short-term capital loss for that year) plus qualified dividend income as defined in Sec. 1(h)(11)(B).

Relevant passthrough entities: The proposed regulations define a relevant passthrough entity (RPE) as a partnership (other than a PTP) or an S corporation that is owned, directly or indirectly, by at least one individual, estate, or trust. A trust or estate is treated as an RPE to the extent it passes through QBI, W-2 wages, unadjusted basis immediately before acquisition (UBIA) of qualified property, qualified REIT dividends, or qualified PTP income. The final regulations expand this definition by providing that other passthrough entities, including common trust funds described in Temp. Regs. Sec. 1.6032-T and religious or apostolic organizations described in Sec. 501(d), are also treated as relevant passthrough entities if the entity files a Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income, and is owned, directly or indirectly, by at least one individual, estate, or trust. It declined to treat RICs as RPEs, however, because they are C corporations.

Trade or business: After considering all relevant comments, the final regulations retain and slightly reword the proposed regulations’ definition of a trade or business. Specifically, for purposes of Sec. 199A, Regs. Sec. 1.199A-1(b)(14) defines a trade or business as a trade or business under Sec. 162 other than the trade or business of performing services as an employee. The IRS again rejected suggestions that the IRS use the Sec. 469 passive activity rules, explaining that whether a trade or business exists is a different determination than that applied to the passive loss rules.

Under the rules, the rental or licensing of tangible or intangible property to a related trade or business is treated as a trade or business if the rental or licensing activity and the other trade or business are commonly controlled under Regs. Sec. 1.199A-4(b)(1)(i). This rule also allows taxpayers to aggregate their trades or businesses with the leasing or licensing of the associated rental or intangible property if all of the requirements of Regs. Sec. 1.199A-4 are met.

One commenter suggested the rule apply to situations in which the rental or licensing is to a commonly controlled C corporation. Another commenter suggested that the rule in the proposed regulations could allow passive leasing and licensing-type activities to benefit from Sec. 199A even if the counterparty is not an individual or an RPE. The commenter recommended that the exception be limited to scenarios in which the related party is an individual or an RPE and that the term related party be defined with reference to existing attribution rules under Sec. 267, 707, or 414. The final regulations clarify these rules by adopting these recommendations and limiting this special rule to situations in which the related party is an individual or an RPE.

Commenters also asked the IRS to provide safe harbors or factors for determining how to delineate separate trades or businesses conducted within one entity and when an entity’s combined activities should constitute a single trade or business, but the IRS declined to provide this guidance.

The IRS warns that taxpayers should report items consistently. For example, the IRS says that taxpayers who treat a rental activity as a trade or business for purposes of Sec. 199A should also comply with the Form 1099 information-reporting requirements under Sec. 6041.

The final regulations also provide computational rules. The final regulations clarify the proposed regulations by providing that for taxpayers with taxable income within the phase-in range, QBI from a specified service trade or business (SSTB) must be reduced by the applicable percentage before the application of the netting and carryover rules described in Regs. Sec. 1.199A1(d)(2)(iii)(A). The final regulations also clarify that the SSTB limitations also apply to qualified income received by an individual from a PTP.

Disregarded entities: The proposed regulations did not address the treatment of disregarded entities. The final regulations provide that an entity with a single owner that is treated as disregarded as an entity separate from its owner under Regs. Sec. 301.7701-3 is disregarded for Sec. 199A purposes. Accordingly, trades or businesses conducted by a disregarded entity are treated as conducted directly by the owner of the entity.

Share of UBIA property: The final regulations modify the proposed regulations with regard to the allocation to partners of the UBIA of qualified property. In the proposed regulations, in the case of a partnership with qualified property that does not produce tax depreciation during the year, each partner’s share of the UBIA of qualified property would be based on how gain would be allocated to the partners pursuant to Secs. 704(b) and 704(c) if the qualified property were sold in a hypothetical transaction for cash equal to the fair market value of the qualified property. The IRS adopted a commenter’s suggestion that for partnerships, only Sec. 704(b), not Sec. 704(c), should apply to determine each partner’s share of the UBIA of qualified property. Thus, the final regulations state that each partner’s share of the UBIA of qualified property is determined in accordance with how depreciation would be allocated for Sec. 704(b) book purposes under Regs. Sec. 1.704-1(b)(2)(iv)(g) on the last day of the tax year.

