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Tax Research Briefs - Archived (March 2015 - December 2014)

MARCH 2015

ACCOUNTING

IRS Issues Proposed Rules on Winnings from Electronic Slot Machines: The IRS has issued updated guidance, in a proposed revenue procedure and proposed regulations, on how taxpayers calculate their wagering gains or losses from electronic slot machines and the thresholds for when gambling establishments must report winnings from electronic slot machines. Notice 2015-21; REG-132253-11. Read more...

IRS Proposes "Next Day Rule" for Changes in Consolidated Group Membership: The IRS has issued proposed amendments to the consolidated return regulations, revising the rules for reporting certain items of income and deduction that are reportable on the day a corporation joins or leaves a consolidated group. The proposed regulations would affect these corporations and the consolidated groups that they join or leave. REG-100400-14. Read more...

An In-Depth Look: IRS Releases Detailed FAQ Explaining Repair Regulations: The IRS released a clear and detailed FAQ explaining key aspects of the new tangible property regulations (a.k.a., the "repair regulations"). IRS FAQ - Tangible Property Regulations. Read more...

Eight Circuit Rejects Like-Kind-Exchange Structured to Avoid Related Party Restrictions: The Eighth Circuit found that a construction equipment seller entered into like-kind-exchanges involving unnecessary intermediaries to avoid related party restrictions. The court upheld a district court determination disallowing nonrecognition treatment. North Central Rental & Leasing, LLC v. U.S., 2015 PTC 67 (8th Cir. 2015) Read more...

IRS Updates Address for Ogden Copy of Form 3115: In an IRS Press Release, the IRS alerted taxpayers to a change in address for the copy of Form 3115, Application for Change of Accounting Method sent to Ogden, Utah. Taxpayers should now send a copy of their Form 3115 to: Internal Revenue Service, 1973 Rulon White Blvd., Mail Stop 4917, Ogden, UT, 84201-1000.

Proposed Rev. Proc. Clarifies Employee Consent Procedures for FICA Tax Refunds: The IRS has released a proposed revenue procedure providing guidance to employers on employee consents used to support a claim for refund under Code Sec. 6402 and Reg. Sec. 31.6402(a)-2 for overpaid taxes under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and the Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA). Notice 2015-15). Read more...

Taxpayers With Incorrect Tax Information On IRS Form 1095-A Urged To Delay Filing: Last week, the Obama Administration announced that approximately 800,000 taxpayers had received Forms 1095-A containing incorrect calculations on the amount of the premium assistance credit they were eligible to receive. The Administration urged affected taxpayers to delay filing their tax returns until correct forms could be issued. CMS Announcement. Read more...

IRS Ends Confusion Over Form 3115 Requirements, Provides Relief to Small Businesses: The IRS has ended much of the confusion surrounding the Form 3115 filing requirements, granting major relief to small business taxpayers by waiving the requirement to file the form, and instead allowing small business taxpayers to opt for a simplified procedure for changing accounting methods under the final repair regulations. Such changes can be made on a prospective basis (cut-off method) for tax years beginning in 2014. Rev. Proc. 2015-20. Read more...

APPLICABLE FEDERAL RATES (March)

March AFRs Issued: In Rev. Rul. 2015-04, the IRS issued the applicable federal rates for March 2015.

CREDITS

Fifth Circuit Allows a Nearly $100 Million Ordinary Loss for Pilgrim's Pride: The Fifth Circuit reversed the Tax Court, finding that Code Sec. 1234A only applies to the abandonment of contractual rights, as opposed to rights inherent in assets like securities. By allowing a $98.6 million ordinary loss, the court validated the taxpayer's decision to decline a $20 million purchase offer in favor of a $30 million tax savings. Pilgrim's Pride v. Comm'r, 2015 PTC 61 (5th Cir. 2015). Read more...

Portions of Refundable State Tax "Credits" Were Includable in Federal Income: The Tax Court held that taxpayers had to include in income portions of refundable state tax "credits" received from participating in a New York economic development program. The court found that, contrary to the state's characterization, the refundable credits were effectively taxable subsidies. Maines v. Comm'r, 144 T.C. No. 8. Read more...

IRS Issues Final Regs on Electing Alternative Simplified Credit: In T.D. 9712, the IRS issued final regulations related to the timing and manner of electing the alternative simplified credit (ASC) under Code Sec. 41(c)(5). Under the final regulations, taxpayers may make an ASC election on an amended return if the taxpayer had not previously claimed a Code Sec. 41 credit for that year. In addition, the final regulations provide that a taxpayer that is a member of a controlled group may not make an ASC election for that year on an amended return if any member of the controlled group claimed the research credit using a method other than the ASC. The final regulations affect certain taxpayers claiming credits under Code Sec. 41.

IRS Advises Student on the American Opportunity Tax Credit: In CCA 201509030, a student requested information on when a portion of the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) is refundable. The IRS Office of Chief Counsel advised that the student would not be entitled to the refundable portion of the AOTC if the individual was a "child," as described by Code Sec. 1(g). Otherwise, Code Sec. 25A(i)(5) allows a 40 percent refund of the AOTC claimed with respect to qualified educational expenses.

IRS Issues Guidance on the Retroactive Extension of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit: In Notice 2015-13, the IRS issued transition relief for employers claiming the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for hiring members of a targeted group. Accordingly, an employer that hired a member of a targeted group, or a qualified tax-exempt organization that hired a qualified veteran, on or after January 1, 2014, and before January 1, 2015, will be considered to have satisfied the requirements of Code Sec. 51(d)(13)(A)(ii) if it submits a completed Form 8850, Pre-Screening Notice and Certification Request for the Work Opportunity Credit, to the appropriate Designated Local Agency (DLA) to request certification not later than April 30, 2015.

IRS Issues Guidance on Round 2 of the Code Sec. 48A Credit: In Notice 2015-14, the IRS updates and amplifies the procedures for the allocation of credits under the qualifying advanced coal project program of Code Sec. 48A of the Internal Revenue Code by announcing the immediate beginning of the 2015 reallocation round ("Round 2") of the Code Sec. 48A Phase III program. The allocation round will be conducted in the same manner and under the same procedures as provided under Notice 2012-51, which established the Code Sec. 48A Phase III program. To be considered in Round 2 of the Code Sec. 48A Phase III program, applications must be submitted to the Department of Energy and to the IRS on or before April 1, 2015.

DEDUCTIONS

IRS Issues Proposed Rules on Winnings from Electronic Slot Machines: The IRS has issued updated guidance, in a proposed revenue procedure and proposed regulations, on how taxpayers calculate their wagering gains or losses from electronic slot machines and the thresholds for when gambling establishments must report winnings from electronic slot machines. Notice 2015-21; REG-132253-11. Read more...

No Exclusion from Sale of Home Where Taxpayers Only Maintained an Office: In Villegas v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2015-33, taxpayers sold the group home they ran for the benefit of developmentally disabled individuals, claiming it was their principal residence and excluding the gain under Code Sec. 121. However, the taxpayers never resided at the group home; three of the bedrooms were used by clients, with the fourth serving as an office, and employees testified that they never saw the owners live at the address. The court found that the group home was not the taxpayer's principle residence and disallowed the income exclusion.

Expenses Related to Taxpayer's Uncompensated IT Services Not Deductible: In Shah v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2015-31, an information technology (IT) consultant taxpayer claimed deductions for expenses incurred in providing complimentary computer services for friends and family remotely from his home. Because the taxpayer never sought, nor received, compensation for these services, the Tax Court determined he did not engage in the activity for profit as required by Code Sec. 183(a) and denied the deductions as personal expenses under Code Sec. 262(a).

Inventor's Conspiracy Theories Can't Support Claim of Patent Infringement Theft Loss: The Tax Court upheld disallowance of theft loss deductions, finding no basis for the taxpayer's conspiracy-fueled theft loss and patent infringement claims. Sheridan v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo 2015-25. Read more...

Tax Court: No Hobby Loss Limits for Inherited Hobby Shop: The Tax Court held that just because a taxpayer operated a hobby shop did not mean it was a hobby for her, and allowed business expenses stemming from the model airplane shop she inherited from her father. Savello v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2015-24. Read more...

Dairy Farmer Could Revoke Election Not to Take Bonus Depreciation: In PLR 201507022, a dairy farmer taxpayer had made an election not to deduct the bonus depreciation under Code Sec. 168(k). However, after submitting his return, the taxpayer discovered a bank error overstating the amount of interest he had paid that year, meaning his income had been under-reported on his return. Because the taxpayer would have elected to deduct the bonus depreciation had the error been discovered earlier, the IRS allowed him sixty days to revoke his election not to take the deduction.

Taxpayer's Rental to Daughters Limits Real Estate Losses: In Savello v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2015-24, the Tax Court determined a taxpayer's claimed real estate loss deductions were limited as she rented the property to her daughters and provided vague testimony as to the use of the property. Although the taxpayer charged a fair market value for the rent, and occasionally had an unrelated person as a tenant, she was unable to provide evidence that the daughters consistently paid rent, and their use of the property was imputed to her as qualifying relatives under Code. Sec. 280A(d). As the imputed personal use exceeded the greater of 14 days or 10 percent of the number of days during which the unit was rented, the court limited the taxpayer's claimed deductions under Code Sec. 280A.

Taxpayer Can't Factor NOLs in Self-Employment Earnings: In Stebbins v. Comm'r, T.C. Summary 2015-10, a taxpayer claimed his net operating loss (NOL) carryover relating to 2007 could offset his 2008 net self-employment earnings. The Tax Court disagreed, noting that Code Sec. 1402(a)(4) explicitly disallows deductions for NOLs in determining net self-employment earnings, and denied the offset.

