Newsletters

 

Tax Alerts
Tax Briefing(s)

As lawmakers return to work after their August recess, Hurricane Harvey has increased expectations on Congress to quickly pass disaster-relief tax breaks. September is also expected to bring Congressional hearings on tax reform and possibly the unveiling of tax reform legislation. At the same time, lawmakers must address the federal government’s budget, including the IRS.


Parents incur a variety of expenses associated with children. As a general rule, personal expenditures are not deductible. However, there are several deductions and credits that help defray some of the costs associated with raising children, including some costs related to education. Some of the most common deductions and credits related to minors are the dependency exemption, the child tax credit, and the dependent care credit. Also not to be overlooked are tax-sheltered savings plans used for education, such as the Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).


Two recent court cases indicate that, although use of a conservation easement to gain a charitable deduction must continue to be arranged with care, some flexibility in determining ultimate deductibility may be beginning to be easier to come by. The IRS had been winning a string of cases that affirmed its strict interpretation of Internal Revenue Code Section 170 on conservation easement. The two latest judicial opinions, however, help give taxpayers some much-needed leeway in proving that the rules were followed, keeping in mind that Congress wanted to encourage conservation easements rather than have its rules interpreted so strictly that they thwart that purpose.


A partnership is created when persons join together with the intent to conduct unincorporated venture and share profits. Intent is determined from facts and circumstances, including the division of profits and losses, the ownership of capital, the conduct of parties, and whether a written agreement exists. Despite such nuances in the process, however, distinguishing the existence of a partnership from other joint investments or ventures is often critical in determining tax liability and reporting obligations.


Gross income is taxed to the individual who earns it or to owner of property that generates the income. Under the so-called “assignment of income doctrine,” a taxpayer may not avoid tax by assigning the right to income to another.


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 federal tax reporting and filing data for individuals, businesses and other taxpayers for the month of September 2017.


Individual taxpayers may claim a nonrefundable personal tax credit for qualified residential alternative energy expenditures. The residential alternative energy credit generally is equal to 30 percent of the cost of eligible solar water heaters, solar electricity equipment, fuel cell plants, small wind energy property, and geothermal heat pump property. After 2016, the credit is available only for qualified solar electric property and qualified solar water heating property placed in service before 2022.


Under Code Sec. 1031, a taxpayer can make a tax-free exchange of property held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment. The exchange must be made for other property that the taxpayer will continue to use in a trade or business or for investment. Ordinarily, the exchange is made directly with another taxpayer who holds like-kind property. For example, an investor in real estate may exchange a building with another person who also owns real estate for use in a trade or business or for investment.


Under Code Sec. 469, passive losses can only be used to offset passive income. Taxpayers who have losses from a passive activity cannot use losses from a passive activity to offset nonpassive income, such as wages. A passive activity generally is an activity in which a taxpayer does not “materially participate.” Passive losses that cannot be deducted must be carried over to a future year, where they can offset newly generated passive income.


During economic downturns, many people often look for ways to supplement their regular employment compensation. Or, you may be engaging in an activity - such as gambling or selling items on an online auction - that is actually earning you income: taxable income. Many individuals may not understand the tax consequences of, and reporting requirements for, earning these types of miscellaneous income. This article discusses how you report certain types of miscellaneous income.

A consequence of the economic downturn for many investors has been significant losses on their investments in retirement accounts, including traditional and Roth individual retirement accounts (IRAs). This article discusses when and how taxpayers can deduct losses suffered in Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs ...and when no deduction will be allowed.

You may have done some spring cleaning and found that you have a lot of clothes that you no longer wear or want, and would like to donate to charity. Used clothing that you want to donate to charity and take a charitable deduction for, however, is subject to a few rules and requirements.

If you are finally ready to part with those old gold coins, baseball cards, artwork, or jewelry your grandmother gave you, and want to sell the item, you may be wondering what the tax consequences will be on the disposition of the item (or items). This article explains some of the basic tax consequences of the sale of a collectible, such as that antique vase or gold coin collection.

The flagging state of the economy has left many individuals and families to cope with rising gas prices and food costs, struggle with their mortgage and rent payments, and manage credit card debt and other common monthly bills. Whether individuals are contemplating how to pay off their credit card or obtain a mortgage amid the "credit crunch" and "economic downturn," many people may be considering alternative sources of financing to reach their goals, including the tapping of a retirement account.

