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Tax reform discussions continue on Capitol Hill with legislation expected to be released very soon. GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate appear to be aiming for a comprehensive overhaul of the Tax Code. President Trump and Republicans in Congress have set out an ambitious schedule of passing a tax reform bill before year-end. 


Year-end tax planning can provide most taxpayers with a good way to lower a tax bill that will otherwise be waiting for them when they file their 2017 tax return in 2018. Since tax liability is primarily keyed to each calendar tax year, once December 31, 2017 passes, your 2017 tax liability for the most part – good or bad – will mostly be set in stone.


As the 2018 filing season nears, the IRS is reminding taxpayers that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains on the books. The ACA’s reporting requirements for individuals have not been changed by Congress. At the same time, the Trump Administration has proposed administrative changes to the ACA, which could expand health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), the use of short-term, limited duration health insurance, and association health plans.


Holiday gifts made to customers are generally deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses as long as the taxpayer can demonstrate that such gifts maintain or improve customer goodwill. Such gifts must bear a direct relationship to the taxpayer's business and must be made with a reasonable expectation of a financial return commensurate with the amount of the gift. However, the $25 annual limitation per recipient on deductibility is applicable to holiday gifts, unless a statutory exceptions applies.


For purposes of federal tax, employers must withhold and pay FICA taxes (7.65%) if they paid a household employee cash wages of at least $2,000 in 2016 or in 2017 ($2,100 in 2018). Employers must pay FUTA tax (6%) if they paid total cash wages of at least $1,000 in a calendar quarter to household employees. A homeowner may be an “employer” to a housekeeper; or, if enough evidence is shown, merely a recipient of services by an independent contractor or self-employed individual.


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


Even though the calendar still says summer, it's not too early to be thinking about year-end tax planning. In fact, year-end tax planning has become around-the-year tax planning because of tax legislation (or the lack of tax legislation), new IRS rules and regulations and personal and business considerations. Looking ahead to year-end 2013, there are many tax planning strategies to explore and evaluate.


The Affordable Care Act set January 1, 2014 as the start date for many of its new rules, most notably, the employer shared responsibility provisions (known as the "employer mandate") and the individual shared responsibility provisions (known as the "individual mandate").  One - the employer mandate - has been delayed to 2015; the other - the individual mandate - has not been delayed.


A business can deduct only ordinary and necessary expenses. Further, the amount allowable as a deduction for business meal and entertainment expenses, whether incurred in-town or out-of-town is generally limited to 50 percent of the expenses. (A special exception that raises the level to 80 percent applies to workers who are away from home while working under Department of Transportation regulations.)


Facilitated by the speed, ubiquity, and anonymity of the Internet, criminals are able to easily steal valuable information such as Social Security numbers and use it for a variety of nefarious purposes, including filing false tax returns to generate refunds from the IRS. The victims are often unable to detect the crime until it is too late, generally after the IRS receives the legitimate tax return from the actual taxpayer. By that time the first return has often been long accepted and the refund processed. Because of the ease, speed, and difficulty involved in policing cybercrime, identity theft has grown rapidly. One estimate from the National Taxpayer Advocate Service has calculated that individual identity theft case receipts have increased by more than 666 percent from fiscal year (FY) 2008 to FY 2012.


For many individuals, volunteering for a charitable organization is a very emotionally rewarding experience. In some cases, your volunteer activities may also qualify for certain federal tax breaks. Although individuals cannot deduct the value of their labor on behalf of a charitable organization, they may be eligible for other tax-related benefits.


Vacation homes offer owners tax breaks similar-but not identical-to those for primary residences. Vacation homes also offer owners the opportunity to earn tax-advantaged and even tax-free income. This combination of current income and tax breaks, combined with the potential for long-term appreciation, can make a second home an attractive investment.


Vacation homes offer owners many tax breaks similar to those for primary residences. Vacation homes also offer owners the opportunity to earn tax-advantaged and even tax-free income from a certain level of rental income. The value of vacation homes are also on the rise again, offering an investment side to ownership that can ultimately be realized at a beneficial long-term capital gains rate.


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


Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are popular retirement savings vehicles that enable taxpayers to build their nest egg slowly over the years and enjoy tax benefits as well. But what happens to that nest egg when the IRA owner passes away?


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


When disaster strikes, a casualty tax loss may provide some comfort. A casualty is the damage or destruction of property resulting from an identifiable event that is sudden, unexpected, or unusual. Damage resulting from the progressive deterioration of property through a steadily operating cause would not be a casualty loss. A deductible loss can result from a number of events, such as fire, flood, storm (including hurricanes and tornadoes), or earthquake. Storm losses can involve damage from flooding or wind, for example. Other “sudden and unexpected events,” such as an automobile accident, also qualify as a casualty for tax purposes.