Posts Tagged ‘Section 179’

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, 3/4/16: Discussing tomorrow’s obscure deadline today! And: Iowa think-tanker whiffs on Section 179.

Friday, March 4th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

Accounting Today Newsletter visitors, click here for “One year for you, forever for them.”

20151209-1Today is Day 64. Tomorrow is one of the more obscure deadlines in the tax law. Complex trusts have until tomorrow to make distributions to their beneficiaries that can be considered 2015 distributions under the “65-day rule” of Section 663(b).

“Complex” trusts are those that are taxed as separate entities, and which are not required to distribute all of their income at least annually. That is in contrast with the other two kinds of trusts:

“Simple” trusts, which are treated as separate taxpayers from their beneficiaries but which have to distribute their income at least annually; and

“Grantor” trusts, the earnings of which are taxed directly to the person who funded it, regardless of whether the earnings are distributed. The typical estate planning “living trust” is a grantor trust.

Complex trusts pay their own taxes under a system similar to the individual tax system, but with some important twists:

-The brackets are very compressed. Complex trusts pay the 39.6% top rate starting at $12,300 of taxable income in 2015. Single individuals don’t hit that rate until taxable income reaches $413,200, and joint filers go to $464,850.

-Trusts pay the 3.8% “net investment income tax” on “investment” income to the extent their adjusted gross income exceeds $12,300. The cutoff is $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for joint filers.

-When complex trusts make a distribution, taxable income follows the distribution. While it’s a little more complicated than this, for this discussion assume that a distribution to a beneficiary of $100 reduces trust taxable income by $100 and increases the recipient beneficiary’s taxable income by the same amount.

Together, this means complex trusts are often highly motivated to distribute their taxable income, at least to the extent that it exceeds $12,300. This is true when beneficiaries are not top bracket taxpayers, and it’s especially true if their AGIs are below the 3.8% NIIT cutoff. Shifting taxable income from the highest trust tax bracket to the lower individual brackets can save taxes overall.

The 65-day rule is a mulligan for complex trusts. It gives them some extra time after the end of the year to distribute some cash — and some of that prior year taxable income — to their beneficiaries.

Of course, some trusts will choose to take the tax hit. Some trusts exist specifically to keep income out of the hands of beneficiaries, perhaps because the person who set up the trust wants the beneficiaries to wait until they are older and wiser before they get the cash. But in many cases, the 65-day rule is a handy after-the-fact trust planning tool.

Related: Overview of Fiduciary Income Taxation (IRS, AICPA)

 

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WrongIn his post Unspoken budget choices for Iowa, Peter Fisher errs on an important fact about coupling Iowa’s Section 179 limit to the $500,000 federal amount. Mr. Fisher is an Iowa City academic with the leftish think tank Iowa Policy Project.* He says (my emphasis):

On the other hand, the bill would reward decisions already made and give those investors a break they had not expected. It’s not an incentive to do something they would not have done anyway — and it’s very costly.

They certainly did expect it. It was clear from early in 2015 that there was powerful motivation in Congress to extend the $500,000 limit for a year, and possibly permanently; the permanent extension is what happened. The $500,000 limit had been renewed year-by-year since 2009, and Iowa had adopted the $500,000 limit every year since 2010. While past performance is no guarantee of future results with politicians, all indications were for a repeat, both at the federal and state level.

There was no indication that Iowa would do anything different until Governor Branstad came out against coupling in January of this year — surprising taxpayers and practitioners all over Iowa. It is simply wrong to say $500,000 Section 179 coupling wasn’t expected. And it’s indisputable that the alternative $25,000 limit represents a year-to-year tax increase for 2015.

One thing Mr. Fisher does get right: failing to couple does represent an unspoken budget choice. He just wants to choose to spend the money on his favored projects. But failure to couple really represents a choice to favor cronies, big businesses and insiders over small businesses across Iowa who lack lobbyists and clout.

Related: Complete Tax Update coverage of coupling issue.

*Disclosure: I have been disagreeing with the Founding Director of IPP since he was an Economics professor at Cornell College and I was a coffee-guzzling history major. 

 

Tony Nitti, Taxation Of Lawsuit Awards And Settlements: Getting To The Origin Of The Claim. “Thus, when determining whether a taxpayer’s award or settlement payment is excludable under Section 104, you’ve got to get to the bottom of the original claim: what caused the taxpayer to sue in the first place?”

