Posts Tagged ‘Jack Townsend’

Tax Roundup, 3/25/16: Who is qualified to appraise your old laundry? And: Dept. of Revenue explains coupling.

Friday, March 25th, 2016 by Joe Kristan
Flickr image courtesy Jen Waller under Creative Commons license.

Flickr image courtesy Jen Waller under Creative Commons license.

Why you really don’t want a $10,000 deduction for that trip to Goodwill. Some taxpayers view the deduction for donations of stuff you can’t sell at a rummage sale as a standard deduction by other means. How likely is it that the IRS is going to look at the $250 deduction I’m claiming for dropping those bags at Salvation Army, anyway?

The poison is in the dose. Just yesterday we discussed the magic words you need to get from any charity for gifts of $250 or more. If your gift of property exceeds $500, you have to notify the IRS by filing Form 8283. And if your donation goes over $5,000, you have to get a “qualified appraisal.”

How does that affect your trip to the thrift store? One taxpayer who cleaned out his late mother’s possessions found out the hard way. The Tax Court describes the donations:

These items allegedly included seven sofas, four televisions, five bedroom sets, six mattresses, a kitchen set, a dining room set, a china cabinet, and three rugs. For charitable contribution purposes, petitioner placed a value of $11,730 on these items.

Petitioner testified that he also donated to AMVETS during 2009 numerous items of clothing belonging to him and his children. These items allegedly included 180 shirts, 63 pairs of slacks, 153 pairs of jeans, 173 pairs of shoes, 51 dresses, 35 sweaters, nine overcoats, and seven suits. For charitable contribution purposes, petitioner placed a value of $14,487 on these items.

You have to group “similar items” to see whether you exceed $5,000 and trigger the need for an appraisal. IRS Publication 561 describes what “similar items” means (my emphasis):

The phrase “similar items” means property of the same generic category or type (whether or not donated to the same donee), such as stamp collections, coin collections, lithographs, paintings, photographs, books, nonpublicly traded stock, nonpublicly traded securities other than nonpublicly traded stock, land, buildings, clothing, jewelry, furniture, electronic equipment, household appliances, toys, everyday kitchenware, china, crystal, or silver. For example, if you give books to three schools and you deduct $2,000, $2,500, and $900, respectively, your claimed deduction is more than $5,000 for these books. You must get a qualified appraisal of the books and for each school you must attach a fully completed Form 8283, Section B, to your tax return.

So splitting up your donations between Goodwill and Salvation Army doesn’t help. But carefully identifying your donation and keeping each category (eg, books, china, silver) under $5,000 can work. Be sure to carefully document what you are donating; pictures are a good idea.

The taxpayer who went to Tax Court with his AMVETS donation ended up getting a zero deduction for his trouble. You don’t get a “partial” deduction when you claim a >$5,000 property charitable deduction and fail to get a proper appraisal. You get nothing.

Now if you can even find an appraiser for your old laundry, be sure you get one that counts. A qualified appraiser has to meet certain requirements for independence and expertise. For example, neither the donee nor the person who sold you the property qualifies.

You can’t wait for the IRS examination to find the appraiser. The appraisal also has to be timely, made not more than 60 days before the donation and not later than the extended due date of the return claiming the deduction. So if you don’t have that appraisal yet for your 2015 donation, it may not be too late — if you extend your return.

This is another of our irregular series of 2016 filing season tips. Collect them all!

 

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The Iowa Department of Revenue, Immediate income tax changes for Iowa taxpayers:

Effective with the enactment of House File 2433 on March 21, 2016, Iowa tax provisions are coupled with federal provisions retroactive to January 1, 2015 for tax year 2015 only.  The most common federal provisions with which Iowa is now coupled are listed below.

 NOTE: Iowa did not couple with the bonus depreciation provisions allowed for federal tax purposes for the 2015 tax year

 For Tax Year 2015 Only:

For Individual Income Tax Filers Only:

-Deduction of educator expenses
-Tuition and fees deduction for higher education
-Election to deduct state sales/use tax as an itemized deduction in lieu of state income tax
-Treatment of mortgage insurance premiums as qualified residence interest
-Tax free distribution from an IRA to certain charities for individuals 70½ and older

For Individual Income Tax Filers as well as Corporate Income Tax (including S Corporations), Partnership, Fiduciary and Franchise Tax:

-Section 179 limit for Iowa for the 2015 tax year is $500,000, which is the same as the federal section 179 limit. The phase-out threshold is $2 million.

The Department will update online forms, instructions, and web pages accordingly. Taxpayers impacted by these provisions who have already filed tax year 2015 returns should review information provided on the Department’s website at https://tax.iowa.gov about how to file an amended return.

These aren’t the only provisions coupled, of course.

 

TaxGrrrl, Worried You Might Run Out Of Time To File Your Taxes? Get An Extension. It’s always better to extend than to file late. It’s always better to extend than amend.

Annette Nellen, ACA Complexity Evident in IRS Incomplete Tax Tip. “For the past few weeks, the IRS has been publishing Health Care Tax Tips.  The one I received by email today was troubling because it includes an error or at least not enough detail to be entirely useful.”

Jack Townsend, TRAC Offerings on IRS and DOJ Criminal Tax Enforcement. “The data reported shows that referrals by the IRS to DOJ Tax peaked in the early 90s at 20 per million of population and are about 9 per million in fy 2015.”

Carl Smith, CDP Notice of Determination Sentence Causing Late Pro Se Petitions. “At the very least, it is time for the IRS to redraft the CDP notice of determination sentence so that it does not anymore trick pro se taxpayers into filing late.”

Kay Bell, Attention White House wannabes: the IRS audits presidential tax returns every single year.

 

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Joseph Thorndike, Face It: Americans Just Don’t Like the Estate Tax (Tax Analysts Blog) “At what point do liberals need to consider the possibility that something besides ignorance and stupidity is necessary to explain the popular distaste for the estate tax?”

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1051

Howard Gleckman, The Gulf Between the Presidential Candidate Tax Plans Is Historic (TaxVox). “Calling it a gap hardly does it justice. It is an ocean of difference.”

News from the Profession. However the Presidential Election Goes, CPAs Probably Not Moving to Canada (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern)

 

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Tax Roundup, 3/24/16: Executors get until June to file basis reports. And: Don’t foot-fault that charitable deduction!

Thursday, March 24th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

20160122-3Now it’s June. The IRS has again delayed (Notice 2016-27) the new requirement for executors of taxable estates to notify beneficiaries of their basis. The rule is meant to keep the IRS from being whipsawed by having taxpayers use lower values for estate tax filings than for income tax filings.

The rule, which would require the executor to provide Form 8971 to the IRS, has been delayed several times now. The form includes a schedule for each beneficiary of the assets they are inheriting, along with the asset basis reported on the Form 706 filed for estate tax purposes. Each beneficiary is to receive a copy of their own schedule.

The filing is mandatory for estates required to file an estate tax return when the return is filed after July 31, 2015. It had been due March 31. The deadline is now June 30, 2016.