EDUCATIONAL SAVINGS PLANS

IRS to Issue Proposed Regulations on ABLE Accounts: In Notice 2015-18, the IRS announced that it anticipates issuing proposed regulations that will provide that the designated beneficiary of an ABLE account is the owner of the account. The notice also provides that, where the designated beneficiary does not have signature authority over an ABLE account, the person with signature authority may neither have nor acquire any beneficial interest in the account and must administer the account for the benefit of the designated beneficiary. New section 529A establishes the ABLE account program, under which contributions may be made to an ABLE account created to meet the qualified disability expenses of a designated beneficiary.

ESTATES, GIFTS AND TRUSTS

Pending Dispute Over Estate Proceeds Precludes Charitable Deduction on 1041: The Tax Court held that because a pending dispute with the decedent's brother over a California condo could significantly deplete estate funds, amounts earmarked for a charitable contribution were not "permanently set aside" under Code Sec. 642(c)(2), and the estate could not take the associated deduction on its income tax return. Est. of Belmont v. Comm'r, 144 T.C. No. 6 (2015). Read more...

EMPLOYMENT TAXES

Bartender's Meticulous Records Defeat IRS's Claim of Unreported Tip Income: The Tax Court held that a Las Vegas bartender, audited after he stopped participating in an IRS tip compliance program, had fully reported his tip income. The court concluded that the taxpayer's records reflected his income earned from tips more accurately than the IRS's reconstruction formula did. Sabolic v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2015-32. Read more...

Taxpayer Needed to Exhaust Remedies Before Suing Employer: In Berera v. Mesa Medical Group, PLLC, 2015 PTC 52 (6th Cir. 2015), a taxpayer brought a class action lawsuit for unpaid wages, alleging her employer had overwithheld employment taxes by taking its share of FICA taxes out of its employees' wages. However, the Sixth Circuit found that the taxpayer's purported state-law claims for unpaid wages were actually claims for a federal tax refund under FICA. Because the taxpayer had, in effect, asserted a FICA refund claim, she should have filed her claim with the IRS before bringing suit in court, and as such, the Sixth Circuit dismissed her claim.

EXEMPT ORGANIZATIONS

IRS Employs "Substance Over Form" to Deny Charitable Deductions in Complex Partnership Transaction: The IRS's Office of Chief Counsel advised that a transaction involving a newly formed charitable organization and a wholly owned corporation was to be recast under the "substance over form" doctrine, denying the claimed charitable deduction. CCA 201507018. Read more...

Unusually Large Contribution Excluded from Charity's Public Support Test: In PLR 201507024, a tax-exempt community foundation classified as a public charity received a large contribution from an estate that threatened to adversely affect its status as a publically supported charity. The IRS found that the contribution constituted an "unusual grant" for purposes of determining whether the 33 1/3 percent-of-support test under Reg. Sec. 1.170A-9(f)(6)(ii) for publicly supported organizations was satisfied. After considering the factors under Reg. Sec. 1.509(a)-3(c)(4) for excluding such unusual grants from the test, the IRS determined the contribution could be excluded so that the foundation could retain its classification as a public charity.

FOREIGN

IRS Violates US-Japan Tax Treaty, Taxpayers Awarded Damages: In Aloe Vera, Inc. v. U.S., 2015 PTC 45 (D. Ariz. 2015), taxpayers asserted that the IRS had issued false tax return information to the Japanese National Tax Administration (NTA) in violation of a US-Japan tax treaty. The taxpayers claimed the IRS falsely stated they had unreported income taxable by the US. The district court found that the IRS had sent to the NTA an estimate of the taxpayer's unreported income that had no basis in fact, and thus held the IRS knowingly sent false return information to the NTA. The court then awarded statutory damages to the taxpayers under Code Sec. 7431(c).

HEALTHCARE

IRS Corrects Final Regs Affecting Charitable Hospital Orgs: In T.D. 9708 (3/11/15), the IRS issued corrections to the final regulations providing guidance on the requirements for charitable hospital organizations relating to financial assistance and emergency medical care policies, charges for certain care provided to individuals eligible for financial assistance, and billing and collections. The regulations reflect changes to the law made by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Taxpayers With Incorrect Tax Information On IRS Form 1095-A Urged To Delay Filing: Last week, the Obama Administration announced that approximately 800,000 taxpayers had received Forms 1095-A containing incorrect calculations on the amount of the premium assistance credit they were eligible to receive. The Administration urged affected taxpayers to delay filing their tax returns until correct forms could be issued. CMS Announcement. Read more...

IRS Issues Preliminary Approaches to Cadillac Health Plans: In Notice 2015-16, the IRS describes potential approaches with regard to a number of issues under Code Sec. 4980I, which could be incorporated in future proposed regulations, and invites comments on these potential approaches. Code Sec. 4980I imposes an excise tax on high cost employer-sponsored health plans, also known as "Cadillac Plans." The issues addressed in the notice primarily relate to (1) the definition of applicable coverage, (2) the determination of the cost of applicable coverage, and (3) the application of the annual statutory dollar limit to the cost of applicable coverage. The notice does not provide guidance under Code Sec. 4980I upon which taxpayers may rely.

IRS Issues Temporary and Proposed Regulations on Health Insurance Provider Fees: In T.D. 9711 and REG-143416-14 (2/26/15), the IRS released temporary and proposed regulations that provide rules for the definition of a covered entity for purposes of the fee imposed by Section 9010 of the Affordable Care Act. The regulations are necessary to clarify certain terms in Section 9010, and amend the rules in the existing Health Insurance Providers Fee regulations to incorporate the general approach used in Notice 2014-47. The regulations affect covered entities engaged in the business of providing health insurance. The text of the temporary regulations also serves as the text of proposed regulations.

INNOCENT SPOUSE RELIEF

No Innocent Spouse Relief: In Panetta v. Comm'r, T.C. Summary 2015-16, the Tax Court determined a taxpayer was not entitled to innocent spouse relief from deficiencies stemming from her business. Before her divorce, the taxpayer had opened a mobile food truck specializing in deserts; she would provide her then-husband with information on the expenses and income of the business, and he was responsible for filing the tax returns. Although the taxpayer never reviewed the returns, the court determined that as she knew she had incurred reported expenses and the deficiencies were attributable to her business, she was not entitled to innocent spouse relief from the liabilities stated on her joint return.

IRS

IRS Releases Detailed FAQ Explaining Repair Regulations Last week, the IRS released a clear and detailed FAQ explaining key aspects of the new tangible property regulations (a.k.a., the "repair regulations"). IRS FAQ - Tangible Property Regulations. Read more...

Proposed Rev. Proc. Clarifies Employee Consent Procedures for FICA Tax Refunds: The IRS has released a proposed revenue procedure providing guidance to employers on employee consents used to support a claim for refund under Code Sec. 6402 and Reg. Sec. 31.6402(a)-2 for overpaid taxes under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and the Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA). Notice 2015-15). Read more...

IRS Ends Confusion Over Form 3115 Requirements, Provides Relief to Small Businesses: The IRS has ended much of the confusion surrounding the Form 3115 filing requirements, granting major relief to small business taxpayers by waiving the requirement to file the form, and instead allowing small business taxpayers to opt for a simplified procedure for changing accounting methods under the final repair regulations. Such changes can be made on a prospective basis (cut-off method) for tax years beginning in 2014. Rev. Proc. 2015-20. Read more...

Monthly Guidance on Corporate Bond Yield Issued: In Notice 2015-19, the IRS provides guidance on the corporate bond monthly yield curve, the corresponding spot segment rates used under Code Sec. 417(e)(3), and the 24-month average segment rates under Code Sec. 430(h)(2). In addition, the notice provides guidance as to the interest rates on certain 30-year Treasury securities.

PENALTIES

Dude Ranch Shareholders Liable for Unpaid Corporate Taxes after Liquidation Scheme Collapses: The Seventh Circuit affirmed a Tax Court decision holding former dude ranch shareholders liable as transferees for unpaid taxes left over from participation in an intricate tax-avoidance scheme pitched to them as an alternative to a standard liquidation. Feldman v. Comm'r, 2015 PTC 58 (7th Cir. 2015). Read more...

Tax Court Sinks Riverboat Pilot's Tax Avoidance Scheme: The Tax Court held that a taxpayer's reliance on the self-interested advice of a tax shelter promoter defeated his reasonable cause and good faith reliance defense against gross-valuation misstatement penalties stemming from his involvement in a variant on the Son-of-BOSS tax scheme. 436, Ltd. v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2015-28. Read more...

IRS Provides Transition Relief from Staggering $36,500 per Employee Healthcare Penalty: The IRS has provided transition relief though at least 6/30/2015 from the assessment of penalties under Code Sec. 4980D for small employers who reimburse or pay a premium for individual health insurance for an employee. The IRS also stated that such penalties will not be assessed any earlier than 2016 against S corporations that have similar arrangements with 2-percent shareholder-employees (and then only if future guidance holds that the penalty applies in those situations). Notice 2015-17. Read more...

Court Finds Taxpayer Acted as Conduit For Supervisors Gambling Habits: In Na v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2015-21, the IRS used a bank deposit analysis to determine a taxpayer had underreported her income, and assessed a deficiency. The taxpayer was able to prove to the Tax Court that the vast majority of the amounts the IRS claimed as unreported income had been funneled through her account by her supervisor to pay for his gambling habits. The taxpayer would accompany her supervisor to casinos and would withdrawal funds for him, which would later be paid back. The court found that the taxpayer merely acted as a conduit, and reduced the assessed deficiencies, but held the taxpayer was still subject to an accuracy penalty based on negligence, due to not maintaining adequate records of the transactions and the comingling of funds.