Russ Fox, Math Is Hard, IRS Addition. I see what you punned there!  “To my clients and anyone else who receives an IRS notice: IRS statistics show that two-thirds of IRS notices are wrong in whole or in part.”

TaxGrrrl, IRS Reports Fewer Tax Returns Received, Higher Average Refund As Tax Season Rolls. “With about six weeks to go in the 2016 tax filing season, more than a third of all taxpayers expecting to file a tax return have already submitted tax returns.”

Jason Dinesen, Do I Have to Pay Self-Employment/FICA Taxes If I Think Social Security Will Go Bankrupt? Three guesses.

 

Nicole Kaeding, State Gasoline Tax Rates in 2016 (Tax Policy Blog):

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Iowa is higher than most, but Pennsylvania is the worst.

 

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1030 “…what we explore here is more subtle, more pervasive, and hence, more invidious and threatening. It is the way in which the unexamined assumption of tax exceptionalism – the idea that tax is different – has produced a situation in which the tax law and its administrators are viewed by tax professionals, and eventually by the taxpaying public, as interpreting and enforcing tax law in ways that are not understood, are therefore misperceived, and are ultimately judged illegitimate.”

Len Burman, TPC Updates  Analysis of Ted Cruz’s Tax Proposal To Reflect a Change in His EITC Proposal. “Senator Cruz’s plan would increase all phase-in and phase-out rates of the credit by 20 percent.”

Kay Bell, Former IRS chief says Trump should release tax returns

 

Career Corner. Is Our Productivity Obsession Counterproductive? (Megan Lewczyk, Going Concern). What is this “productivity” of which you speak?

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Tax Roundup, 12/21/15: Winter’s here, along with a new tax law. Fixed-asset planning time!

Monday, December 21st, 2015 by Joe Kristan

20151211-1It’s the darkest day of the year, but with the signing of the Extender Bill, H.R. 2029, we are no longer in the dark for year-end fixed asset tax planning. The “PATH” act has some important fixed-asset provisions:

A permanent (and inflation-indexed) $500,000 annual limit for Section 179 deductions. This provision lets qualifying taxpayers deduct currently fixed asset costs that would otherwise have to be capitalized and depreciated over multiple years.

“Bonus Depreciation” is extended through 2019. This provision allows taxpayers to deduct 50% of the cost of depreciable property in the first depreciable year, with the remaining cost depreciated over the property’s normal tax life. Unlike Section 179, it cannot be taken for used property, but unlike Section 179, it can be used to generate net operating losses.

-15-year depreciation is made permanent for “Qualified Leasehold Improvement Property , Qualified Restaurant Buildings and Improvements, and Qualified Retail Improvements. These rules enable taxpayers to depreciate these items over 15 years, rather than the usual 39 year life for commercial buildings.

In theory, this provides a great opportunity to knock down your 2015 tax bill with last-minute purchases of fixed assets. But there’s a catch. It’s not enough to buy and pay for new fixed assets to deduct them this year. They also have to be “placed in service” by year end. From the IRS publication on depreciation:

You place property in service when it is ready and available for a specific use, whether in a business activity, an income-producing activity, a tax-exempt activity, or a personal activity. Even if you are not using the property, it is in service when it is ready and available for its specific use.

Example 1.

Donald Steep bought a machine for his business. The machine was delivered last year. However, it was not installed and operational until this year. It is considered placed in service this year. If the machine had been ready and available for use when it was delivered, it would be considered placed in service last year even if it was not actually used until this year.

It’s not enough to have a new machine in crates on the loading dock. It has to be set up and ready to go. If you are buying a farm building, having it in pieces waiting for assembly doesn’t get you there.

That’s why year-end purchase of vehicles and farm equipment are popular. Once they arrive, they are pretty much ready to go. But you have to actually take delivery. “On order” isn’t enough. And remember that there are limits on the amount of Section 179 deduction and depreciation for passenger vehicles.

This is the first installment of our 2015 year-end planning tips series

 

6th avenue 1910

 

Russ Fox, Once Again, the IRS Doesn’t Start by Calling You:

My mother received a phone call on Saturday morning at 6 am from “Agent Smith” of the IRS demanding immediate payment of her taxes or she would find herself “thrown in jail.” Yes, the scamsters are still out there.

Now imagine you’re a senior citizen, and you get a phone call waking you up telling you to pay the IRS or you’ll find yourself in prison. It doesn’t take a genius to know that these scamsters can intimidate their victims.

