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The IRS has announced a significant increase in enforcement actions for syndicated conservation easement transactions. This is a "priority compliance area" for the agency.


Treasury and the IRS are expected to release proposed rules in "early 2020" that would clarify certain limitations on the carried interest tax break, according to David Kautter, Treasury’s assistant secretary for tax policy. Kautter briefly addressed the proposed regulations’ timeline while speaking at the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) 2019 National Tax Conference in Washington, D.C.


Hopes for a year-end tax extenders package appear to be dwindling on Capitol Hill.


Senate Finance Committee (SFC) Chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and other top Senate tax writers are calling for Senate action on the bipartisan Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Secure bill (HR 1994) (SECURE Act). The House-approved, bipartisan retirement savings bill has remained stalled in the Senate since May.


The Senate blocked a Democratic resolution on October 23 to overturn Treasury rules preventing certain workarounds to the $10,000 state and local tax (SALT) federal deduction cap.


Treasury and the IRS on October 31 announced the release of a new, draft form implementing certain reporting requirements under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone program.


A California-based medical marijuana dispensary corporation’s motion for summary judgment challenging the constitutionality of Code Sec. 280E was denied. The Tax Court also addressed whether Code Sec. 280E applies to marijuana businesses legally operating under state (California) law, and whether the prohibition on deductions is limited to ordinary and necessary business expenses.


The IRS has proposed regulations that define an eligible terminated S corporation (ETSC), and provide rules relating to distributions of money by an ETSC after the post-termination transition period (PTTP). The proposed regulations also extend the treatment of distributions of money during the PTTP to all shareholders of the corporation, and update and clarify the allocation of current earnings and profits to distributions of money and other property.


The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has renewed its call for immediate guidance on new Code Sec. 199A. The AICPA highlighted questions about qualified business income (QBI) of pass-through income under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ( P.L. 115-97). "Taxpayers and practitioners need clarity regarding QBI in order to comply with their 2018 tax obligations," the AICPA said in a February 21 letter to the Service.


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did not directly change the tax rate on capital gains: they remain at 0, 10, 15 and 20 percent, respectively (with the 25- and 28-percent rates also reserved for the same special situations). However, changes within the new law impact both when the favorable rates are applied and the level to which to may be enjoyed.


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increases bonus depreciation rate to 100 percent for property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2023. The rate phases down thereafter. Used property, films, television shows, and theatrical productions are eligible for bonus depreciation. Property used by rate-regulated utilities, and property of certain motor vehicle, boat, and farm machinery retail and lease businesses that use floor financing indebtedness, is excluded from bonus depreciation.


The IRS has released the 2018 optional standard mileage rates to be used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, medical, moving and charitable purposes. Beginning on January 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup of panel truck will be:

  • 54.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (up from 53.5 cents in 2017);
  • 18 cents per mile for medical and moving expenses (up from 17 cents in 2017); and
  • 14 cents per mile for miles driven for charitable purposes (permanently set by statute at 14 cents).

Comment. A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate after using a depreciation method under Code Sec. 168 or after claiming the Code Sec. 179 deduction for that vehicle. A taxpayer may not use the business rate for more than four vehicles at a time. As a result, business owners have a choice for their vehicles: take the standard mileage rate, or “itemize” each part of the expense (gas, tolls, insurance, etc., and depreciation).


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