Under the final regulations, for an S corporation’s qualified property, each shareholder’s share of UBIA of qualified property is a share of the unadjusted basis proportionate to the ratio of shares in the S corporation held by the shareholder on the last day of the tax year over the total issued and outstanding shares of the S corporation.

Basis for contributed property: Another change in response to comments was for a basis rule for property contributed to a partnership in a Sec. 721 transaction or to an S corporation in a Sec. 351 transaction that the property should retain its basis. Therefore, Regs. Sec. 1.199A-2(c)(3)(iv) provides that, solely for Sec. 199A purposes, if qualified property is acquired in a transaction described in Sec. 168(i)(7)(B), the transferee’s UBIA in the qualified property is the same as the transferor’s UBIA in the property, decreased by the amount of money received by the transferee in the transaction or increased by the amount of money paid by the transferee to acquire the property in the transaction.

Similarly, the final rules clarify how to determine the UBIA of replacement property under Sec. 1031 or 1033 in response to comments. They also explain how Sec. 743(b) basis adjustments for partnerships should be treated for UBIA but also request further comments on Sec. 743(b) adjustments.

Aggregating trades or businesses: The IRS declined to adopt most of the comments it received on aggregating trades or businesses, but it did permit an RPE to aggregate trades or businesses it operates directly or through lower-tier RPEs. The resulting aggregation must be reported by the RPE and by all owners of the RPE. An individual or upper-tier RPE may not separate the aggregated trade or business of a lower-tier RPE but instead must maintain the lower-tier RPE’s aggregation. An individual or upper-tier RPE may aggregate additional trades or businesses with the lower-tier RPE’s aggregation if the rules of Regs. Sec. 1.199A-4 are otherwise satisfied.

The IRS also chose to permit taxpayers who have not reported businesses as aggregated on a tax return to choose later to aggregate businesses on a future tax return. However, taxpayers cannot aggregate businesses on an amended return because that would permit taxpayers the benefit of hindsight. Because many taxpayers were not aware of the aggregation rule, though, for 2018, they may report an aggregation on an amended return.

Performing services as an employee: The final regulations, like the proposed regulations, include a presumption that an individual who was previously treated as an employee and is subsequently treated as an independent contractor while performing substantially the same services for the same employer or a related person will be presumed to still be in the trade or business of performing services as an employee for purposes of Sec. 199A. However, in response to comments, the final regulations were modified to include a three-year lookback rule for this presumption. The individual can rebut the presumption by showing records that corroborate the individual’s status as a nonemployee.

Specified service trades or businesses: A large part of the preamble to the final regulations was devoted to comments received on SSTBs. Apart from a few clarifications in the definitions, the final regulations did not adopt these comments.

Proposed regulations

At the same time as it released the final regulations, the IRS also released new proposed regulations (REG-134652-18) treating certain issues not addressed in the proposed regulations issued in August 2018, specifically: (1) the treatment under Sec. 199A of previously suspended losses, (2) “Sec. 199A dividends” paid by a RIC, and (3) the treatment of amounts received from split-interest trusts and CRTs.

Previously suspended losses: The proposed regulations amend Prop. Regs. Sec. 1.199A-3(b)(1)(iv) to provide that previously disallowed, suspended, limited, or carried over losses (including under Secs. 465, 469, 704(b), and 1366(b) and only for disallowance, etc., years ending after Jan. 1, 2018) are taken into account for QBI purposes on a first-in, first-out basis and are treated as from a separate trade or business. To the extent that losses relate to a PTP, they must be treated as losses from a separate PTP. In addition, the attributes of these losses with respect to Sec. 199A are determined according to the year incurred.

