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House and Senate lawmakers have started their August recess, leaving pending tax legislation for after Labor Day. In past years, September has been a busy month for tax legislation and this year is likely to be the same. Before leaving Capitol Hill, lawmakers took actions in several areas related to tax reform.


The IRS remains focused on an issue that doesn’t seem to be going away: the misclassification of workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Recently, the IRS issued still another fact sheet “reminding” employers about the importance of correctly classifying workers for purposes of federal employment taxes (FS-2017-9). Generally, employers must withhold income taxes, withhold and pay social security and Medicare taxes, and pay unemployment tax on wages paid to employees. They are lifted of these obligations entirely for independent contractors, with usually the only IRS-related responsibility being information reporting on amounts of $600 or more paid to a contractor.


A recent Tax Court decision and pending tax reform proposals have intersected in highlighting how stock sales can be timed for maximum tax advantage. The taxpayer in the recent case (Turan, TC Memo. 2017-141) failed to convince the Tax Court that he timely made an election with his broker to use the last-in-first-out (LIFO) method to set his cost-per-share cost basis for determining capital gains and losses on his stock trades on shares of the same company. As a result, he was required to calculate the capital gain or loss on his stock trades using the firm’s first-in-first-out (FIFO) “default” method, which, in his case, yielded a significant increase in tax liability for the year.


Country-by-Country (CbC) reporting is part of a larger initiative by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) known as the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project. CbC reporting generally impacts large multi-national businesses. Because CbC is part of BEPS it is important to be familiar with the core concepts.


An eligible taxpayer can deduct qualified interest on a qualified student loan for an eligible student's qualified educational expenses at an eligible institution. The amount of the deduction is limited, and it is phased out for taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds certain thresholds.


As an individual or business, it is your responsibility to be aware of and to meet your tax filing/reporting deadlines. This calendar summarizes important tax reporting and filing data for individuals, businesses and other taxpayers for the month of August 2017.


The ACA created Code Sec. 5000A. Individuals must have minimum essential health insurance coverage, qualify for a health coverage exemption, or make an individual shared responsibility payment. Minimum essential coverage includes most government-sponsored health care programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare, and TRICARE.  Eligible employer-sponsored plans; individual market plans, including plans obtained through the ACA Heath Insurance Marketplace, and grandfathered plans provide minimum essential coverage.


With the soaring cost of college tuition rising on a yearly basis, tax-free tuition gifts to children and grandchildren can help them afford such an expensive endeavor, as well as save the generous taxpayers in gift and generation skipping taxes. Under federal law, tuition payments that are made directly to an educational institution on behalf of a student are not considered to be taxable gifts, regardless of how large, or small, the payment may be.


An early glimpse at the income tax picture for 2017 is now available. The new information includes estimated ranges for each 2017 tax bracket as well as projections for a growing number of inflation-sensitive tax figures, such as the tax rate brackets, personal exemption and the standard deduction. Projections – made available by Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting US – are based on the relevant inflation data recently released by the U.S. Department of Labor. The IRS is expected to release the official figures by early November. Here are a few of the more widely-applicable projected amounts: 


As an individual or business, it is your responsibility to be aware of and to meet your tax filing/reporting deadlines. This calendar summarizes important federal tax reporting and filing data for individuals, businesses and other taxpayers for the month of July 2016.


Responding to growing concerns over the scope of tax-related identity theft, the House has approved legislation to give victims more information about the crime. The House also took up a bill expanding disclosure of taxpayer information in cases involving missing children and the Ways and Means Committee approved a bill impacting disclosures by exempt organizations.


Money spent to sell your company's product or service, or to develop goodwill in the community, can be deducted from business income. Advertising costs, like other ordinary and necessary business expenses, are generally deductible so long as the advertising expense is reasonably related to your trade or business. There are a few caveats, however, depending on the type of advertising and its expected usefulness. Take stock of your business advertising expenditures to maximize the benefits for your bottom line.

Parents typically encourage their children to save for college, for a house, or simply for a rainy day. A child's retirement, however, is a less common early savings goal. Too many other expenses are at the forefront. Yet, helping to plan for a youngster's retirement is a move that astute families are making. Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for income-earning minors and young adults offer a head-start on life-long financial planning.


The bartering system is an ancient form of commerce that still thrives today. From livestock in exchange for grain, to legal advice in exchange for accounting services, money-less trades are still common. However, a major difference between bartering in antiquity versus modern American times is that the IRS wants in on the deal. Just because money does not change hands, does not mean that a traded good or service loses its value, or its taxability. And, unfortunately, the IRS won't accept a pig or a mule for its payment, making cash a necessary part of any barter arrangement when it's time to pay tax on it.


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.


Although taxes may take a back seat to the basic issue of whether refinancing saves enough money to be worthwhile, you should be aware of the basic tax rules that come into play. Sometimes, you can immediately deduct some of the costs of refinancing.