Employees should still review withholding to make sure they are not surprised by a significant balance due at tax time.
The IRS has issued updated payroll withholding tables designed to reflect changes made to the law by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in December 2017. Employers should begin using the new tables as soon as possible, but no later than February 15, 2018. The new withholding schedules will likely increase take-home pay for many employees, but taxpayers should take steps to verify that they will not be significantly underwithheld at year-end.
The new federal withholding tables are designed to work with the existing Form W-4 withholding allowance certificate that employees file when they start a new job or adjust their withholding. However, that form relies on a calculation based on the number of “personal allowances” the employee claims. While those allowances did not correspond exactly to the number of “personal exemptions” the employee could claim on an income tax return, there was some correlation between the two. The TCJA eliminated personal exemptions in favor of a larger standard deduction. This created a potential disconnect between the tax law and the withholding calculation that could result in a significant difference between amounts withheld and income taxes owed at the end of the year.
The IRS does offer a withholding calculator on its website to help employees understand how much money should be withheld from each paycheck. At this time, the calculator is being revised to accurately reflect the new law. The Service “anticipates that this calculator should be available by the end of February.” Employees should be encouraged to double-check their withholding once the new calculator is available. A new Form W-4 is also in the works, and the IRS states that it will “work with the business and payroll community to encourage workers to file new Forms W-4 next year…”
Until then, taxpayers may want to be more active in managing their withholding amounts than they have in the past.
Freed Maxick CPAs, P.C. is Western and Upstate New York’s largest public accounting firm and a Top 100 firm in the United States. Freed Maxick’s reputation and experience with business and tax issues has made us a go-to firm for businesses and individuals from all over the U.S. and Canada and around the world.
For more insight, observations and guidance on the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, visit our Tax Reform webpage.View full article
Avoid Unintended Results from Complex New Rules for Intercorporate Debt
In April 2016, the Treasury Department and the IRS issued proposed regulations under Sec. 385. If the proposed regulations are finalized, they will change the way that corporate groups treat intercompany debt. Issued along with guidance on corporate inversions, the new proposed Sec. 385 regulations target transactions that increase debt between related parties where there is no new investment in the U.S.
Following a corporate inversion or a foreign takeover of a U.S. company, a U.S. subsidiary can issue debt to its foreign parent which in turn transfers the debt to a foreign affiliate located in a low-tax jurisdiction. The U.S. subsidiary will deduct the interest expense at a higher tax rate than the tax rate paid on the interest income received by the foreign affiliate. The foreign affiliate may even implement tax strategies to avoid paying any tax on the interest income.
The new proposed regulations will make it more difficult for companies to engage in transactions described above as well as impact the U.S. tax treatment of cross-border loans between affiliated members of a multi-national enterprise, loans between commonly controlled U.S. corporations not filing a consolidated tax return, and loans between members of brother-sister U.S. consolidated return groups. The new proposed regulations will not impact loans between members of a single consolidated return group.
The new proposed regulations will do the following:
- Impose new documentation and reporting requirements that must be complied with on a timely basis (defined in the new proposed regulations). If the requirements are not met, the purported debt instrument will be characterized as stock for U.S. tax purposes. A reasonable cause exception applies.
- Allow the IRS to treat a debt instrument issued between members of a modified expanded group as part debt and part stock to the extent dictated by the relevant facts and circumstances. A modified expanded group is based on the affiliated group principles of Sec. 1504(a) modified with a 50% ownership requirement with the common parent and includes domestic and foreign corporations, RICs, REITs, S corporations, partnerships, trusts and estates, and individuals that own at least 50% of the stock or interests in a modified expanded group member.
- Require recharacterization of certain debt instruments to equity. Debt instruments issued in the following situations will be recast as stock:
Debt issued by a corporation to a related corporate shareholder as a distribution
Debt issued in a two-step version of the corporate distribution where a U.S. subsidiary borrows cash from a related company and pays a cash dividend to its foreign parent
Debt issued by a corporation in exchange for stock of an affiliate, e.g. the repurchase of shares for a note or the purchase of affiliate shares for a note in what would otherwise be a Sec. 304 transaction
Certain debt issued as part of an internal asset reorganization if the instrument is received by a corporate transferor that is a modified expanded group member with respect to its transferor corporation stock. The definition of an expanded group member is derived from the affiliated group rules of Sec. 1504(a) and includes foreign and domestic corporations related by at least 80% (vote or value) direct or indirect common parent ownership. Note that an expanded group for these purposes is different than a modified expanded group mentioned above in the “part debt and part stock” rule.
