Newsletters

Tax Alerts
September 19, 2020
Tax Briefing(s)

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has urged the IRS and Treasury in an August 12 letter to issue guidance on President Trump’s payroll tax deferral memorandum. The executive action signed by the president on August 8 instructs Treasury to defer the collection and payment of payroll taxes from September 1 through years-end for eligible employees.


The IRS has released final regulations that address the interaction of the $10,000/$5,000 cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction and charitable contributions. The regulations include:

  • a safe harbor for individuals who have any portion of a charitable deduction disallowed due to the receipt of SALT benefits;
  • a safe harbor for business entities to deduct certain payments made to a charitable organization in exchange for SALT benefits; and
  • application of the quid pro quo principle under Code Sec. 170 to benefits received or expected to be received by the donor from a third party.

The IRS has issued final regulations regarding the limitation for the business interest expense deduction under Code Sec. 163(j), including recent legislative amendments made for the 2019 and 2020 tax years. Also, a safe harbor has been proposed allowing taxpayers managing or operating residential living facilities to qualify as a real property trade or business for purposes of the limitation. In addition, new proposed regulations are provided for a number of different areas.


The IRS has issued proposed regulations that implement the "carried interest" rules under Code Sec. 1061 adopted by Congress as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 ( P.L. 115-97). Some key aspects of the lengthy proposed regulations include the definition of important terms, how the rules work in the context of tiered passthrough structures, the definition of "substantial" services provided by the carried interest holder, and the level of activity required for a business to meet the definition of an "applicable trade or business."


The Treasury and the IRS have issued temporary and proposed regulations to:

  • reconcile advance payments of refundable employment tax credits provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act) ( P.L. 116-127) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136), and
  • recapture the benefit of the credits when necessary.

The IRS has provided guidance on the special rules relating to funding of single-employer defined benefit pension plans, and related benefit limitations, under Act Sec. 3608 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (P.L. 116-136). The guidance clarifies application of the extended contribution deadline, and the optional use of the prior year’s adjusted funding target attainment percentage (AFTAP), with examples.


The IRS has released proposed regulations that implement new Code Sec. 7602(f), which bars non-government persons who are hired by the IRS from questioning a witness under oath whose testimony was obtained pursuant to a summons issued under Code Sec. 7602. The regulations prohibit any IRS contractors from asking a summoned person’s representative to clarify an objection or assertion of privilege. The IRS has also withdrawn a notice of proposed rulemaking ( NPRM REG-132434-17) that contained proposed rules addressing the participation of persons described under Code Sec. 6103(n) in the interview of a summoned witness and excluding certain non-government attorneys from participating in an IRS examination.


Proposed regulations adopt the post-2017 simplified accounting rules for small businesses.


The IRS has modified two safe harbor explanations in Notice 2018-74, 2018-40 I.R.B. 529, that can be used to satisfy the requirement under Code Sec. 402(f) that certain information be provided to recipients of eligible rollover distributions. The modifications were necessary due to recent changes in law made by the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act). One safe harbor explanation is for payments not from a designated Roth account, and the other is for payments from a designated Roth account. The Code Sec. 402(f) notice may be provided as many as 180 days before the date on which the distribution is made (or the annuity starting date).


The IRS has reminded taxpayers that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136) can provide favorable tax treatment for withdrawals from retirement plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Under the CARES Act, individuals eligible for coronavirus-related relief may be able to withdraw up to $100,000 from IRAs or workplace retirement plans before December 31, 2020, if their plans allow. In addition to IRAs, this relief applies to 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, profit-sharing plans and others.


The Treasury and IRS have issued final and proposed regulations under the global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) and subpart F provisions for the treatment of high-taxed income. The final regulations provide guidance on determining the type of high-taxed income that is eligible for the exclusion (the "GILTI high-tax exclusion" or GILTI HTE).


On July 4, President Donald Trump signed into law a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application extension bill that Congress had quickly passed just before the Independence Day holiday. According to several senators, the measure was "surprisingly" introduced and approved by unanimous consent in the Senate late on June 30. It cleared the House the evening of July 1.


"If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then unto me." — William Shakespeare


The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Trump Administration’s rule under the Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148) that any nongovernment, nonpublicly traded employer can refuse to offer contraceptive coverage for moral or religious reasons, and that publicly traded employers can refuse to do so for religious reasons. Application of this rule had been halted by litigation, but the Administration is now free to apply it.


The IRS has issued guidance to employers on the requirement to report the amount of qualified sick and family leave wages paid to employees under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act) ( P.L. 116-127). This reporting provides employees who are also self-employed with information necessary for properly claiming qualified sick leave equivalent or qualified family leave equivalent credits under the Families First Act.