RETIREMENT PLANS

Banking Error Saves Taxpayer from Early Distribution Penalty: In PLR 201510060, the IRS ruled that two unrequested payments from a taxpayer's IRA were not subject to the 10 percent additional tax on early distributions. When a new entity assumed control of the IRA, it inadvertently started making additional payments from the account. The IRS ruled that because those payments were due to a bank error, they were not considered a modification of a series of substantially equal periodic payments under Code Sec. 72(t)(4) and, therefore would not be subject to the 10 percent additional tax on early distributions under Code Sec. 72(t)(1).

No Early Distribution Penalty Relief for Taxpayers Using Retirement Funds to Avoid Eviction: In Morles v. Comm'r, T.C. Summary 2015-13, a taxpayer sold stock and took distributions from his 401(k) and IRA, despite being under 59-1/2 at the time, in order to avoid eviction. The taxpayer claimed the early distributions should not be included in his income as he was suffering economic hardships. Although sympathetic to the taxpayer's plight, the Tax Court found that "economic hardship" did not preclude treating the distributions as taxable income, and imposed the Code Sec. 72(t) additional tax on early distributions from a qualified retirement plan for the portions includable in the taxpayer's income.

 

FEBRUARY 2015

ACCOUNTING

UPDATE: IRS Clarifies Confusion Over Form 3115 Filing Requirements And Small Businesses: The IRS has ended much of the confusion over form 3115 filing requirements and small businesses have been granted major relief. Rev. Proc. 2015-20 (2/13/2015). Read more...

How to Handle Missing or Incorrect Forms W-2 and 1099: If a missing or corrected Form W-2 or Form 1099 is not received by February 14, the IRS should be contacted, and the IRS will attempt to obtain the information from the employer. Read more...

AICPA Addresses Escalating Concerns Surrounding Repair and Capitalization Regs: The AICPA released a statement to its members this week addressing growing anxiety about implementation of the IRS's new repair and capitalization regs. Many of the issues causing the deepest concerns involved the filing requirements for Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method. Read more...

IRS Fails to Provide New Accounting Method "Change Numbers" in Form 3115 Instructions: Badly outdated instructions for Form 3115 lack dozens of automatic accounting method "change numbers" required for changes relating to new repair and capitalization regs, which are expected to drive an unprecedented wave of 3115 filings. Read more...

IRS Allows Method of Accounting Change for Merged Consolidated Groups: In PLR 201505036, Corporation X and its subsidiaries, which had elected the tax book value method of asset valuation, merged with Corporation Y and its subsidiaries, which had used the fair market value method of asset valuation. As a result of the merger, the Corp. Y subsidiaries became members of the Corp. X consolidated group and were included in Corp X's consolidated federal income tax return. The IRS ruled that pursuant to Reg. Sec. 1.861-8(f)(2), the subsidiaries could change from the fair market value method to the tax book value method of assets valuation for purposes of apportioning interest expenses under Code Sec. 861.

IRS Updates and Clarifies Procedures for Accounting Method Changes: The IRS has released two revenue procedures that update and revise the general procedures to obtain the consent of the IRS to change a method of accounting for federal income tax purposes. Rev. Proc. 2015-13 and Rev. Proc. 2015-14. Read more...

Advice for Determining COGS Provided to Seller of Medical Marijuana: In CCA 201504011, the IRS Office of Chief Counsel advised that a medical marijuana business was to determine its cost of goods sold using the applicable inventory-costing regulations under Code Sec. 471 as they existed when Code Sec. 280E, was enacted, instead of under the more recent Code Sec. 263A(a)(2). Counsel's Office noted that allowing the taxpayer to capitalize its costs under Code Sec. 263A(a)(2) would run contrary to the prohibition under Code Sec. 280E disallowing all deductions of a trade or business trafficking in a Schedule I or II controlled substance.

APPLICABLE FEDERAL RATES

February AFRs Issued: In Rev. Rul. 2015-03 (1/23/15), the IRS issued the applicable federal rates for February 2015.

BANKRUPTCY

Bankruptcy Court Prorates Tax Refund Between Debtor and Bankruptcy Estate: After reviewing conflicting circuit court precedents, a bankruptcy court within the Eleventh Circuit held that a bankruptcy trustee was entitled to a turnover of only a portion of amounts debtor received as tax refunds after filing for bankruptcy. In re: Mooney, 2015 PTC 19 (Bankr. M.D. Ga. 2015). Read more...

Subsidiaries Can't Recover Refunds Held by Parent Pursuant to Tax Sharing Agreement: In In re Downey Fin. Corp., 2015 PTC 25 (3rd Cir. 2015), Downey Financial Corporation (DFC) and its subsidiaries entered into a tax sharing agreement (TSA) which provided for the filing of joint returns and, as required per IRS regulations, any refund was to be paid to DFC as the parent corporation. After DFC went into bankruptcy, its subsidiaries claimed that the tax refunds were merely held in trust, and could be recovered outside of bankruptcy. However, the Circuit Court determined the plain langue of the TSA established a debtor/creditor relationship between DFC and its subsidiaries, and thus the tax refunds were part of the bankruptcy estate.

C CORPORATIONS

Distributing Corporation's Retention of Stock Not for Tax Avoidance Purposes: In PLR 201503006, a corporation proposed to spin-off a subsidiary to its public shareholders in a Code Sec. 355 transaction. As part of the transaction, the corporation would retain some stock to be distributed at a later time in separate transactions. The IRS ruled that, as the business purposes for the retention was to reflect the diminution of value of the shares held in trust, to support the corporation's existing obligations under an incentive award plan, to facilitate reduction of debt, to enhance liquidity, and to maintain the corporation's current credit rating, it was not in pursuance of a plan having a principle purpose of avoiding federal income tax.

COMPENSATION

Tax Court Rules Payments for Egg Donations are Taxable Compensation: Despite the pain and suffering incurred during the procedures, the amounts a taxpayer received from donating her eggs was taxable compensation for services, not excludable damages under Code Sec. 104. Perez v. Comm'r, 144 T.C. No. 4 (2015). Read more...

CREDITS

Client Funding Prevents Engineering Firm from Claiming Research Credit: The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a district court ruling that, because payments to an environmental engineering firm were not contingent on the success of its contracted research, the firm was "funded" by its clients within the meaning of Code Sec. 41 and was not eligible for the research credit. Geosyntec Consultants, Inc. v. U.S., 2015 PTC 31 (11th Cir. 2015). Read more...

IRS Sets Maximum Face Amount of Qualified Zone Academy Bonds for 2014: In Notice 2015-11, the IRS sets the maximum face amount of Qualified Zone Academy Bonds that may be issued for each state for the calendar year 2014 under Code Sec. 54E(c)(2). Under Code Sec. 54A(e)(3), the term State includes the District of Columbia and any possession of the United States.

IRS Announces Penalty Relief Relating to Premium Tax Credit Advance Payments: The IRS has announced limited relief from tax penalties for taxpayers who have a balance due on their 2014 income tax return as a result of reconciling advance payments of the premium tax credit against the premium tax credit allowed on the tax return. This relief applies only for the 2014 tax year. Notice 2015-9. Read more...

Long-Awaited Proposed Regs Clarify Research Credit for Internal Use Software: Last week, the IRS released proposed regulations clarifying the meaning of "internal use software" for purposes of the Code Sec. 41 research credit, and providing additional guidance regarding the three-part "high threshold of innovation" test such software must pass in order to qualify for the credit. REG-153656-03. Read more...

Costs Associated With Facility's Energy Production Entitled to Energy Property Reimbursement: In W.E. Partners II, LLC v. U.S. 2015 PTC 10 (Fed. Cl. 2015), the Federal Claims Court determined a company that constructed an open-loop biomass facility to provide steam to a Perdue chicken rendering plant was only entitled to reimbursement under Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for the percentage of the costs associated with the portion of the facility necessary to produce electricity. The court noted that the bare language of the statute might suggest reimbursement is based on the total cost for open-loop biomass facilities, but when read in conjunction with IRS guidance, such reimbursement is limited to costs fairly allocable to the production of electricity.

DEDUCTIONS

Tax Court - Dependency Exemption Stands, Daughter Not Married under Common Law: The Tax Court held a taxpayer was entitled to dependency exemptions, earned income tax credit, and additional child tax credit for her daughter and grandchild, as the daughter was not in a common law marriage and could be claimed as a qualifying child by the taxpayer. Saenz v. Comm'r, T.C. Summary 2015-6. Read more...

IRS Issues Retroactive Updates to the 2014 Luxury Vehicle Bonus Depreciation Limits: In Rev. Proc. 2015-19, the IRS updated the 2014 luxury vehicle depreciation limits increased by the passage of the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPA). TIPA retroactively extended the 50 percent bonus depreciation deduction under Code Sec. 168(k) to qualified property acquired before January 1, 2015. The revised bonus depreciation limitations for passenger automobiles placed in service in 2014 are: $11,160 for the first year; $5,100 for the second year; $3,050 for the third year; and $1,875 for each succeeding year. The revised depreciation limitations for trucks and vans placed in service in 2014 are: $11,460 for the first year; $5,500 for the second year; $3,350 for the third year; and $1,975 for each succeeding year.

Tax Court Rejects Taxpayer's Attempt to Prioritize Alimony Over Child Support: A taxpayer saw most of his alimony deduction disallowed after overstating the total amount paid and failing to properly allocate payments between child support and alimony. Becker v. Comm'r, T.C. Summary 2015-2. Read more...

