Posts Tagged ‘Roger McEowen’

Tax Roundup, 3/31/16: IRS says S corps can still reimbuse 2% owner health premiums. And: partner basis!

Thursday, March 31st, 2016 by Joe Kristan

S-SidewalkS corporation owner reimbursement still good. When the ugly alliance of government agencies overseeing Obamacare blew up small employer health reimbursement arrangements, they spared some S corporation plans.

Because 2% shareholders of S corporations have to deduct their health insurance on line 29 of the 1040s, rather than getting them as a tax-free fringe benefit, many S corporations reimburse their employee shareholders for their health insurance costs. While “The Departments” impose a $100 per employee, per day penalty for anybody else doing that, Notice 2015-17 said such arrangements for S corporation 2% shareholder-employees were OK until further notice.

Yesterday the IRS, in an information letter to Rep. Justin Amash, affirmed that there has been no further notice:

To date, the IRS has not issued any other guidance, so, as stated in Question and Answer 5, taxpayers may continue to rely on Notice 2008-1, 2008-2 IRB 1, for the tax treatment of the health coverage provided to a 2-percent shareholder-employee.

I thought that was still the case, but when you’re talking $100 per-day, per-employee, it’s always nice to get confirmation.

Related: IF IT’S NOT ON THE W-2, S CORP SHAREHOLDERS CAN’T DEDUCT HEALTH INSURANCE

 

How partnership basis is different. As with S corporation shareholders, partners don’t have a shot at deducting their partnership K-1 losses if they don’t have basis in their partnership interests. They still might not be able to deduct the losses because of the at-risk and passive loss rules, but without basis, they don’t have any chance at all.

It’s much easier for partners to get basis than it is for shareholders. While S corporation shareholders can only get basis based on their stock ownership and loans they make themselves to their S corporation, partners get basis from debt inside the partnership. 

Example. Joe and Bob set up a 50-50 partnership to buy a food truck. They each invest $5,000, and the partnership borrows $20,000 to buy the food truck.

Not only do Joe and Bob get basis for their $5,000 investment, they also get $10,000 in basis for their share of partnership debt.

The exact workings of the debt allocations can get unbelievably complex, and they have spawned most of the world’s tax shelters, but your partnership K-1 should tell you what your share of partnership debt is that you can use for your 1040. It’s right there in Part II, item K:

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In our upcoming “at-risk” installment, we will talk about what those three categories of liabilities mean.

Other than the use of partnership debt, partnership basis is pretty much determined the same as S corporation basis. You start with your investment, increase it for income and further investments, and reduce it for losses and distributions.

This is another of our irregular series of 2016 filing season tips, running through the April 18 filing deadline.

 

Lower than Minnesota, much higher than Missouri. How High Are Cigarette Taxes in Your State? (Scott Drenkard, Tax Policy Blog):

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Robert Wood, IRS Allows Some Personal Items Deducted As ‘Business Expenses’ On Your Taxes. “Not everything must be 100% business to be tax deductible, but be careful what you claim and how you claim it.”

TaxGrrrl, Taxes From A To Z (2016): P Is For Paying Your Taxes In Pennies (and Dollars)

Kay Bell, Tax help in finding new work, or what to do differently from Jimmy McGill if you don’t like your job

Hank Stern, O’Care at 6: Fewer, Sicker, Costlier. (Insureblog). “That’s right, not only are the newly-insured sicker, there are even fewer less-sickly folks signing up at all.”

Peter Reilly, IRS Turns To Crowdsourcing To Improve Systems. That seems logical, considering that the hacking is crowdsourced.

Leslie Book, Series of Errors With Installment Agreement and Collection Actions Leads to Taxpayer Victory on Collection Statute of Limitation (Procedurally Taxing).

Paul Neiffer, Where’s Roger. ” Many of you know my now (since we have posted on it already) that Roger McEowen has joined CLA as a half-time tax director for our firm.”

Jim Maule, Tax Fears. Well, they tax everything else… Oh, that’s not what he’s talking about. “If a one in two hundred chance of being audited explains an audit fear rate of 11 percent, then why do 8.5 percent of Americans fear zombies?”

 

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David Brunori, Tampons, Viagra, and Other Important Tax Issues (Tax Analysts Blog) “Nothing should be exempt from sales tax. Good tax policy dictates a broad tax base — tax everything — and low rates.”

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1057

 

News from the Profession. Survey: Accountants Far Less Deserving of a Knuckle Sandwich Than Donald Trump (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).

 

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

Thursday, March 10th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

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Update, 10:23 a.m. The Senate Ways and Means Committee cleared SSB 3171 this morning unanimously, according to the Iowans for Tax Relief Twitter feed. They also report that House Ways and Means is meeting now to discuss HSB 642, which I believe is identical to SSB 3171.

Update, 11:30 a.m. O. Kay Henderson posted Statehouse leaders announce tentative deal on taxes. Looking at the statements, it appears that the deal is between leaders of the two legislative chambers, with Governor Branstad as a bystander. Makes me nervous, but I assume they wouldn’t go to the trouble without having the Governor on board somehow.

A deal, maybe. A bill rumored as the outline of a bi-partisan deal coupling 2015 federal tax changes to the Iowa income tax law was introduced by chief Senate taxwriter Joe Bolkcom yesterday. SSB 3171 would allow taxpayers to deduct up to $500,000 of equipment purchases on their 2015 Iowa returns that would otherwise be capitalized and depreciated over a period of years. This would match up the 2015 Iowa maximum “Section 179” deduction to the amount enact in December for 2015 and beyond in federal law. It would also enact for 2015 Iowa returns a number of other “expired” provisions, 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 matching would only be for one year. The price to get Senate Democrats to go along would be repeal of the sales tax administrative rules for manufacturers set to take effect July 1. They would be replaced by a smaller sales tax break passed by the Iowa House in 2014 that died in the Senate.

Iowa is not expected to couple with federal bonus depreciation.

While rumors say that this is close, with legislative movement likely as early as today, there remains uncertainty. The Governor is said to be unhappy with the deal, and he will go along only grudgingly, if at all, according to people I’ve heard from.

Rod Boshart reports at TheGazette.com:

“We’re ready to move ahead with those three elements: the coupling, rescinding the governor’s rules and picking up the consumable supplies bill that the House passed in 2014. That would be in one package,” Bolkcom said.

Republicans who control the Iowa House and Democrats who hold a majority in the Iowa Senate also were working to resolve a dispute over state funding for schools with negotiators looking at a deal that could boost state aid in fiscal 2017 by 2.25 percent and provide other categorical increases that would bring the overall funding growth closer to 2.5 percent, according to legislators close to the talks.