 

Charitable contributions: paperwork or bust. The law isn’t willing to take your word for charitable contributions any more. If you make a charitable contribution of $250 or more, the tax law now says no deduction is allowed unless you have magic words in writing from the charity. From IRS.gov:

The written acknowledgment required to substantiate a charitable contribution of $250 or more must contain the following information:

-Name of the organization;

-Amount of cash contribution;
-Description (but not value) of non-cash contribution;
-Statement that no goods or services were provided by the organization, if that is the case;
-Description and good faith estimate of the value of goods or services, if any, that organization provided in return for the contribution; and
-Statement that goods or services, if any, that the organization provided in return for the contribution consisted entirely of intangible religious benefits, if that was the case.

In addition, a donor may claim a deduction for contributions of cash, check, or other monetary gifts only if the donor maintains certain written records.

Even if you have a cancelled check for your $250+ gift, if you lack the magic words, your deduction is zero. 

A taxpayer learned this lesson the hard way in a Tax Court opinion released yesterday. The taxpayer’s gift in this case was a conservation easement valued at $350,971. While there are complex additional requirements for deducting such property gifts, those weren’t the problem. The taxpayer never got past the magic words:

Although the conservation deed includes provisions stating that the intent of the parties is to preserve the property, those provisions do not confirm that the preservation of the property was the only consideration because the deed did not include a provision stating that it is the entire agreement of the parties. Without  such a provision, the IRS could not have determined by reviewing the conservation deed whether petitioners received consideration in exchange for the contribution of the conservation easement. We conclude, therefore, that the conservation deed taken as a whole is insufficient to satisfy section 170(f)(8)(B)(ii). Because petitioners’ contemporaneous written acknowledgment does not comply with section 170(f)(8)(B)(ii), petitioners are not entitled to any claimed carryover charitable contribution deductions,

Lacking the magic words, the deduction suddenly went from $350,971 to nothing. 

While this was a six-figure problem in this case, the rule is just as effective for a $250 gift to your church or your favorite charity.

I’ll just get the acknowledgment if I get audited. That doesn’t work. The acknowledgement has to be “contemporaneous.” Tax Court explains:

A written acknowledgment is contemporaneous if the taxpayer obtains the acknowledgment on or before the earlier of the date the return was filed or the due date (including extensions) for filing the return for the year in which the charitable contribution was made.

Many smaller charities, and even a few bigger ones, have been slow to realize the importance of these acknowledgements. If you don’t have one yet, it is wise to get it. If you want the charitable deduction, it’s worth extending your return for.

Cite: French, T.C. Memo 2016-53.

This is another of our irregular series of 2016 filing season tips. They’ll keep coming through the April 18 deadline!

 

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Paul Neiffer, Are You 70 1/2?. “If you have retirement or IRA accounts and you are approaching age 70 1/2, you must be careful to make sure to take your required minimum distributions (RMD) and April 1 can be a key deadline.”

Jason Dinesen, If I Turn 65 in August, Am I 65 on My Tax Return?

TaxGrrrl, Taxes From A To Z (2016): I Is For Inheritance

Robert Wood, Payroll Tax Violators Get Penalties Or Jail, And IRS Is Watching. “The IRS is especially vigorous in going after payroll taxes.”

Nicolas Xanthopoulos, Investigating Assets Prior to Submission of Collection Remedies (Procedurally Taxing). Important work from a practioner dealing with the hard end of the tax law, collections.

Jack Townsend, Interview of Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo on Tax Enforcement. It sounds like they still want to shoot jaywalkers.

Kay Bell, $10,000 crowdsourcing prize available to designer of Future IRS taxpayer accounts website

 

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Howard Gleckman, Paul Ryan and The “Ridiculous Notion” of Tax Distribution (TaxVox):

Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a CNBC interview that the distributional analysis of tax plans done by the Tax Policy Center, the Joint Committee on Taxation, and others is based on the “ridiculous notion” that the effect of tax changes on different income groups  is important.

Mr. Gleckman thinks Speaker Ryan is wrong, that it is very important to show how much tax changes benefit “the rich.” While that is interesting information, Speaker Ryan is right in that notions of distributional fairness have an outsized impact on tax policy deductions. I get the impression from some people that they would be fine with executing people, seizing their property, and selling their families into slavery, so long as it only affected the top 1% of earners.

David Brunori, How to Save the Corporate Tax (Tax Analysts Blog). “First, get all the states in a big room and have them agree to end all targeted tax incentives.”

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1050. Today’s link: Chipping Away at the IRS Stonewall: A Federal Court Scores the Agency For its ‘Continuous Resistance’

 

Humor impairment is a lifestyle, not a crime! White-Collar Crime Watch: Polygamists, Fixed Tennis Matches, An Unfunny Accountant (Leona May, Going Concern).

 

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Tax Roundup, 3/23/16: “Section 6103 was enacted to protect taxpayers from the IRS, not the IRS from taxpayers.” And more!

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016 by Joe Kristan

norcal logoNo Scandal here. The IRS has long history of hiding behind taxpayer confidentiality rules to avoid accountability. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals called the IRS on this yesterday in a harshly-worded opinion.

The case arose from the Tea Party scandal. NorCal Tea Party Patriots sued the IRS after the scandal emerged. The IRS has used every trick in the book to drag out the case, citing the “confidentiality” of the very taxpayers it abused. From the Sixth Circuit opinion (my emphasis):

The IRS argues that the “names and other identifying information of” organizations that apply for tax-exempt status — along with the applications themselves — are confidential “return information” under 26 U.S.C. § 6103. IRS Petition at 2, 16. The IRS argues further that the district court lacked authority to order disclosure of those names under a statutory provision for disclosure in judicial proceedings where “the treatment of an item reflected on such return is directly related to the resolution of an issue in the proceeding[.]” 26 U.S.C. § 6103(h)(4)(B). The IRS contends that the district court’s discovery orders threaten to undermine statutory protections for taxpayer privacy, and that a writ of mandamus is therefore appropriate.

A “writ of mandamus” is “an extraordinary remedy reserved to correct only the clearest abuses of power by a district court.” The Sixth Circuit wasn’t buying. They reviewed the IRS foot-dragging:

To that end, the plaintiffs sought discovery in the form of basic information relevant to class certification, including the names of IRS employees who reviewed the groups’ applications for tax-exempt status and the number of applications from similar groups that had been granted, denied, withdrawn, or were still pending. On the record before us here, the IRS’s response has been one of continuous resistance. For example, the IRS asserted that the names of IRS employees who worked on the groups’ applications were taxpayer “return information” protected from disclosure by § 6103. The IRS eventually abandoned that position, but argued instead that § 6103 barred the Department of Justice’s attorneys from even reviewing the groups’ application files to find the names of the IRS employees who worked on them. That was true, the IRS asserted, even though § 6103(h)(2) — entitled “Department of Justice” — expressly allows the Department’s attorneys to review a taxpayer’s return information to the extent the taxpayer “is or may be a party to” a judicial proceeding. See 26 U.S.C. § 6103(h)(2)(A). The IRS further objected — this, in a case where the IRS forced the lead plaintiff to produce 3,000 pages of what the Inspector General called “unnecessary information” — that “it would be unduly burdensome” for the IRS to collect the names of the employees who worked on the groups’ applications. The district court eventually intervened and declared the IRS’s objections meritless. Yet the IRS objected to still other document requests on grounds of “the deliberative process privilege[.]” That privilege, the IRS acknowledged, can be waived in cases involving “government misconduct”; but in the IRS’s reading, the IG’s report “does not include any allegation or finding of misconduct.”