Tax-Turtle Taxpayer Can't Deduct Travel Expenses: The Tax Court held that because a truck driver taxpayer was a "tax-turtle" with no permanent residence, his travel expenses were not incurred while he was away from home and were therefore not deductible. Jacobs v. Comm'r, T.C. Summary 2015-3. Read more...

ESTATES, GIFTS AND TRUSTS

Estate's Untimely Filing of Return Not Due to Impairment of the Decedent: In Est. of Rubenstein v. U.S., 2015 PTC 33 (Fed. Cl. 2015), the IRS denied an estate tax refund for overpayments, as the return was not timely filed. The estate argued that the decedent suffered from mental impairment resulting in financial disability within the meaning of Code Sec. 6511(h), and as such, the statute of limitations for filing estate's tax refund claim was suspended, and the return was not untimely. Based upon the evidence detailing the decedent's ability to live on his own, perform daily activities, and manage complex investments during his final years, and the determination that the taxpayer's physician was neither reliable nor credible as an expert witness, the court found the decedent was not financially disabled under Code Sec. 6511(h) and held the return was untimely filed.

EXCISE TAX

Court Addresses Meaning of "Production" in Context of Wine Excise Tax Credit: In K Vintners v. U.S., 2015 PTC 21 (E.D. Wash. 2015), a district court determined winery taxpayers weren't entitled to a small domestic wine producer tax credit as they didn't "produce" the wine under the meaning of the statute. Although the taxpayers exerted influence over the wine-making process, the actual fermenting, blending, and bottling processes occurred at a different, larger, winery, which then transferred the finished wine to the taxpayers. Finding that a winery may only lawfully "produce" wine on its own premises, and as, under regulatory definitions, wine is produced when and where it is fermented, the court held the taxpayers did not produce the wine under Code Sec. 5041(c)(6) and thus could not take the tax credit.

EXEMPT ORGANIZATIONS

IRS Issues Guidance on Exempt Status of Certain Health Insurers: In Rev. Proc. 2015-17, the IRS sets forth procedures for issuing determination letters and rulings on the exempt status of qualified nonprofit health insurance issuers (QNHIIs) described in Code Sec. 501(c)(29). Rev. Proc. 2015-17 supersedes Rev. Proc. 2012-11.

Welfare Benefit Plans Qualified as Church Plans: In PLR 201505048, the IRS ruled that welfare benefit plans sponsored by an exempt organization that provided residential living for people with developmental disabilities were church plans within the meaning of Code Sec. 414(e). Because the organization had close ties with a church whose members served as a majority of its board members and managed funds for the organization, it was associated with the church for purposes of Code Sec. 414(e), and thus the administration of the plans satisfied the requirements of a church plan.

Subsidiary Formed for Separate Business Purpose Did Not Affect Parent's Exempt Status: In PLR 201503018, The taxpayer, a non-profit educational institution, developed proprietary software for use in its online classes. As other institutions expressed interest in licensing the software, the taxpayer created a wholly owned subsidiary to develop and license the software. The IRS relied on Britt v. United States, 431 F.2d 227 (5th Cir. 1970), and ruled that, as the subsidiary was formed for a separate bona fide business purpose and had no overlap in activities or management, it could be treated as a separate entity for tax reasons. Because of this, none of its income would result in any unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) under Code Sec. 512(a)(1) and would not adversely affect the taxpayer's tax-exempt status under Code Sec. 501(c)(3).

FOREIGN

IRS Loses Residency Dispute; Taxpayer Correctly Filed Returns in the U.S. Virgin Islands: In Est. of Sanders v. Comm'r, 144 T.C. No. 5 (2015), a taxpayer became a resident of U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) as part of his employment agreement and filed his tax returns with the USVI Bureau of Internal Revenue (VIBIR). More than three years after he had filed, the IRS mailed notices of deficiency claiming the taxpayer was not a bona fide resident of the USVI, treating him as a non-filer for U.S. tax purposes. Relying on Vento v. Dir. of V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue, 715 F.3d 455 (3d Cir. 2013), the Tax Court held the taxpayer was a bona fide USVI resident as he held himself out to be a USVI resident and was located there, was married in the USVI, and paid USVI taxes. As a result, the court found he had appropriately filed his taxes with the VIBIR and the IRS could not assess additional tax liabilities or penalties as statute of limitations had expired.

Final Regs Address Foreign Income Splitter Arrangements: In T.D. 9710 (2015), the IRS issued final regulations with respect to Code Sec. 909 that address situations in which foreign income taxes have been separated from the related income. These regulations are necessary to provide guidance on applying the statutory provision, which was enacted as part of legislation commonly referred to as the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act (EJMAA) on August 10, 2010. These regulations affect taxpayers claiming foreign tax credits or deducting foreign income taxes.

No Foreign Earned Income Exclusion for Taxpayer with Multiple U.S. Residences: Despite spending a considerable amount of time living in Russia as part of his job in the oil industry, the Tax Court held that the taxpayer's strongest ties were to his residences in Louisiana, and thus he could not take the foreign earned income exclusion. Evans v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2015-12. Read more...

Change in Residence Allowed Taxpayer to Reelect Foreign Earned Income Exclusion: In PLR 201504002, the taxpayer, a United States citizen who resided outside of the United States, elected the foreign earned income exclusion under Code Sec. 911(a). The taxpayer revoked this election the year after it was first made, and in the following year, changed employers and moved to a country with no personal income tax. Although generally under Code Sec. 911(e)(2), a taxpayer may not retake the election prior to six years after it had been revoked, the IRS ruled the taxpayer could take the election once more under Reg. Sec. 1.911-7(b)(2) as he had moved move from one foreign country to another foreign country with differing tax rates.

HEALTHCARE

IRS Issues New Information Statement to Claim Premium Tax Credit: In IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2015-07, the IRS gave guidance on the new Form 1095-A related to the premium tax credit. If taxpayers do not receive their Form 1095-A by early February, they should contact the state or federal Marketplace from which they received coverage. If taxpayers believe any information on their Form 1095-A is incorrect, they should contact the state or federal Marketplace from which they received coverage and, if necessary, the Marketplace may send a corrected Form 1095-A to the taxpayer.

Monthly National Average Bronze Plan Premium Released: In Rev. Proc. 2015-15, the IRS provides the 2015 monthly national average premium for qualified health plans that have a bronze level of coverage for taxpayers to use in determining their maximum individual shared responsibility. The monthly national average bronze plan premium for 2015 is $207 per individual, up to a maximum of $1,035 for a shared responsibility family with five or more members.

IRS

2015 Luxury Vehicle Depreciation Limits and Lease Inclusion Amounts Announced: The IRS issued the 2015 luxury vehicle depreciation limitations and the income inclusion amounts for leased vehicles. Rev. Proc. 2015-19. Read more...

IRS to Disallow FICA Tax Refund Claims from Severance Payments: In Announcement 2015-8, the IRS provides guidance on the application of the decision in United States v. Quality Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 1395 (2014), to claims for refund of employment taxes paid with respect to severance payments. In Quality Stores, the Supreme Court held that severance payments were wages subject to Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax. Accordingly, the IRS will disallow all claims for refund of FICA or RRTA taxes paid with respect to severance payments that do not satisfy a narrow exclusion contained in Rev. Rul. 90-72, including all claims for refund that were held in suspense pending the resolution of Quality Stores.

Monthly Guidance on Corporate Bond Yield Issued: In Notice 2015-5, the IRS provides guidance on the corporate bond monthly yield curve, the corresponding spot segment rates used under Code Sec. 417(e)(3), and the 24-month average segment rates under Code Sec. 430(h)(2). In addition, the notice provides guidance as to the interest rates on 30-year Treasury securities.

LEGISLATIVE DEVELOPMENTS

President Obama Unveils Plans for Tax Reform: In the Tax Reform Fact Sheet (1-17-2015), the White House released details of President Obama's plans for tax reform focused on reducing tax breaks for the wealthy and creating tax breaks for the middle class. The reform includes closing the trust fund loophole allowing for stepped-up basis in inherited assets and introducing a new $500 second earner credit to help cover the additional costs faced by families in which both spouses work. The plan originally included eliminating tax cuts for 529 education savings plans, but this proposal was dropped after facing fierce opposition from both sides of the aisle.

PASSIVE ACTIVITIES

Real Property Finance Brokerage Not a Qualifying Activity under Code Sec. 469: In CCA 201504010, the IRS Office of Chief Counsel advised that a mortgage broker who was engaged in financing real property by bringing together lenders and borrowers was not part of a real property brokerage trade or business within the meaning of Code Sec. 469(c)(7)(C). The IRS noted that although Congress initially included "finance operations" in the list of qualifying real property trade or business activities it was removed from the final bill, finding it reasonable to infer that Congress did not intend for financing activities to be included in the definition of "real property brokerage."

PENALTIES

Burst Water Pipe Helps Taxpayers Avoid Accuracy-Related Penalty: A taxpayer was unable to take a large portion of claimed deductions as records substantiating expenses were destroyed due to a burst water pipe. But because the situation was beyond his control, the Tax Court declined to assess an accuracy-related penalty. Lain v. Comm'r, T.C. Summary 2015-5. Read more...

Corporate Director Cannot Seek Contribution from CFO for Withholding Tax Penalties: A district court determined that a corporate director could not seek contribution from a CFO for penalties arising from his willful failure to pay over withholding taxes. Despite the fact that the CFO was "responsible person", such contribution is only available after penalties have been paid in full by the taxpayer. Happy v. McNeil, 2015 PTC 43 (W.D. Tex. 2015). Read more...