Remember, if the caller demanding payment and saying the police are coming says he’s from IRS, he’s not from IRS.

Tony Nitti, Tax Court: Luring Pigs To Untimely Demise With Kool-Aid Counts As Material Participation. Sooey!

Robert D. Flach, THERE IS STILL TIME TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF A “QCD” FOR 2015!

 

Paul Neiffer, Wind Energy Credits Extended and Phased-Out

Annette Nellen is counting down the “Top Ten Items of Tax Policy Interest for 2015.” #1 is non-tax bills used to change the tax law; #2 is IRS Funding Challenges. Anybody who is serious about improving IRS funding should be demanding the resignation of Commissioner Koskinen. Nobody’s going to trust him with extra funding.

Jason Dinesen, From the Archives: Insolvency and Canceled Debt: Make Sure You Can Prove It!

Jim Maule, Winning Back Your Tax Payments. “A reader made me aware of a recent suggestion that every taxpayer who files a timely and honest tax return, along with timely payment, be entered into a lottery.” It a way, that’s already true.

Leslie Book, Extenders Bill Gives IRS Additional Powers to Impose Penalties on Preparers and Disallow Refundable Credits (Procedurally Taxing). “Under the new law,  the accuracy-related penalty can be applied to any part of a reduced refundable credit subject to deficiency procedures.”

Peter Reilly, Bernie Sanders And The 90% Income Tax Rate That He Does Not Call For. ” Bernie Sanders wants us to have an economy like it was in the sixties and early seventies, when a summer of hard work could pay a year’s tuition and there were plenty of factory jobs that would support a family.” Maybe Bernie should reconsider his nostalgia.

Robert Wood, New Law Says Money For Wrongful Convictions Is Tax Free

TaxGrrrl, 12 Days Of Charitable Giving 2015: Wounded Warrior Project

Kay Bell gets into the holiday spirit with Christmas gifts for tax and financial geeks

 

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TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 954Day 955Day 956. Coverage of the limits on IRS power included in the extender and omnibus legislation.

Alex Tabarrok, Subsidies Increase Tuition, Part XIV (Marginal Revolution):

Remarkably, so much of the subsidy is translated into higher tuition that enrollment doesn’t increase! What does happen is that students take on more debt, which many of them can’t pay.

So naturally the Extenders bill made the American Opportunity Tax Credit permanent.

Jared Walczak, The Opening Salvo of 2016’s Soda Tax Battle (Tax Policy Blog). “Soda taxes are poised to be on the agenda in many cities in 2016, an effort spearheaded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.” I propose a tax on people who can’t mind their own business.

Renu Zaretsky, Promises, Hopes, and Complaints. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers Hillary promises, Nevada trolling for ribbon-cuttings with taxpayer money, and Apple’s CEO tax code thoughts: “He wants changes to the US tax code, which ‘was made for the Industrial Age, not the Digital Age… It’s backwards. It’s awful for America.'”

 

News from the Profession. Let’s Help Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen With His First Tweet (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).

 

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Tax Roundup, 12/10/14: Extender bill lives, permanent charitable extender bill doesn’t. And: don’t just buy it; install it!

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 by Joe Kristan

lizard20140826Whither the extender bill? HR 5771, the bill to extend retroactively through the end of this month the 55 or so tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013, has been “placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar.” That means it appears to be proceeding to a vote, though I find nothing on when that will happen. Tax Analysts reports ($link) that outgoing Senate Majority Leader Reid says he will take up the extender bill ” after finishing work on a defense authorization bill and a government funding measure.”

Meanwhile, the President has threatened to veto a separate attempt to permanently extend three charitable breaks in the extender bill, including the break for IRA contributions. While that’s bad for those breaks, it implies that the White House will not oppose HR 5771’s one-year extension.

 

20130422-2Because it looks as though the “extender” bill will clear the Senate, taxpayers looking to add fixed assets have extra incentive to get it done this year. The bill extends through 2014 — and only through 2014 — the $500,000 limit on Section 179 deductions and 50% bonus depreciation. These breaks allow taxpayers to deduct over half (bonus depreciation) or all (Section 179) of the cost of fixed assets that are otherwise capitalized, with their deductions spread over 3 to 20 years.

Taxpayers should remember that it’s not enough to order or pay for a new asset by the end of 2014 to qualify for these breaks. The asset has to be “placed in service” by year end.