Many taxpayers and preparers wish the IRS would use such a generous definition of “misconduct” when the criminal agents come calling.

The Sixth Circuit rejected all of the IRS arguments:

Section 6103 was enacted to protect taxpayers from the IRS, not the IRS from taxpayers.

Words that should be chiseled over the entrance to IRS headquarters.

Cite: United States v. NorCal Tea Party Patriots et al.; CA-6, No. 15-3793.

More coverage:

TaxProf, IRS Scandal, Day 1049:  6th Circuit Slams IRS Treatment Of Tea Party Group

Russ Fox, A Bad Day for the IRS in Court

 

Scott Drenkard,New Study on Electronic Cigarettes Released Today (Tax Policy Blog):

To some, vapor products are an exciting innovation that offers a new, less harmful alternative to traditional incinerated cigarette use. By contrast, tobacco control groups are concerned about youth use of the products.

Meanwhile, politicians are concerned about losing their sweet tobacco revenues if people stop gassing themselves with the real thing. Hence the moral panic.

This map is in the study:

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“Vapor products are generally found to have a much lower risk profile than traditional incinerated cigarettes.”

 

Paul Neiffer, Expanded Cost Basis Reporting is Here! Are you Ready? “The Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2015 (those two don’t really go together) added new tax laws that require executors to file cost basis information with the IRS.  This is required only when there is a taxable estate.”

Kay Bell, IRS releases Top 10 identity theft, tax fraud cases. 2015 only. 

Jack Townsend, IRS Publicizes Success in Prosecuting Identity Theft Refund Fraud

The IRS’s message from the selected 10 examples is that identify theft is serious and draws serious sentencings, with the principals involved receiving over 70 months (some well in excess of 100 months) incarceration (persons with lesser roles receive lesser, but still significant sentences).

That’s appropriate, but it’s not enough. Even though the thieves highlighted by the IRS report will rot for a long time, the millions they have stolen aren’t coming back. The petty grifters hightlighted in the report are probably not the type of folks who carefully weigh consequences when they can get free money right now. Nor will long sentences aren’t going to bother Russian organized crime networks, who have no intention, and little prospect, of facing U.S. justice.

Improved IRS processes that stop the crimes before they happen are what’s needed.

 

William Perez, How Much Can You Deduct by Contributing to a Traditional IRA? “Updated for 2016 contribution limits.”

Leslie Book, Filing a Day Late Can Be Timely Under Tax Court E-Filing Rules and So is Filing an Income Tax Return Ten Days Later After E-File Rejection. Good to know.

Robert Wood, Does Extending April 15 Deadline Increase Odds Of IRS Audit?. “It is worth saying it again: there is no increased audit risk to going on extension.” But there is definitely an increased risk if you mess up a return by doing it hastily, or by leaving off a late-arriving K-1.

Tony Nitti, Tax Geek Tuesday: Death Or Retirement Of A Partner In A Partnership. “Importantly, when a partner’s interest is to be liquidated by a series of distributions, the interest will not be considered liquidated until the final distribution has been made.”

 

TaxGrrrl, How To Survive Tax Season (Or Any Busy Work Day) In 10 Easy Steps.

Peter Reilly, IRS Bounty Hunters Should Not Waste Time On FBAR Penalties. In too many cases, that’s true of the IRS too.

 

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Donald Marron, Britain Builds a Better Soda Tax (TaxVox). Better at stupid is still stupid.

Annette Nellen, Taxing Candy and Snacks – That’s a Good Start. At meddling in places where the government has no business.

 

Career CornerAccounting Talent Demanding Everything Shy of the Moon, Your First Born (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern). “If I may speak for myself and many, many other people, I’d be “history” after a few days of being treated like family. The nagging questions, the guilt, the constant phone calls, the passive aggressive suggestions about marriage/kids/life direction/bad habits.”

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Tax Roundup, 3/22/16: Iowa couples to 2015 federal Sec. 179 and other changes, except bonus depreciation.

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016 by Joe Kristan

CouplingcrescoSee you next year. 81 days after 2015 ended, Iowa finally has its 2015 tax law. Governor Branstad yesterday signed HF 2433, adopting federal tax law changes for 2015, including the $500,000 Section 179 limit, but not including bonus depreciation.

While Congress enacted the $500,000 limit permanently last year — and indexed it for inflation — Iowa’s coupling is for one year only. That sets up a fight in the 2017 General Assembly not only over bonus depreciation, but over all of the other “expiring provisions” that Congress re-enacted in December.

How we got here. While Iowa’s income tax is based on federal income tax rules, it doesn’t automatically adopt federal tax law changes. Every spring the General Assembly passes a “coupling” bill where they choose whether to adopt federal tax changes made in the prior year. The Congressional habit of enacting important tax provisions for one or two-year periods — to pretend they cost less — has made the annual coupling bill an important part of the legislature’s work.

Since 2010, Iowa has adopted all federal tax law changes except for bonus depreciation. These have included the $500,000 Section 179 deduction for new asset purchases that would otherwise have to be capitalized and depreciated over a period of years — usually three to seven years. In recent years the coupling bill has been one of the first bills to go to the Governor.

This year is different. Governor Branstad surprised the Iowa tax world when he announced on January 13 that there would be no coupling for Section 179 for 2015, on the grounds that the state budget required the revenue. It soon came out that he opposed coupling for anything but the federal research credit. That would have made a major mess out of Iowa tax filing season, affecting a broad range of deductions, including:

Exclusion for IRA distributions to charity
Exclusion of gain from qualified small business stock
Basis adjustment for S corporation charitable contributions
Built-in gain tax five-year recognition period
$250 above-the-line educator expense deduction
Exclusion of home mortgage debt forgiveness
Qualified tuition deduction
Optional sales tax deduction
Conservation easement deductions
Deduction for food inventory contributions

His Republican partisans in the Iowa House of Representatives rebelled. A coupling bill that included Section 179 passed the Iowa house by month-end, 82-14. Notably, not only did all voting Republicans support the bill, but so did a large majority of Democratic representatives.

Yet the prospects for coupling at the time looked grim. Citing the Governor’s opposition, Senate Majority Leader Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) was set to keep the House-passed bill from ever coming to a Senate vote.

coupling20160213But the natives were restless. The legislators heard from a lot of their constituents that they were unhappy to lose the deduction, which could be worth around $40,000 for many taxpayers. The Des Moines Register reported that “only” 25,000 taxpayers would have lost deductions under that, but that comes out to 250 grumpy business constituents and farmers for every Representative, and 500 per senator. It seems most of them got on the phone and called their legislator. Business groups such as the Iowa Association of Business and Industry pushed for coupling, as did Iowans for Tax Relief.