PROCEDURE

IRS Complaints over Costs Doesn't Excuse it from Complying with FOIA Request: In Public.Resource.Org v. U.S., 2015 PTC 34 (N.D. Cal. 2015), in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the IRS objected to producing nine Form 990s in the Modernized E-file (MeF) format instead of as image files. The IRS asserted that its policy of producing Form 990s only as image files complied with the FOIA and that the $6,200 cost of producing the MeF format excused it from complying with the request. Because the FOIA requires federal agencies to produce records in the format requested, the court found the IRS was required to produce the forms in MeF format.

IRS Settlement Officer Refuses to Consider Collection Alternatives, Abused Discretion: In Est. of Sanfilippo v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2015-15, an estate proposed an offer in compromise to avoid a levy on estate property, but before the agreement was reduced to writing, a new IRS settlement officer was assigned to the case. The new officer ignored the offer, and instead focused on what he believed to be a valuation issue with a portion of estate property, sustaining the proposed levy. The Tax Court found the officer abused his discretion by relying on incorrect factual and legal assumptions in his valuation and refusing to consider the proposed collection alternatives that had been approved by the prior officer.

Bitter Feud Between Former CPA Partners Results in Damages But No Attorney Fees: In Pitcher v. Waldman, 2015 PTC 15 (6th Cir. 2015), the Sixth Circuit affirmed a district court ruling, finding a CPA had willfully filed false information returns with the IRS to antagonize his former partners, as well as deliberately misleading his expert witness to elicit a favorable assessment. Additionally, the circuit court agreed with the district court's ruling that the former partners were not entitled to an award of attorney fees, as the partners had engaged in their own hostile activities during litigation.

PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS

No Capital Gain Treatment for Properties Purchased at Tax Auctions for Quick Resale: The Tax Court found that because taxpayers purchased a high volume of properties from county tax auctions and frequently resold the properties for quick profits, the could not treat the properties as capital assets and should have reported their profits as ordinary income. SI Boo, LLC, et al. v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2015-19. Read more...

Son Could Deduct Mortgage Interest as Equitable Owner of his Mother's House: The Tax Court held that a taxpayer's family had granted him an equitable interest in his mother's house and was therefore allowed to take interest deductions for mortgage payments he made on the property. Phan v. Comm'r, T.C. Summary 2015-1. Read more...

RETIREMENT PLANNING

Taxpayer Could Recharacterize Roth IRA Contribution After Undiscovered Drop in Asset Value: In PLR 201506015, a taxpayer was granted a 60 day extension to recharacterize his contribution to a Roth IRA as a contribution to a traditional IRA. Because an asset management company was providing false statements regarding the value of the taxpayers investments with his investment company, the taxpayer was not aware that the value of the assets rolled over into his Roth IRA had declined until after the deadline for making a timely recharacterization had passed. Since the request was filed timely and granting relief would not result in the taxpayer having a lower tax liability, the IRS determined an extension was appropriate and granted the taxpayer's request.

 

JANUARY 2015

ACCOUNTING PRACTICE

In-Depth: As Tax Deadline Approaches, Stakes Remain High on 1099 Reporting: The presence of questions on Forms 1065, 1120, 1120S, and 1040, Schedules C, E, and F, asking whether the taxpayer made any payments in 2014 that would require the taxpayer to file Form(s) 1099, continues to cause concern for practitioners and clients alike, as do penalties running as high a $100 per late 1099. Read more...

CPA Client Letter: Requirement to File Forms 1099: The IRS has begun focusing heavily on taxpayer compliance with information reporting laws. Generally, any person, including a corporation, partnership, individual, estate, and trust, who makes reportable transactions during the calendar year must file information returns to report those transactions to the IRS. Read more...

Top 10 Tax Developments of 2014 - Drama, Confusion and Eleventh Hour Decisions: The year 2014 had it all - an eleventh hour tax extenders law, major new IRS guidance on tangible personal property, another Obamacare vs. Opponents battle in the federal courts, the end of the much-maligned Circular 230 covered opinion rules, and a brawl between the AICPA and the IRS over the certification of unlicensed tax preparers. Delve deeper with Parker's list of the most important changes of 2014. Read more...

IRS Announces 2015 Filing Season to Begin on January 20, 2015: The IRS announced plans to open the 2015 filing season as scheduled on January 20, 2015. No tax returns will be processed prior to that date. IR-2014-119 (12/29/14). Read more...

APPLICABLE FEDERAL RATES

January AFRs Issued: In Rev. Rul. 2015-01 (12/19/14), the IRS issued the applicable federal rates for January 2015.

BANKRUPTCY

Late-Filed 1040s are Not "Returns" Under Bankruptcy Discharge Exception: In a case of first impression, the Tenth Circuit affirmed a district court ruling that late individual tax returns filed by a debtor couple, after the IRS assessed tax liabilities and issued notices of deficiency, were not returns within the meaning of the Bankruptcy Code. The couple's tax liabilities were thus not dischargeable. Mallo v. U.S., 2014 PTC 606 (10th Cir. 2014). Read more...

Debtors in Bankruptcy Could Allocate Exempt Asset Sale Proceeds to Tax Liabilities: In In re: Fielding, 2014 PTC 611 (Bankr. N.D. Tex. 2014), the Bankruptcy Court determined whether debtors could apply, at their own discretion, proceeds from the sale of an exempt asset to tax debt owed to the IRS. The debtors wished to allocate the proceeds to amounts due in three prior years, and asked that no proceeds be applied to penalties or interest until those amounts were paid. The IRS argued it had the right to apply the proceeds to the oldest tax liability first, including the penalties and interest associated with that liability. The court sided with the debtors as they showed their designation of the proceeds was necessary to their effective reorganization.

Bankrupt Payroll Processing Company Cannot Reclaim Funds Transferred to IRS: The Fourth Circuit ruled that a payroll processing company going through bankruptcy could not reclaim $28 million transferred to the IRS during the 90 days preceding the filing for bankruptcy. The company had no claim to funds that were held in trust for its employer-clients and were not the company's personal property. In re: FirstPay, Inc., 2014 PTC 592 (4th Cir.). Read more...

CAPITAL GAINS

Third Circuit Denies Capital Gain Treatment of Oil and Gas Lease Bonus Payments: The Third Circuit affirmed the Tax Court's determination that a bonus payment made under an oil and gas agreement was taxable as ordinary income because the agreement was a lease and not a sale of taxpayers' rights in their land. Dudek v. Comm'r, 2014 PTC 603 (3rd Cir. 2014). Read more...

CREDITS

Long-Awaited Proposed Regs Clarify Research Credit for Internal Use Software: Last week, the IRS released proposed regulations clarifying the meaning of "internal use software" for purposes of the Code Sec. 41 research credit, and providing additional guidance regarding the three-part "high threshold of innovation" test such software must pass in order to qualify for the credit. REG-153656-03. Read more...

IRS Announces Penalty Relief Relating to Premium Tax Credit Advance Payments: The IRS has announced limited relief from tax penalties for taxpayers who have a balance due on their 2014 income tax return as a result of reconciling advance payments of the premium tax credit against the premium tax credit allowed on the tax return. This relief applies only for the 2014 tax year. Notice 2015-9. Read more...

Early Tuition Payment Prevents Taxpayers from Claiming Educational Credit: In Ferm v. Comm'r, T.C. Summary 2014-115, the IRS disallowed taxpayers' claimed American opportunity credit for qualified tuition expenses paid on behalf of their daughter in December for her spring semester the following year. The taxpayers claimed the credit for the year to which the tuition applied, but as they had paid the expenses in the previous year, the IRS disallowed the credit. Noting that under Reg. Sec. 1.25A-5(e)(1) cash method taxpayers must claim the American opportunity credit in the year expenses were actually paid, the tax court upheld the disallowance.

IRS Releases Employer Guidance on Retroactive Increase in Excludable Transit Benefits: To address employers' questions regarding the retroactive application of the increased transit benefits exclusion for 2014 pursuant to TIPA, the IRS clarified how the increase applies and provided a special administrative procedure for employers to use in filing their fourth quarter Form 941, and Forms W-2. Notice 2015-2. Read more...

DEDUCTIONS

Money Services Business Not Considered a Bank; Write Off of Bad Securities Denied: A money services business was not permitted to write off worthless asset-backed securities and incurred long-term capital gains after the Tax Court ruled the business failed to qualify as a "bank" under Code Sec. 581, and therefore was not entitled to deduct such securities as bad debts against ordinary income. MoneyGram Int'l, Inc. v. Comm'r, 144 T.C. No. 1 (2015). Read more...

Tax Court Clips Attorney-Pilot's Wings, Disallows Nearly 80 Percent of Flight Expenses: An attorney-pilot was denied the majority of claimed deductions relating to his use of an airplane in his law practice, as most of his flights were to locations within 100 miles of his home, and only a small number involved travel to court appearances, witness interviews, or other activities directly related to his practice. Peterson v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2015-1. Read more...

Entertainment Expenses Incurred in Merchandising Program Treated as COGS: In CCA 201501010, a media publication and distribution company established an added value merchandising program under which it purchased certain products and paid related companies to provide suite accommodations and catering services to the ultimate holders of such items. Relying on Rev. Rul. 2005-28, the IRS's Office of Chief Counsel advised that the company could treat the costs of these products as an adjustment to cost of goods sold (COGS), rather than as deductible expenses under Code Sec. 162. Because the expenditures were treated as COGS, the outlays were not subject to the Code Sec. 274 limitations on entertainment expenses.