A Tax Court case from last December drives home the point, where a taxpayer lost an $11 million bonus depreciation deduction in 2003 because an asset bought at year-end wasn’t “placed in service” on time.  Judge Holmes takes up the story:

On December 30, 2003, an insurance salesman named Michael Brown1 took ownership of a $22 million plane in Portland, Oregon. He flew from there to Seattle to Chicago — he says for business meetings — and then back to Portland. Brown says these flights put the plane in service in 2003, and entitle him to a giant bonus-depreciation allowance. But a few days later he had the plane flown to a plant in Illinois where it underwent additional modifications that were completed about a month later.

The IRS argued that the need for modifications meant the airplane wasn’t “placed in service” before year end. The taxpayer argued that the airplane was “fully functional” as purchased, and therefore was “placed in service” when acquired and used for its first flight on December 30, 2003. The court agreed with the IRS:

While acknowledging in his briefs that those modifications made the Challenger “more valuable to him” and allowed him to “more comfortably conduct business” as a passenger, he says they have “nothing to do with the Challenger’s assigned function of transporting him for his business.” The problem is that this posttrial framing just doesn’t square with the trial testimony, in which Brown testified that those two modifications were “needed” and “required”. We therefore find that the Challenger simply was not available for its intended use on a regular basis until those modifications were installed in 2004. Brown thus didn’t place the Challenger in service in 2003 and can’t take bonus depreciation on it that year.

A new asset doesn’t actually have to be used during the year to be “placed in service,” but it has to be ready to go. A new machine should be on the floor and hooked up, not just in a crate on the dock, or in a trailer on the way in, if you want to depreciate it. If the new asset is a vehicle, you need to take delivery to get the deduction. If the asset is a farm building, it needs to be assembled and in place, not in boxes on the ground.

Cite: Brown, T.C. Memo 2013-275

 

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The TaxProf reports on a new Treasury Inspector General report, TIGTA: IRS Has 25-30% Error Rate In Refundable Child Tax Credits, Mistakenly Pays $6-7 Billion:

The IRS has continually rated the risk of improper ACTC payments as low. However, TIGTA’s assessment of the potential for ACTC improper payments indicates the ACTC improper payment rate is similar to that of the EITC. Using IRS data, TIGTA estimates the potential ACTC improper payment rate for Fiscal Year 2013 is between 25.2 percent and 30.5 percent, with potential ACTC improper payments totaling between $5.9 billion and $7.1 billion. In addition, IRS enforcement data show the root causes of improper ACTC payments are similar to those of the EITC.

So at least 1/4 of the credit is claimed fraudulently or illegally. This is one of the provisions the President insists be made permanent as a price for permanently extending business provisions. He killed the permanent extender compromise when it didn’t also make the child credit permanent.

 

Wind turbineIowa Public Radio reports Grassley Wants Wind Tax Credit to Go Further. He should read Bryan Caplan’s review, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels: We Owe Civilization to Fossil Fuels. “And despite decades of government favoritism, alternative fuels have yet to deliver.”

 

Peter Reilly, Seventh Circuit Will Not Let Tax Protester Blame His Lawyer For Conviction:

James Stuart thought that Peter Hendrickson had “cracked the code” – the Internal Revenue Code, that is. Joe Kristan would characterize it as finding the tax fairy – that magical sprite who make your taxes go away painlessly while your sucker friends send checks to the tax man.   

It’s always fun to be named-checked by a Forbes blogger.

Jana Luttenegger Weiler, Tax Tips for Gifts to Charity (Davis Brown Tax Law Blog).

Robert D. Flach, DONOR ADVISED FUNDS. For at least 99.99% of taxpayers, these are far better than setting up a private foundation.

Kay Bell, Sen. Tom Coburn’s parting gift: a tax code decoder

Paul Neiffer, Watch Your Crop Insurance Form 1099s This Year

Jason Dinesen, 5 Things You Didn’t Know About EAs, #2: We Don’t Work for the IRS

Brad Ridlehoover, The Grinch That Stole Their Reasonable Cause… (Procedurally Taxing)

Tim Todd, IRS Erred in Making Notice of Tax Lien a Condition to Installment Agreement

 

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 580. Lois Lerner appears to have been scheming to sic the Justice Department on the Tea Partiers as early as 2010, according to newly-unearthed e-mails.