“There’s no deal yet, but we are meeting with House Republicans on the big issues,” said Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who declined to discuss specific numbers. “The good news is we are meeting and talking.”

The sales tax exemption has been a sore point with Senate Democrats since it was proposed by the Department of Revenue. Going with the 2014 house-passed language (HF 2443) reduces the break, giving the Senate Leadership a symbolic victory. Still, the 2014 death of HF 2443 indicates that they really didn’t want to keep any of the rule changes.

I haven’t figured out exactly what parts of the sales tax exemption will be lost under the bill introduced yesterday. The exemptions for items such as jigs, tools, dies, coolants and lubricants would survive.

This issue will be back next session. Even if the compromise passes, the section 179 coupling issue will be up again next year. SF 3171 is only for one year, while the federal legislation makes the federal change permanent. There seems to be no discussion yet of cutting back corporate welfare tax credits to “pay for” the Section 179 deduction used by 25,000 Iowa farmers and small businesses. Maybe next year.

I will update this post today as events warrant.

 

Scott Drenkard, Nicole Kaeding, How High Are Sales Taxes in Your State? (Tax Policy Blog):

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Tax experts generally recommend that sales taxes apply to all final retail sales of goods and services but not intermediate business-to-business transactions in the production chain.

That’s the tragedy about scaling back Iowa’s manufacturing exemption. Rather than scaling it back, the legislature should be looking to expand it to other business inputs.

 

Paul Neiffer, Two Opportunities for Farm and Estate Tax Education. While Roger McEowen will sadly no longer be part of the Iowa State University Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation, he will continue to teach his summer seminars: this year in Alaska and North Carolina. These are excellent seminars in nice settings, and a nice way to mix continuing education with leisure.

 

Robert Wood, Cayman Companies Plead Guilty To U.S. Tax Evasion, Handing Over American Accounts. Bank secrecy is still dead.

Jason Dinesen, More on Business Proactive Planning in the Real World. “The thing the “experts” miss is, most of us are trying to be proactive … but it’s hard when the client won’t be an active participant in the process.” I find that some clients want you to be pro-active, as long as you don’t charge any time for it.

Tony Nitti, With Summer Olympics Nearing: Should Athletes Pay Tax On Their Winnings?. “Few people realize this, but with an Olympic medal comes a cash payout: $25,000 for a gold, $15,000 for  a silver, and $10,000 for a bronze.” Somehow I doubt that it covers costs for, say, the Modern Pentathlon champions.

Kay Bell, Is Trump ‘poor’ enough to get NY property tax break?:

Crain’s New York Business may have shed some light on why Donald J. Trump doesn’t want us to see his tax returns.

The magazine reports that the billionaire real estate developer got a property tax break designed for New Yorkers making less than $500,000 a year.

People with a lot of wealth in real estate investments can have surprisingly low taxable incomes, after depreciation and interest deductions. Of course, so can people who aren’t really so wealthy.

 

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Jeremy Scott, Romney Cared About the 47 Percent Because He Cared About Deficits (Tax Analysts Blog). “Unlike 2016’s candidates, Romney was trying to push economic and tax policy that didn’t add too much to the national debt, and made Democrats seem financially irresponsible.”

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1036

Cara Griffith, Should Tax Settlement Agreements Be Publicly Available? (Tax Analysts Blog). “Yet if it is conventional wisdom that good cases settle while bad cases go to trial, isn’t there a lot that could be learned if lawsuit settlements were made available for public scrutiny?” The good thing is that it would shine light on “secret” law. The bad news is that it might make deals harder to reach.

Renu Zaretsky, Schemes, Scams and States’ Fights. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup says some big company payroll departments fell victim to ID-theft scam emailers mimicking CEOs asking for employee information. Be careful, people.

 

Career Corner. Most Managers Would Prefer If You Could Just Read Their Minds (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern). We would, you know.

 

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Tax Roundup, 2/17/16: Nationwide ‘unregulated’ tax practice regulated out of business. And: Where’s Roger?

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

20150921-1The Wild West of Unregulated Tax Practice. Well, not entirely: Federal Court Shuts Down Nationwide Tax Preparation Business (Department of Justice):

A federal court in Chicago has ordered Servicios Latinos Inc. to close its nationwide tax preparation business, the Justice Department announced today.  The order comes after the Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against the business and its owners, Georgina Lopez, Pamela Miranda and Jorge A. Miranda, alleging that the defendants falsely understated their customers’ tax liabilities or overstated their customers’ entitlement to a tax refund.  The injunction also prohibits Lopez, Pamela Miranda and Jorge Miranda from acting as federal tax preparers, owning or operating tax preparation businesses and employing tax preparers.  The defendants agreed to entry of the injunction, but did not admit the allegations in the complaint.

The abortive IRS preparer program had an ethics component. I’m sure that this would never have happened if the barred preparers had attended a one-hour ethics CPE course.

They were successful, until now:

According to the complaint, Servicios Latinos operated out of approximately 84 stores in as many as 30 states, with locations including Kennet Square, Pennsylvania; Kansas City, Missouri; and Las Vegas, Nevada. 

They probably had many clients who were delighted at the big refunds that the stodgy preparers down the street were too timid to claim. The press release says the now-closed firm’s alleged stock in trade included phony child tax credits and earned income tax credits. Sometimes a big refund can turn out to be expensive. Now their satisfied clients can look forward to their “Dear Taxpayer” letters.

This shows that the government has powerful tools to shut down bad actors. Regulation would not improve the conduct of good preparers, but it would saddle them with useless expense and paperwork. It’s just another form of occupational licensing, this time to the benefit of the national tax prep franchise outfits.

 

RMceowenPaul Neiffer, Welcome Aboard Roger McEowen:

Roger just recently left the Center For Agricultural Law and Taxation (CALT) at Iowa State University and I am pleased to let everyone know that he has agreed to join CliftonLarsonAllen as a tax director for our Agribusiness and Cooperative group.  He will be based out of Des Moines and will continue to do his normal seminars around the country and provide additional advice for our clients on income and estate tax and succession planning (along with other advice).

Roger recruited me as a speaker for the CALT Farm Tax Schools for the past several years. Congratulations, Roger, on your move to the private sector!

 

186 companies get refunds under Iowa R&D tax credit (Des Moines Register):

Critics of the program have questioned why so few companies claim such a large part of the tax credits. They’ve also questioned why the state is providing companies with money when it faces tight budgets.

Supporters of the research activities tax credit, however, have said the tax credit helps the businesses decide where to locate and where to conduct their research. Providing the tax credit helps spur investment in Iowa, some have said.

