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Tax reform legislation widely known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97) was signed into law on December 22, 2017. The TCJA brought forth the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. tax code in over 30 years. However, widespread efforts to implement the TCJA amidst ongoing tax-related global developments continue to this day. Now, two years following its enactment, Treasury, the IRS, and the tax community remain steadfast in working toward understanding and communicating congressional intent under the new law.


On February 11, the White House released President Donald Trump’s fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget proposal, which outlines his administration’s priorities for extending certain tax cuts and increasing IRS funding. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified before the Senate Finance Committee (SFC) on February 12 regarding the FY 2021 budget proposal.


House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, "Moving Forward Framework"; House Ways and Means Committee, January 29 hearing witnesses’ testimony


House Democratic and Republican tax writers debated the effects of tax reform’s corporate income tax cut during a February 11 hearing convened by Democrats. Democratic lawmakers have consistently called for an increase in the corporate tax rate since it was lowered from 35 percent to 21 percent in 2017 by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97).


The IRS will allow a farmer that is exempt from the uniform capitalization (UNICAP) rules by reason of having average annual gross receipts of $25 million or less to revoke a prior election out of the UNICAP rules made under Code Sec. 263A(d)(3) with respect to pre-productive plant expenditures. The guidance also explains how a farmer may make an election out under Code Sec. 263A(d)(3) in a tax year in which the farmer is no longer exempt from the UNICAP rules as a qualifying small business taxpayer with $25 million or less in average annual gross receipts.


Taxpayers claiming the low-income housing credit should apply the "average income" minimum set aside test by reference to the "very low-income" limits calculated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for purposes of determining eligibility under the HUD Section 8 program. HUD determinations for very low-income housing families are currently used to calculate the low-income housing credit income limits under the alternate "20-50" and "40-60" minimum set-aside tests.



The IRS has provided guidance on qualifying for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is a refundable tax credit that is intended to be a financial boost for families with low to moderate incomes.


The IRS has proposed regulations with guidance for employers on withholding federal income tax from employee’s wages.


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.