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On December 20, President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan, year-end government spending and tax package, just hours before federal funding was set to expire. Trump's signature on the over 2,000-page spending package avoided a government shutdown.


The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) ( P.L. 111-148) individual mandate is unconstitutional because it can no longer be read as a tax, and there is no other constitutional provision that justifies this exercise of congressional power. However, the central question of whether the rest of the ACA remains valid after Congress removed the penalty for not having health insurance remained unanswered. Instead, the case was sent back to the district court to reconsider how much of the ACA could survive without the individual mandate penalty.


Proposed qualified opportunity zone regulations issued on October 29, 2018 ( REG-115420-18) and May 1, 2019 ( REG-120186-18) under Code Sec. 1400Z-2 have been finalized with modifications. The regulations. which were issued in a 550 page document, are comprehensive.


The IRS has issued final regulations that provide guidance on transfers of appreciated property by U.S. persons to partnerships with foreign partners related to the transferor. Specifically, the regulations override the general nonrecognition rule under Code Sec. 721(a) unless the partnership adopts the remedial allocation method and certain other requirements are satisfied. The regulations affect U.S. partners in domestic or foreign partnerships.


The IRS has released Publication 5382, "Internal Revenue Service Progress Update / Fiscal Year 2019—Putting Taxpayers First." This new annual report describes accomplishments across the agency, and highlights the work of IRS employees during the past year. It covers a variety of taxpayer service efforts, including development of the new Taxpayer Withholding Estimator, as well as operations support efforts on areas involving information technology modernization, human capital office initiatives, and others.


Bridget Roberts, the Acting National Taxpayer Advocate, released her 2019 Annual Report to Congress. The report discusses the key challenges facing the IRS regarding the implementation of the Taxpayer First Act, inadequate taxpayer service and limited funding of the agency. Further, Roberts released the third edition of the National Taxpayer Advocate’s "Purple Book," which presents 58 legislative recommendations designed to strengthen taxpayer rights and improve tax administration.


The IRS has modified the applicability dates for proposed regulations under Code Sec. 382 that were issued with NPRM REG-125710-18, September 10, 2019 (2019 proposed regulations). The IRS is withdrawing the text of the proposed applicability dates, and proposing revised applicability dates. The newly issued proposed rules would also provide transition relief.


The Treasury and IRS have issued final regulations on the due diligence and reporting rules for persons making certain U.S. source payments to foreign persons. Guidance is also provided on reporting by foreign financial institutions on U.S. accounts. The regulations are effective on the date the regulations are published in the Federal Register.


Taxpayers have been provided with additional guidance for complying with the Code Sec. 871(m) regulations on dividend equivalent payments for 2021, 2022, and 2023. The Treasury Department and the IRS intend to amend the regulations to delay the effective/applicability date of certain rules. Further, the phase-in period provided in Notice 2018-762, I.R.B. 2018-40, 522, has been extended.


Tax reform percolates in Washington as the new Congress and the White House continue discussions over the scope and reach of tax legislation this year. Administration officials, lawmakers and Congressional staffers have signaled that off-the-record discussions have dealt with some hefty tax reform proposals but, so far, have released few details of these discussions. At the same time, Senate tax writers have opened up the tax reform process to public input.


There are three main types of IRS audits: correspondence audits, office audits, and field audits (listed in order of increasing invasiveness). Correspondence audits are initiated (and generally conducted) by postal mail. Office audits require a taxpayer and/or its representative to appear in an IRS office; and a field audit involves IRS examiners paying a visit to the taxpayer's place of business.


A financially secure employee is a productive one. Employee benefits play a key role in attracting and retaining employees. Financial counseling, tax preparation and retirement planning services are increasingly popular benefits offered by employers to their employees. However, not all of these result in a tax-free perk to employees. If you are considering offering your employees financial, tax or retirement planning services, you need to understand the tax consequences to both you and your workforce.

Falling interest rates and the current slowdown in the U.S. economy are having a widespread affect on today's economy and individuals' financial resources, from savings accounts to personal loans and credit card debt. The drop in interest rates that has occurred over the course of the last few months has also produced strategic tax planning opportunities for individuals contemplating certain types of asset transfers.

Like the Internet itself, the correct deductibility of a business's website development costs is still in its formative stages. What is fairly clear, however, is that it is highly unlikely that any single tax treatment will apply to all of the costs incurred in designing an internet site because the process encompasses many different types of expenses.

One of the easiest ways for a business to limit liability is to use independent contractors instead of employees. Of course, merely calling employees "independent contractors" will not make those individuals independent contractors.

The closely-held corporate form of entity is widely used by family-owned businesses. As its name implies, the owners of the business are typically limited to a small group of shareholders. Many businesses operate for years as closely-held corporations without giving a second thought to a little-known danger: the personal holding company tax.

Many people are surprised to learn that some "luxury" items can be deductible business expenses. Of course, moderation is key. Excessive spending is sure to attract the IRS's attention. As some recent high-profile court cases have shown, the government isn't timid in its crackdown on business owners using company funds for personal travel and entertainment.

Whether a parent who employs his or her child in a family business must withhold FICA and pay FUTA taxes will depend on the age of the teenager, the amount of income the teenager earns and the type of business.