The message got through. By February 22, Governor Branstad reversed himself and decided Iowa could afford Section 179 coupling for one more year. That left Senator Gronstal as the remaining roadblock to coupling. He extracted a face-saving reduction in the sales tax exemption for manufacturing supplies that the Department of Revenue put into place last year — by accepting a version of the break that he blocked in 2014.

Now it’s time to catch up. The software vendors will scramble to update their tax prep programs to include the coupling, and we can finally start to move all of the Iowa tax returns that have been on hold awaiting the coupling.

Unfortunately, this coupling bill is only for one year — even though $500,000 Section 179 is now a permanent federal tax provision. We can expect both the Governor and Senator Gronstal to oppose Section 179 coupling in the next General Assembly. They have other priorities.

Other coverage:

Gazette.com, Branstad signs tax-policy compromise

Des Moines Register, Branstad signs tax policy compromise

Maria Koklanaris, Iowa Governor Signs Exemption, Federal Conformity Bill

Paul Neiffer, Iowa Governor Branstad Finally Signs Coupling Bill.

 

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Kay Bell, Figuring the tax value of goods you give to charity

TaxGrrrl, The 9 Most Common Tax Filing Mistakes – And How To Avoid Them. “Rushing tends to result in mistakes – and those errors can slow processing of your tax return, resulting in delayed tax refunds or worse, a second glance from Internal Revenue Service (IRS).”

Jason Dinesen, Success Comes Too Easily for a Side Business. “In my experience, most of us who try taking a side business full time end up overwhelmed. A few of us make it through.”

Peter Reilly, AICPA Versus Block Advisors In Spat I Hope They Both Lose. “The reason that the H&R Block ‘Who actually prepares your return?’ question is the money shot is that at many national and large CPA regional firms, the answer will be ‘Somebody in India‘”  All Roth & Company returns are 100% U.S. content, by the way.

Leslie Book, Clarke Case Finally Comes to End: Eleventh Circuit Orders Enforcement But Also Leaves Door Open For Allegations of Improper Purpose (Procedurally Taxing).

Jack Townsend, Ruminations on Inconsistent Verdicts. “The issue of inconsistent verdicts is a big issue.”

 

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Joseph Henchman, U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case Challenging Colorado Marijuana Law (Tax Policy Blog). “The U.S. Supreme Court today turned down an attempt by Nebraska and Oklahoma to challenge Colorado’s legalization of marijuana, without explanation.”

Renu Zaretsky, Are Presidential Candidates’ Tax Plans Getting Closer Looks? Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers the millionaires who want to pull up the ladder behind themselves in New York, polling on the Bernie plan, and more.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1048

Jeremy Scott, Scotland Makes the Case That Taxes Pay for Things People Want (Tax Analysts Blog) “The Conservatives were quick to point out that she was essentially putting a ‘higher taxes here’ sign on the border that would encourage migration and tax planning.”

Ajay Gupta, Trump Only Threatens a Trade War, But Obama Might Actually Start a Tax War (Tax Analysts Blog)

 

News from the Profession. This 8-K From Valeant Is Something to Behold (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).

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Tax Roundup, 3/16/16: Coupling heads to the Governor. And: Trainwrecks, brackets, and that dreaded DNA!

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

coupling20160213Almost Coupled. Both houses of the Iowa General Assembly passed the bill to couple the Iowa tax law to federal tax law for 2015, with the exception of bonus depreciation (HF 2433). The House of Representatives vote was overwhelming, and the Senate was unanimous.

The debates before the votes featured complaints about how school funding is suffering because businesses get the same Section 179 deduction on their Iowa returns as on their federal returns. Yet not one school-funder mentioned any other ideas about finding additional $97.6 million funding lost to the Fiscal 2016 budget. For example:

Iowa credits fy 2017

So apparently school kids are important, but less so than, say, the Geothermal Heat Pump tax credit. (Related: What Iowa considers more important than Sec. 179.)

The bill also repeals the manufacturing supplies sales tax rule set forth by the Department of Revenue that was set to take effect in July. It replaced it with the manufacturing supplies tax exemption passed by the house in 2014, only to die in the Iowa Senate.

In addition to Section 179 coupling, the bill also allows on Iowa 1040s a number of other provisions enacted by Congress in December, including:

Exclusion for IRA contributions to charity
Exclusion of gain from qualified small business stock
Basis adjustment for S corporation charitable contributions
Built-in gain tax five-year recognition period
$250 above-the-line educator expense deduction
Exclusion of home mortgage debt forgiveness
Qualified tuition deduction
Optional sales tax deduction
Conservation easement deductions
Deduction for food inventory contributions

The Des Moines Register coverage of yesterday’s votes makes it appear that the Governor is on board, though he hasn’t said so in so many words. It quotes spokesman Ben Hammes:

“As the chief executive, it is the governor’s job to look at how this bill fits into the bigger budget picture and how it will impact jobs and Iowa taxpayers and he will review it accordingly. The governor is pleased that the Legislature was able to come together and find resolution on these key issues,” Hammes said.

So he doesn’t exactly say he’ll sign. I think he will, but I will feel better when he does.

Unfortunately, the bill only applies to 2015, so we have to do it all again next year.

 

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Hank Stern, More (bad) trainwreck news (InsureBlog):

As we mentioned at the end of January, Open Enrollment v3.0 was pretty much doomed from the start:

“About 6 million people have signed up for health coverage that will take effect on Jan. 1 in the states that use the [404Care].gov enrollment.”

That was way off the (implausibly) predicted 21 million anticipated to sign up. But it’s also only part of the story…

It’s not affordable, and they don’t care.

 

Mitch Maahs, Tax Brackets: Revisiting the Tax on Gambling Winnings just in Time for the NCAA Tourney (Davis Brown Tax Law Blog). “Note however that losses may only be deducted to offset gambling winnings, and are only deductible up to the amount of winnings for the year.”

William Perez, New Rules for Deducting Repairs and Maintenance. “The IRS increased the threshold for deducting repairs and maintenance expenses under the safe harbor election from $500 to $2,500.”

TaxGrrrl, FBAR, FATCA Filings Top 1 Million As IRS Increases Scrutiny On Foreign Accounts. “The penalties for noncompliance may, under the law, result in civil penalties, criminal penalties or both: the list of potential penalties that may apply is distressingly long. It’s all very draconian but it’s also very real.”

 

Jack Townsend, Tax Court Holds FBAR Penalty Collected Is Not in the $2,000,000 Threshold for Whistleblower Award under § 7623(b)

Jason Dinesen, What is a 501(c)(3) and What’s the Big Deal? “First of all, the terms not-for-profit and tax-exempt are not interchangeable.”

A. Levar Taylor, Update On The “Late Return” Dischargeability Litigation: 9th Circuit To Hold Oral Argument in Smith Case (Procedurally Taxing)

Robert Wood, What To Provide When IRS Requests Documents

 

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Caleb Newquist, That Time One of Donald Trump’s Companies Got in Trouble for Reporting Ludicrously Deceptive Non-GAAP Results (Going Concern).