Sec. 199A dividends by RICs: In redesignated Prop. Regs. Sec. 1.199A-3(d), the IRS proposed that RICs under Sec. 852(b) may pay Sec. 199A dividends, defined as any dividend that a RIC pays to its shareholders and reports as such in written statements to its shareholders. The rules under which a RIC would compute and report Sec. 199A dividends are based on the rules for capital gain dividends in Sec. 852(b)(3) and exempt interest dividends in Sec. 852(b)(5). The amount of a RIC’s Sec. 199A dividends for a tax year would be limited to the excess of the RIC’s qualified REIT dividends for the tax year over allocable expenses.

Split-interest trusts and CRTs: These proposed regulations redesignate Prop. Regs. Sec. 1.199A-6(d)(3)(iii) to state that a trust with substantially separate and independent shares and multiple beneficiaries is treated as a single trust for determining the application of the threshold amount under Sec. 199A(e)(2). In addition, new Prop. Regs. Sec. 1.199A-6(d)(v) provides that in the case of a CRT, any taxable recipient of a unitrust or annuity amount from a trust must determine and apply the recipient’s own Sec. 199A threshold amount, taking into account any annuity or unitrust amounts received from the trust. These recipients may take into account any included QBI, qualified REIT dividends, or qualified PTP income so distributed for purposes of determining their own QBI deduction.

PTPs: The IRS reserved for further study and comment the treatment of qualified PTP income in qualified Sec. 199A dividends distributed by RICs, noting several technical and administrative problems of their proper characterization with respect to recipients.

These proposed regulations are effective when adopted as final, but the IRS stated that taxpayers may rely on them in the interim.

Calculating W-2 wages

Rev. Proc. 2019-11 provides guidance on how to calculate W-2 wages for purposes of Sec. 199A. Sec. 199A(b)(2) uses W-2 wages to limit the amount of a taxpayer’s Sec. 199A deduction in certain situations. Sec. 199A(b)(4) defines W-2 wages to mean amounts described in Secs. 6051(a)(3) (generally remuneration paid for services paid by an employee to an employer) and 6051(a)(8) (elective deferrals and deferred compensation) paid by a person claiming the deduction with respect to employment of employees by that person during the year. W-2 wages does not include any amount that is not properly allocable to QBI under Sec. 199A(c)(1) or any amount not properly included in a return filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA) on or before the 60th day after the due date for the return.

The revenue procedure provides three methods for calculating W-2 wages: the unmodified box method, the modified box 1 method, and the tracking changes method. The IRS cautions that using one of these methods does not necessarily calculate the W-2 wages that are properly allocable to QBI and eligible for use in computing the Sec. 199A limitations. After using the revenue procedure to calculate W-2 wages, the taxpayer must then determine the extent to which they are properly allocable to QBI. The IRS also cautions that the revenue procedure cannot be used for determining if amounts are wages for employment tax purposes.

The unmodified box method described in the revenue procedure involves taking, without modification, the lesser of (1) the total entries in box 1 (wages, tips, and other compensation) of all Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, filed by the taxpayer with the SSA or (2) the total entries in box 5 (Medicare wages and tips) of all Forms W-2 filed by the taxpayer with the SSA.

The modified box 1 method involves making modifications to the total entries in box 1 of all Forms W-2 filed by the taxpayer with the SSA by subtracting amounts that are not wages for federal income tax withholding purposes (such as supplemental unemployment compensation benefits) and adding the total amounts of various elective deferrals that are reported in box 12.

Under the tracking wages method, the taxpayer tracks total wages subject to federal income tax withholding and elective deferrals reported in box 12.

Rental real estate activities

Many of the comments the IRS received regarding the proposed regulations dealt with the question of when rental activity qualifies as a trade or business. Therefore, in Notice 2019-07, the IRS has issued a proposed revenue procedure that would provide a safe harbor for taxpayers.

Under the proposed safe harbor, a “rental real estate enterprise” would be treated as a trade or business for purposes of Sec. 199A if at least 250 hours of services are performed each tax year with respect to the enterprise. The IRS says this includes services performed by owners, employees, and independent contractors and time spent on maintenance, repairs, rent collection, payment of expenses, provision of services to tenants, and efforts to rent the property. However, hours spent in the owner’s capacity as an investor, such as arranging financing, procuring property, reviewing financial statements or reports on operations, and traveling to and from the real estate will not be considered hours of service with respect to the enterprise.