People who get free money always have good reasons why it should keep coming.

Related: What Iowa considers more important than Sec. 179. 

 

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Jason Dinesen. Glossary: Form 8332. “Form 8332 is a tax form signed by a custodial parent to release their claim to a dependency exemption for a child and give it to the non-custodial parent.” It’s a wonderful way to enable parents to continue fighting long after the divorce is final.

TaxGrrrl, Understanding Your Tax Forms 2016: Form 1099-INT, Interest Income. “The ‘FATCA filing requirement’ box is ticked if the information reported on this form is required by rule or statute to comply with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). If this box is checked, you may have your own FATCA related reporting requirements, including the filing of a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).”

Russ Fox, Board of Equalization Excoriated for Ignoring the Law and Binding Precedents, “This is just another reason why the business climate in California is so dreadful.”

Kay Bell, Louisiana budget gap could shut down LSU football. The most important function of the state university system, apparently.

Jack Townsend, The Revenue Rule: Is It Relevant Any More? Should It Be? “Historically, the ‘Revenue Rule’ has been a barrier to one country seeking to collect taxes in another country.”

Keith Fogg, Why is the IRS Collecting Taxes for Denmark? ({rocedurally Taxing)

Peter Reilly, How Valid Is Tax Foundation Dynamic Scoring? It’s all modeling, which is always questionable. Still, taxes do matter. The same people who insist 70% tax rates won’t be ruinous insist soda taxes affect behavior. They’re half right that way.

Robert Wood, Kim Kardashian + Kanye West File Taxes Separately. Maybe You Should Too. If I were married to Kim Kardashian, I absolutely would.

 

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Ajay Gupta, Justice Scalia’s Tax Law Jurisprudence—Just as Acerbic and Prophetic (Tax Analysts Blog). “In cases involving the interpretation of federal tax statutes, Scalia brought to bear his general disdain of legislative history.” And he was not a friend of commerce clause challenges to state taxes.

Michael Schuyler, What Would The Administration’s $10 Oil Tax Do To The Economy And Federal Revenue? (Tax Policy Blog). It would go into, among other things, “high-speed rail.

Howard Gleckman, Cruz’s Flat Tax + VAT Would Cut Revenues By $8.6 Trillion. If only there were a candidate with a plan that would improve the tax system and not increase the deficit

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1014

Tax Justice Blog, Tax Justice Digest: Voodoo Economics — Corporate Tax Watch — Social Contract. Check out what the left side of the tax conversation is up to. Oddly, the words “social contract” don’t show up in the post. Maybe because I never signed it?

 

News from the Profession. Would an Accountant Ever Fall for a Phony IRS Call? “And if a CPA did get duped, it’s not like he or she could tell anyone about it. If they did, they’d literally die from the embarrassment.”

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Tax Roundup, 1/13/16: Considering the “small partnership exception.” And lots more!

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016 by Joe Kristan
Today in Helsinki. Photo: Sini Hämäläinen

Today in Helsinki. Photo: Sini Hämäläinen

Small partnerships, big risks. A venerable voice in Iowa tax, Neil Harl, has for some time touted the “small partnership exception” as a way for partnerships with 10 or fewer members to avoid filing tax returns, and the operation of the partnership rules in general. A version of it appeared at Tax Analysts yesterday ($link), where he argues that a tax case defeat for a non-filing small partnership does not call his argument into question. Non-subscribers can read his basic argument here.

I find it unconvincing as a legal matter. Dr. Harl’s argument is that a provision that applies by its terms to the Code subchapter covering how partnership examinations are conducted (“For purposes of this subchapter,” meaning Chapter 63, Subchaper C) creates a blanket exemption to the filing requirement imposed in a different part of the code (Chapter 61, Subchapter A). Time has resolved the argument after 2017 as the Code section Dr. Harl relies on has been repealed effective in 2018.

1065 2015 cornerStill, even assuming Dr. Harl is correct on the law, he is unconvincing on the practicalities. Dr. Harl himself says that partnership failure to file penalties are proper unless “all partners have fully reported their shares of the income, deductions, and credits of the partnership on their timely filed income tax returns.”

That puts any managing partner at the mercy of his least responsible partner. There’s no practical way to force a partner to file. In a ten-person partnership, one non-filing partner triggers $1,950 in monthly failure to file penalties. That’s a big risk for a partner to take on just to save filing a return, and it was a losing bet for the South Dakota Battle Flats partnership.

Dr. Harl summarizes the advantages he sees in his approach (my emphasis):

The availability of the exception generally means a lower annual cost for income tax return preparation and freedom from the onerous penalties for failure to file a timely or complete Form 1065, not to mention the advantage of sidestepping the complex rules that apply to partnerships generally such as the depreciation rules applicable to partnerships after transfer of depreciable assets to the partnership.

The Battle Flats case disposes of the “freedom from onerous penalties” bit. As far as return prep costs, Dr Harl himself notes that the income of a small partnership has to be reported somehow:

So how do the small partnerships report their income? The statute is not clear on that point but the definition of “partner” implies that each partner is to take into account the “partnership items” which would include income, gains, losses and credits. Those items would be reported on Schedule C, F or E as would be appropriate for that partner.

That means the partnership has to provide each partner with the income from operations sorted in a way that enables the partner to properly file their 1040s. That’s exactly what Form 1065 and its Schedule K-1 do. Either you prepare a homemade document to do what the K-1 does, or you do a K-1. It’s hard to see why it’s cheaper to design a homemade K-1 than to use the one the IRS provides.

Tax pro Chris Hesse responds to Dr. Harl in the comments to his Tax Analysts piece:

Readers who carefully read Rev. Proc. 84-35 will conclude that Dr. Harl’s position is not sustainable. Those who follow Dr. Harl’s path will find themselves not only subject to the penalties for late filing, but incurring the professional costs of defending a losing argument. Advisors should counsel that it is less costly to comply.

I think that’s correct.  Even if you are convinced that Dr. Harl has the law right, I don’t see why it makes sense for a partnership to place its tax compliance, and the risk of severe non-filing penalties, in the hands of its least responsible partner.

Related: Roger McEowen, IRS Guidance on Reasonable Cause Exception to Penalties for Failure to File Partnership Return Upheld.

 

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Kristine Tidgren, DMWW Court Certifies Questions to Iowa Supreme Court (AgDocket). Developments in the Des Moines Water Works environmental lawsuit against upstream farming counties.