The IRS has issued guidance and temporary relief for required minimum distribution (RMD) changes in 2020. Distributions that would have been RMDs under old law are treated as eligible rollover distributions. The 60-day rollover period deadline for any 2020 RMDs already taken has been extended to August 31, 2020. Notice 2007-7, I.R.B. 2007-5, 395 is modified.


The IRS has clarified and provided relief for mid-year amendments reducing safe harbor contributions. An updated safe harbor notice and an election opportunity must be provided even if the change is only for highly compensated employees. Coronavirus (COVID-19) relief applies if a plan amendment is adopted between March 13, 2020, and August 31, 2020. For nonelective contribution plans, the supplemental notice requirement is satisfied if provided no later than August 31, 2020, and the amendment that reduces or suspends contributions is adopted no later than the effective date of the reduction or suspension. Notice 2016-16, I.R.B., 2016-7, 318, is clarified.


The IRS amended final regulations with guidance on the Code Sec. 199A deduction for suspended losses and shareholders of regulated investment companies (RICs). The amendments address the treatment of suspended losses included in qualified business income (QBI), the deduction allowed to a shareholder in a regulated investment company (RIC), and additional rules related to trusts and estates. The IRS had previously issued final and proposed regulations addressing these issues (NPRM REG-134652-18)


The Treasury Department and the IRS have released drafts of proposed partnership forms for tax year 2021 (the 2022 filing season). The proposed forms are intended to provide greater clarity for partners on how to compute their U.S. income tax liability for relevant international tax items, including claiming deductions and credits. The redesigned forms and instructions will also give useful guidance to partnerships on how to provide international tax information to their partners in a standardized format.


The Treasury and IRS have issued final regulations covering the Code Sec. 250 deduction for foreign-derived intangible income (FDII) and global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI). Proposed regulations were issued on March 6, 2019 (NPRM REG-104464-18). The final regulations maintain the basic approach and structure of the proposed regulations and provide guidance on computation of the deduction and the determination of FDII, including in the consolidated return context. Additionally, rules requiring the filing of Form 8993, Section 250 Deduction for Foreign-Derived Intangible Income and Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income, are finalized.


The IRS is calling on any taxpayers involved in syndicated conservation easement transactions who receives a settlement offer from the agency to accept it soon. The Service made this request in the wake of the Tax Court’s recent strike down of four additional abusive syndicated conservation easement transactions.


Proposed reliance regulations clarify the definitions of "real property" that qualifies for a like-kind exchange, including incidental personal property. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97), like-kind exchanges occurring after 2017 are limited to real property used in a trade or business or for investment. Comments are requested.


The IRS has provided guidance regarding whether taxpayers receiving loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) may deduct otherwise deductible expenses. Act Sec. 1106(i) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136) did not address whether generally allowable deductions such as those under Code Secs. 162 and 163 would still be permitted if the loan was later forgiven pursuant to Act Sec. 1106(b). The IRS has found that such deductions are not permissible.


Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have worked together to release the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application. According to Treasury’s May 15 press release, the application and correlating instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of PPP loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136). The PPP was enacted under the CARES Act to provide eligible small businesses with loans during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Eligible individuals who are not otherwise required to file federal income tax returns for 2019 may use a new simplified return filing procedure to make sure they receive the Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136).


To encourage businesses that have experienced an economic hardship due to COVID-19 to keep employees on their payroll, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ( P.L. 116-136) has provided several new credits for employers, including a new employee retention credit. The IRS has issued a fact sheet summarizing a few key points about the new credit.


The Treasury Department and the IRS have provided tax relief to certain individuals and businesses affected by travel disruptions arising from the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency.


The IRS and the Employee Benefits Security Administration are extending certain timeframes during the Outbreak Period for group health plans, disability and other welfare plans, pension plans, and participants and beneficiaries of these plans during the COVID-19 National Emergency. The beginning of the Outbreak Period is March 1, 2020. The end date is yet to be determined.


Due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), the IRS has provided increased flexibility with respect to:

  • 2020 mid-year elections under a Code Sec. 125 cafeteria plan related to employer-sponsored health coverage, health Flexible Spending Arrangements (health FSAs), and dependent care assistance programs; and
  • grace periods to apply unused amounts in health FSAs to medical care expenses incurred through December 31, 2020, and unused amounts in dependent care assistance programs to dependent care expenses incurred through December 31, 2020.

The IRS has released proposed regulations that address changes made to Code Sec. 162(f) by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97). The proposed regulations provide operational and definitional guidance on the deductibility of fines and penalties paid to governmental entities.


A partnership was denied a charitable contribution deduction because it had entered in an conservation easement that violated the perpetuity requirement of Code Sec. 170(h)(5) and its regulations. The Tax Court held that if there is a judicial extinguishment of an easement the donee receives a proportionate value of any proceeds.