 

Howard Gleckman asks Why Does Congress Pay For Some Tax Cuts and Not Others? (TaxVox). “It can’t be the merits of the recipients. By now, TaxVox readers know that the expired tax breaks included such worthies as preferences for race horse owners, Puerto Rican rum manufacturers, and TV and film producers.”

Eric Cederwall asks What is the Simplest Tax System? (Tax Policy Blog). “Normative economics aside, a per-person tax is one of the most economically efficient taxes for raising revenue.”  Not happening, though.

 

Adrienne Gonzalez, Kids These Days Trust the IRS More Than Olds Do (Going Concern). Like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, they’ll figure it out eventually.

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Tax Roundup, 2/15/2013: Governor couples Iowa taxes to fiscal cliff bill. Also: 19 years for municipal thief.

Friday, February 15th, 2013 by Joe Kristan

20130117-1Governor Branstad has signed the bill conforming Iowa’s tax law to federal changes enacted last month.  The Governor signed SF 106 yesterday afternoon.

The bill allows taxpayers to use several federal provisions in computing their 2012 Iowa taxes, including:

– The federal Section 179 deduction of up to $500,000.

– The federal above-the-line deductions for tuition and educator expenses.

– The exclusion for IRA distributions to charity for taxpayers who have reached age 70 1/2, and the transitional rules for January 2013 charitable rollovers of IRA distributions.

– The optional deduction for state and local sales taxes.

The bill does not conform Iowa to federal bonus depreciation; Iowa filers will normally use federal standard MACRS depreciation instead.

 

Tony Nitti,  Senate Proposal for Tax Reform Part II: Democrats Seek To End S Corporation Payroll Tax Loophole.  It’s similar to nonsensical proposals put forward in prior years to tax S corporation K-1 income when 75% or more of revenues are “attributable” to three or fewer shareholders — an impossible standard to evaluate in many cases, and one that discriminates against the smallest S corporations.  It shows they are lazy — the problems with the approach are well known, yet the won’t make the effort to correct, instead trotting out the same old bill.  It just shows they aren’t serious.

David Cay Johnston finds the cuts to IRS funding that would result from the impending sequester “Particularly Devastating” (Tax.com)

 

Going Concern,  Former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell Gets Nearly 20 Years.  She stole over $50 million from an Illinois municipality of 15,000 people going back to 1990.  And nobody noticed for over 20 years.

Kay Bell,  IRS’ Where’s My Refund? site swamped by impatient refund tracking taxpayers.

Taxpayers overwhelmed with compliance demands, asks government to slow down.  IRS Overwhelmed With Refund Requests, Asks Taxpayers To Slow Down(TaxGrrrl)

Paul Neiffer, Another Bill to Reduce Farm Payments is Introduced!

Jack Townsend, Swiss and US Sign IGA.  An agreement under the “FATCA” foreign bank reporting rules.

Patrick Temple-West, Married couples face tough taxes, and more (Tax Break)

Russ Fox, Nevada Looks to Tax Online Poker Tournaments

Donald Marron,  The Balanced Budget Amendment’s $300 Billion Error

News you can use.  Retire Rich: The Forbes 2013 Antiretirement Guide (Janet Novack)

Nick Kasprak,  Happy Valentine’s Day! Will You Marry Me (For Tax Reasons?) (Tax Policy Blog).

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Some people are just incurable romantics!

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2011 year-end tax tip: 100-percent bonus depreciation isn’t renewed

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

The last tax bill of 2011, the 2-month payroll tax cut extension, has no provision to extend the 2011 tax treatment for fixed assets. As things now stand, 100-percent bonus depreciation and the $500,000 Section 179 deduction limit go away after Saturday. Starting Sunday, January 1, taxpayers placing assets in service will have 50-percent bonus depreciation available. The maximum Section 179 deduction will fall to $139,000.
That means taxpayers dawdling on fixed asset decisions in hopes these provisions would be extended need to get busy. As Paul Neiffer points out, assets have to be “in service” by December 31 to qualify for deprecation or the Section 179 deduction on calendar-year 2011 tax returns. So get busy!
We’re here all week with more 2011 year-end tax tips!

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Payroll tax cut extension imminent?