William Perez, New Rules for Deducting Repairs and Maintenance

Tony Nitti, IRS Continues To Whipsaw Taxpayers: Sales Of Land Generate Ordinary Income, Capital Loss

Robert D. Flach recaps THE FAMOUS STATE TAX SEMINAR last weekend in New Jersey.

 

Jim Maule offers Another Reason Tax Professors Don’t Need to Invent Hypotheticals. If you made up a case like the real one he discusses, everyone would say it was too far-fetched.

Question, answered:

Peter Reilly, How To Cash Your Powerball Winning Ticket Anonymously.

Robert Wood, Copy Hillary Clinton: Transfer Powerball Tickets Now Before Win, Avoid Taxes.

TaxGrrrl liveblogged the State of the Union. State Of The Union 2016 – LIVE. That’s dedication.

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David Brunori, Montana’s School Credit Is Unconstitutional, but Not for Obvious Reasons (Tax Analysts)

Joseph Henchman, Pretend You Won the Powerball. What Taxes Do You Owe? (Tax Policy Blog).

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 979

Renu Zaretsky, Tax Hikes, Relief, Dedication, and Resurrection. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers State of the Union tax talk, campaign tax proposals, and lots more.

 

Career Corner: Let’s Get Worked Up About: Email Pet Peeves (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern). Hey, Caleb sent me one yesterday!

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Tax Roundup, 12/10/15: No basis for you! 9th Circuit rules against taxpayer in demutualization case.

Thursday, December 10th, 2015 by Joe Kristan

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Demutualization debacle. A favorable decision for taxpayers who have received insurance company shares in demutualizations was overturned yesterday. A divided three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit ruled that a taxpayer had no basis to shares of five mutual insurance companies that converted to stock companies. That means all proceeds from a sale of the shares is treated as capital gain.

Principal Mutual in Des Moines demutualized in 2001.

The court held that the taxpayers, a Mr. and Mrs. Dorrance, paid nothing for their shares:

Treating the premiums as payment for membership rights would be inconsistent with the Code’s provisions related to insurance premiums. For example, gross premiums paid to purchase a policy are allocated as income to the insurance company; no portion is carved out as a capital contribution. See I.R.C. §§ 803(a)(1), 118. On the flip side, the policyholder is allowed to deduct the “aggregate amount of premiums” paid upon receipt of a dividend or cash-surrender value. I.R.C. § 72(e). No amount is carved out as an investment in membership rights. The taxpayer can’t have it both ways — a tax-free exchange with zero basis and then an increased basis upon sale of the stock.

The district court skipped a critical step by examining the value of the mutual rights without evidence of whether the Dorrances paid anything to first acquire them. The basis inquiry is concerned with the latter question. The district court also erred when it estimated basis by using the stock price at the time of demutualization rather than calculating basis at the time the policies were acquired. The stock value post-demutualization is not the same as the cost at purchase…

This analysis brings us back to the Dorrances’ burden and the economic realities of this case. Because the Dorrances offer nothing to show payment for their stake in the membership rights, as opposed to premium payments for the underlying insurance coverage, the IRS properly rejected their refund claim.

The Ninth Circuit ruling creates a conflict among different appellate courts on the proper treatment of shares of demutualized insurers.   A 2008 Federal Circuit decision upheld a Claims Court ruling that basis should be assigned to demutualized shares under an “open transaction” approach. That sets up a possible Supreme Court decision to resolve the split.

For now, expect the many pending refund claims for gains arising from demutualization transactions to remain unpaid indefinitely.

Cite: Dorrance, CA-9, No. 13-16548.

Background: Roger McEowen, Tax Impact of Demutualization – The Saga Continues

 

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Robert Wood, #1 Tax Lady Found Guilty Of 27 Tax Felonies, Could Face 131 Years. “#1 Tax Lady” isn’t the same tax lady as former TV IRS debt settlement figure Roni Deutch.

Kay Bell, Back-up plans on tax extenders, federal spending bill

 

Jeremy Scott, How Congress Keeps Saving the Tax System From Treasury and the IRS (Tax Analysts Blog). “In fact, too often in the last few years, it’s been Congress saving the fisc from bizarre administrative decisions from Treasury or the Service that have wounded the tax system.”

Frank Yan, The “Google tax”: What it is, and Why We Should Be Cautious (Tax Policy Blog). “Broadly speaking, the Google tax imposes a penalty on large companies that shift income abroad through certain transactions and corporate structures.”

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 945

Peter Reilly, National Organization For Marriage Denied Attorney Fees In IRS Lawsuit. “It looks like the National Organization for Marriage has come to the end of the line in its hope for a big payday from the IRS for the unauthorized disclosure of the Schedule B (donor list) attached to its 2008 Form 990.” Too bad. If a CPA firm made such an egregious “accidental” disclosure of tax information, it would be sued to a crisp. It’s good to be king.

 

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Robert D. Flach, THE 2015 PNC CHRISTMAS PRICE INDEX. “The increase in the Partridge is due to the growing popularity as a gourmet food and in backyard farming.”

Programming note: The site was down as a result of technical difficulties this morning, accounting for the brevity of today’s update. Order has been restored; apologies for the inconvenience.

 

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Tax Roundup, 11/30/15: Solar-powered tax fairies, and other signs and wonders.

Monday, November 30th, 2015 by Joe Kristan
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Flickr image courtesy Ashley Van Haeften under Creative Commons license

Tax Fairy signs and wonders. The time is always right for a revival for the Cult of the Tax Fairy, the wonderful mythical being that can make your taxes go away with a wave of her wand, for an entirely reasonable up-front fee. These revivals are often accompanied by signs and wonders, several of which appear in request for a federal injunction filed earlier this month with respect to a solar energy operation. Being alert for these signs and wonders can save would-be Tax Fairy believers from a bad experience when the IRS folds up the revival tent.

The injunction request complaint deals with tax benefits alleged for “solar thermal lenses.” As I understand it, the basic technology is familiar to every little kid who has used a magnifying glass to burn things, but on a bigger scale. The real technical magic lies in the tax breaks.

We’ll discuss the tax breaks are described in the injunction request, which we should remember are the government’s allegations. The defendants may dispute the allegations, which have not been proven in court. The alleged facts do include signs and wonders often seen in Tax Fairy revival tents, though, and may be of instruction to those not wanting to be burned by Tax Fairy false prophets.

Tax benefits as a multiple of the cash paid. Real tax benefits rarely exceed the amount paid out for them. A deduction by definition provides a tax benefit of less than the amount paid — the tax rate times the amount of the expense. A tax credit could in theory provide more than a 100% benefit when combined with a deduction — the Iowa school tuition tax credit can come very close — but even that is a rare creature. By leveraging through borrowings, the up-front payment can be minimized, but real borrowings have to be repaid.

