The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released its annual inflation adjustments for many tax benefits applicable for tax year 2018 (returns filed in 2019). The standard deduction for taxpayers who are married filing jointly will increase slightly to $13,000; for single and separately filing married taxpayers, the standard deduction will also increase slightly, to $6,500. For tax year 2018, the foreign earned income exclusion is $104,100, up from $102,100 for tax year 2017. The annual exclusion for gifts increased to $15,000, an increase of $1,000 from the exclusion for tax year 2017.
On October 6, 2017, Shiv D. Kumar, the sole shareholder of a California transportation company that serves disabled individuals, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for filing false corporate returns. The Department of Justice found that Kumar provided his accountant with false books and records, leading to the underreporting of the business' income to the IRS by over $2 million per year in 2009 and 2010.
President Trump and several key members of Congress have released their proposal for federal tax reform. Their main goals are to simplify the tax code, lower tax rates, increase the competitiveness of American businesses in the international arena, and repatriate dollars currently held in offshore accounts.
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: