YOSHIDA & SOKOLSKI, P.C.
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The House has approved two tax bills that are part of Republicans’ three-pronged "Tax Reform 2.0" package. The two measures, approved by the House on September 27, focus on retirement savings and business innovation.


The House has approved a tax bill that would make permanent tax reform’s individual and small business tax cuts enacted last December. The controversial bill is part of Republican’s three-bill "Tax Reform 2.0" package, two of which cleared the House on September 27 (see the previous story in this Issue).


Stakeholders are urging the IRS to clarify its guidance on tax reform’s new passthrough deduction. The IRS held an October 16 public hearing on proposed rules for the new Code Sec. 199Apassthrough deduction at its headquarters in Washington D.C. The IRS released the proposed regulations, REG-107892-18, on August 8.


Top Senate tax writers have introduced a bipartisan bill to prevent duplicative taxation on digital goods and services. The bill aims to establish a framework across multiple jurisdictions for taxation of digital goods and services, including electronic music, literature, and mobile apps, among other things.


The IRS has released Draft Instructions for the 2018 Form 1040. Additionally, the IRS has cautioned taxpayers that the draft instructions are subject to change. The IRS released a draft of the 2018 Form 1040 and six accompanying schedules last June.


The IRS’s new Commissioner was officially sworn in on October 1 by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. IRS Commissioner Charles "Chuck" P. Rettig will lead the implementation of tax reform enacted last December under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97).


The Senate Small Business Committee held an October 3 hearing on expanding opportunities for small businesses through the tax code. Senate lawmakers examined tax reform’s effect on small businesses and discussed witnesses’ proposals to address ambiguity in the new tax code.


One morning you reach into your mailbox or bin to find the dreaded letter from the IRS announcing that you owe unpaid taxes. As if that wasn't enough to induce panic, you may discover there are add-on charges for interest and penalties. Penalties for what, you may ask?


When starting a business or changing an existing one there are several types of business entities to choose from, each of which offers its own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the size of your business, one form may be more suitable than another. For example, a software firm consisting of one principal founder and several part time contractors and employees would be more suited to a sole proprietorship than a corporate or partnership form. But where there are multiple business members, the decision can become more complicated. One form of business that has become increasingly popular is called a limited liability company, or LLC.


The IRS has announced a new optional safe harbor method, effective for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2013, for individuals to determine the amount of their deductible home office expenses (IR-2013-5, Rev. Proc. 2013-13). Being hailed by many as a long-overdue simplification option, taxpayers may now elect to determine their home office deduction by simply multiplying a prescribed rate by the square footage of the portion of the taxpayer's residence used for business purposes.


Under the new health care law, starting in 2014, "large" employers with more than 50 full-time employees will be subject to stiff monetary penalties if they do not provide affordable and minimum essential health coverage. With less than eleven months before this "play or pay" provision is fully effective, the IRS continues to release critical details on what constitutes an "applicable large employer," "full-time employee," "affordable coverage," and "minimum health coverage."  Most recently, the IRS issued proposed reliance regulations that provide employers with the most comprehensive explanation of their obligations and options to date.


Beginning in 2013, the capital gains rates, as amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, are as follows for individuals:


In recent years, the IRS has been cracking down on abuses of the tax deduction for donations to charity and contributions of used vehicles have been especially scrutinized. The charitable contribution rules, however, are far from being easy to understand. Many taxpayers genuinely are confused by the rules and unintentionally value their contributions to charity at amounts higher than appropriate.


Lawmakers have departed Washington to campaign before the November 6 elections and left undone is a long list of unfinished tax business.  In many ways, the last quarter of 2012 is similar to 2010, when Congress and the White House waited until the eleventh hour to extend expiring tax cuts. Like 2010, a host of individual and business tax incentives are scheduled to expire.  Unlike 2010, lawmakers are confronted with massive across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to take effect in 2013.


In 2013, a new and unique tax will take effect—a 3.8 percent "unearned income Medicare contribution" tax as part of the structure in place to pay for health care reform. The tax will be imposed on the "net investment income" (NII) of individuals, estates, and trusts that exceeds specified thresholds. The tax will generally fall on passive income, but will also apply generally to capital gains from the disposition of property.


Taxpayers recovering from the current economic downturn will get at least some relief in 2013 by way of the mandatory upward inflation-adjustments called for under the tax code, according to CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business. CCH has released estimated income ranges for each 2013 tax bracket as well as a growing number of other inflation-sensitive tax figures, such as the personal exemption and the standard deduction.


Some individuals must pay estimated taxes or face a penalty in the form of interest on the amount underpaid. Self-employed persons, retirees, and nonworking individuals most often must pay estimated taxes to avoid the penalty. But an employee may need to pay them if the amount of tax withheld from wages is insufficient to cover the tax owed on other income. The potential tax owed on investment income also may increase the need for paying estimated tax, even among wage earners.


In light of the IRS’s new Voluntary Worker Classification Settlement Program (VCSP), which it announced this fall, the distinction between independent contractors and employees has become a “hot issue” for many businesses. The IRS has devoted considerable effort to rectifying worker misclassification in the past, and continues the trend with this new program.  It is available to employers that have misclassified employees as independent contractors and wish to voluntarily rectify the situation before the IRS or Department of Labor initiates an examination.

Job-hunting expenses are generally deductible as long as you are not searching for a job in a new field. This tax benefit can be particularly useful in a tough job market. It does not matter whether your job hunt is successful, or whether you are employed or unemployed when you are looking.