Effective . Accessibility . ValueAdded
News

Skinner Fouch & Olson LLP

News Articles

Tax Alerts
Tax Briefing(s)

The tax bill has come to a rest for signature of the President with most changes becoming effective in 2018. For budgetary purposes, the period of which the law is changed ends in 2026. I believe this is the ten year window for deficit control over major revenue changes. 

The outline below highlights some of what we consider to be the more significant tax changes.

I.   Tax Rate Changes.  There are rate reductions in all brackets. There will be total tax saving of $32,000 on the first $1m of taxable income for married filers. Top marginal tax rate is lowered from 39.6% to 37%. Top corporate tax rate is reduced from 35% to 21%. 

II.   Capital Expenditure Write Off. Bonus depreciation has been supercharged:

1.   Bonus depreciation now allows for immediate expensing of qualified property through 2022 with the percentage phasing down thereafter. In a major shift in policy, used property is now eligible for this immediate write-off. Previous law allowed 50% bonus depreciation and only on new property. This will be a major benefit to parties that actively acquire qualified property. Cost segregation analysis will yield an immediate write off for cost basis allocated to onsite land improvements and personal property. Refurbishment costs performed post-closing to the interior of a building will also be qualified property for this write off. This applies to assets acquired after September 27, 2017.

2.   Enhanced automobile depreciation. 


Finding your way through the passive activity rules can be an overwhelming task. Passive activity loss limitations can often lead to unintended outcomes. This is particularly evident when it comes to the self-rental rules.

For various tax and legal reasons, a taxpayer may decide to hold an operating company and the real estate in which it operates in separate entity structures. Renting the building to “yourself” is allowable under the tax code and is encouraged. Sound tax planning will help make sure that the losses from your rental activity do not get “trapped” because of the passive activity loss rules.

Passive Activity Losses

Passive activity losses are only allowed to the extent there is passive income. Any passive losses that cannot be taken in the current year are carried forward until they can be taken against any future passive income. Section 469(c) of the Internal Revenue Code defines passive activities as “any activity which involves the conduct of any trade or business, and in which the taxpayer does not materially participate [; including] any rental activity.”


The following is a summary of important tax developments that have occurred in the past three months that may affect you, your family, your investments, and your livelihood. Please call us for more information about any of these developments and what steps you should implement to take advantage of favorable developments and to minimize the impact of those that are unfavorable.


A "phase two" tax reform outline could be unveiled by House GOP tax writers by August. Republicans have started to increase their tax meetings related to the effort, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex., told reporters on June 13.


A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers have introduced companion Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (HTC) bills. The measure aims to strengthen the HTC by encouraging investment and minimizing administrative burdens, according to the lawmakers.


House tax writers have moved two bills through committee. The bills focus on IRS hiring and the tax treatment of mutual ditch irrigation companies. The House Ways and Means Committee approved the measures in a June 21 markup.


The American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Taxation has expressed concerns to top Senate tax writers about certain congressional IRS reform efforts. The ABA Section of Taxation sent a June 6 letter to Senate Finance Committee (SFC) Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah and ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., regarding the House-approved bipartisan Taxpayer First Act (HR 5444).


The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that nonqualified employee stock options are not taxable compensation under the Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA). The term "money remuneration" in the Act unambiguously excludes "stock."


A member of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida had to pay federal income tax on distributions of gaming income that she and her family received from the tribe. The payments were taxable income under the Indian Gaming Revenue Act, rather than Indian general welfare benefits that were excluded from tax under Code Sec. 139E. Both the taxpayer and the tribe were bound by the decision.


An individual shareholder of an S corporation restaurant operator was not allowed to claim FICA tip credits under Code Sec. 45B that the S corporation did not claim. The shareholder could not unilaterally and retroactively nullify the S corporation’s election to deduct FICA tip taxes.


The Treasury Department and the IRS have issued final regulations that:

  • prevent a corporate partner from avoiding corporate-level gain through transactions with a partnership involving equity interests of the partner or certain related entities;
  • allow consolidated group members that are partners in the same partnership to aggregate their bases in stock distributed by the partnership for purposes of limiting the application of rules that might otherwise cause basis reduction or gain recognition; and
  • require certain corporations that engage in gain elimination transactions to reduce the basis of corporate assets or to recognize gain.

Participants in the Son of BOSS tax shelter have maintained their perfect losing record in the Tax Court. Thus, another Son-of-Boss deal has failed to produce its promised loss deductions.


