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Just hours before government funding was set to expire, President Trump on March 23 signed the bipartisan Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, averting a government shutdown. The $1.3 trillion fiscal year 2018 omnibus spending package, which provides funding for the government and federal agencies through September 30, contains several tax provisions and increased IRS funding.


The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has renewed its call for immediate guidance on new Code Sec. 199A. The AICPA highlighted questions about qualified business income (QBI) of pass-through income under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ( P.L. 115-97). "Taxpayers and practitioners need clarity regarding QBI in order to comply with their 2018 tax obligations," the AICPA said in a February 21 letter to the Service.


A top House tax writer has confirmed that House Republicans and the Trump administration are working on a second phase of tax reform this year. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex., said in an interview that the Trump administration and House Republicans "think more can be done."


The House Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee held a March 14 hearing in which lawmakers and stakeholders examined the future of various temporary tax extenders post-tax reform. Over 30 tax breaks, which included energy and fuel credits, among others, were retroactively extended for the 2017 tax year in the Bipartisan Budget Act ( P.L. 115-123) enacted in February.


The IRS has released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to address a taxpayer’s filing obligations and payment requirements with respect to the Code Sec. 965 transition tax, enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Creation Act ( P.L. 115-97). The instructions in the FAQs are for filing 2017 returns with an amount of Code Sec. 965 tax. Failure to follow the FAQs could result in difficulties in processing the returns. Taxpayers who are required to file electronically are asked to wait until April 2, 2018, to file returns so that the IRS can make system changes.


The U.S. Supreme Court reversed an individual’s conviction for obstructing tax law administration. The government failed to show that the individual knew that a "proceeding" was pending when he engaged in the obstructive conduct.


The 2016 filing season has closed with renewed emphasis on cybersecurity, tax-related identity theft and customer service. Despite nearly constant attack by cybercriminals, the IRS reported that taxpayer information remains secure. The agency also continued to intercept thousands of bogus returns and prevent the issuance of fraudulent refunds.


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


Tax reform continues to be highly touted in Congress as lawmakers from both parties call for simplification of countless complex rules, overhaul of tax rates, and more. At times this year, President Obama and Congressional Republicans seem far apart on a way forward, but at similar times in the past, agreements have quickly and often surprisingly emerged, most recently in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act). As the November elections approach more closely every passing day, lawmakers from both parties and the President have a short window to agree on tax legislation. The weeks leading up to Congress’ summer recess may be decisive.


Six years ago, Congress passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which set in motion a wave of new reporting and disclosure requirements by individuals, foreign financial institutions, and others. In response, the IRS created a host of new rules and regulations; and new forms for these reporting requirements. One key FATCA form – Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets – has seen usage steadily increase since passage of FATCA, the IRS recently reported. At the same time, more individuals are filing a related form – FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (known as the FBAR), which reached a record high in 2015.


Legislation enacted in 2015 provides new rules for IRS partnership audits. The new rules are a drastic departure from current rules and the IRS is hopeful that the rules will simplify the audit process and allow the IRS to conduct more partnership audits.


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


Individuals may contribute up to $5,500 to a traditional and a Roth IRA for 2016. This is the same limit as 2015. An individual age 50 and older can make a catch-up contribution of an additional $1,000 for the year. The contribution is limited to the taxpayer’s taxable compensation for the year, minus contributions to all non-Roth IRAs.


The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) made permanent many popular but previously temporary tax breaks for individuals and businesses. The PATH Act also enhanced many incentives. These enhancements should not be overlooked in tax planning both for 2016 and future years. Some of the enhancements are discussed here. If you have any questions about these or other tax breaks in the PATH Act, please contact our office. 


Tweaks to enhanced Code Sec. 179 expensing and the high-dollar health care excise tax are two proposals in President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget that could become law before the end of his term. President Obama released his FY 2017 budget proposals in February. Other proposals that could be passed by Congress include enhancements to small business tax incentives, expanded opportunities for retirement saving, revisions to the net investment income (NII) tax, and more.