Son Can Deduct Mortgage Interest as Equitable Owner of his Mother's House: In Phan v. Comm'r, T.C. Summary 2015-1, a taxpayer who had taken over payments for his mother's house was deemed to be an equitable owner of the property. Although he held no legal title, he testified credibly that his family had granted him an interest in the property that would allow him to add his name to the title if he took over the property's expenses. The Tax Court held he was an equitable owner under California law, and allowed him to deduct interest paid on the mortgage.

Taxpayer's Unsubordinated Mortgage Precluded Charitable Deduction for Conservation Easement: In Mitchell v. Comm'r, 2015 PTC 1 (10th Cir. 2015), a taxpayer appealed a Tax Court decision denying her claimed charitable contribution deduction for a donation of a conservation easement on property subject to an unsubordinated mortgage. Generally, taxpayers are not allowed to deduct contributions of a partial interest in property unless it is a "qualified conservation contribution," commonly known as a conservation easement. However, because Reg. Sec. 1.170A-14(g)(2) requires any mortgages on such contributed property to be subordinated at the time of the donation, the Tenth Circuit agreed with the Tax Court and denied the deduction.

IRS Chief Counsel - Government Entities Can Allocate Sec. 179D Deduction to Designers: The IRS's Office of Chief Counsel (IRS) has advised that government entities can allocate deductions under Code Sec. 179D to the designers of energy efficient buildings where the government entity is the owner of the building. Schools, colleges, and universities that are governmental entities are eligible to make the allocation. CCA 201451028. Read more...

IRS Clarifies Who Gets Mortgage Interest Deductions in Three Nettlesome Scenarios: The IRS's Office of Chief Counsel (IRS) clarified which taxpayer is entitled to claim mortgage interest deductions in three situations in which taxpayers who are potentially entitled to a deduction with respect to the same mortgage file separate tax returns. CCA 201451027. Read more...

LLC Could Deduct Losses from Failed Contingent Payment Installment Sale: In PLR 201451004 (12/19/14), an LLC requested a ruling that it would be allowed to deduct losses under Code Sec. 165 with respect to its sale of its interest in a company. The taxpayer reported the sale of the company on the installment method under Code Sec. 453 as a contingent payment sale, but in the third year, failure to achieve earn-out milestones meant that the maximum amount to be paid was less than the taxpayer's basis in the stock it sold, resulting in a loss. The IRS ruled the taxpayer could claim a loss deduction to the extent its unrecovered basis exceeded the maximum remaining amount it was entitled to receive under the installment sale.

Unprofitable Racehorse Business Not Connected to Car Dealerships: In Price v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2014-253 (12/16/14) the Tax Court determined that a taxpayer could not deduct losses from racehorse raising activities. The taxpayer, who owned multiple car dealerships, argued that his horse raising activity was sufficiently interconnected with the dealership through various cross-marketing efforts so as to constitute as single business activity. Pointing out that the two activities were wholly dissimilar and weakly connected, the Tax Court held that the racehorse activity was a separate undertaking not engaged in for profit. Consequently, deductions in excess of gross income from the racehorse activity were disallowed.

Bond Linked Issue Premium Structure Transactions Deemed Shams: In Shasta Strategic Investment Fund LLC, v. U.S., 2014 PTC 601 (N.D. Cal. 12/19/14), taxpayer partnerships challenged the IRS's treatment of partnership items in their 1999 and 2000 tax returns. The IRS issued Final Partnership Administrative Adjustments denying losses incurred in connection with taxpayers' participation in a complex financial product known as a Bond Linked Issue Premium Structure (BLIPS), as the transactions were determined to lack independent economic substance. The Tax Court agreed with the IRS's finding that the BLIPS transactions were merely interlinked financial products formulated to produce artificial losses, and denied the resulting losses.

ESTATES, GIFTS, AND TRUSTS

Fifth Circuit Upholds Constructive Receipt of Stock Redemption Proceeds: The Fifth Circuit upheld a district court decision finding that a shareholder constructively received redemption proceeds from the surrender of her stock certificates in the year the company made the redemption funds available to her, and not in the year the stocks were actually surrendered. The income was properly attributed to the year the funds were made available and not when the proceeds were actually received. Santangelo v. U.S., 2014 PTC 609 (5th Cir. 2014). Read more...

EXEMPT ORGANIZATIONS

No UBTI from Assets Transferred to a Separate Welfare Benefit Fund: In PLR 201501014, an association, which provided health benefits for retired employees, was considered a separate welfare benefit fund under a collective bargaining agreement. Consequently, it was not subject to the account limits imposed by Code Sec. 419A for purposes of determining unrelated business income under Code Sec. 512(a)(3). Accordingly, the IRS ruled the income generated by assets in a retirement funding account transferred from the group policy to the taxpayer would not be subject to tax on unrelated business income.

IRS Issues Final Regs Affecting Charitable Hospital Orgs: In T.D. 9708 (12/31/14), the IRS issued final regulations that provide guidance on the requirements for charitable hospital organizations relating to financial assistance and emergency medical care policies, charges for certain care provided to individuals eligible for financial assistance, and billing and collections. The regulations reflect changes to the law made by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

EXEMPTIONS: PERSONAL AND DEPENDENCY

Taxpayer Had No Dependents; Loses Exemptions and Head of Household Status: In McBride v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2015-6, the Tax Court determined a taxpayer was not entitled to three dependency exemption deductions and head of household filing status. Although taxpayer's son, daughter, and grandchild lived with him, the son and daughter were adults and thus not qualified as dependents under Code Sec. 152, and his daughter had already claimed the grandchild as her dependent. As taxpayer had no qualified dependents, he was not eligible for head of household filing status.

FOREIGN

Fund Engaged in Trade or Business within U.S. Ineligible for Trading Safe Harbors: In CCA 201501013, the Office of Chief Counsel advised that a foreign exempted limited partnership fund was engaged in trade or business within the United States. The fund's manager ran its lending and stock distribution business through an office in the United States, and as these activities did not fall within the trading safe harbors of Code Sec. 864, the fund was engaged in a trade or business within the United States.

Foreign Corporation Could Aggregate Stock Repurchases: In PLR 201451015 (12/19/14), the IRS ruled that a foreign corporation's repurchase of its own stock at multiple times was a single redemption for purposes of determining whether that single redemption exceeded the small redemption limitation under Reg. Sec. 1.382-3(j)(14)(iii)(A). The corporation was required to repurchase stock from its shareholders on a yearly basis during an open trading window pursuant to its securities trading policy. The IRS ruled that a repurchase occurring during the window and a repurchase entered into during the window but completed after would be aggregated and considered to occur at approximately the same time pursuant to the same plan or arrangement.

FRAUD

Ex-CPA Tax Protester Slammed With Fraud Penalty and $25,000 Sanction: A well-known tax protestor's failure to file his tax returns was deemed fraudulent, resulting in a 75 percent civil fraud penalty under Code Sec. 6651(f). An additional $25,000 penalty under Code Sec. 6673 was assessed as a sanction for his persistent frivolous contentions before the Tax Court. Banister v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo 2015-10. Read more...

HEALTHCARE

IRS Releases Guidance on Tax Preparer Best Practices for Determining ACA Penalties: In December, the IRS quietly released "Return Preparer Best Practices" for tax professionals seeking to determine whether clients are subject to penalties in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate (aka, the Code Sec. 5000A penalty). Read more...

INFORMATION REPORTING

As Deadline Approaches, Stakes Remain High on 1099 Reporting: The presence of questions on Forms 1065, 1120, 1120S, and 1040, Schedules C, E, and F, asking whether the taxpayer made any payments in 2014 that would require the taxpayer to file Form(s) 1099, continues to cause concern for practitioners and clients alike, as do penalties running as high a $100 per late 1099. Read more...

Tenuously Linked Professional Corporations Allowed to File Consolidated Returns: In PLR 201451009 (12/19/14), the IRS ruled that two Professional Corporations (PCs) were members of an affiliated group and were allowed to join in the filing of a consolidated return with the parent corporation. The PCs were connected to the affiliated group through a management subsidiary owned by an LLC owned by the parent corporation.

Final Regs Address Form 5472 Filing Requirement: In TD 9707 (12/24/14), the IRS issued final regulations on the manner of filing Form 5472, Information Return of a 25-percent Foreign-Owned U.S. Corporation or a Foreign Corporation Engaged in a U.S. Trade or Business. The final regulations remove a current provision for timely filing Form 5472 separately from an untimely filed income tax return. As a result, Form 5472 must be filed in all cases only with the filer's income tax return for the tax year by the due date (including extensions) of that return.

IRS

IRS Issues Annual Ruling and Determination Letters: In Rev. Procs. 2015-1, 2015-2, 2015-3, 2015-4, 2015-5, 2015-6, 2015-7, 2015-8, 2015-9, and 2015-10, the IRS issued its annual ruling and determination letters.

LIENS AND LEVIES

IRS Misinterpretation of Law Allows Taxpayer to Recover Fees: In U.S. v. Baker, 2015 PTC 7 (D.N.H. 2015), a taxpayer filed to recover attorney's fees after winning a case where the IRS tried to assess tax liens attributable to her husband against property transferred to her pursuant to a divorce decree. The IRS argued the liens attached because they arose before a deed transferring title was recorded, but the court noted this was an incorrect interpretation of the law, and awarded judgment to the taxpayer. Thus, because the IRS's argument was based on an untenable reading of the law, it was not substantially justifiable and the taxpayer could recover attorney's fees.

OTHER

IRS Releases Proposed Regs Relating to Excepted Benefits: In REG-132751-14 (12/23/14), the IRS issued proposed rules that would amend regulations regarding excepted benefits under ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, and the Public Health Service Act related to limited wraparound coverage. Excepted benefits are generally exempt from the requirements added to those laws by HIPAA and the ACA. The proposed regulations set forth requirements under which limited benefits provided through a group health plan that wrap around either eligible individual insurance or coverage under a Multi-State Plan (limited wraparound coverage) constitute excepted benefits.

