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Tax Briefing(s)

The IRS has released the 2018 optional standard mileage rates to be used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, medical, moving and charitable purposes. Beginning on January 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup of panel truck will be:

  • 54.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (up from 53.5 cents in 2017);
  • 18 cents per mile for medical and moving expenses (up from 17 cents in 2017); and
  • 14 cents per mile for miles driven for charitable purposes (permanently set by statute at 14 cents).

Comment. A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate after using a depreciation method under Code Sec. 168 or after claiming the Code Sec. 179 deduction for that vehicle. A taxpayer may not use the business rate for more than four vehicles at a time. As a result, business owners have a choice for their vehicles: take the standard mileage rate, or “itemize” each part of the expense (gas, tolls, insurance, etc., and depreciation).


January 1, 2018 not only brings a new year, it brings a new federal Tax Code. The just-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act makes sweeping changes to the nation’s tax laws. Many of these changes take effect January 1. Everyone – especially individuals and business owners – needs to review their tax strategies for the new law. The changes are huge. However, many changes are temporary, especially for individuals.


The start of a New Year presents a time to reflect on the past 12 months and, based on what has gone before, predict what may happen next. Here is a list of the top 10 developments from 2017 that may prove particularly important as we move forward into the New Year:


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act modifies Section 529 qualified tuition plans to allow the plans to distribute up to $10,000 in tuition expenses incurred during the tax year for designated beneficiaries enrolled at a public, private, or religious elementary or secondary school. Section 529 plans used to only be allowed for college tuition, up to full tuition amounts. That provision for college tuition remains the same.


Yes, conversions from regular (traditional) tax-deferred individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to Roth IRAs are still allowed after enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In fact, in some instances, such Roth conversions are more beneficial than they were prior to 2018, since the tax rates on all income, including conversion income, are now lower. However, the special rule that allows a contribution to one type of an IRA to be recharacterized as a contribution to the other type of IRA will no longer apply to a conversion contribution to a Roth IRA after 2017.


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 January 2018.


As virtual currencies such as Bitcoin rise in prominence and use, the IRS has for the first time described how virtual currency will be treated for tax purposes. The agency concluded in new guidance (Notice 2014–21) that Bitcoin and other virtual currencies like it are not to be treated as currency, but as property.

Code Sec. 162 permits a business to deduct its ordinary and necessary expenses for carrying on the business. However, Code Sec. 274 restricts the deduction of entertainment expenses incurred for business by disallowing expenses of entertainment activities and entertainment facilities. Many expenses are totally disallowed; other amounts, if allowed under Code Sec. 274, are limited to 50 percent of the expense.

Tax reform, frequently discussed in Washington, got a boost from two recent proposals, one from the chair of the House tax writing committee and another from the White House. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, released a massive tax reform bill in late February. In early March, President Obama released his fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget proposals, detailing over 160 tax proposals. Both proposals share some similarities but also key differences.

Yes. Identity theft is a growing problem and the start of the return filing season is one of the peak times for identity thieves filing fraudulent returns. Criminals file false returns early to get refunds and unsuspecting taxpayers are unaware their identities have been stolen until they file their returns. Individuals who believe they have been victims of identity theft should immediately alert their tax professional and the IRS. The IRS has a number of programs in place to assist victims of identity theft.


The IRS has made several changes to its examination (aka, "audit") functions that are designed to expedite the process and relieve some burden on business taxpayers. These include the expansion of the Fast Track Settlement (FTS) program for small business, self-employed (SB/SE) taxpayers and a new process for issuing information document requests (IDRs) in large case audits.


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.


A business can deduct only ordinary and necessary expenses. Further, the amount allowable as a deduction for business meal and entertainment expenses, whether incurred in-town or out-of-town is generally limited to 50 percent of the expenses. (A special exception that raises the level to 80 percent applies to workers who are away from home while working under Department of Transportation regulations.)


Beginning January 1, 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires individuals to carry comprehensive health insurance (referred to as minimum essential coverage or MEC). Individuals without coverage must make a shared responsibility payment to the IRS, unless they qualify for an exemption. This requirement is known as the individual mandate. The individual mandate also applies to children and other dependents.


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 announced a new optional safe harbor method, effective for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2013, for individuals to determine the amount of their deductible home office expenses (IR-2013-5, Rev. Proc. 2013-13). Being hailed by many as a long-overdue simplification option, taxpayers may now elect to determine their home office deduction by simply multiplying a prescribed rate by the square footage of the portion of the taxpayer's residence used for business purposes.


In recent years, the IRS has been cracking down on abuses of the tax deduction for donations to charity and contributions of used vehicles have been especially scrutinized. The charitable contribution rules, however, are far from being easy to understand. Many taxpayers genuinely are confused by the rules and unintentionally value their contributions to charity at amounts higher than appropriate.