Exceptions to the Rule
There are certain exceptions to the application of the new proposed regulations. The exceptions are provided for small companies that are not publicly traded, groups with less than $50 million of intercompany debt, and for routine distributions such as the distribution of current year earnings and profits.
The new proposed regulations apply to debt instruments issued or deemed issued after April 4, 2016. Intercompany debt instruments that are subject to recharacterization will continue to be treated as debt for 90 days after the issuance of final regulations. Thereafter, these debt instruments will be considered to be equity. Debt instruments issued before April 5, 2016 are grandfathered, but will be subject to the final regulations if they are significantly modified after April 4, 2016.
The new proposed regulations under Sec. 385 are complex and require careful analysis. Taxpayers should make sure they understand the impact of these new rules on all intercorporate debt transactions so that they don’t end up with unintended results. Contact us to discuss your specific situation.View full article
The Final Tangible Property Regulations - Are You Informed?
Get access to our latest webinar for all the details
On September 13, 2013, the IRS issued final regulations affecting costs to acquire, produce, or improve tangible property and re-proposed regulations affecting disposition of tangible property. The final regulations are effective for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2014. These regulations will affect all taxpayers that acquire, produce or improve tangible property.
Please check out our recent webinar that highlights the significant changes from the 2011 temporary regulations and discusses implementation planning.
Background and update
Materials and supplies
While the IRS has reported on repairs regulations before, this is the first time they are issuing them in final form. The IRS reports that the final repair regulations will affect all taxpayers that acquire, produce, or improve tangible property. The final regulations provide a lot of technical information that taxpayers have to comprehend and incorporate into their accounting systems. While this may be tedious and feel overwhelming, the regulations do provide some positive benefits for taxpayers. The Treasury has included some of the comments they received into the final regulations in an attempt to reduce the time required to comply with the new regulations.
New safe harbor for routine maintenance for buildings
The 2011 temporary regulations provided that the costs of performing certain routine maintenance activities for property other than a building or the structural components of a building are not required to be capitalized as an improvement. Due to the comments received by Treasury, the final regulations contain a safe harbor for routine maintenance for buildings.
The final regulations use 10 years as the period of time in which a taxpayer must reasonably expect to perform the relevant activities more than once.
Routine maintenance can be performed any time during the life of the property, provided that the activities qualify as routine under the regulations.
For purposes of determining whether a taxpayer is performing routine maintenance, the final regulations remove the taxpayer’s treatment of the activity on its applicable financial statement from the factors to be considered.
The final regulations clarify the applicability of the routine maintenance safe harbor by adding three items to the list of exceptions from the routine maintenance safe harbor:
Amounts paid for a betterment to a unit of property
Amounts paid to adapt a unit of property to a new or different use
Amounts paid for repairs, maintenance, or improvement of network assets
The good news for taxpayers
The final regulations do not provide a bright line test when determining whether improvements need to be capitalized or expensed. Meaning- the IRS regulations give examples but no hard numbers. While some taxpayers like the subjective nature of the rules; many taxpayers do not want to burn up resources training their staff, or have to battle the IRS regarding expenditures that have to be capitalized upon an examination. The inclusion of a “safe harbor” for repairs and maintenance on buildings should alleviate some of these difficulties when applying the improvement standards for restorations to building structures and systems.
Many taxpayers are turning to experts in the field in an attempt to maximize their tax deductions and reduce the total burden of complying with the regulations. This is where a Cost Segregation Analysis is beneficial. Cost Segregation analyses include a thorough review of the property to accurately depreciate the assets and accelerate tax deductions. They also include an intensive review of all blueprints and site visits to verify the assets and determine the quality of those assets. The professionals performing these analyses have an intimate knowledge of the building and building systems and will provide valuable insight when examining repair and maintenance costs to determine if they must be capitalized or expensed.