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1042. Timely thoughts of what happens when the power to abuse taxpayers goes to a new abuser-in-chief.

David Brunori, Immigrants Continue to Be Good for Us (Tax Analysts Blog). “In a report, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy says immigrants who entered the country illegally paid roughly $11.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2013.”

Renu Zaretsky, Budget Battles Continue. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers federal proposed budget and Pennsylvania’s no budget, among other news.

 

If you are perplexed by voter choices this year, this may help explain things. 80% of Americans Support Mandatory Labels on “Food Containing DNA” (Ilya Somin)

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Tax Roundup, 3/15/16: Deadline Day, Coupling Vote Day. And: Arnold Palmer’s worst golf partner goes to Tax Court. (Updates)

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

coupling20160129Coupling day in the General Assembly. The bills to couple Iowa’s 2015 tax law with federal 2015 tax changes (HF 2433 and SF 2303) are scheduled for debate today in the Iowa House and Senate. I expect them to pass easily. The Governor is on vacation in Florida, but GlobeGazette.com reports that he “is expected to return to Iowa later this week” and sign the bill. We will update this post if and when the votes come down.

Update, 3:40 p.m.: The Senate passes the House bill without amendment, 50-0. On to the Governor.

Update, 1:09 p.m.: A glitch? The Iowa Society of CPAs twitter feed reports:

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I know nothing more, but if they approve an amended version, it has to go back to the House for a re-vote. I’ll monitor and update if I learn more.

Update, 10:26 am: coupling bill HF 2433 passes Iowa House, 78-17. On to Senate later today.

 

Deadline day! Corporation returns are due today. Also due are two key international tax forms, for trusts and withholding on interest, dividend and other non-business income paid to foreign taxpayers. Russ Fox has more on that.

e-file logoTake care to document that you are filing your returns or extensions timely. E-file is best if you can, as you have no worries about mail truck mishaps. If you file on paper, Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, is the tried-and-true way to prove you filed your returns on time.

If you don’t get to the post office on time, you can file up until midnight at the UPS Store or Fed-ex store, but be careful. Make sure you use one of the IRS-approved shipping services (for example, UPS Ground doesn’t qualify, but “Next-Day Air does). Make sure that you shipping slip has a pre-midnight time stamp. And you have to use the street addresses of the IRS service centers, rather than their P.O. boxes.

Related: William Perez, How to Mail Tax Returns to the Internal Revenue Service

 

(also see [1]). Direct image URL [2], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2199960

By U.S. Coast Guard – U.S. Coast Guard historical photo

Worst Golf Partner Ever. Arnold Palmer, the famous golfer, did less well in the auto business, thanks to a partner involved in a Tax Court case released yesterday. The companies, BOH and APAG, were funded in part by Mr. Palmer. Judge Nega sets the stage:

Petitioner began siphoning money from Arnold Palmer Motors, Inc., as early as October 1985. When one dealership ran short on cash, petitioner transferred money from another dealership to cover the shortfall. Rather than transferring funds directly between dealership accounts, petitioner routed transfers through his personal bank account. Petitioner routinely kept some of the transferred funds in his own account instead of transferring them to the appropriate dealership. Messrs. Palmer and McCormack did not authorize petitioner to take money from the dealerships.

The bad partner diversified into stealing from other S corporations funded by Mr. Palmer and others, but in which he held a 1/3 interest. After some time he was caught, and the tax man came calling.

The taxpayer took a bold tax return position. You need basis in an S corporation to take losses. Loans you make to an S corporation can create basis for taking losses. The taxpayer said that he made loans to the corporations he was stealing from, giving him basis.

The Tax Court found this improbable (my emphasis):

The record contains no evidence reliably establishing petitioners’ bases, if any, in the Arnold Palmer dealerships or their entitlement to NOLs arising therefrom. Petitioners have not provided any Forms 1120S, U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation, or Forms 1065, Schedule K-1, Partner’s Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc., for any of the Arnold Palmer dealerships in which petitioner was a one-third shareholder. They contend that he contributed “significant funds” to the dealerships but do not identify any specific dollar amounts contributed. In contrast, the record reflects that petitioners misappropriated amounts in excess of $6 million from the Arnold Palmer dealerships during the late 1980s which they did not report on their 1988 or 1989 income tax return.

As you may guess, the Tax Court ruled against the taxpayer, big time, with 75% civil fraud penalties.

I assume, dear reader, that you aren’t stealing from your employer. If you are, you should be reading another tax blog. But even non-thief readers can draw a lesson. You need basis to take an S corporation loss, and you need the records to show it. The taxpayer here was claiming losses from net operating loss carryforwards created by alleged S corporation losses. He failed to provide sufficient records from the loss years to convince the Tax Court.

The Moral? If you are claiming loss carryforwards, you need to preserve the tax records for the years in which the losses arise, and all intervening years, to document your right to the losses. That’s true even though the statute for limitations for the loss years has expired. Net operating losses carry forward for 20 years. That means you may need to maintain the records for the loss years for 23 years — and for all of the years in between — if you take 20 years to use them up.

Cite: O’Neal, Jr., T.C. Memo 2016-49.

 

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TaxGrrrl, IRS Alerts Taxpayers To New Tax Season Related Phone Scam:

Here’s how the new scam works. The scammer calls you and says that are with the IRS and have your tax return. They then say they need to verify some information to process your return. Those details generally involve asking for your personal information such as a Social Security number or personal financial information, such as bank numbers or credit cards.

To make the scam appear legitimate, scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another government agency is calling. The callers may refer to IRS titles, fake names and fake badge numbers. They may know your name, address and other personal information that they offer to make the call sound official.

Be careful, and remember: if the caller says he’s from the IRS, he’s lying.

 

Peter Reilly, Sales Tax Collection By Out Of State Vendors May End Up At Supreme Court Again. “The reporting requirements may have created a situation illustrative of Reilly’s Second Law of Tax Planning – Sometimes it’s better to just pay the taxes.”

David Vendler, Can a Receiver Take Advantage of the Claim of Right Provisions to Benefit Defrauded Consumers? (Procedurally Taxing)

Paul Neiffer, When Not To Take A Discount? “When a farmer has a taxable estate, we usually try to obtain a discount by splitting up land ownership into “fractional” ownership.”

Kay Bell, How long are you willing to wait for your tax refund? I.D. theft has forced tax agencies to slow down refunds to keep them from going to thieves.

 

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TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1041.

J.D. Tucille, Poor Americans Will Be Stuck With the Tab for Bernie Sanders’ Generous Promises (Reason.com). “At the end of the day, grandiose promises of massive government programs are cheap. But paying for them has a high price tag—and it will be shouldered by those with the fewest means to afford the cost.” In other words, the rich guy isn’t picking up the tab, because he can’t.