If you file a joint return and your taxable income is less than that of your spouse, the "spousal" IRA rules may allow you to contribute up to $5,000 in 2009 (or $6,000 if you are 50 or older) to an individual retirement account (IRA) this year. A "spousal IRA" is a term more commonly used to describe an IRA set up for a nonworking, stay-at-home spouse.


In many parts of the country, residential property has seen steady and strong appreciation for some time now. In an estate planning context, however, increasing property values could mean a potential increase in federal estate tax liability for the property owner's estate. Many homeowners, who desire to pass their appreciating residential property on to their children and save federal estate and gift taxes at the same time, have utilized qualified personal residence trusts.


In 2009, individuals saving for retirement can take advantage of increased contribution limits for various retirement plans. More money can be socked away with tax advantages like tax-deferred growth and possible tax-deductibility.


Have you ever thought about distributions of property dividends (rather than cash dividends) from your corporation?  In some situations, it makes sense to distribute property in lieu of cash for a variety of reasons. However, before you make the decision as to the form of any distributions from your company, you should consider the various tax consequences of such distributions.


Throughout all of our lives, we have been told that if we don't want to work all of our life, we must plan ahead and save for retirement. We have also been urged to seek professional guidance to help plan our estates so that we can ensure that our loved ones will get the most out of the assets we have accumulated during our lifetime, with the least amount possible going to pay estate taxes.  What many of us likely have not thought about is how these two financial goals -- retirement and estate planning -- work together. 


During uncertain economic times, it's easy to feel pessimism and react hastily amid media reports about growing unemployment rates and stock market downturns. However, such actions can wreak havoc on your long-term personal and financial goals. Taking some time out now to put the uncertain future into perspective can help minimize the impact that many external forces can have on your personal and financial life.


Q:  One of my children received a full scholarship for all expenses to attend college this year.  I had heard that this amount may not be required to be reported on his tax return if certain conditions were met and the funds were used specifically for certain types of her expenses.  Is this true and what amounts spent on my child's education will be treated as qualified expenses?


How much am I really worth? This is a question that has run through most of our minds at one time or another. However, if you aren't an accountant or mathematician, it may seem like an impossible number to figure out. The good news is that, using a simple step format, you can compute your net worth in no time at all.


Employers are required by the Internal Revenue Code to calculate, withhold, and deposit with the IRS all federal employment taxes related to wages paid to employees. Failure to comply with these requirements can find certain "responsible persons" held personally liable. Who is a responsible person for purposes of employment tax obligations? The broad interpretation defined by the courts and the IRS may surprise you.


How quickly could you convert your assets to cash if necessary? Do you have a quantitative way to evaluate management's effectiveness? Knowing your business' key financial ratios can provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of your operations and your ability to meet your financial obligations as well as help you chart your company's future.


Raising a family in today's economy can be difficult and many people will agree that breaks are few -- more people mean more expenditures. However, in recent years, the IRS has passed legislation that borders on "family-friendly", with tax credits and other breaks benefiting families with children. Recent legislation also addresses the growing trend towards giving families a break.


Imagine you had a camera that could take a snapshot of your financial transactions over the course of a year. This snapshot would give you a chance to see the results of financial decisions you made during the course of the year -- good and bad. By using your recently filed Form 1040 as a "snapshot" of your past spending and investment habits, you can use this information to make better financial decisions in the current year.


Q. Each year when it comes time to prepare my return, I realize how little I think about my tax situation during the rest of the year. I seem to lack any sort of common sense when it comes to dealing with my taxes. Do you have any general advice for people like me trying to "do the right thing" in any tax situation that may arise during the year?


Stock options have become a common part of many compensation and benefits packages. Even small businesses have jumped on the bandwagon and now provide a perk previously confined to the executive suites of large publicly held companies. If you are an employee who has received stock options, you need to be aware of the complicated tax rules that govern certain stock options -- several potential "gotchas" exist and failing to spot them can cause major tax headaches.


Telecommuting not only offers employees flexibility, but accommodates lives that can often be hectic. While employees love the lifestyle and family/home advantages of telecommuting, the potential improvement to the bottom line is what appeals to employers.


A number of charities use the Internet to solicit funds, allowing potential donors to make contributions online. You can even create an account in a special type of planned giving instrument: a donor-advised fund. What are these funds, and are they right for you?


Q. I am reviewing my portfolio and considering selling some of my stock. How do I determine what tax basis I have in the publicly-traded shares that I own for purposes of determining my gain or loss if I buy and sell multiple shares at different times? Does keeping track of basis really matter?