CSP360 is a subsidiary of Freed Maxick, CPAs in Buffalo NY. Freed Maxick CPAs is a Top 100 accounting Firm, and one of the nation’s leading providers of Cost Segregation and consulting services. Our philosophy is to offer clients a 360 approach of a taxpayer’s assets; pairing engineering and LEED specialists with accountants for a truly unique tax advisory team. Since 1995, our in house team has provided specialty studies to CPAs in a private label arrangement. Products include Cost Segregation, 179D Energy Studies and 263a Repair and Maintenance Review. CSP360 is Circular 230 compliant and has proven methodologies that are sustainable on IRS examinations.
To learn more about our unique approach click here
By: Howard B. Epstein, CPA
The Bank Records and Foreign Transactions Act- commonly referred to as the Bank Secrecy Act, became law in 1970 out of a growing complexity of the national and international economy, and technological revolution. Activities increased not just at home but abroad. This allowed the IRS to require citizens or residents of the U.S., or a person in, or doing business in the U.S. to file reports on any financial accounts with aggregate totals valuing $10,000 or more. But did you know……
As a result of new legislation on foreign tax reporting and disclosure of financial assets, some taxpayers may be required to file the new foreign financial assets disclosure statement (Form 8938) with the income tax return, and the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) seperately. Filings and returns are due April 15th or June 15th, if living in the U.S. For those living outside the U.S., extensions for October 15th filings can go through December 15th. These reporting requirements will potentially add to both taxpayer roadblocks and the complexity of tax law changes.
On March 18, 2010, the President signed the HIRE Act, containing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, into law. Addressing taxpayer concerns, the law requires individual taxpayers with foreign financial assets with an aggregate balance exceeding stipulated dollar amounts during a taxable year to file a disclosure statement with his or her income tax return for that taxable year. The stipulated dollar amounts can be found in IRS Form 8938. Beginning with 2011 individual tax return filings; the new law requires compliance with filing the disclosure statement (Form 8938) describing the maximum value of the assets during the taxable year. The disclosure statement should also provide the following information in the case of a:
Financial account – the name and address of the foreign financial institution in which such accounts are maintained and the number of such account.
Stock or security – the name and address of the foreign issuer and such information as is necessary to identify the class or issue of which such stock or security is part of.
Contract, interest, or other instrument – such information as is necessary to identify such contract, interest, or other instrument and the name(s) and addresses of all foreign issuers and counterparties with respect to such contact, interest, or other instrument.
What should you do next?
It is important to note that while there are similarities between the FBAR and FATCA filings, there are also a number of differences when filing each of the Forms. Freed Maxick International tax practice professionals are here to assist you with your FBAR filings. We can assess FBAR filing requirements and prepare current and past due FBARs. We can navigate the IRS guidelines and minimize potential penalties through the various IRS Voluntary Disclosure Programs available. Contact us to connect with our experts.
Are you a Canadian “snowbird” spending winters in the United States? You may not realize it, but you could be considered a U.S. tax resident. If this is the case, the basis on which tax residency is determined is through the IRS “Substantial Presence Test.”
For this purpose, you will be considered a U.S. tax resident if you meet the following requirements:
Physically present in the United States at least 31 days in the current year, and
183 days during the 3 year period that includes the current year and the 2 years immediately before that.
If you fall into this category, don’t panic! There is potential relief available to Canadian citizens that are caught by this Substantial Presence Test:
You are present in the U.S. for fewer than 183 days in the current year.
You maintain a “tax home” in a foreign country during the year.
You have a “closer connection” to the foreign country where your “tax home” is than to the U.S.
Are there exceptions to the rule?
There are exceptions to the substantial presence test. The following are a few examples:
Days you are in the United States for less than 24 hours- when you are in transit between two places outside the United States.
Days you are in the United States as a crew member of a foreign vessel.
Days you can classify “exempt individual.”
The term “exempt individual” does not refer to someone exempt from U.S. taxes, but to anyone that claims exemption from counting days of presence in the United States. For example- a teacher or trainee temporarily in the United States under a “J” or “Q” visa, who substantially complies with the requirements of the visa. For a full list of exemptions and exceptions, please refer to the IRS substantial presence test.
What should you do next?
If you exclude days of presence in the United States because you fall under a special category, you must file Form 8840 (Closer Connection Statement) or Form 8843 (Statement of exempt individuals and individuals with a medical condition).
Freed Maxick International tax practice professionals can help you determine if you qualify as a U.S. tax resident, and assist you with Substantial Presence Test filings. We can navigate the IRS guidelines and minimize potential penalties. Contact us to connect with our experts.