Kyle Pomerleau, It Was Not A Good Week For The Patent Box (Tax Policy Blog):

A patent box, or “innovation box,” is a tax policy that provides a lower tax rate on income related to intellectual property. The stated goal of a patent box is to promote research and development, encourage companies to locate intellectual property in the country with the incentive, and to make a country’s tax code more internationally competitive.

Just as the research credit is an incentive to call more of what you do “research,” the patent box would end up broadening the definition of intellectual property income. The only innovation it would generate would be on the part of the same sort of specialty companies that make their living doing research credit studies.

Renu Zaretsky, Only Thirty-three days till Tax Day! Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers tax refund statistics so far this season and the hiring by H&R Block of a former senator as a lobbyist for increasing barriers to competition and H&R Block profits through regulation of (other) tax preparers.

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Tax Roundup, 3/14/16: Coupling week! And: remember your March 15 federal and state deadlines.

Monday, March 14th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

coupling20160213Coupling! We expect the Iowa General Assembly to pass the 2015 tax coupling bills this week, and the Governor is expected to sign. You can follow their progress at the General Assembly site. The extender bills have been renamed SF 2303 and HF 2433.

We will be following the developments and will post news as it happens.

 

March 15 looms. Tomorrow is the first real big deadline of the filing season. Corporate 1120 and 1120-S corporation returns are due.

If you can file on time, you should extend. The penalties for late filing without an extension can be painful, and you may miss the opportunity to make important elections that are only available on a timely-filed original return.

But it’s not just federal returns. While many states, like Iowa, have April due dates for corporations returns, 23 states  want the returns on March 15. Even if you are filing an S corporation return, where the corporation itself doesn’t file, many states require payment anyway — either as a misbegotten corporation tax, as in California, or as withholding on individual income taxes of non-resident shareholders.

Source: RIA Checkpoint.

Source: RIA Checkpoint.

Extensions can be tricky too. Many states either accept the federal extension or, like Iowa, automatically extend a return if the tax for the year is sufficiently paid by the original due date. But other states require a separate extension filing. States requiring a separate extension filing, even when no payment is due, include Arkansas, Connecticut, D.C., Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, New York City, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia.

It’s already late — don’t put off those extensions any longer.

 

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Gretchen Tegeler, Can taxpayers ever get a break? (IowaBiz.com). “Alas, even the best-intentioned measures can be twisted into an argument to compound the taxpayer burden.”

Kristine Tidgren, Iowa Utilities Board Has Approved Bakken Pipeline (AgDocket).

Kay Bell, Filing deadline for 2012 taxes — and almost $1 billion in unclaimed tax refunds — is April 18

Jason Dinesen, Glossary of Tax Terms: Pass-Through Entity, “In tax terminology, a pass-through entity is a business where the end results of operations ‘pass through’ to the owners and are reported on the owners’ personal tax returns.”

Jack Townsend, Tax Obstruction Conviction Permits Inclusion in Tax Loss of Penalties and Interest. “That issue was whether the conviction for obstructing the collection of tax could include penalties and interest within the scope of the financial harm Black intended to inflict on the IRS by his obstructive acts.”

TaxGrrrl, On Pi Day, A Peek At Your Piece Of The National Tax Pie. “You can see your personalized taxpayer receipt by the dollars from the White House by plugging in the tax you paid in 2014 here.”

Andrew Mitchel, Rev. Rul. 2016-8: Tax Aspects of the Cuban Thaw

Robert Wood, As U.S. Passports For Domestic Flights Loom, IRS Can Now Revoke Passports. What could go wrong?

Leslie Book, Using Craigslist to Fish For Bogus Dependents (Procedurally Taxing)

Jim Maule, The Russian Sugar and Fat Tax Proposal: Smarter, More Sensible, or Just A Need for More Revenue?. Come now. Putin is just concerned for the health of his beloved people.

 

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TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1038Day 1039Day 1040.

Howard Gleckman, The Challenges of Modeling Presidential Tax Plans (TaxVox) “How much do tax changes affect the economy, and, in turn, what do those economic effects mean for the revenue cost of a reworked tax code?”

 

Just what kind of CPA are you? Take this quiz from the AICPA and find out. You want to know!

 

 

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Tax Roundup, 3/11/16: Iowa Sec. 179 coupling advances in both chambers. And: the cost of not filing timely.

Friday, March 11th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

IMG_1291To the floor. Identical bills coupling Iowa’s tax law to federal changes enacted in December cleared the taxwriting committees in each house of the General Assembly yesterday, the day after the bills were introduced. The bills (SSB 3171 and HSB 642) will be eligible for floor vote next week.

The sudden breakthrough clears the way for thousands of Iowans to complete their tax returns with the full $500,000 maximum Section 179 deduction. Thousands more will get to take other benefits, including the $250 above-the-line deduction for educator expenses, deductions for student loan interest, and charitable distributions by IRAs for older taxpayers.

The Governor seems to be on board, reports O. Kay Henderson:

Republican Governor Terry Branstad is praising the breakthrough.

“It certainly is a significant step in the right direction,” Branstad told reporters this morning. “…I always reserve judgment until I see it in its final form, but it appears from what I’ve heard to be something that resolves some big differences of opinion between the two houses and hopefully will make it possible to move forward with our other priorities.”

The coupling process is unfolding as I predicted February 26, after Governor Branstad reversed his anti-coupling stand. It’s too bad we couldn’t have gotten this far much earlier, without disrupting filing season. Better late than never, though. Unfortunately, the coupling is for one year only, so we can look forward to a repeat show next year.

Other Coverage:

Jason Schultz, A Victory for Iowa Taxpayers (Caffeinated Thoughts)

Des Moines RegisterLegislators reach pact on key budget issues

TheGazette.com, Iowa tax coupling to benefit ‘tens of thousands’

Me, Tax Roundup, 3/10/16: Coupling deal may trade one-year Sec. 179 coupling for reduced manufacturing sales tax exemption.

Complete Tax Update coverage.

 

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File or extend that 1120-S on time! The returns for calendar-year S corporations are due on Tuesday. If you can’t file on time, be sure you extend, because the penalties have gone up. From the IRS online Form 1120-S instructions:

Late filing of return.   A penalty may be charged if the return is filed after the due date (including extensions) or the return doesn’t show all the information required, unless each failure is due to reasonable cause…  For returns on which no tax is due, the penalty is $195 for each month or part of a month (up to 12 months) the return is late or doesn’t include the required information, multiplied by the total number of persons who were shareholders in the corporation during any part of the corporation’s tax year for which the return is due. 

You can also get in trouble for filing, but not sending the K-1:

Failure to furnish information timely.   For each failure to furnish Schedule K-1 to a shareholder when due and each failure to include on Schedule K-1 all the information required to be shown (or the inclusion of incorrect information), a $260 penalty may be imposed with respect to each Schedule K-1 for which a failure occurs. If the requirement to report correct information is intentionally disregarded, each $260 penalty is increased to $520 or, if greater, 10% of the aggregate amount of items required to be reported.

Extending your return gives you until September 15 to get that information out. A 10-person S corporation incurs a $1,950 fine for being one day late, and it increases each month. The extension, filed on Form 7004, is automatic, and can be e-filed.