A rental real estate enterprise is defined, for purposes of the safe harbor, as an interest in real property held for the production of rents. A rental real estate enterprise may consist of multiple properties. The interest must be held directly or through a disregarded entity. Taxpayers either must treat each property held for the production of rents as a separate enterprise or must treat all similar properties held for the production of rents as a single enterprise. Commercial and residential real estate cannot be combined in the same enterprise.

The proposed safe harbor would require that separate books and records be maintained for the rental real estate enterprise. Property leased under a triple net lease or used by the taxpayer (including an owner or beneficiary of a relevant passthrough entity) as a residence for any part of the year under Sec. 280A would not be eligible under the proposed safe harbor

Source: Journal Of Accountancy

IRS will issue refunds during government shutdown

The IRS announced on Monday evening that it is prepared to start processing 2018 tax returns on Jan. 28 and that it will pay tax refunds despite the partial shutdown of the federal government. The agency has been operating under a contingency plan that has furloughed 88% of the IRS’s workforce. It says it will recall “a significant portion” of its furloughed staff for tax season. The agency also says it will issue an updated contingency plan in the next few days.

Under the IRS’s original contingency plan, which officially ran through Dec. 31, the agency would process electronic returns (and paper returns up to a certain point) but would not issue refunds. However, the IRS believes it has statutory authority to issue refunds under 31 U.S.C. Section 1324.

The IRS is shut down because it is one of the government agencies that did not have its budget funded through fiscal year 2019. The agency’s funding ran out at midnight Dec. 21, and since then it has been operating under a contingency plan that allows for preparation for filing season and a limited number of other activities.

— Alistair M. Nevius, J.D., (Alistair.Nevius@aicpa-cima.com) is the JofA’s editor-in-chief, tax.

Source: Journal Of Accountancy

How to Raise a Financially Savvy Child

If you have children (or grandchildren) you have an opportunity to give them a jump-start on their journey to becoming financially responsible adults. While teaching your child about money and finances is easier when you start early, it’s never too late to impart your wisdom. Here are some age-relevant suggestions to help develop a financially savvy young adult:

  • Preschool – Start by using bills and coins to teach them what the value of each is worth. Even if you don’t get into the exact values, explain that a quarter is worth more than a dime and a dollar is worth more than a quarter. From there, explain that buying things at the store comes down to a choice based on how much money you have (you can’t buy every toy you see!). Also, get them a piggy bank to start saving coins and small bills.
  • Grade school – Consider starting an allowance and developing a simple spending plan. Teach them how to read price tags and do comparison-shopping. Open a savings account to replace the piggy bank and teach them about interest and the importance of regular saving. Have them participate in family financial discussions about major purchases, vacations and other simple money decisions.Babies holding money
  • Middle school – Start connecting work with earning money. Start simple with babysitting, mowing lawns or walking dogs. Open a checking account and transition the simple spending plan into a budget to save funds to make larger purchases. If you have not already done so, it is a good time to introduce the importance of donating money to church or charity.
  • High school – Explain the job application and interview process. Work with them to get a part-time job to start building work experience. Add additional expense responsibility by transferring direct responsibility for things like gas, lunches and expenses for going out with friends. Introduce investing by explaining stocks, mutual funds, CDs and IRAs. Talk about financial mistakes and how to deal with them when they happen — try to use some of your real-life examples. If college is the goal after high school, include them in the financial planning decisions.
  • College – Teach them about borrowing money and all its future implications. Explain how credit cards can be a good companion to a budget, but warn of the dangers of mismanagement or not paying the bill in full each month. Discuss the importance of their credit score and how it affects future plans like buying a house. Talk about retirement savings and the importance of building their retirement account.

Knowing about money — how to earn it, use it, invest it and share it — is a valuable life skill. Simply talking with your children about its importance is often not enough. Find simple, age specific ways to build their financial IQ. A financially savvy child will hopefully lead to a financially wise adult.