PROCEDURE

Rejection of Offer-in-Compromise Not an Abuse of Discretion: In Pansier v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2014-255 (12/22/14), the Tax Court determined the IRS's rejection of taxpayers' offer-in-compromise (OIC) was not an abuse of discretion. The taxpayers argued that the settlement officer should have tried to explain why the positions they were taking during the Appeals process were erroneous and that the officer therefore abused his discretion in rejecting the OIC. The Tax Court disagreed, stating that the taxpayers were well-informed as to their errors, and their repeated combative tactics made attempting to reach a compromise impossible.

PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS

First-Time Homebuyer Credit Denied Due to Timing of Seller-Financed Contract: The Tax Court held that a taxpayer acquired equitable title to a residence property when she entered in to a seller-financed contract and took on the benefits and burdens of ownership, rather than when delivery of the deed was completed years later. Because the contract was executed prior to window of time during which the first-time homebuyer credit was available, the taxpayer was not eligible for the credit. Wodack v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2014-254 (12/17/14). Read more...

Taxpayers' Lodging Expenses Allowed; New York Apartment Was Not Tax Home: The Tax Court held that a couple performing consulting services throughout the Northeast could deduct lodging expenses arising from a New York City apartment because they had no principle place of employment and their tax home was their permanent residence in Mississippi. McClellan v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2014-257. Read more...

Tax Court Weighs Effects of Landlord's Disability in Determining "Real Estate Professional" Status: Taxpayer, a disabled veteran, was held to be a real estate professional for purposes of Code Sec. 469 passive activity losses, as he personally performed nearly all activities related to renting and maintaining a triplex apartment. Factoring in the taxpayer's age and disabilities, the Tax Court rejected the IRS's contention that it was highly unusual for the owner of a single property to spend more than 750 hours on those activities. Lewis v. Comm'r, T.C. Summary 2014-112 (12/23/14). Read more...

RETIREMENT PLANNING

Disabled Coast Guard Veteran Can't Exclude Retirement Payments from Income: A disabled Coast Guard veteran was unable to exclude, under Code Sec. 104(a)(4), retirement payments stemming from his disability as he was unable to prove he was qualified for disability compensation from the Veterans Administration. Campbell v. Comm'r, T.C. Summary 2014-109. Read more...

No Refund Available for FICA Taxes on Compensation Deferred but Never Received: A retired airline pilot was denied a refund for FICA taxes paid on deferred compensation he never received, as the statute allowing taxes on deferred compensation did not provide for such a refund. Balestra v. U.S., 2014 PTC 610 (Ct. Fed. Cl. 2014). Read more...

TAX ACCOUNTING

IRS Issues Proposed Regs Relating to Installment Obligations: In REG-109187-11 (12/23/14), the IRS released proposed regulations adding Reg. Sec. 1.453B-1(c), which includes the general rule in Reg. Sec. 1.453-9(c)(2) under which gain or loss is not recognized upon certain dispositions of installment sale obligations. Additionally, the proposed regulations incorporate the holding of Rev. Rul. 73-423 to provide that gain or loss is recognized under Code Sec. 453B(a) when an installment obligation is disposed of in a transaction that results in the satisfaction of the obligation. For example, gain or loss would be recognized where an installment obligation of a corporation or partnership is contributed to the corporation or partnership in exchange for an equity interest in the corporation or partnership.

 

DECEMBER 2014

Accounting Practice

CPA Client Letter: 2014 Year End Tax Planning for Businesses Post TIPA: This year saw numerous tax developments that affect businesses, many of which deserve special scrutiny for year-end planning in an effort to minimize your 2014 tax bill. No development is more important than the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPA). Read more...

CPA Client Letter: 2014 Year End Tax Planning for Individuals Post TIPA: It’s that time of year where we should think about preparing an estimate of your current year tax liability and see if we can reduce that liability. There are several things to consider when doing year-end tax planning: taking advantage of expiring tax provisions, deferring income into next year, or accelerating income into the current year (and doing the opposite with expenses). Read more...

An In-Depth Look at the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPA): On December 16, the Senate brought to an end this year's tax extenders drama, passing a bill that extends all but a few tax provisions that expired at the end of 2013 through the end the current year. The President is expected to sign the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPA) into law later this week. H.R. 5771 (12/16/2014). Read more...

Tax Extender Bill Leaves Five Tax Breaks in the Dust:While the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPA) is widely seen as a blanket one-year extension of expiring tax breaks, not all expiring provisions were extended. Of the sixty tax preferences up for extension for the 2014 tax year, five failed to make the cut: (1) the health coverage tax credit for displaced workers and retirees, (2) the plug-in motorcycle tax credit, (3) the energy-efficient appliance credit, (4) New York Liberty Zone tax-exempt bond financing, and (5) partial expensing of refinery equipment. H.R. 5771 (12/16/2014). Read more...

Complimentary CPA Client Letter for Businesses: Use Parker's sample client letter to inform your BUSINESS Clients on how the Tax Increase Prevention Act (TIPA) will affect them. See now...

Complimentary CPA Client Letter for Individuals: Use Parker's sample client letter to inform your INDIVIDUAL Clients on how the Tax Increase Prevention Act (TIPA) will affect them. See now...

Bankruptcy

Taxpayer Unable to use Bipolar Disorder as Defense to Willful Tax Evasion: In U.S. v. Stanley, 2014 PTC 596 (5th Cir. 12/12/14), the Fifth Circuit upheld a district court's determination that a taxpayer's liabilities were excepted from discharge in bankruptcy, due to the taxpayer's willful attempt to evade income taxes. The court was not convinced by taxpayer's claim that his bipolar disorder rendered him incapable of forming the requisite mindset to willfully attempt to evade taxes. His ability to continue his medical practice and participate in complex financial transactions was evidence that Taxpayer had periods when he could tend to his tax liabilities.

Credits

IRS: Reflective Roof Installed in Connection with Solar Panels Qualifies for Energy Credit: The IRS ruled that a reflective roof, when installed in connection with a bifacial paneled solar power system, constituted energy property under Code Sec. 48 to the extent that the cost of the reflective roofing exceeded the cost of reroofing the Taxpayer's building with a non-reflective roof. PLR 201450013. Read More...

Deductions

Construction Company Can Deduct Motocross Racing Expenses of Owner's SonA construction company's outlays to sponsor the motocross racing activities of the owner's son were valid promotional expenditures, deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses. Evans v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo 2014-237.

Taxpayer Granted Extension for Election to Not Deduct Bonus Depreciation: In PLR 201448003 (11/28/14), the IRS granted an extension to make an election not to deduct the 100-percent additional first year depreciation under Code Sec. 168(k) for qualified property placed in service that year. Based on the advice of its tax return preparer, the taxpayer did not make the election. However, after filing its return, the taxpayer realized it did not fully consider the consequences of this election and would have elected not to deduct if it had been aware of the ramifications. Because the taxpayer acted reasonably and in good faith, the IRS granted the extension.

Educational Savings Plans

ABLE Act Amends Code Sec. 529 to Allow Limited Investment Direction: In H.R. 5771, Congress amended Code Sec. 529(b), relating to qualified tuition programs (QTP). Previously, contributors to, or designated beneficiaries under, a QTP could not direct investments made from the program. The ABLE act amends this section to allow for the direction of investments no more than twice during any calendar year.

Estates, Gifts, and Trusts

Ninth Circuit Rejects Valuation of Partnership Interest Based on Hypothetical Asset Sale: The Ninth Circuit rejected the Tax Court's valuation, based on a hypothetical sale of the partnership's assets, of a decedent's interest in a limited partnership. The court concluded that such a sale was based on imaginary scenarios that were not reasonably probable to occur. Est. of Giustina v. Comm'r, 2014 PTC 587 (9th Cir. 12/5/14). Read more...

New Law Provides Tax-Favored Savings Plans for Disabled Individuals: With strong bipartisan support, Congress passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) on December 16, providing a new type of tax-advantaged savings plan for disabled individuals. Dubbed "ABLE" plans, the new Code Sec. 529A plans are modeled off Code Sec. 529 Qualified Tuition Plans. H.R. 5771. Read more...

Health Care

Final Regs Clarify Minimum Essential Coverage Requirement for Individual Mandate:The IRS released final regulations clarifying the requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage under the individual healthcare mandate and the rules governing certain types of exemptions from the mandate. T.D. 9705. Read more...

Tenth Circuit Delays Hearing Challenge to Obamacare Pending Supreme Court Decision: In State of Oklahoma v. Burwell, 2014 PTC 576 (10th Cir. 11/19/14), the Tenth Circuit abated an appeal from the district court's ruling striking down the IRS's interpretation of Code Sec. 36B as permitting premium subsidies in states with federally established health care Exchanges, pending the Supreme Court's issuance of a decision in King v. Burwell, No. 14-114.

IRS Identifies Hardship Exemptions from the Individual Healthcare Mandate: In Notice 2014-76 (11/21/14), the IRS enumerated the hardship exemptions from the Code Sec. 5000A penalty that a taxpayer may claim without first obtaining a hardship exemption certification. Such exemptions include family members whose combined cost of employer sponsored coverage is considered unaffordable, taxpayers with gross income below a threshold, and individuals who obtained minimum essential coverage during open enrollment prior to March 31, 2014.

Information Reporting

Absentee Owner-President of Corporation Was "Responsible Person" For Payroll Taxes: An absentee owner-president of a tractor dealership was unable to escape liability for payroll taxes his unscrupulous manager failed to remit as his technical authority over the company made him a "responsible person". Shore v. U.S., 2014 PTC 586. Read more...