Rant: I despise the use of fines like this as a government funding method. Dinging a one-day timing violation is like the red-light cameras that ding you for not quite stopping before turning right at an empty intersection. No harm, no foul, but pay up, peasant.

 

Big companies get phished: Snapchat, Seagate among companies duped in tax-fraud scam:

The scam, which involved fake emails purportedly sent by top company officials, convinced the companies involved to send out W-2 tax forms that are ideal for identity theft. For instance, W-2 data can easily be used to file bogus tax returns and claim fraudulent refunds.

The embarrassing breakdowns have prompted employers to apologize and offer free credit monitoring to employees. Such measures, however, won’t necessarily shield unwitting victims from the headaches that typically follow identity theft.

Be careful out there, kids.

 

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William Perez, Tax Planning for Clergy

Kay Bell, Ways & Means chairman promises more Congressional scrutiny of IRS security procedures

Jack Townsend, DOJ Tax Promotes Employment Tax Criminal Prosecutions. Never “borrow” withheld taxes to pay other vendors. It can get very serious in a hurry, even in Iowa.

Keith Fogg, A Different “Angle” on Recovery of Costs and Attorney’s Fees. “As we have discussed before, allowing the government to wait until the time of trial or even after trial to concede a case and thereby avoid attorney’s fees frustrates the purpose of the qualified offer provisions.”

Robert Wood, Guilty Mo’ Money Tax Preparers Could Face 8 Years. Nothing says “professional” like “Mo’ Money.”

TaxGrrrl, Does The IRS Have Your Money? Nearly $1 Billion In Old Tax Refunds Outstanding

Jim Maule, Why Not Sell Losing Lottery Tickets? “The answer is simple. The person buying those tickets and representing that they lost the face value of those tickets would be committing tax fraud.”

Dang. Tax Court Holds That Family Vacations Are Not Deductible As Book-Writing Research (Tony Nitti).

 

Richard Auxier, Is your state’s tax system punching above or below its weight? (TaxVox).

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1037

 

News from the Profession. CPA Accused of Jamming Cell Phones Just Wanted to Commute in Peace, YOU MONSTERS (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).

 

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Tax Roundup, 3/9/16: A College Savings Iowa contribution today can reduce 2015 Iowa tax. And: Shoot more jaywalkers!

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

csi logoYou can still make a College Savings Iowa 2015 contribution. While Section 529 plans provide tax-free earnings for college for taxpayers in all states, Iowans can get an extra tax break for them. 2015 contributions to College Savings Iowa or Iowa Advisor Sec. 529 plans can generate a deduction on Iowa state 1040s up to $3,163 per donee.

For the first time, Iowans can make their 2015 contributions as late as the April 30, 2016 due date of their 2015 tax return. In prior years you had to make the contribution by December 31 to get the deduction.

The $3,163 limit is per donee, per donor. That means a couple with 2 children can get four full deductions for 2015 529 contributions totaling up to $12,652. For a couple at the 8.98% top Iowa rate, that’s a savings of $1,136 on their Iowa return.

This is another of our occasional series of 2016 filing season tips. Collect them all!

 

Jack Townsend, Report on Remarks of AAG Tax and Practitioner Regarding Nonwillfulness and Foreign Account Enablers:

Ciraolo and Bryan Skarlatos questioned whether foreign account holders can remain nonwillful about foreign account reporting obligations at this stage.  The article quotes from her prepared comments (linked above) as follows:

After three very well-publicized voluntary disclosure programs, nearly 200 criminal prosecutions, ongoing criminal investigations and the increasing assessment and enforcement of substantial civil penalties for failure to report foreign financial accounts, a taxpayer’s claims of ignorance or lack of willfulness in failing to comply with disclosure and reporting obligations are, quite simply, neither credible nor well-received. 

This is so wrong. Something that is a big deal in the IRS enforcement bureaucracy can be invisible to a person going about their business, maybe taking a temporary position overseas or getting a U.S. green card.

People get in IRS trouble for having an interest in a foreign account they aren’t even aware of. One practitioner I know had to deal with an immigrant from India who paid thousands of dollars in penalties for not reporting an interest in a foreign bank account that her parents back home put her name on as a joint owner without her knowledge, and without her receiving any income from it. Others find themselves in hot water after get an inheritance overseas that they don’t learn about until after the reporting deadline.

The IRS remains clueless about how many people go through their daily financial lives without pondering whether there is an obscure form lurking to ruin them for non-compliance. The system is broken, but the only answer the enforcers have is to continue the beatings until morale improves.

 

20120906-1David Brunori speaks wisely: If You Need Tax Credits, You Shouldn’t Be in Business (Tax Analysts Blog)

Here’s what got me thinking. Iowa — no paradise when it comes to good tax policy — gave 186 companies tax credits worth more than $42 million last year. Those credits were handed out as an incentive to conduct research and development. There are other credits available for businesses. Oh, and the credits are refundable because, like with poor families receiving the earned income tax credit, R&D credits provide a critical safety net. All right, I’m being facetious.

Iowa’s biggest welfare recipient was technology company Rockwell Collins Inc., which received $12 million. Rockwell is a great company, but it has $5 billion in revenue. Giving money to Rockwell isn’t quite the same as giving money to a shoestring nonprofit feeding the homeless in Des Moines.

In all, 20 companies claimed more than $500,000 in R&D credits, including DuPont Co., Deere & Co., and Monsanto Co. I ask them, where is your pride? Do you really want a government handout?

For a full-throated defense of tax credit corporate welfare, today’s IowaBiz.com blogger, Brent Willett, offers Job creation fuel: R&D policy move is important for Iowa. Not surprisingly, the cost of paying these subsidies in increased taxes on less fortunate and less influential Iowa businesses never comes up. The “job creation” part is also weakly defended.

 

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Russ Fox, Online Gambling Addresses Updated for 2016. Russ performs a valuable service in gathering street addresses of offshore online gaming websites. Online gaming accounts at these sites are “foreign financial accounts” for FBAR purposes, and you need a street address to fill out Form 114. They can be hard to find. Hat’s off to Russ.

TaxGrrrl, Tax Season Proving Confusing (Again) For Taxpayers Affected By Obamacare

Kay Bell, Have you received your Obamacare coverage forms yet? “Recipients of the B or C versions want to hang onto these forms as verification that they did have ACA required coverage, which they tell the Internal Revenue Service about by checking the appropriate box on their 1040EZ, 1040A or long form 1040.”

Michelle Drumbl, The Automated Substitute for Return Procedures (Procedurally Taxing) “The ASFR assessment process takes into account all income reported as earned by the taxpayer, but it ignores reported items that would reduce taxable income.”

Robert Wood, Erin Andrews Wins $55M Peephole Verdict But Faces Heavy IRS Tax Hit

Jim Maule, Buying and Selling Dependency Exemptions for Tax Purposes. “It’s too bad Congress cannot be indicted, convicted, and punished for making a mess of the tax system, continuing to make it worse, and refusing to clean it up.”