Friday, December 16th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the Congresscritters are on the verge of a deal to extend the 2% cut in the employee portion of the Social Security tax (from 6.2% to 4.2%). The deal would also extend the reduction in the Self-employment Tax from 15.3% to 13.3% — so don’t be hasty about accelerating self-employment income into this year.
I see nothing yet on whether the deal will also extend 100% bonus depreciation or the $500,000 Section 179 deduction maximum one more year.
UPDATE, 12/18: Senate passes two-month extension of payroll tax cut.
More Coverage:
Tax.com
TaxGrrrl
Kay Bell

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Year-end tax planning for fixed assets: what changes after December 31.

Monday, December 12th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

As year-end approaches, businesses are scurrying to get assets in service by year-end to take advantage of special tax breaks that expire at year-end:
100% bonus depreciation, and
– The $500,000 limit on Section 179 deductions.
The 100% bonus depreciation rules allow taxpayers to fully deduct their investment in qualifying property in the year it is placed in service. Qualifying property is new (not used) business property with a class-life of 20 years or less. This includes most business equipment and farm buildings.
Next year the tax law reverts to “50% bonus depreciation.” Under 50% bonus depreciation, you can only deduct half of your investment in qualifying property in the year placed in service; the rest is deductible under the normal deprecation rules over a period of years.
The Section 179 deduction also allows taxpayers to fully deduct the cost of otherwise depreciable property. Unlike with bonus deprecation, you can take the Section 179 deduction for used property. But there are more restrictions on Section 179:
– Section 179 is limited to $500,000 per year for 2011, and the deduction phases out dollar-for-dollar as purchases of business property exceed $2 million.
– It is further limited to your taxable income; while bonus deprecation can create or increase a net operating loss that you can carry back to recover prior taxes, the Section 179 deduction cannot.
After this year, the Section 179 limitation is set to decline to $139,000 – phasing out starting at $560,000 in fixed asset purchases.
That means the stakes for getting assets in service by year-end are higher than just getting starting depreciation a year sooner. If you have enough fixed asset purchases, it can be the difference between getting deductions this year and five, seven or even 20 years from now.
Remember, though, that the asset needs to be “in service” this year to qualify for deduction under the 2012 rules. It’s not enough to just have it ordered or paid for this year. That means December 26 is probably too late to get going on this.
Check back for more 2012 year-end tax taps through December 31!

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Year-end planning: what does “placed in service” mean?

Thursday, December 8th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

Two big tax benefits for buying business fixed assets will be trimmed way back starting next year. The “100% bonus depreciation” for 2011 asset additions will become “50% bonus depreciation” starting January 1. The $500,000 annual limit for assets expensed under Section 179 will also be cut way back next year, to about $138,000. So taxpayers are scrambling to get their fixed asset purchase to qualify for the more generous 2011 rules.
An asset normally has to be “placed in service” by year-end to qualify. The tax regulations say:

Property is first placed in service when first placed in a condition or state of readiness and availability for a specifically assigned function…

What does that mean? If your machine is still in shipping crates on your loading dock, it’s not placed in service. But it doesn’t actually have to be generating revenue for you yet, either. If everything is in place and ready to go, your asset may be in service. For example, last year the Tax Court said components of a recording studio purchased in 2002 and 2003 were placed in service in those years because they were set up and tested, even though it wasn’t actually used in the business until 2004, because the pieces were operable on their own.
In contrast, components that need to be interconnected to function may not be placed in service until they are hooked together. For example, a production line might not be considered placed in service if a component machine isn’t in place, even if separate machines purchsed for the line are otherwise ready to go.
December 31 isn’t far away, so if you are counting on bonus depreciation or Section 179 for new equipment for 2011, make sure you get it “in service” before the ball drops.
More 2011 year-end tax tips here through December 31!

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Section 179: when you have too much of a good thing

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

Paul Neiffer explains how too much Section 179 deduction can actually be a bad thing. The Section 179 deduction allows taxpayers to deduct equipment expenditures that they would otherwise have to capitalize and depreciate over several years. If you have interests in multiple equipment-buying businesses, it can cause trouble:

With the increased Section 179 deduction available in 2011 of $500,000 farmers need to be very careful if they have ownership in multiple partnerships and S corporations that will be purchasing large amounts of used equipment and deducting it under Section 179. The partnership and S corporation have an overall $500,000 Section 179 limitation on deducting at their entity level and when this amount flows through to the farmer, there is another $500,000 limitation level on his tax return.
If more than $500,000 of Section 179 expense flows through to the farmer, then this excess amount is permanently lost as a deduction.

Related: 500K Section 179, extended bonus depreciation enacted

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