According to the government’s injunction request, the defendants sell solar lenses at a stated price of $3,500. But only $105 is due on the down payment, with $945 due the following year, after the tax fairy has magically provided tax savings from the investors. $3,500 in benefits for $105 would be a sweet deal.

Pretend loans. The remaining $2,450 is supposedly payable over 30-35 years. Most importantly, “the customer is not personally liable for the remaining $2,450. There is no provision for remedy in case a customer defaults, other than ‘repossession’ of the lens…”

This reminds me of cattle shelters of the early 1980s, when a $1,000 cow would be “sold” to Tax Fairy believers for, say, $5,000, or more, with $1,000 down and the rest in super-easy payments. The investors would claim depreciation of the cattle for the state price, but the loan was a wink and a nudge, with no real expectation of repayment. The solar lens shelter described by the injunction complaint would work the same way, promising $3,500 worth of tax benefits for $105 down.

tax fairyCasual Business operations. You can only deduct business expenses for a real business trying to make money. As described in the injunction request, at least, the don’t seem to be trying too hard. The lenses are described as “solar energy” property to generate a tax benefit, yet:

…neither the lenses, nor any other equipment on the installation, are (or have been) generating electricity, heating or cooling a structure, providing hot water for use in a structure, or providing solar process heat.

Also:

47. Defendants’ “lenses” consist of thin sheets of plastic. 
48. There are some lenses mounted on towers at the Installation in Millard County.
49. The thin plastic lenses that have been mounted have been exposed to desert conditions. Many are broken and dangling out of their frames. The ground near the Installation is littered with shards of plastic from lenses which have broken and fallen.
50. In this state, the lenses cannot capture or direct sunlight such that it could be used for any purpose that Congress intended to encourage through tax deductions or credits.
51. The vast majority of lenses purportedly sold – if they even exist – have not been  mounted. Defendants claim the lenses are in storage.

So many signs and wonders. We’ll just note that there is no deduction for an asset unless it’s “placed in service,” which is not the same thing as “placed in storage.”

Tax benefits are all that make the deal profitable. The injunction request says that the investors will get a small annual payment for the use of the lenses, but that the IRS says doesn’t actually get paid. The promotional material instead focuses on the ability to “zero out” taxes, according to the complaint.

Implausibility. Really, if somebody has a revolutionary technology, what’s more likely: that they would find venture capital to ramp it up and syndicate the tax benefits to large investors, or that they would finance it $105 at a time via multi-level marketing?

The web site for at least one defendant company remains up, so you can check it out for yourself.  But when pondering the signs and wonders touted by someone with something to sell, always keep one scientific fact in mind: there is no tax fairy.

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Paul Neiffer, Happy Thanksgiving and CRP reporting:

Roger McEowen of the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation just posted a brief on whether you need to file a Form 8275 with your tax return if you are reporting CRP payments and not paying self-employment tax on the rents received.  The Morehouse appeal was finalized last year in favor of the taxpayer.  However, the IRS recently issued a non-acquiescence and asserts that it will assess self-employment tax on any CRP payments where the taxpayer is not receiving social security benefits even if they are passive landlord.  Even though they did not appeal the Court’s decision, they still disagree with the Court (typical IRS).

Roger does a good job of breaking down the details of the issue and provides guidance on whether you need to file the form or not. 

I agree with Roger that the IRS is wrong in imposing self-employment tax on non-farmers. I am more willing to disclose than Roger, and I think preparers should discuss disclosure with clients.

 

Russ Fox, De Minimis Rule Change Is Better than I First Thought. “Normally when you read something that’s from the IRS, you expect to find ‘gotchas.'”

William Perez, Year-End Tax Planning Tips for Investors

Robert D. Flach, FINE WHINE! “Forced ethics CPE will not reduce tax fraud!”

Kay Bell, Hunters’ game plan: donating meat to feed the hungry

Peter Reilly, Hobby Lobby Owners Win First Round In $3 Million Tax Refund Case

 

Jason Dinesen, From the Archives: Take the Money and Run? The Tax Consequences of Winning a Home in a Giveaway, Part 2

 

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Alan Cole, Universal Savings Accounts Introduced in Congress (Tax Policy Blog). “The bill, sponsored by Senator Jeff Flake and Representative Dave Brat, would allow Americans age 18 or older to open an account to which they could contribute $5,500 of after-tax money. The money could be invested in bonds and equities, and grow tax free.”

Renu Zaretsky, On Highways and Tax Bases. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers efforts to pass an elusive permanent highway funding bill, among other things.

 

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 931Day 932,Day 934Day 935. Day 934 is probably the best of this holiday weekend’s crop, with discussion of the systematic weakening of inspectors general by the administration. “Last year, 47 of the nation’s 73 federal IGs signed an open letter decrying the Obama administration’s stonewalling of their investigations.”

Robert Wood, Wesley Snipes Sues IRS Over Abusive $17.5M Tax Bill, False Promise Of ‘Fresh Start’. Mr. Snipes has not previously shown good skill with the tax law, and I don’t think he’s starting now.

 

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Tax Roundup, 11/10/15: Sheldon! And: a hard-working mom, plus a sure clue that you aren’t talking to the IRS.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 by Joe Kristan

Sheldon! The Day 1 ISU Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation Farm and Urban Tax Schools team is in Sheldon, Iowa today, while another crew takes care of Day 2 in Waterloo. Today’s session is at Northwest Iowa Community College, where about 1,900 students study programs ranging from pre-professional accounting to powerline technology. It’s not exactly an urban setting:

View towards the Northwest from the campus of Northwest Iowa Community College.

View towards the Northwest from the campus of Northwest Iowa Community College.

It’s always a great crowd, and it’s good to see everyone again. Especially since it’s not freezing here yet this year.

 

Accounting firm real estate appraiser flunks real estate pro test. It’s not easy for someone with a day job to be a “real estate professional” under the tax law “passive loss” rules. Passive losses are only deductible to the extent of passive income, and are otherwise deferred until a taxable sale of the “passive activity.” Real estate rental losses are automatically passive for most taxpayers, but an exception allows “real estate professionals” to qualify as non-passive under the same rules that apply to other businesses.

You have to clear two hurdles to be a real estate pro:

  1. You have to work more than 750 hours in real estate businesses in which you have an ownership interest, and
  2. Your real estate time has to exceed the time you spend doing everything else.

The second qualification eliminates most taxpayers with day jobs. But that didn’t stop our intrepid appraiser, who worked for two top-ten accounting firms in their appraisal practices.

