The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is launching a pilot program to offer a web-based virtual conference option for taxpayers and their representatives in Appeals cases. The Office of Appeals hears over 100,000 cases each year for taxpayers who would like to resolve their tax disputes outside the Tax Court, and is hoping this new program will be a convenient, efficient, and flexible way to address the needs of taxpayers, particularly those who live far from an IRS Appeals office.
United States Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch recently issued a request to experts and stakeholders for comments and recommendations to improve the federal tax system. The committee is specifically seeking ideas about how to provide tax relief to the middle class; how to strengthen businesses of all sizes through the tax system; how to encourage savings and investment and remove tax-related obstacles to such; and how to update the international tax system to stay competitive in the global economy.
The Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act of 2017, which aims to make a person's wages and other remuneration subject to income tax only in the employee's state of residence and the state where the employee was physically present and performed employment duties for more than 30 calendar days, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on June 20, 2017. Employers will not have state income tax withholding or reporting requirements for employees who do not fit these criteria. Certain classes of workers will not be considered employees for the purposes of this bill, including professional athletes and entertainers; film and video production employees; and prominent public figures providing services on a per-event basis. The U.S. Senate Committee on Finance currently has the proposed bill under review. Click here to track its progress.
If Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goolatte (R-VA) get their way, it will. On June 12, 2016, Sensenbrenner and Goolatte introduced the "No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017" which would expand the "physical presence" requirement of a similar 2016 House Bill (H.R. 5893) to all taxes and to all regulations in general.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced on June 7, 2017 that the Department will no longer follow the informal guidance issued as Administrator Interpretation Letters in 2015 and 2016 regarding joint employment and independent contractors [here], signaling an easing of the federal guidance on the use of contract labor. According to its press release, "The Department will continue to fully and fairly enforce all laws within its jurisdiction, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act." To read the full press release, click here.
On May 10, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum to all Federal prosecutors, laying out the core principles of charging and sentencing policy for the Department of Justice under the Trump Administration. Namely, prosecutors have been instructed to "charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense" and "disclose to the sentencing court all facts that impact the sentencing guidelines or mandatory minimum sentences." Exceptions to the "strict application" of these guidelines must be clearly documented and then approved by a U.S. Attorney, Assistant Attorney General, or designated supervisor. This new policy memorandum explicitly rescinds certain policies set forth by the Obama Administration.
The last comprehensive revision of the Internal Revenue Code occurred in 1986, when Congress passed the Tax Reform Act of 1986. On April 26, 2017, with less than one page of writing, President Trump has summarized his Tax Reform Plan, which promises to reduce tax brackets, simplify the tax code, create millions of job, and protect a variety of deductions. Included in the plan are the following proposed changes:
If your company contracts with the Department of Defense, General Services Administration, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), you have one more reason to be compliant with your federal tax obligations: Effective September 30, 2016, these agencies will no longer award contracts to corporations having delinquent Federal tax liabilities or a felony conviction under any law. This includes any assessed liabilities such as unpaid income tax, employment tax, payroll withholdings, and social security and Medicare taxes that are not contested or paid on time.
Taxpayers with farms or ranches in certain California counties, cities, or districts that suffered from "exceptional, extreme or severe drought conditions" between September 1, 2015, and August 31, 2016, are being provided tax relief by the Internal Revenue Service in the form of deferred taxes on the gains from forced sales of livestock. Many will have an extra year to replace any livestock held for specific purposes, such a draft or dairy, and sold during the drought outside of their normal sales cycle. For details, including a list of specific designated counties, click here.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it will begin private collection of overdue federal tax debts starting in Spring 2017. The IRS will contract with four private agencies to attempt to collect on federal debts owed that the IRS is no longer actively pursuing or for which the IRS does not have sufficient resources to pursue.