Every year, Americans donate billions of dollars to charity. Many donations are in cash. Others take the form of clothing and household items. With all this money involved, it's inevitable that some abuses occur. The new Pension Protection Act cracks down on abuses by requiring that all donations of clothing and household items be in "good used condition or better.

Many people are surprised to learn that some "luxury" items can be deductible business expenses. Of course, moderation is key. Excessive spending is sure to attract the IRS's attention. As some recent high-profile court cases have shown, the government isn't timid in its crackdown on business owners using company funds for personal travel and entertainment.

Whether a parent who employs his or her child in a family business must withhold FICA and pay FUTA taxes will depend on the age of the teenager, the amount of income the teenager earns and the type of business.

Loans without interest or at below-market interest rates are recharacterized so that lenders must recognize market-rate interest income. Below-market loans are loans for which a rate of interest that is lower than the applicable federal rate (AFR) -a traditional interest benchmark issued each month by the Treasury Department-- is charged.

The bartering system is an ancient form of commerce that still thrives today. From livestock in exchange for grain, to legal advice in exchange for accounting services, money-less trades are still common. However, a major difference between bartering in antiquity versus modern American times is that the IRS wants in on the deal. Just because money does not change hands, does not mean that a traded good or service loses its value, or its taxability. And, unfortunately, the IRS won't accept a pig or a mule for its payment, making cash a necessary part of any barter arrangement when it's time to pay tax on it.


No, taxpayers may destroy the original hardcopy of books and records and the original computerized records detailing the expenses of a business if they use an electronic storage system.

Some gifts to employees are too insignificant for the IRS to care about. The IRS calls these gifts de minimis fringe benefits. A de minimis fringe benefit is any gift or service with a value so small that accounting for it is unreasonable or administratively impracticable. The value must be nominal or very low. Turkeys given to employees at Thanksgiving are a good example.

In the wake of the Enron collapse has come a new interest in the accounting profession and the spin on the news is often not too flattering. That's wrong. Accounting professionals play a very important role in our global economy but it's a role not too many people understand.

In a nutshell, auditors certify the accuracy of profits, losses, debts and other financial data reported by companies. They are hired by a company's board of directors - and the shareholders - to make sure that financial statements comply with federal law.


Starting your own small business can be hectic - yet fun and personally fulfilling. As you work towards opening the doors, don't let the onerous task of keeping the books rain on your parade. With a little planning upfront and a promise to "keep it simple", you can get an effective system up and running in no time.


Q. My wife and I are both retired and are what you might call "social gamblers". We like to play bingo and buy lottery tickets, and take an occasional trip to Las Vegas to play the slot machines. Are we required to report all of our winnings on our tax return? Can we deduct our losses?


Probably one of the more difficult decisions you will have to make as a consumer is whether to buy or lease your auto. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of buying vs. leasing a new car or truck before you get to the car dealership can ease the decision-making process and may alleviate unpleasant surprises later.


In addition to decisions that affect the day to day operations of the company, the new business owner will also be faced with accounting and tax related decisions. Whether to use the cash or accrual method of accounting, for example, although not always a matter of choice, is an important decision that must be considered carefully.


Q. My business is currently having some cash flow problems. I have a business that usually carries a fairly large accounts receivable balance and I was wondering if there was a way I could tap into them without getting another loan. I've heard of "factoring" - could this be a good option for my business?


Q. I've just started my own business and am having a hard time deciding whether I should buy or lease the equipment I need before I open my doors. What are some of the things I should consider when making this decision?


Limited liability companies (LLCs) remain one of the most popular choice of business forms in the U.S. today. This form of business entity is a hybrid that features the best characteristics of other forms of business entities, making it a good choice for both new and existing businesses and their owners.


With home values across the country at the highest levels seen in years, you may find that you could actually have a gain from the sale of your home in excess of the new IRS exclusion amount of $500,000 ($250,000 for single and married filing separately taxpayers). In order to determine your potential gain or loss from the sale, you will first need to know the basis of your personal residence.


The decision to start your own business comes with many other important decisions. One of the first tasks you will encounter is choosing the legal form of your new business. There are quite a few choices of legal entities, each with their own advantages and disadvantages that must be taken into consideration along with your own personal tax situation.