The taxpayer and his wife acquired several apartments over the course of their marriage, which they claimed losses based on the real estate pro provision. The Tax Court sets the stage; I change the taxpayers’ names to “Mr. Taxpayer” and “Mrs. Taxpayer” in my excerpts, and all emphasis is mine.

Petitioners were married in 2006. At that time Mrs. Taxpayer owned a single condominium (Unit 918) which she had previously used as her personal residence. Mr. Taxpayer owned two condominiums (Units 522 and 801), one of which he had previously used as his personal residence. Each unit was subject to a separate mortgage. When petitioners married, they pledged the three units as collateral and obtained a loan to purchase an additional condominium (in the same building as Units 522 and 801) for use as their new personal residence.

Beginning in 2006 and throughout the year in issue, petitioners operated Units 522, 801, and 918 as rental properties. The parties stipulated that petitioners did not hire a property manager to assist with their rental properties in 2010.

20151110-2The court quickly rejected the husband’s arguments:

Mr. Taxpayer’s reliance on work that he performed for Grant Thornton and Crowe Horwath to show that he qualified as a real estate professional in 2010 is misplaced. In short, he testified that he did not own an equity interest in either firm, and he did not offer any other evidence in support of the proposition that he met the definition of a “5-percent owner” of either firm within the meaning of section 416(i)(1)(B). Therefore, the personal services that he performed as an employee of those firms may not be taken into account in computing the number of hours that he performed personal services in real property trades or businesses.

The wife had a better argument, but the court was unpersuaded by her evidence of working 750 hours:

Petitioners’ testimony was inconsistent regarding the division of labor between them and the timing of significant events. As to the division of labor, Mr. Taxpayer stated, quite candidly we believe, that Mrs. Taxpayer did little physical labor after the birth of their son in late November 2009. In contrast, Mrs. Taxpayer testified (and her revised log indicates) that she spent many long days in the first weeks of January 2010 cleaning, painting, and repairing Units 522 and 801.

Against this backdrop, we bear in mind that Mrs. Taxpayer did not maintain a contemporaneous log of her rental property activities and instead made handwritten notes on scraps of paper that she did not review in any great detail until a few weeks before trial. A close examination of the revised log that she submitted to respondent’s counsel raises serious doubts about its accuracy… for the period January 2 to January 11, Mrs. Taxpayer’s revised log indicates that she worked at least 154 hours — an average of slightly more than 15 hours per day for the 10-day period — not counting any time that she may have spent showing either unit to prospective tenants. We find it improbable that Mrs. Taxpayer performed all of the work described above.

While I admire anyone who can work 15-hour days within two months of giving birth, the Tax Court’s admiration was at best tempered by poor recordkeeping. Decision for IRS, with 20% “accuracy related” penalties tacked on.

The Moral? If you need to prove your time spent for business activities, there’s nothing better than a current time log. “Scraps of paper” are a poor substitute.

Cite: Calvanico, T.C. Summ. Op. 2015-65

Related: Material participation basics.

What the Northwest Iowa Community College looked like on my visit two years ago.

What the Northwest Iowa Community College looked like on my visit two years ago.

 

Robert D. Flach comes through with an “especially ‘meaty'” Buzz today. LInks to much tax blog goodness, with free analysis of Donald Trump, no extra charge.

Russ Fox, Cleveland Loses on Monday (and They Didn’t Even Play). The Supreme Court rejected an appeal of rulings that its “Jock Tax” is unconstitutional.

Kay Bell, Looking for a holiday job? Employee or contractor status makes a tax difference to you, your boss and the IRS

William Perez, The Key Benefits of Health Savings Accounts

 

Renu Zaretsky, A Debate, A New Plan, A Vote, and Two Mulligans. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers the GOP debate, the Carson tax plan, and TurboTax’s plans for the coming filing season.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 915

 

A vital clue. While leading the class yesterday in Waterloo, co-presenter Roger’s phone was buzzing frantically in his pocket while he was speaking. As it turns out, Mrs. Roger had received a message on her anwering machine at home saying the IRS needed to talk to her immediately. She called the number that was left, and somebody answered, telling her the police would arrest her right away if she didn’t pay her taxes.

Roger related the story to the class, and one of the attendees immediately pointed out the sure clue that it wasn’t really a call from the IRS:

“Somebody answered the phone.”

 

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Tax Roundup, 11/9/15: Waterloo! And Estonia!

Monday, November 9th, 2015 by Joe Kristan

Day 1: Waterloo! The ISU Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation Farm and Urban Tax Schools are underway! I am on this morning’s panel in beautiful Waterloo, Iowa, with Roger McEowen and Kristy Maitre. Spaces are available for all of the remaining Iowa sessions, so register today! If you can’t make one of the sessions in person, you can attend the December 14 Ames session via webinar.

The November 9 session of the Farm and Urban Tax School in Waterloo is underway!

The November 9 session of the Farm and Urban Tax School in Waterloo is underway!

The early-rising schedule for the drive up here today requires an abbreviated roundup today, so let’s roll.

 

Kyle Pomerleau Estonia’s Growth-Oriented Tax Code. (Tax Policy Blog). It excerpts a speech from the Estonian Ambassador to the U.S.:

The main components of the Estonian tax system have been in place since the beginning of the 1990s. After Estonia regained independence in 1991, the country needed a tax system that was compatible both with the limited experience of the taxpayer who came from the Soviet communist controlled society and effective tax administration. It was essential that the tax system should support economic growth, not impede it. Therefore, a tax system was developed with an emphasis on indirect taxes. To keep the system simple, transparent and easy to use, only a few exceptions were allowed, as at the same time, tax rates were kept rather low.

A cornerstone of Estonia’s fiscal policy was corporate and personal income tax reform, which introduced the proportional, or flat tax rate of 26% in 1992, which has been reduced to 20%. Since 1999, reinvested corporate profits are no longer subject to income tax. Today, Estonian income tax system, with its flat rate of 20%, is considered one of the simplest tax regimes in the world

We could do a lot worse than the Estonian system. We certainly do now.

 

Tony Nitti, Renting Your Home On Airbnb? Be Aware Of The Tax Consequences:

Section 280A of the Internal Revenue Code, which governs the treatment of homes that are used for both personal and rental purposes, is a complicated tangle of definitions, designations, and resulting consequences. But if you’re going to start renting out a property on Airbnb or Craigslist, you’re going to need to know the rules, so let’s take a deep dive into Section 280A and see if we can’t help all of you newly-minted slumlords sort through your tax considerations.

And remember the local lodging tax that may apply.

 

Still plenty of coffee and juice in Waterloo...