IRS Releases Final Regulations Relating to FACTA: In T.D. 9706 (12/12/14), the IRS released final regulations providing guidance relating to the FACTA provisions that require specified foreign financial assets to be reported to the IRS. In particular, the final regulations provide guidance relating to the requirement that individuals attach a statement to their income tax return to provide required information regarding specified foreign financial assets in which they have an interest.

LLC Exemption from Code Sec. 6041 Reporting Contingent on Entity Classification: In CCA 201447025 (11/21/14), the IRS's Office of Chief Counsel advised that payments to LLCs are exempt from Code Sec. 6041 reporting requirements only if the LLC has elected to be classified for federal tax purposes as a corporation by filing Form 8832. Because the LLC-payees seeking IRS advice made no such election, they would be classified as either partnerships or disregarded entities, depending on how many members they had. As such, payments to those LLCs were not excluded from the Code Sec. 6041 reporting requirements.

IRS Issues Guidance on Exclusion for Employer-Provided Transit Smartcards:The IRS has provided guidance on when smartcards or similar electronic media used to purchase transit fares may be excluded as transportation fringe benefits. Key factors are whether the cards are restricted to purchasing only fare media, and whether suitable substantiation procedures exist for those that are not restricted. Rev. Rul. 2014-32. Read more...

IRS

IRS Issues 2015 Standard Mileage Rates for Business, Medical and Moving: The IRS issued the 2015 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Notice 2014-79. Read more...

IRS Announces Interest Rates for First Quarter of 2015: In Rev. Rul. 2014-29, the IRS announced the interest rates on tax overpayments and underpayments for the calendar quarter beginning January 1, 2015. The rates will be 3 percent for overpayments (2 percent in the case of a corporation), 3 percent for underpayments, 5 percent for large corporate underpayments, and .5 percent for the portion of a corporate overpayment exceeding $10,000.

Monthly Guidance on Corporate Bond Yield Issued: In Notice 2014-78, the IRS provides guidance on the corporate bond monthly yield curve, the corresponding spot segment rates used under Code Sec. 417(e)(3), and the 24-month average segment rates under Code Sec. 430(h)(2). In addition, the notice provides guidance as to the interest rate on 30-year Treasury securities.

IRS Abused Discretion in Conditioning Installment Agreement on Filing Tax Lien:The Tax Court held that an IRS appeals officer had abused her discretion when she conditioned an offer of an installment agreement on the filing of a notice of tax lien. The appeals officer misinterpreted the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) as giving her no discretion in the matter and failed to give due consideration to the taxpayer's arguments against filing a lien notice. Budish v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2014-239. Read more...

IRS Grants Extension to Exclude Income from Discharge of Indebtedness:Taxpayer's accountant failed to discuss the possibility of an election to exclude cancellation of debt income prior to filing Form 1040; in a private ruling the IRS granted an extension of time to file the election. PLR 201447011. Read more...

Partnerships

Ninth Circuit Rejects Valuation of Partnership Interest Based on Hypothetical Asset Sale: The Ninth Circuit rejected the Tax Court's valuation, based on a hypothetical sale of the partnership's assets, of a decedent's interest in a limited partnership. The court concluded that such a sale was based on imaginary scenarios that were not reasonably probable to occur. Est. of Giustina v. Comm'r, 2014 PTC 587 (9th Cir. 12/5/14). Read more...

IRS Grants Extension of Time to File Sec. 754 Election: In PLR 201448002 (11/28/14), the IRS granted an LLC's request for an extension of time to file a Code Sec. 754 election to step-up basis in partnership assets. The LLC inadvertently failed to make a timely Code Sec. 754 election following the death of a partner. As the LLC acted reasonably and in good faith, and showed that granting relief would not prejudice the interests of the government, the IRS granted an extension under Reg. Sec. 301.9100-3.

Procedure

Court Quashes Subpoena Served to Amazon CEO: In Amazon.com, Inc. v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2014-245 (12/10/14), the Tax Court quashed a subpoena issued for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to discuss a wide range of topics associated with an ongoing case involving a cost sharing arrangement between Amazon.com and a European affiliate. The court concluded that requiring Bezos to testify would be an undue burden as he would not be supplying unique knowledge and the vast majority of subjects had already been covered by testimony from several Amazon fact witnesses.

IRS Updates Prior Guidance on Mediation: In Rev. Proc. 2014-63 (12/12/14), the IRS updates prior guidance on mediation in order to expand and clarify the types of examination and collection cases and issues in the Appeals administrative process that are eligible for mediation pursuant to Code Sec. 7123(b)(1). Generally, mediation is available for examination cases and certain collection cases in which a limited number of legal and factual issues remain unresolved following settlement discussions in Appeals.

IRS Letters Stating Taxpayer Had Zero Liability Were Not Proof of Settlement: In Prussin v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2014-107 (12/8/14), the tax court ruled the IRS did not abuse its discretion in denying a taxpayer's abatement request. In making his request, the taxpayer pointed to IRS letters stating he had zero tax liability as evidence that a final settlement had been reached, arguing that later letters indicating tax liabilities were an abuse of discretion. However, the court found the letters were not conclusive indications of a settlement.

Tenth Circuit Rejects Claim that IRS Engaged in Unauthorized Collections: In Myers v. U.S. 2014 PTC 589 (10th Cir. 12/05/14), the Tenth Circuit affirmed a district court's dismissal of a case in which a taxpayer alleged the IRS engaged in unauthorized collection actions against her. On appeal, the taxpayer argued the court erred in failing to recognize that her claims challenged the IRS's collection activities, rather than its assessment of taxes. The Tenth Circuit found the taxpayer's allegations of improper collection were without merit, because the thrust of her argument did in fact relate to assessment as opposed to collection, and she was unable to show that the IRS failed to follow proper collection procedures.

IRS Couldn't Dismiss Whistleblower's Request for Award: In Lippolis v. Comm'r, 143 T.C. No. 20 (11/20/14): A whistleblower taxpayer sought to collect an award under Code Sec. 7623 for alerting the IRS to a tax fraud. The IRS argued the Tax Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case since Code Sec. 7623 only applies if the amount it was alerted to was over $2 million. However, the court said the Code Sec. 7623 limitation was not a jurisdictional issue, and gave IRS time to argue a different theory for why it should deny the whistleblower's request.

Property Transactions

Tax Court Erred in Treating Sale of Interest in Litigation as Ordinary Income:The Eleventh Circuit reversed the Tax Court, holding that a taxpayer's income from the sale of his interest in the outcome of a lawsuit was capital gain not ordinary income. Long v. Comm'r, 2014 PTC 577 (11th Cir. 2014). Read more...

Losses on Vacation Home Rental Limited Because of Excessive Personal Use Days:After analyzing numerous trips to a vacation home to determine if they were for business or personal purposes, the Tax Court concluded that the taxpayer spent more than 14 personal use days at the property, thereby limiting rental use deductions under Code Sec. 280A. Van Malssen v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2014-236. Read more...

Retirement Plans

IRS Reminds Retirees to Take Required IRA Distributions: In IR-2014-112, the IRS reminded taxpayers born before July 1, 1944, that they generally must receive payments from their IRAs and workplace retirement plans by Dec. 31, 2014. Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) are minimum amounts that a retirement plan account owner must withdraw annually, starting with the year that the owner reaches 70 1/2 years of age. If an account owner fails to take the required distribution by the applicable deadline, the amount not withdrawn is subject to a 50 percent penalty tax.

IRS Releases Updated Pension COLAs: In Notice 2014-70 (11/24/14), the IRS provided certain cost-of-living adjustments effective January 1, 2015, applicable to the dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans. Other limitations applicable to deferred compensation plans are also affected by these adjustments under Code Sec. 415. The notice restates information released in IR201499 on October 23, 2014.

IRS Amends Safe Harbors for Roth IRA Rollover Information Reporting: In Notice 2014-74 (11/24/14), the IRS amended the two safe harbor explanations originally released in Notice 2009-68. The safe harbors can be used to satisfy the requirement under Code Sec. 402(f) to provide certain information to recipients of eligible rollover distributions. The amendments relate to the allocation of pre-tax and after-tax amounts, distributions in the form of in-plan Roth rollovers, and certain other clarifications. The amendments may be used for plans that apply the guidance in section III of Notice 2014-54, with respect to the allocation of pretax and after-tax amounts.

Tax Extenders

Tax Extender Bill Leaves Five Tax Breaks in the Dust:While the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPA) is widely seen as a blanket one-year extension of expiring tax breaks, not all expiring provisions were extended. Of the sixty tax preferences up for extension for the 2014 tax year, five failed to make the cut: (1) the health coverage tax credit for displaced workers and retirees, (2) the plug-in motorcycle tax credit, (3) the energy-efficient appliance credit, (4) New York Liberty Zone tax-exempt bond financing, and (5) partial expensing of refinery equipment. H.R. 5771 (12/16/2014). Read more...

Tax Extenders Bill Passes Congress, President Expected to Sign into Law:On December 16, the Senate brought to an end this year's tax extenders drama, passing a bill that extends all but a few tax provisions that expired at the end of 2013 through the end the current year. The President is expected to sign the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPA) into law later this week. H.R. 5771 (12/16/2014). Read more...

House Passes Tax Extenders Bill, Possibly Breaking Year-Long Impasse:On December 3, 2014, the House of Representatives made the latest move in this year's tax extenders drama, passing a bill that would extend numerous expired tax provisions through the end of 2014. H.R. 5771 (12/3/2014). Read more...

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