 

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Annette Nellen, AICPA Advocacy on IRS Funding. It’s hard to see how the IRS gets more funding when it does such an awful job with the funding it has.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1035. “The IRS doesn’t know if its data backups are deleted or not created, and doesn’t test to ensure backups can be used if information is lost, even after a “significant” December 2014 incident, according to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report.”

Alan Cole, Tax Policy Must Be Proportionate to Spending Policy (Tax Policy Blog). “This gets to the heart of one of the principles of good tax policy: your tax policy should actually be able to fund the government you want. One way or another, Donald Trump will have to assent to this principle.”

Elaine Maag, Complicated Families: Complicated Tax Returns (TaxVox):

The law is built on the idea that a child lives in a traditional family – married parents with only biologically related siblings. The tax unit it is presumed to include the adults supporting the child.

But increasingly, children live in arrangements that belie that traditional family; children move between homes of divorced or never-married parents in formal and informal custody arrangements; children live with unmarried, cohabiting parents; children live in multigenerational households. In short, children are supported by adults in multiple tax units.

But only one tax unit gets to claim the earned income credit for each child.

 

News from the Profession. Apparently Accountants Are Terrible on the Phone (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).

xx

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Tax Roundup, 3/8/16: Getting robbed, and again. And: IRS allows retroactive WOTC certification for 2015.

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

walnutstreet20160308It’s not enough to get robbed; you have to time it right. A “pump-and-dump” securities fraud victim claimed a theft loss deduction. The IRS said “yep, you were robbed.” But they also said that they didn’t time their robbery deduction properly, and therefore were out of luck. And, it turns out, they were.

Court of Federal Claims Judge Sweeney explains (my emphasis, citations and footnotes omitted):

There is no dispute that plaintiffs discovered the theft loss in 2002.31 And, neither plaintiffs nor defendant disputes that in 2002, there existed “a claim for reimbursement with respect to which there [was] a reasonable prospect of recovery Plaintiffs filed their arbitration claim against Donald & Co., Mr. Stetson, Mr. Volman, and Mr. Ingrassia in February 2002, and by the end of that year, they had neither sought to adjourn the proceedings nor withdrawn their claim. Accordingly, in light of the ongoing arbitration proceedings, plaintiffs could not claim a theft loss deduction in 2002. Instead, they were required to delay their deduction until the “year in which it [could] be ascertained with reasonable certainty whether or not” they would receive reimbursement of their losses from their arbitration claim. Plaintiffs determined that the proper year to claim their theft loss was 2004, and filed amended federal income tax returns reflecting the deduction. The IRS disallowed plaintiffs’ refund claim, and takes the position in this litigation that 2004 was not the proper year for plaintiffs to claim their theft loss deduction.

The court said the victims didn’t prove that they were entitled to the deduction:

Plaintiffs claim that they sustained the loss in 2004 because by the end of that year, they had no reasonable prospect of recovering on their arbitration claim. However, under the factual circumstances presented in this case, the test is not whether plaintiffs had a reasonable prospect of recovering on their arbitration claim in 2004, but is instead whether, in 2004, plaintiffs could have ascertained with reasonable certainty that they would not recover on their arbitration claim. To satisfy their burden under the latter test, plaintiffs were required to produce objective evidence that they abandoned their arbitration claim in 2004. They failed to do so. In the absence of such evidence, plaintiffs are not entitled to a theft loss deduction for the 2004 tax year.

The opinion doesn’t say whether the victims filed protective refund claims for subsequent years to preserve their refund rights. It would be another robbery if they were unable to get their theft loss deduction because they got the year right. The statute in such cases should allow taxpayers to recover in the proper year if the IRS successfully second-guesses the timing of a theft loss.

The Moral? If you are a fraud or theft victim, the timing of the loss deduction is very important. If the IRS disputes the loss on examination, be sure to file protective refund claims for open years to protect your rights.

Cite: Adkins, Ct. Fed. Claims No. 10-851T.

 

Speaking of getting robbed twice: IRS shuts down ID-thief assistance portal. A week after The Tax Foundation pointed out that the IRS IP-PIN online portal made identity theft victims vulnerable to being victimized a second time, the IRS has temporarily shut it down:

As part of its ongoing security review, the Internal Revenue Service temporarily suspended the Identity Protection PIN tool on IRS.gov. The IRS is conducting a further review of the application that allows taxpayers to retrieve their IP PINs online and is looking at further strengthening the security features on the tool.

Nothing to see here, move along.

 

Work Opportunity Credit guidance updated for retroactive 2015 credits. Congress re-enacted the expired Work Opportunity Tax Credit retroactively for 2015. To claim the credit for hiring certain classes of hard to employ workers, employers have to get the employee eligibility verified within 28 days. As this was impossible for an expired credit, the IRS yesterday gave employers until June 29 of this year to get the certification for 2015 hires (Notice 2016-22)

 

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Russ Fox, What Part of “Permanent Injunction” Didn’t You Understand? “Mr. Herrera is being held at ClubFed until he closes his business and complies with the injunction.” That should do it.

TaxGrrrl, Understanding Your Tax Forms 2016: 1099-B, Proceeds From Broker & Barter Exchange Transactions

William Perez, How to Mail Tax Returns to the Internal Revenue Service

Keith Fogg, Making Claims and Spending Refunds in Bankruptcy. “The 9th Circuit recently affirmed the district court opinion granting summary judgment to the IRS in a case brought by Mr. Stanley Burrell aka M C Hammer seeking to equitably estop the IRS from collecting on taxes for two years which it failed to include on the proof of claim in his bankruptcy case.”

Jack Townsend, Proposed FinCEN Rulemaking for Rules on FBAR Reporting for Financial Professionals

 

Tony Nitti, Would Hillary Clinton’s Tax Plan Kill The Incentive Stock Option?. Actually, AMT has done that pretty well already.

Robert Wood, President Hillary Won’t Cut Tax Deductions To Charities Like Clinton Foundation. Of course not.

Peter Reilly, Chasm Of Class And Privilege – Clinton Tax Plan Hits Top 1% – Sanders Plan Hits Top 5%. “What I find really interesting is the way in which the proposals reflect the difference in the Sanders and Clinton constituencies.”

Kay Bell, Trump is last holdout as Kasich releases tax returns

 

Jason Dinesen, 6 Things You Might Not Know About Enrolled Agents. “2. We Don’t Work for the IRS

 

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Renu Zaretsky, Budget Chaos, Tax Breaks, Loopholes, and Incentives. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers EU tax investigations of multinationals, IRS tax investigations of multinationals, and scoundrels “patriotic millionaires” against carried interests.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1034

Stuart Gibson, Competition Policy and Tax Policy in The Twilight Zone (Tax Analysts Blog). “From a tax perspective in the U.S. (and probably Europe), this is simply a garden-variety case of a taxpayer negotiating a good deal with a foreign tax authority. From a European competition perspective, the answer is a bit more complicated.”

 

News from the Profession. Why Accountants Suck at Marketing (Blake Oliver, Going Concern)

 

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