Still plenty of coffee and juice in Waterloo…

 

Headline of the Day: Colorado county’s pot tax to pay for higher education (Kay Bell). 

Jason Dinesen, What Is Iowa Alternate Tax?

Peter Reilly, Republicans Want IRS To Target Hillary Clinton:

Given the outrage that Republicans have expressed about the “targeting” of the Tea Party by the IRS, you would think that they would be slow to advocate IRS political targeting.  Apparently  it is more a matter of who’s ox is being gored.

That’s why the party in power may regret the way it has politicized the IRS. It isn’t likely to remain in power forever.

 

Rachel Rubenstein, IRS Announces Procedures for Identity Theft Victims to Request Copies of Fraudulently Filed Tax Returns (Procedurally Taxing).

TaxGrrrl, Austrian Woman Destroys Million Dollar Fortune Rather Than Pay Out Heirs

Robert D. Flach offers A YEAR-END TAX PLANNING TIP on capital gains.

 

...but the breakfast treats are going fast.

…but the breakfast treats are going fast.

 

Russ Fox, Chaka Fattah, Jr. Guilty of Tax and Fraud Charges. “Chaka Fattah Jr., son of Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah Sr. (D-PA), was found guilty on Friday of 22 of 23 tax and fraud charges.”

Jack Townsend, Financial Secrecy in the U.S. – A NonTax Example Illustrating the Law Enforcement Problem:

One of the issues is that opacity of U.S. entity structures.  The beneficial owners of corporations and other entities may simply not be known.  And states permitting such entities to be organized usually do not request any representations of ownership.  So, shady actors can easily fly under the law enforcement — including tax enforcement — radar screen.  Hence, the U.S. may facilitate evasion of other countries’ taxes by offering foreign investors secrecy as to their investments in the U.S.

In the FATCA era, it will be more difficult for us to tell foreign tax collectors that U.S. tax structures are none of their business.

 

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 912Day 913Day 914.

Renu Zaretsky, Repeal, Reform, and Maybe Retaliation. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup topics include efforts to repeal the “Cadillac Tax,” the background of the new Ways and Means Chairman, and allegations of retaliatory audits in New Mexico.

Sebastian Johnson, State Rundown 11/6: Election Day Wrap Up (TAx Justice Blog).
Career Corner. More Accounting Firms Should Let Employees Build Their Own Niche Practices (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).

 

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Tax Roundup, 11/6/15: Time to invade rural Iowa! And: IRS backs off valuation discount limits.

Friday, November 6th, 2015 by Joe Kristan

Tax School Rampage! In the pre-dawn hours Monday I will rendezvous with Roger McEowen, Director of the Iowa State University Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation, for the drive to Waterloo and the first 2015 session of the Iowa Farm and Urban Tax Schools. We will rampage through four Iowa towns this week. The complete schedule:

Nov. 9-10 – Waterloo
Nov. 10-11 – Sheldon
Nov. 11-12 – Red Oak
Nov. 12-13 – Ottumwa
Nov. 16-17 – Mason City
Nov. 23-24 – Maquoketa
Dec. 7-8 – Denison
Dec. 14-15 – Ames

For those of you unfortunate enough to not be in Iowa, or who prefer to study from the comfort of your computer, the Ames session is also available in a live webinar.

I am on the Day 1 schedule for all eight sessions, along with Roger and Kristy Maitre, the former Iowa IRS stakeholder liaison. There are two Day 2 teams. Waterloo, Mason City, Maquoketa and Denison get Dave Bibler, Jim Goodman, and Daniel Fretheim. Sheldon, Red Oak, Ottumwa and Ames get Dave Repp and Paul Neiffer of FarmCPA Today blog fame.

We have lots to cover this year. Details of topics here, and registration information here. Say you heard about it at the Tax Update Blog and get free coffee at any session!

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Valuation power grab inoperative. Tax Analysts reports that Treasury officials have disavowed any intention of using forthcoming regulations to crack down on valuation discounts in estate planning. From the Tax Analysts report ($link):

Coming regulations on estate valuation for interests held by family members will follow not the Obama administration’s prior budget proposals, but the statute, an IRS official said November 4, signaling a welcome about-face for practitioners from earlier comments made by Treasury officials.

“There seems to be some confusion as to exactly what the guidance will rely on,” Finlow said. “We are looking to the statute as it is now. . . . We are not looking at the green book,” she said, referring to Treasury’s green book explanation of the president’s proposal on valuation discounts in his fiscal 2013 budget plan.

How do such crazy rumors get started?

In May Catherine Hughes, attorney-adviser, Treasury Office of Tax Legislative Counsel, said practitioners should look to that fiscal 2013 proposal for hints on what would be in store in the regs. The Obama administration asked Congress to amend section 2704(b) to disregard some provisions, such as some transfer and liquidation restrictions, in the valuation of intrafamily transfers of interests in family entities.

This would take the urgency out of some gift tax planning that is going on in anticipation of a crackdown on discounts for minority interests that seemed to be telegraphed by the Hughes comments.

 

buzz20150804Friday is a good day for so many reasons. Not least of which is that it’s the day Robert D. Flach posts his Friday Buzz roundup. Today his links included his year-end planning guide and bad news about the level of IRS service we can look forward to this coming filing season.

 

Robert Wood, Surgeon Hid Money In Divorce, Is Convicted Of Tax Evasion, Faces Up To 95 Years Prison:

He left the country without telling friends, family or his workplace, and secretly drove to Costa Rica He opened two bank accounts there, depositing more than $350,000 in cash. He also hid a thousand ounces of gold in a Costa Rican safe deposit box. Crossing into Panama, he opened another account there under the name of a sham corporation, Dakota Investments. By 2008, he had moved $4.6 million into that account.

He was hiding the money from an estranged wife and the IRS. With the benefit of hindsight he may wish he had instead invested in good divorce and tax counsel.

 

Roger Russell, Taxes in the Sharing Economy (Accounting Today). Includes a discussion of local lodging taxes for AirBNB renters.

William Perez explains Itemized Tax Deductions.

Kay Bell, New Ways and Means chairman Rep. Kevin Brady wants to move tax extenders ‘sooner rather than later’. “Like House Speaker Paul D. Ryan before him, Brady favors making the tax extenders permanent pieces of legislation.”

Paul Neiffer, Does 7 Equal 5? “For most farmers, Section 179 (at the $500,000 level) is much more important than a five-year life for equipment depreciation.”

Keith Fogg, How Does Indexing Federal Tax Lien Impact Its Effectiveness (Procedurally Taxing). “The purchasers in this case did not realize they were purchasing property encumbered by a federal tax lien because the title search did not turn up a lien against a prior owner.”

TaxGrrrl, IRS Announces Lower Fees For 2016 As PTIN Registration Opens

 

harvest

 

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 911. Today’s link discusses the scandal’s context in the larger effort of “campaign finance reform” advocates to silence their opposition by government power.

Richard Auxier, 2015 Ballot Measure Results: Tax cuts, yes; marijuana, sometimes (TaxVox).

Career Corner. CPA Exam Score Release Anxiety Is the Best Anxiety (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).

 

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Tax Roundup, 10/15/2015: How to do that last-minute filing right. And: C.R. ID thief sentenced, Iowa sales tax rule delayed.

Thursday, October 15th, 2015 by Joe Kristan

certifiedFile! Today is the last, final, immutable deadline for filing an extended 2014 1040.* What are the stakes for getting that return in today?

  • If you owe federal taxes, it’s the difference between a late payment penalty of 3% (1/2% per month since April 15) and a late filing penalty of 25% (5% per month, capped at 25%).
  • It’s the last chance to make a free grouping election of your activities for the ne investment income tax and passive loss rules.
  • If you have an international reporting form on your return — a 5471, 8865, 3520, 8938, or 8891, for example — it’s the only way to avoid an automatic $10,000 late penalty on your filing. These forms may be due if you own an interest in a foreign corporation, partnership or trust; if you received a foreign gift or inheritance; if you have foreign financial assets, like a loan to an overseas person; or if you have an interest in a Canadian retirement plan.

So how to file? If you haven’t started yet (ugh), Russ Fox has some tips. If your return is done and you just need to file, e-file if at all possible. That gives you the assurance that your return has arrived on time and saves you the hassle of a trip to the post office or the UPS or FedEx store. And I feel safer if my return doesn’t have to be touched by an actual IRS employee.

OK, you ask, why can’t I just drop it in the mail or use the office postage meter? After all, the Mailbox Rule says “timely mailed, timely filed.”

Because then you have no proof that you filed on time. If the letter gets lost, or delayed, the IRS can call it “late” and you have no way to prove otherwise. If you have anything at stake with a timely-filing, it’s foolish to rely on the competence of the postal service and the goodwill of someone at the IRS service center.

If you aren’t e-filing, the best thing to do is to go to the post office, spring for Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, and get a hand-stamped postmark. Save it and keep it with the return receipt when that comes back. That will ward off late-filing vampires. Filling out the certified mail slip and running it through the office postage meter or using a Stamps.com postmark doesn’t work.

If you can’t make it to the post office before they close, then you can go to the FedEx Store or UPS store and use a “designated private delivery service.” This is trickier. You have to use one of the delivery methods specified by IRS Rev. Proc. . For example, “UPS Ground” doesn’t work, but “UPS 2nd Day Air” does work. Make sure the shipping paperwork shows today’s date. Be sure to use the proper IRS service center street address, because the private services can’t use the IRS post office box addresses.

*Unless you are a South Carolina flood victim, a war zone resident, or a non-resident alien.

Related: CERTIFIED MAIL: THE HIDE YOU SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN

 

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Five years for Cedar Rapids ID ThiefKWWL.com reports an Iowa woman will go away for 61 months after pleading guilty to one count of ID theft. The Government’s sentencing memorandum says Gwendolyn Murray prepared “at least 136 false and fraudulent returns.” Ninety-four of them were processed, netting over $380,000 in refunds.

And that’s the real crime. The IRS has such poor controls that an amateur, probably using an off-the-shelf tax prep software package, could help herself to that much taxpayer money before getting caught. The chances of getting that back are about the same as my chances of a pro baseball career. And yet the IRS says the real problem is that honest preparers don’t have to take a compentency literacy test and submit a fee and paperwork.

Related: TIGTA: 1,300 IRS Computers, 50% Of IRS Servers Are Running Outdated Operating Systems, Putting Taxpayer Data At Risk (TaxProf)

 

Iowa Sales Tax Rule for Manufacturing Supplies to be delayed six months. It will now take effect July 1, 2016, reports AP.

 

Gretchen Tegeler, Ask questions about your property taxes (IowaBiz.com):

You may not realize you are supporting not only your city, county and school district, but also Broadlawns Medical Center, Des Moines Area Regional Transit (DART) and the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC).

For instance, 8.6 percent of the property taxes my husband and I pay on our home are going to Broadlawns. The single largest percentage increase in our property taxes (and this would be the case for most everyone in Polk County) is for DART, a whopping 10.4 percent!  

I’m sure it’s worth every penny…

 

Roger McEowen, Obamacare; Reimbursement of Health Insurance Premiums; and Limited (and Inconsistent) Transitional Relief (AgDocket). On the incomplete and confusing relief for “Section 105 plans” being clobbered by insane ACA regulations.

 

Paul Neiffer, What about Partnerships?:

The ACA mandates an $100 per day per employee penalty for providing non-qualified health insurance to more than one employee.  Many of our farm operations operate as S corporations and partnerships.  There is specific IRS guidance that allows shareholders and partners to deduct these health insurance premiums for owners and since this guidance did not line up with the guidance on the imposition of the $100 per day penalty, the IRS issued a notice earlier this year that indicated S corporations could continue to file their returns the same way until the end of this year.

However, this notice appeared to be silent on the treatment for partnerships and partners. 

They had to pass it for us to find out what was in it.

 

Peter Reilly, Santorum 20/20 Flat Tax Might Be Hard On Many Small Businesses. “I don’t understand why there does not seem to be more excitement about the elimination of business interest deductions.” Maybe because it’s Rick Santorum.

Robert WoodU.S. Tax 35%, Ireland 12.5%, New Irish Tech Rate 6.25%, Any Questions?

Kay Bell, Be like Trump: Pay as little tax as possible

 

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David Brunori, Getting Taxpayers to Rat on Each Other: Uncool (Tax Analysts Blog):

Private citizens should not be in the business of administering or enforcing the tax laws. The most obvious reason is that they do not have the expertise or the context to judge whether taxes are being evaded rather than, say, avoided. It is hard enough for trained tax professionals to ascertain the difference between tax fraud and very aggressive tax planning. That task should be left to the professionals.

Not to mention the free play it gives to bitter ex-lovers or spouses, shakedown artists, and parasites in general.

 

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 889

 

A big thank you to Gretchen Tegeler and the Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa for inviting me to be on a panel last night on small business tax and regulation last night. I wish I could have lingered to chat longer, and enjoy some of that delicious Lucca food, but it being October 14 and all, I couldn’t stick around. It was a good session with lots fo great discussion.

 

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